Bulldogs Close Homestand Against Loyola

HOME RUN:  Butler will close its longest homestand of the season against a recent nemesis when it hosts Loyola on Monday, Feb. 8.  The third of three straight home games for the Bulldogs is scheduled for 7 p.m. (ET) at Hinkle Fieldhouse and will be televised locally on WNDY-TV.  Loyola is the only Horizon League foe to defeat the Bulldogs in a regular season game at Hinkle Fieldhouse in the past three seasons, and the Ramblers have done it twice!  The Chicago squad won at Hinkle Fieldhouse during Butler’s 2007 Sweet 16 season and then handed the Bulldogs their only regular season home loss last year, 71-67.  The two teams met earlier this season at Loyola, and Butler escaped with a one-point, 48-47, victory.  Both teams will be playing their third game in five days.  Butler, coming off a 74-62 victory over Wright State on Saturday (Feb. 4), needs one win to clinch a share of its fourth consecutive Horizon League regular season championship.                   

The Bulldogs’ 12-game win streak is Butler’s longest under coach Brad Stevens.

HOUSE RULE:  The Bulldogs are 10-0 in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.  Butler has won 67 of its last 73 games at home, including 31 of the last 33 Horizon League contests.  The Bulldogs posted a 10-year (2000-09) record of 125-17 (.880) on their homecourt.

The Bulldogs are 39-3 in Hinkle Fieldhouse under head coach Brad Stevens. 

NATIONAL SCENE:  Butler climbed to No. 18 in the Associated Press (A. P.) national poll and remained at No. 15 in the ESPN/USA Today “Top 25,” following wins over Detroit and Wright State last week.  The Bulldogs were ranked in both polls for the first seven weeks of the season and have been ranked in the ESPN/USA Today poll for 14 straight weeks.  Butler has been ranked in the “Top 25” each year since 2006-07.

TOP 20:  Butler has recorded a 20-win season for the fifth consecutive year and for the 12th time in the past 14 years.  The Bulldogs are the only team in Horizon League history to record five consecutive 20-win seasons and they’ve done it twice!  Butler holds the league record with seven straight 20-win seasons, 1996-2003.

LAST TIME OUT:  The Bulldogs torched the nets at nearly a 70% clip and dispatched second place Wright State, 74-62, in front of a national television audience on ESPN2.  The Bulldogs hit 27 of 40 (.675) shots in the game, including 14 of 20 (.700) in the second half.  It was the best shooting performance by a Butler team since Feb. 17, 2000, when the Bulldogs hit 31 of 45 (.689) shots in an 84-72 victory at Milwaukee.  The Bulldogs scored the final six points of the first half to take a 35-29 halftime lead and then opened the second half with a 10-2 run to take control of the game.  Wright State never got closer than 10 points in the final 17 minutes of the contest.  Butler matched a season-high with five players in double-figures, led by senior forward Willie Veasley with a career-high 19 points.                         

Butler has won 15 straight Horizon League regular season games.

PICTURE PERFECT:  Senior Willie Veasley  didn’t miss a shot, while leading all players in scoring in Butler’s victory over Wright State.  The 6-3 forward hit nine of nine attempts from the field, including one from beyond the three-point arc, to compile a career-high 19 points.  His effort, though impressive, was shy of the school record for single game shooting performance.  Ted Guzek made all 13 of his field goal attempts against Michigan in 1956, a mark that set an NCAA Division I record at the time!  Veasley has shot better than 50% from the field in nine of Butler’s last 10 games.

Willie Veasley is shooting 60.2% against Horizon League foes.

EFFICIENCY EXPERT:  Early foul trouble limited Butler forward Matt Howard’s time on the floor against Wright State.  It didn’t hinder his production.  The 6-8 forward had 12 points, five rebounds and a blocked shot in 16 minutes of action.  He hit three of five shots and six of seven free throws.  Howard has had four consecutive games in double-figures, and the most he’s played in any of those games is 24 minutes.

Matt Howard ranks fourth in the Horizon League in field goal shooting (.491).

DISTANCE SHORTAGE:  The Bulldogs, second in the Horizon League in three-point field goals a year ago, have hit just eight total three-pointers in their past three games.  Butler hit two of 13 long-range attempts against both Milwaukee and Detroit, and then cashed four of 11 three-point shots against Wright State.  The Bulldogs were averaging 7.2 three-point field goals per game prior to the victory at Milwaukee.
 
SMART CHOICE:  Junior Matt Howard and sophomore Gordon Hayward have been named to the five-player 2009-10 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District V University Division Men’s Basketball Team.  It’s the second straight year that Howard has made the honor squad, while Hayward made it for the first time.  Also named to the District V team were E’Twaun Moore of Purdue, Tim Abromaitis of Notre Dame and David Nurse of Western Illinois.  Each will now be considered for Academic All-America selection.  Howard was a second team Academic All-American last year. 

SCORING LIST:  Junior Matt Howard became the 32nd Butler player to score 1,000 career points earlier this season.  His 12 points against Wright State boosted his career scoring total to 1,159 points, good for 23rd place on Butler’s all-time scoring list.  The 6-8 forward trails Chris Miskel (1992-96) in 22nd place by 11 points.

BRACKETBUSTER:  For the fourth straight year, Butler will play one of the feature games in the ESPN BracketBusters weekend series.  The Bulldogs will host Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference leader Siena at 11 a.m. (ET) on Saturday, Feb. 20, in a contest that will be nationally-televised on ESPN2.  Siena entered the first week of February with a 19-4 record and 13 consecutive victories, the nation’s longest active winning streak!  Butler’s previous nationally-televised BracketBusters games were against Southern Illinois (2007), Drake (2008) and Davidson (2009).

BULLDOG BITS: 

•The Bulldogs currently own the third-longest winning streak (12) in the nation.    Siena, Butler’s BracketBusters foe, has won 14 consecutive games, while Murray State has won 13 straight.

•Butler has won its last 19 games when hitting at least nine three-point field goals.  The Bulldogs are 36-1 under head coach Brad Stevens when hitting nine or more three-pointers in a game.

•Junior Matt Howard has averaged 17.6 points in five previous games against Loyola.  He’s averaged 22.5 points in two meetings with the Ramblers in Hinkle Fieldhouse.

•Matt Howard is shooting .638 (30-47) over Butler’s last seven games.  He’s hit at a .568 (42-74) clip during the Bulldogs’ 12-game winning streak.

•Matt Howard stands fourth on Butler’s all-time list for free throws made with 421.

•Gordon Hayward leads the Horizon League in free throws made with 119, while teammate Matt Howard is second with 109.  Hayward is fifth in the league in free throw percentage (.838), while Howard is 10th (.784).

•Gordon Hayward has shot .552 (48-87) from the field and .882 (45-51) from the free throw line in 10 games in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.  He’s hit 13 of 33 (.394) attempts from beyond the three-point arc.  Hayward is hitting .533 (57-107) from the field during the Bulldogs’ 12-game winning streak.

•Gordon Hayward ranks fourth in the Horizon League in scoring (16.0) and  rebounding (7.8).  He’s the lone player in the league to rank in the “Top 5” in both scoring and rebounding.

•Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack, Butler’s top two three-point field goal shooters, each have just one three-pointer in Butler’s last four games.

•Shelvin Mack had a streak of 21 straight games in double-figures snapped in Butler’s victory over Detroit.  Butler is 21-4 when Mack scores at least 14 points in a game, and 14-1 when the sophomore guard leads the team in scoring.

•Shelvin Mack is shooting .520 (52-100) and averaging 14.0 points in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.  He’s averaged 14.8 points during Butler’s current winning streak.

•Sophomore Ronald Nored had career-highs of eight assists and seven turnovers against Wright State.  Nored, who had just four turnovers in Butler’s five games prior to last weekend, leads the Horizon League in assist/turnover ratio (2.2).

•Ronald Nored has more than half (50) of his 86 assists on the year in Butler’s last 10 games.

•Senior Willie Veasley is averaging 12.6 points in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.

•Junior Zach Hahn was perfect on three field goal attempts, including two from three-point range, and two free throw attempts against Wright State.  Hahn is shooting .475 (19-40) from three-point range during Butler’s current 12-game winning streak.