Bulldogs Continue Road Stretch At Evansville

STATE FOES:  Butler will play the first of three Indiana opponents on its 2009-10 schedule when it travels to Evansville for a non-league contest on Saturday, Nov. 21.  The game against the Purple Aces is scheduled for 7 p.m. (CT, 8 p.m. in Indianapolis) at Roberts Stadium, and will be televised in Indianapolis on WNDY-TV 23.  Both teams enter the game with a 2-0 record on the young season.  The Aces, playing their third consecutive home game, opened the season with wins over Oakland City and SIU-Edwardsville.  Butler, ranked No. 10 in this week’s ESPN/USA Today national poll and No. 11 in the Associated Press (A.P.) poll, is facing its second straight road contest.  The Bulldogs defeated Davidson, 73-62, at home in the season-opener and then won at Northwestern, 67-54, on Wednesday (Nov. 18).  Butler faces four more games away from Indianapolis, before its next contest in Hinkle Fieldhouse on Dec. 5.  The Bulldogs will play three games in California at the 76 Classic in Anaheim and then visit Indiana foe Ball State on Dec. 2.  Butler also has a pair of league games against Indiana opponent Valparaiso this season.                  

Butler has won 12 straight games against opponents from Indiana.

LAST TIME OUT:  Sophomore Shelvin Mack scored a 15 points and sophomore Gordon Hayward added 14 points and 10 rebounds to pace the Bulldogs to a 67-54 victory over Big Ten opponent Northwestern at Welsh-Ryan Arena.  Butler took a 19-17 lead on a field goal by Garrett Butcher midway through the first half and then stretched the lead to 30-24 by halftime.  The knockout punch came early in the second half when the Bulldogs used a 12-0 run to build a 44-26 advantage.  Northwestern wasn’t able to trim the lead under double-figures for the rest of the contest.

The Bulldogs have won six of their last seven games against Big Ten foes. 

FIRST WIN:  The victory at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Wednesday was Butler’s first-ever at Northwestern.  The Bulldogs had dropped 12 consecutive visits to the Evanston, Ill., campus in a series that dates back to 1934-35.  Each of Butler’s previous seven victories against the Wildcats came in Indianapolis at Hinkle Fieldhouse. 

BENCH PRESS:  Butler head coach Brad Stevens picked up a significant lift from his bench in the Bulldogs’ victory at Northwestern.  Butler’s non-starters, led by junior Zach Hahn, chipped in with 26 of the team’s 67 points in the win.  Hahn provided a spark in the first half with nine of his 13 points coming in the first 20 minutes, while senior Avery Jukes scored eight of his 10 points in the second half.  The two double-figures scorers combined to hit five of seven shots from beyond the three-point arc.  Sophomore Garrett Butcher came off the bench with one field goal, and it gave the Bulldogs the lead for good in the first half.  Butler’s final bench point was provided by sophomore Ronald Nored.  Butler out-scored Northwestern, 26-18, in bench scoring.

INJURY UPDATE:  Sophomore point-guard Shawn Vanzant was injured on a lay-up attempt early in the second half of the Northwestern game, and he was taken to a local hospital for examination.  He suffered a scratched cornea, and he remained in Evanston on Wednesday night, returning to Indianapolis on Thursday.  He has to wear protective goggles, but he has been cleared to play at Evansville.

LOOKING LONG:  Four different Butler players combined to hit nine three-point field goals against Northwestern.  Sophomore Zach Hahn led the way by hitting three of five long-range attempts, while senior Avery Jukes and sophomores Shelvin Mack and Gordon Hayward each added a pair of three-pointers.  Jukes hit both of his three-point attempts, matching his career-high for three-point field goals.  Eight different Bulldogs have hit at least one three-point field goal this season.

Butler has won its last 16 games when hitting at least nine 3-point field goals.        

THEFT RING:  Butler has recorded 19 steals in its first two games this season.  The Bulldogs had 10 steals at Northwestern, with senior Willie Veasley, junior Matt Howard and sophomore Shelvin Mack each accounting for a pair of thefts.  Butler averaged just over six steals a year ago.

POLLING DATA:  The Bulldogs maintained their position in the “Top 25” in both the Associated Press (A. P.) and ESPN/USA Today national polls, released on Monday (Nov. 16).  Butler remained at No. 10 in the ESPN/USA Today poll and at No. 11 in the A. P. poll.  The Bulldogs were ranked in both preseason polls for the first time in school history!  Butler was ranked in the “Top 25” for 12 consecutive weeks last season, and the Bulldogs have achieved a national ranking each year since 2006-07.

TOP NOD:  Butler continues to hold the No. 1 spot in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll.  The Bulldog, who received the top spot in the CollegeInsider.com preseason poll on Nov. 2, received 28 first place votes in this week’s poll to finish ahead of No. 2 Gonzaga and No. 3 Siena.

AUTUMN SUCCESS:  The Bulldogs have won 22 consecutive November games, dating back to 2005.  Butler’s last November loss came at Big Ten foe Michigan, 78-74, on Nov. 26, 2005.

ALL-AMERICA:  Butler was the lone school to have two players named preseason first team Mid-Major All-America by CollegeHoops.net.  Junior Matt Howard and sophomore Gordon Hayward were joined on the first team by Matt Bouldin of Gonzaga, Ryan Wittman of Cornell and Marqus Blakely of Vermont.  Hayward was selected as the CollegeHoops.net Preseason Mid-Major Player of the Year.  Howard also was named to the Mid-Major All-America Team selected by CollegeInsider.com.  The 6-8 forward was named to the FoxSports.com Mid-Major All-America team in 2008-09.

THE BUTLER WAY:  A newly released book by Indianapolis Star sportswriter David Woods - The Butler Way:  The Best of Butler Basketball - chronicles the Bulldogs on the hardcourt from the 1920’s to today.  The book looks at the best teams, the best players, the best coaches and the best games, with an emphasis on Butler’s recent success.  The book is available through the Butler Bookstore (317 940-9228).
 
BULLDOG BITS:

•Butler had a season-high eight blocked shots in last year’s victory over Evansville.  Forward Matt Howard led the way with four blocked shots, while Avery Jukes and Gordon Hayward each added two.

•Head coach Brad Stevens has posted a 7-1 record against teams from the Missouri Valley Conference in his two-plus seasons at Butler.  The lone setback came to nationally-ranked Drake in the 2008 BracketBusters game at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

•Guard Zach Hahn came off the bench and hit four three-point field goals against the Purple Aces last year.  The 12 points he tallied were his fourth-highest scoring total of 2008-09.

•Forward Avery Jukes posted his first double-figures scoring performance in his last 13 games with 10 points at Northwestern.  He matched his third-highest career scoring total in the victory over the Wildcats.

•Sophomore Gordon Hayward recorded his fourth career double-double at Northwestern.  His last double-double was a 12-point, 11-rebound performance against Wright State on Jan. 8, 2009, at Hinkle Fieldhouse.  Hayward also matched his career-high for assists (4) at Northwestern.

•Junior Matt Howard had a streak of 10 consecutive games in double-figures snapped with his nine points at Northwestern.

•Sophomores Shelvin Mack matched his career-high with eight assists in Butler’s win at Northwestern.  Mack, currently the top performer in the Horizon League in assist/turnover ratio (6.0), had eight assists on four different occasions last season.

•Shelvin Mack had his first Division I double-figures scoring performance (18 points) against Evansville last year.

•Butler head coach Brad Stevens used the first day of the fall signing period to add three players to next year’s roster.  Signing with the Bulldogs on November 11 were 6-9 Erik Fromm of Bloomington (Ind.) South High School, 6-7 Khyle Marshall of Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines, Fla., and 6-1 Chrishawn Hopkins of Manual High School in Indianapolis.  Fromm averaged 10.3 points and 7.1 rebounds as a junior, while leading his high school team to a 26-0 record and a Class 4A state championship in Indiana.  Marshall averaged 26 points and 12.5 rebounds a year ago, while earning All-State honors.  Hopkins averaged 17.3 points in just seven games at Manual, after transferring from Las Vegas last year.  The three new Bulldogs complete Butler’s 2010-11 recruiting class.