February 16, 2010

Butler Plays Final League Home Game Against UIC

GORDON HAYWARD INTERVIEW (Dan Dakich, 1070 The Fan)

RETURN ENGAGEMENT:  Butler, having clinched the Horizon League regular season title on the road last weekend, returns home to host UIC on Wednesday, Feb. 17.  The 7 p.m. (ET) game in Hinkle Fieldhouse will be televised in Indianapolis on WNDY-TV. The Bulldogs (23-4) wrapped up the league regular season championship with a 68-57 victory at Youngstown State, before winning at Cleveland State, 70-59.  The two wins lifted Butler to 16-0 in league play, tying the league season record for victories and matching Green Bay (1995-96) for the best 16-game mark in league annals.  The road sweep also stretched the Bulldogs’ current winning streak to 15 consecutive games, tying the school record set by Butler’s 1999-2000 team.  The Bulldogs have the nation’s second-longest active streak behind Murray State (16).  Butler will be meeting UIC (6-19, 2-13 HL) for the second time this season.  The Bulldogs won the first meeting in Chicago, 84-55, last month.  Butler will play its final regular season home game on Saturday, Feb. 20, against Siena.                        

The Bulldogs have won 18 straight Horizon League regular season games.

HOME WORK:  The Bulldogs are 11-0 in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season and 26-2 at home over the past two years.  Butler has won 68 of its last 74 home games, including 32 of the last 34 Horizon League contests.

The Bulldogs are 40-3 in Hinkle Fieldhouse under head coach Brad Stevens.

NATIONAL SCENE:  Butler climbed to No. 13 in the ESPN/USA Today national poll and remained at No. 18 in the  Associated Press (A. P.) “Top 25,” following wins over Loyola, Youngstown State and Cleveland 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 15 straight weeks.  Butler has been ranked in the “Top 25” each year since 2006-07.

TOP 10:  The Bulldogs, owning a 20-win season for the fifth consecutive year and for the 12th time in the past 14 years, have tied the eighth-highest single season win total in school history with 23 victories.  The Bulldogs are the only team in Horizon League history to record five consecutive 20-win seasons and they’ve done it twice!

LAST TIME OUT:  Matt Howard and Gordon Hayward combined for 40 points, including 29 in the second half, to lead Butler to an 11-point win at Cleveland State in a showdown of the top two teams in the Horizon League.  Hayward drove the length of the floor in the final three seconds of the first half to give Butler a 29-27 halftime lead, and the Bulldogs scored eight of the first 10 points in the second half to maintain the upper hand.  Butler, playing its fifth game in 10 days, led by as many as 14 points in the final period, while snapping Cleveland State’s six-game winning streak.  It also snapped the Vikings string of 14 consecutive league wins at home, dating back to a loss to Butler in December of 2008.  Howard finished with a game-high 21 points, while Hayward added 19.                              

Butler is 15-0 against teams from Illinois, Indiana and Ohio this season.

LEAGUE HONOR:  Sophomore Gordon Hayward posted back-to-back double-doubles and helped Butler clinch a fourth consecutive league regular season title, and that helped him earn Horizon League Player of the Week recognition.  Hayward led all players with 22 points and a career-high 17 rebounds in Butler’s victory at Youngstown State.  The 17 rebounds were the most by a Butler player since Feb. 1, 1990, when Rodney Haywood grabbed 18 rebounds against Marquette.  Less than 48 hours later, Hayward posted 19 points and 11 rebounds in Butler’s victory over Cleveland State.  It was the third time this season that Hayward has been named league Player of the Week.

Gordon Hayward leads the Horizon League with nine double-doubles.

DOUBLE STACK:  Junior Matt Howard had game-high totals of 21 points and 13 rebounds in Butler’s victory at Cleveland State.  He joined teammate Gordon Hayward (19 points, 11 rebounds) to give Butler two double-doubles in the same game for the first time since December of 2008, when the same duo accomplished the feat in a win at Xavier!  Howard hit seven of 15 shots from the field and seven of eight from the free throw line against Cleveland State.  His 13 rebounds matched his season-high, set in November at Evansville. (Photo by Ben Hornstein)

Matt Howard has scored in double-figures in Butler’s last seven games.

BOARDING HOUSE:  Butler offset 17 turnovers at Cleveland State with a dominant performance on the glass.  The Bulldogs out-rebounded the host Vikings, 46-20, including a 16-6 advantage in offensive rebounds.  In the first half, Butler had 17 defensive rebounds, while Cleveland State had zero offensive rebounds!  The 46 rebounds were a season-high for Butler, and the 16 offensive boards were two shy of the team’s season-high.  The Bulldogs finished the game with a 22-9 advantage in second chance points.

QUICK START:  Butler head coach Brad Stevens has moved into fifth place on the NCAA Division I list for Best Career Starts By Wins, 3 Seasons.  Stevens picked up his 79th career win at Cleveland State, one more than Chris Lowery of Southern Illinois had in his first three seasons.  The Bulldogs’ coach is one win shy of Bill Guthridge (North Carolina) and Everett Case (North Carolina State) in third place.  Mark Fox (Nevada) and Mark Few (Gonzaga) share the top spot with 81 wins apiece in three seasons.

Brad Stevens reached 75 wins faster than any coach in Butler history.   

SHORT LIST:  Brad Stevens is the first basketball coach in Butler history to record a 20-win campaign in each of his first three seasons at the helm.  He’s the only Butler coach to have a 30-win season.

GRAND EFFORT:  Junior Matt Howard became the 32nd Butler player to score 1,000 career points earlier this season.  His 21 points at Cleveland State boosted his career scoring total to 1,211 points, good for 21st place on Butler’s all-time scoring list.  The 6-8 forward trails Tony Warren (1979-83) in 20th place by nine points.

BULLDOG BITS: 

•Butler is the only school in the Horizon League to have won four consecutive regular season championships, and the Bulldogs have done it twice (2000-03, 2007-10).

•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.

•The Bulldogs, who hit 25 of 30 (.833) free throw attempts at Cleveland State, lead the Horizon League and rank 13th in the NCAA Division I in team free throw pct. (.750).

•Butler improved to 11-1 on the road this season with the victories at Youngstown State and Cleveland State.  The Bulldogs are tied with Vermont for the most road wins in the NCAA Division I.

•Junior Matt Howard has averaged 14.9 points in Butler’s last seven games.  He’s topped 20 points twice in the past three outings.

•Matt Howard is shooting .586 (34-58) over Butler’s last seven games.

•Matt Howard stands fourth on Butler’s all-time list for free throws made with 442.  He’s 20 free throws shy of third place.

•Gordon Hayward leads the Horizon League in free throws made with 131, while teammate Matt Howard is second with 130.  Hayward is fourth in the league in free throw percentage (.845), while Howard is 10th (.788).

•Gordon Hayward is the 11th Butler sophomore all-time to score 400 points.  He’s ninth all-time among Butler’s sophomore scorers with 433 points.

•Gordon Hayward has averaged a team-best 15.3 points during the squad’s current 15-game winning streak.  He scored 20 or more points four times during the streak.

•Gordon Hayward ranks fourth in the Horizon League in scoring (16.0) and third in  rebounding (8.3).  He’s the lone player in the league to rank in the “Top 5” in both scoring and rebounding.

•Gordon Hayward has averaged 22.7 points and 7.0 rebounds in three career meetings with UIC.

•Shelvin Mack hit his 100th career three-point field goal at Youngstown State.  He leads the Bulldogs in three-pointers (43). 

•Butler is 21-4 when Shelvin Mack scores at least 14 points in a game, and 14-1 when the sophomore guard leads the team in scoring.

•Senior Willie Veasley has shot .565 from the field and averaged 12.5 points in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.

•Sophomore Ronald Nored continues to lead the Horizon League in assist/turnover ratio (2.0).  Nored has had 63 assists and 32 turnovers during Butler’s win streak.

•Junior Zach Hahn, who hit two of three three-point field goal attempts against UIC last month, ranks third in the Horizon League in three-point field goal shooting (.480) in league games only.

•The Bulldogs hit a season-low 10 three-point field goal attempts against Cleveland State last month.