Bulldogs Meet UCLA At 76 Classic

SECOND ROUND:  Butler will try to bounce back from its first setback of the 2009-10 campaign when it faces UCLA in the second round of the 76 Classic in Anaheim, Calif., on Friday, Nov. 27.  The consolation bracket game will be played at 8:30 p.m. (PT, 11:30 p.m. in Indianapolis) and will be televised nationally on ESPNU.  Butler was knocked from the championship bracket by #16/22 Minnesota, 83-72, in the first round.  It was Butler’s first regular season non-conference loss since last December’s 54-51 setback at #21 Ohio State and just the third regular season, non-league loss in 70 games under head coach Brad Stevens.  Each of Butler’s three regular season, non-league losses under Stevens have come to teams ranked in the “Top 25” nationally.  The loss to Minnesota also snapped Butler’s nine-game winning streak in regular season tournament play, and the Bulldogs’ three-game winning streak to open the 2009-10 season.  Butler will be trying to rebound from a tournament loss for the first time under Stevens.  The Bulldogs won the 2007 Great Alaska Shootout under the third-year head coach, and Butler’s other two tournament appearances concluded with season-ending losses in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.  Butler will be facing a team from the PAC 10 for the first time since beating Washington, 67-64 in the title game of the 2001 Top of the World Classic and will be playing UCLA for the first time since 1963.                           

The Bulldogs are 8-2 under head coach Brad Stevens in games following a loss.

POLLING DATA:  The Bulldogs are ranked 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 slipped to No. 12 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 DOGS:  Butler began this week the No. 1 spot in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll.  The Bulldogs, 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 Old Dominion.

LAST TIME OUT:  The Bulldogs committed an uncharacteristic 21 turnovers and shot just 33% from the floor, while dropping a nine-point decision to #16/22 Minnesota in the opening round of the 76 Classic.  Butler battled back from a 32-28 halftime deficit and tied the game at 38-38 with 14:20 remaining, but Minnesota went on a 9-1 scoring run to take the lead for good.  The Bulldogs hit just six of 20 (30%) in the first half and just 16 of 48 for the game, while Minnesota countered with 50% shooting for the game and 47% shooting from the three-point arc.  The Gophers hit 13 of 22 (59%) shots in the final 20 minutes, including six of nine (67%) from three-point range, while building as much as a 10-point lead in the final period.

COLD SPELL:  Winter hasn’t officially arrived, but the Bulldogs’ shooting touch has been hit by an arctic blast over the past two games.  Butler’s 33% shooting performance against Minnesota was the second-lowest in the past 19 games, dating back to last January.  The lowest came last Saturday (Nov. 21) when Butler made just 14 of 50 field goal attempts in a four-point victory at Evansville.  The 28% shooting performance against the Aces was the lowest by a Butler squad in the past 414 games!  The last time a Butler team shot worse from the field was on December 10, 1996, when the Bulldogs shot 26.3% in a 67-55 loss in overtime at Bradley.

The Bulldogs are shooting a combined 31% over the past two games. 

CHARITABLE WORK:  Butler set a 76 Classic single game record for free throws made with 36 against Minnesota.  The Bulldogs’ 45 free throw attempts were just shy of the tournament record of 48, set by Wake Forest against Baylor last year.  Butler has made 67 of 89 (.753) free throws in the past two games.

ROUGH HOUSE:  Butler forward Matt Howard made a career-high 18 trips to the free throw line and converted a career-best 15 charity tosses against Minnesota.  Both marks set 76 Classic single game records.  The 6-8 junior scored 23 points in just 22 minutes in the game, before fouling out with two and a half minutes remaining.  Howard has moved into 12th place on Butler’s all-time list for free throws made with 341, three shy of Keith Greve (1951-54, 1957-58) in 11th place on the all-time list.

DOUBLE TIME:  Butler forward Gordon Hayward, the reigning Horizon League Newcomer of the Year, recorded his second double-double of the season and the fifth of his career with 13 points and 10 rebounds against Minnesota.  Hayward has scored in double-figures in 24 of 36 career games, and he has six career double-figures rebounding efforts.  The Bulldogs have had three double-doubles in the first four games, including a 10-point, 13-rebound performance by Matt Howard at Evansville.

SHORT CHANGED:  After hitting nine three-point field goals in each of the first two games this season, the Bulldogs cashed just five three-pointers each in the last two.  Butler is shooting a combined 24% (10-41) from the three-point arc over the last two games.   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.        

POINT BREAK:  The 82 points by Minnesota were the most scored against a Brad Stevens-coached Butler team.  The last team to score more points against the Bulldogs was Milwaukee (87-71) in 2005-06.
 
AUTUMN SUCCESS:  The Bulldogs had 23-game November winning streak snapped by Minnesota.  Butler’s last previous November loss came at Big Ten foe Michigan, 78-74, on Nov. 26, 2005.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Junior Matt Howard (23) and sophomore Shelvin Mack (20) each had a season-high scoring total against Minnesota.  The last time Butler had two players each score 20 or more points in a game was at Bradley on Dec. 10, 2008, when Gordon Hayward (20) and Shelvin Mack (20) accomplished the feat.

•Matt Howard needs 46 points to become the 32nd Butler player all-time to score 1,000 career points.  The last Butler player to score 1,000 points was A. J. Graves in 2006-07.

•Shelvin Mack has averaged 17.3 points in Butler’s last three games, after opening the season with just seven points against Davidson.

•Sophomore Gordon Hayward, who led the Bulldogs in three-point field goals a year ago, has only hit three three-pointers in Butler’s first four games this season.  Hayward had at least three three-point field goals in a game 12 times last season.

•Butler’s 21 turnovers against Minnesota were the most by the Bulldogs during the tenure of head coach Brad Stevens. Butler was averaging 10.7 turnovers per game prior to the Minnesota loss.

•The Bulldogs’ last lead against Minnesota came at 27-25 with 2:56 left in the first half.

•Minnesota’s bench out-scored Butler, 46-8.  Senior Avery Jukes scored all eight of Butler’s points off the bench.

•The nine-point loss to Minnesota matched the largest margin of defeat by a Butler team under head coach Brad Stevens.  Green Bay also defeated the Bulldogs by nine points (75-66) a year ago.  Butler’s 11 losses during the tenure of Stevens have come by an average of 4.7 points.

•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.