Defense Lifts Butler Over Youngstown State

A tenacious first half defense was the key to a comfortable win for Brad Stevens’ Butler Bulldogs at Hinkle Fieldhouse Saturday, Jan. 16. This 91-61 victory over Youngstown State was the sixth in a row and concluded a two game home stand for the Bulldogs. With the win the Bulldogs improve to 14-3 on the season and 7-0 in Horizon League play.

The Butler defense forced 18 turnovers, including nine steals. The Bulldogs took those turnovers and converted them into 17 points. Six different players came up with a steal.

The Bulldogs were in complete control of the game from the opening tip, starting the game on an 8-0 run. Butler maintained a 15 point lead for the entire second half and led by as many as 30 Saturday afternoon.

“We made some shots and shared the ball,” said Head Coach Brad Stevens. “I felt good about the way we played in a lot of areas. I thought our guys really came out with a lot of energy and really attacked the rim.”

Shelvin Mack led the way for the Bulldogs scoring 24 points, including 5 of 7 from behind the arc in the first half. In addition to scoring 22 points in the first half, Mack added a pair of assists and three steals.

Mack (5) and Zach Hahn (4) led the attack from behind the arc accounting for 9 of 12 three point baskets. The Bulldogs made a season-high 12 of 22 from behind the arc, but the key for the offense if you ask the team was Matt Howard drawing the attention of the Penguin defenders. Howard led both teams with six rebounds and finished the game with 22 points for his highest point total since Nov. 26, when he tallied 23 points against Minnesota.

“The guards do a great job of getting me easy shots,” said Matt Howard. “All my makes were right at the rim.”

Hahn caught fire from behind the arc in the second half, hitting 3 of 4. Hahn also had a three point basket in the first half to total 12 points on the day.

Andrew Smith played six quality minutes at the end of the game and showed the potential he has a rebounder and a scorer. Smith finished the game with five points and three rebounds. Chase Stigall knocked down a three late in the game for his first basket of the season.

Butler will face a tough task over the next two weeks as they will play four consecutive league roads games. Three of the four teams Butler will play handed the Bulldogs league losses last year and UIC, who did not win, played the Bulldogs tough in Chicago.

“This will be a great challenge,” said Stevens when asked about the four upcoming road games.

The next game for the Bulldogs is Thursday January 21st at Loyola. The Bulldogs will finish the trip with a game against UIC on Saturday the 23rd.