February 19, 2010

Butler Hosts Siena In Feature BracketBusters Game

STEPPING OUT:  Butler will step away from Horizon League play, but not out of the spotlight, when it hosts Siena in a prime BracketBusters match on Saturday, Feb. 20.  The feature showdown at Hinkle Fieldhouse will tip at 11 a.m. (ET) and will be televised nationally on ESPN2.  Siena (22-5) has won 16 of its last 17 games and comes to Indianapolis following a 74-57 victory at Canisius on Sunday (Feb. 14).  A week ago, the Saints owned the nation’s longest winning streak with 15 consecutive victories, but a loss at Niagara ended that streak.  The Saints are leading the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) with a 15-1 record.  The Bulldogs improved to 24-4 with a 73-55 victory over UIC on Wednesday (Feb. 17).  That win was Butler’s 16th straight, setting a school record for consecutive victories and matching Murray State for the nation’s longest active winning streak.  It also made the Bulldogs the first team in Horizon League history to own a 17-0 record.  Butler has already clinched the Horizon League regular season championship.                          

The Bulldogs have won nine straight non-conference games in Hinkle Fieldhouse.

HOME WORK:  The Bulldogs are 12-0 in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season and 27-2 at home over the past two years.  Butler has won 69 of its last 75 home games, including 33 of the last 35 Horizon League contests.

The Bulldogs are 41-3 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.

20 SOMETHING:  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 sixth-highest single season win total in school history with 24 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 scored a game-high 17 points, Ronald Nored added a career-high 16 and Butler picked up its Horizon League-record 17th league win with a 73-55 victory over visiting UIC on Wednesday (Feb. 17).  The Bulldogs started slowly and actually trailed midway through the first half, 15-14.  But Nored sparked a 9-0 run with five points, and Butler never looked back.  The Bulldogs led by seven points, 32-25, at halftime and stretched the margin to as many as 26 points late in the second half.  Head coach Brad Stevens used all 15 Butler players in the win, and four - Howard, Nored, Gordon Hayward (11) and Willie Veasley (11) - wound up scoring in double-figures.  It was the 12th time this season that Butler has had at least four players score in twin-digits in a game.                                 

The Bulldogs improved to 20-1 when leading at halftime this season.

CAREER DAY:  Sophomore Ronald Nored matched the scoring total of his previous two games and tallied a career-high 16 points to help lead the Bulldogs past UIC.  The 6-0 point-guard hit a career-best seven of nine shots from the floor and both of his free throw attempts for his personal record day.  Nored, who has just three double-figures scoring performances this season, also shared Butler’s lead in assists (4) and steals (2) against the Flames.

Ronald Nored is shooting 52% (16-31) in Butler’s six February games.

LEADING ROLE:  Junior Matt Howard led the Bulldogs in scoring for the second consecutive game and for the third time in four games with his 17-point performance against UIC.  The 6-8 forward, who led the Bulldogs in scoring a team-high 15 times while earning Horizon League Player of the Year honors last season, had topped Butler in scoring just twice in the first 24 games this season!  Howard has averaged 17.3 points in the past four outings.

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

DOUBLE TIME:  Sophomore Gordon Hayward scored nine points in the second half against UIC and finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds.  It was his third consecutive double-double for the Bulldogs and the 13th of his young Butler career.  The last Butler player to record three consecutive double-doubles was Darren Fowlkes in 1986-87, and he did it twice that season!

Gordon Hayward leads the Horizon League with 10 double-doubles.

CHARITABLE WORK:  The Bulldogs connected on 19 of 23 (.826) free throws against UIC, including all 10 that they attempted in the first half.  It was the fifth time in the past six games that Butler has shot better than 80% from the charity stripe.  Butler leads the Horizon League and ranks 13th in the NCAA Division I in team free throw shooting (.753).

QUICK START:  Butler head coach Brad Stevens has moved into a tie for third place on the NCAA Division I list for Best Career Starts By Wins, 3 Seasons.  Stevens picked up his 80th career win against UIC, matching the three-season record of Bill Guthridge (North Carolina) and Everett Case (North Carolina State).  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.   

GRAND EFFORT:  Junior Matt Howard became the 32nd Butler player to score 1,000 career points earlier this season.  His 17 points at UIC boosted his career scoring total to 1,228 points, good for 20th place on Butler’s all-time scoring list.  The 6-8 forward trails Gerry Williams (1960-63) in 19th place by 15 points.

BULLDOG BITS: 

•The BracketBusters game against Siena will be the final regular season home game for Butler seniors Willie Veasley, Nick Rodgers and Avery Jukes.  Veasley and Rodgers are completing their fourth season with the Bulldogs, and the two have helped Butler to a school-record 109 victories!  Jukes, a transfer from Alabama, has been a part of teams that have won 80 games.

•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).

•Junior Matt Howard has led the Bulldogs in scoring in February with a 15.3 average.  He’s shooting 51% from the field and 83% from the free throw line this month.

•Matt Howard stands fourth on Butler’s all-time list for free throws made with 453.  He’s nine free throws shy of third place.

•Matt Howard leads the Horizon League in free throws made with 141, while teammate Gordon Hayward is second with 135.  Hayward is fifth in the league in free throw percentage (.844), while Howard is 10th (.801).

•Gordon Hayward is the 11th Butler sophomore all-time to score 400 points.  He’s seventh all-time among Butler’s sophomore scorers with 444 points.

•Gordon Hayward has averaged a team-best 15.1 points during the squad’s current 16-game winning streak.  He scored 20 or more points four times during the streak.

•Gordon Hayward ranks fourth in the Horizon League in scoring (15.9) and third in  rebounding (8.4).  He’s the lone player in the league to rank in the “Top 5” in both scoring and rebounding.

•Gordon Hayward is averaging 14.4 points and 7.7 rebounds in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.

•Gordon Hayward has hit 29 of 31 (.935) free throws in Butler’s last six games.

•Shelvin Mack has had just one double-figures scoring performance in Butler’s last four games.  He scored in double-figures in 21 of Butler’s first 22 games. 

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

•Senior Willie Veasley has shot .549 from the field and averaged 12.4 points in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.

•Sophomore Ronald Nored continues to lead the Horizon League in assist/turnover ratio (2.0).  Nored has had 67 assists and 34 turnovers during Butler’s win streak.

•The Bulldogs had a season-low six turnovers against UIC.

•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 rank 10th in the NCAA Division I in won-lost percentage (.825).  Butler is tied for fifth in total wins (24), behind Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse and Murray State (25).

(Photos by John Fetcho)