Shelvin Mack scored 23 points and Gordon Hayward added a double-double to help the Bulldogs beat the Siena Saints, 70-53, on Feb. 20 at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The win was Butler's second straight BracketBuster win (Davidson 2009). With the win, the Bulldogs extend their win streak to the 17, which is tied for the best in the nation.
On Senior Day, Avery Jukes was pivotal in the early run for the Bulldogs knocking down two three-pointers in the opening four minutes of the game. Jukes finished the day with nine points. The Bulldogs, playing without injured senior Willie Veasley, jumped out to an early nine point lead in the first four minutes. Veasley sprained his knee in Butler's win over UIC.
"Anytime you have senior day I think it's a big deal," said head coach Brad Stevens about the emotions of Senior Day. "If you can't get up to help those guys ...then you're probably not as good of a team as you need to be." Siena fought back throughout the first half and took a one point lead with three minutes remaining in the first half. Siena held a three point advantage at halftime.
The second half was dominated by the Bulldogs who outscored the Saints by 20 points in the second half. Mack scored 16 of his 23 points in the second half to help the Bulldogs pull away late. Mack was 8-for-14 (3-7 from 3-point range) from the field and added six rebounds and a steal on the day.
Hayward posted his fourth straight double-double and 11th of the season with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Hayward also added four assists and two steals on the day. Ronal Nored had a game-high six assists, four of which came in the second half. Nored also scored eight points and recorded two steals.
Matt Howard scored eight points despite limited action after picking up his third and fourth foul early in the second half. "Next person up, we did a really good job of that today," said Hayward when asked about playing without Veasley and Howard. "Everyone on the bench did a really good job of that today."
Shawn Vanzant tied a career-high with five rebounds. Vanzant also had two thefts and one assist. Zach Hahn added two three point baskets in less than a minute to give the Bulldogs a nine point lead with 11 minutes to go in the game.
The Saints, who struggled as a team shooting only 33 percent from the field, were carried by Clarence Jackson. Jackson scored 14 of the Saint's 31 first half points on 5-8 (2-3) shooting. Jackson added another 10 points in the second half to total a game-high 24 points. Ryan Rossiter added ten points and a team-high nine rebounds for the Saints.
The Bulldogs will travel to Valparaiso for their final regular season matchup on Friday Feb. 26 at 9 p.m. ET.
"Going to Valpo, it's going to be a great environment," said Hayward about the focus of the team moving forward. "They're a good team and we‘re going to have to play as hard as we played here today."
The Bulldogs' regular season finale will be aired on ESPNU. The Bulldogs will be looking to finish the regular season unbeaten in Horizon League play.
Photos by John Fetcho