Bulldogs Host League-Leading Cleveland State

EARLY SHOWDOWN:  Butler, coming off its first league setback in more than a year, will face its stiffest home test yet when it hosts league-leading Cleveland State on Friday, Jan. 7.  The prime time showdown at Hinkle Fieldhouse is scheduled for 7 p.m. (ET) and will be televised nationally on ESPNU.  Butler (10-5, 2-1 Horizon League) suffered its first Horizon League setback since Feb. 18, 2009, when it dropped a 76-52 decision at Milwaukee on Monday (Jan. 3).  The margin of defeat was Butler’s biggest since Jan. 29, 2005, 198 games ago, when the Bulldogs fell at UIC, 73-49.  The loss at Milwaukee snapped Butler’s Horizon League record of 22 consecutive regular season league victories.  Cleveland State brings the Horizon League’s best overall record (15-1) and an unbeaten league mark (4-0) to Hinkle Fieldhouse.  The Vikings have won three straight since suffering their lone setback at West Virginia, 74-63, on Dec. 18.  Cleveland State is ranked No. 1 in the latest CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major poll.  Butler and Cleveland State will meet again at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland, Ohio, on Feb. 5.     

Butler has beaten 12 straight Horizon League foes in Hinkle Fieldhouse.  

HOME FIELD:  The Bulldogs, who were 15-0 in Hinkle Fieldhouse a year ago, improved to 5-1 at home this season with a victory over Valparaiso, 76-59, on Jan. 1.  Butler was 30-2 at home over the previous two seasons and had a 17-game homecourt winning streak, prior to an overtime loss to Evansville on Nov. 27.  The Bulldogs are 49-4 at home in four seasons under head coach Brad Stevens.

CENTURY MARK:  Head coach Brad Stevens and Butler’s five current seniors are one win away from their 100th career victory.  Stevens and company are 99-20 over the past three and a half seasons.  Only two previous men’s basketball four-year classes at Butler have reached 100 career victories.  The 2003 class of Joel Cornette, Darnell Archey, Lewis Curry and Mike Moore compiled 100 wins over four seasons, while Willie Veasley and Nick Rodgers finished with a school-record 118 career victories last year.

LAST TIME OUT:  Host Milwaukee shot 67% in the first half and 55% for the game, while racing past the Bulldogs, 76-52, on Monday (Jan. 3).  The Panthers grabbed a 37-29 lead at halftime and then pulled away with a 19-5 run in the first 10 minutes of the second half.  Milwaukee hit 11 three-point field goals in the win, and the Panthers made more free throws (13) than the Bulldogs attempted (10).  The potent Milwaukee attack was led by Anthony Hill with 22 points and Tony Meier with 20 and featured a triple-double by guard Kaylon Williams (10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists).          

SHORT STINT:  Senior Matt Howard hit five of nine shots from the field and scored 12 points in the first half to keep Butler within striking distance of Milwaukee at halftime of Monday’s game.  But the 6-8 forward, who was averaging fewer than three fouls per game over Butler’s first 14 contests, was whistled for three fouls in less than a minute to start the second half, and he wound up sitting out all but eight minutes of the final period.  He finished with team-highs of 14 points and six rebounds, though both totals were below his season averages.  Howard entered the game averaging 19.5 points and 8.0 rebounds over Butler’s previous six contests.

Matt Howard has led Butler in scoring in 41 career games.       

LOW MARK:  Senior Shelvin Mack finished with a career-low three points in 28 minutes of action in Butler’s game at Milwaukee.  The total snapped a string of eight consecutive double-figures scoring performances by the 6-3 guard from Lexington, Ky.  He was held scoreless in the first half, and he finished the game hitting just one of seven field goal attempts.  Mack’s previous career-low was four points at Cleveland State in his sixth collegiate game.

Shelvin Mack has scored in double-figures in 44 of his last 52 games.

POINT(S) GUARD:  Junior Ronald Nored recorded a second consecutive double-figures scoring performance for the first time in his career with 12 points at Milwaukee.  He hit five of 11 shots from the floor and both of his free throw attempts in the game.  One game earlier, Nored scored 11 points in a Butler victory over Valparaiso.  The 6-0 point-guard has shot 50% or better from the field in six of Butler’s last eight games, after hitting at just a 29% clip over his first five games this season.  The 12 points at Milwaukee represented the sixth-highest single game total of his Butler career.

Ronald Nored is shooting .528 over Butler’s last seven games.
 
LIMITED CHARITY:  The Bulldogs converted a season-low five free throws at Milwaukee and matched a season-low with just 10 attempts from the charity stripe.  Butler had just one free throw attempt in the first 22 minutes of the game against the Panthers.  The Bulldogs entered the game averaging 18.1 free throws made and 24.1 free throws attempted over the first 14 games this season.  

Butler leads the Horizon League in team free throw shooting (.746).  

SUCCESSFUL DECADE:  The Bulldogs’ victory over Washington State in the championship game of the Diamond Head Classic wrapped up the most successful decade in Butler basketball history.  Over the past ten seasons, Butler compiled a 244-84 (.748) record, including eight seasons of 20 or more wins.  The Bulldogs advanced to the NCAA Tournament six times, made three “Sweet 16” appearances, earned one “Elite Eight” berth and became the first team in Horizon League history to reach the Final Four during the ten-year period.  Butler captured seven Horizon League regular season championships and three league tournament titles during the decade, and the Bulldogs advanced to post-season tournament play in eight of the ten seasons.

BULLDOG BITS:

•The Bulldogs, who committed 11 turnovers in at Milwaukee, lead the Horizon League in fewest turnovers per game (10.9).  Butler is second in the league in assist/turnover radio (1.1).

•Senior Matt Howard has scored in 119 consecutive Butler games, every game of his collegiate career.

•Matt Howard has scored in double-figures in 13 of his last 14 games.

•Matt Howard ranks second in the Horizon League in both scoring (17.1) and rebounding (8.1). Howard ranks eighth in field goal percentage (.503).

•Matt Howard is leading the Bulldogs, and he stands sixth in the Horizon League in free throw shooting (.845).

•Matt Howard is the lone player in the Horizon League to rank among the league’s “Top 10” players in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage, free throw percentage and three-point field goal percentage.

•Matt Howard had just six points and eight rebounds in 31 minutes against Cleveland State in last year’s game at Hinkle Fieldhouse.  He had 21 points and 13 rebounds in the return game at Cleveland State.

•Matt Howard has averaged 13.6 points and 6.6 rebounds in eight career games against Cleveland State.  He’s shot 50% from the field in those eight meetings.

•Matt Howard is shooting .588 from the field and .907 from the free throw line in six games at Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.  He’s averaged 17.0 points and 8.7 rebounds in those six games.

•Junior Shelvin Mack has three career double-figures scoring performances against Cleveland State, including 18 points in the 2009 Horizon League Tournament championship game.

•Shelvin Mack is averaging 15.7 points and 4.5 assists at Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.

•Shelvin Mack, who hit a single three-point field goal at Milwaukee, now has 157 career three-pointers.  He’s one three-pointer behind Darrin Fitzgerald (1986-87) in 10th place on Butler’s all-time list for three-point field goals. (Fitzgerald accomplished his feat in one season, and he still holds the NCAA record for three-point field goals per game - 5.6).

•The Bulldogs are 34-6 when Shelvin Mack scores at least 14 points and 21-3 when he leads the team in scoring.

•Junior Ronald Nored has averaged 10.0 points in Butler’s last five games, with three double-figures scoring performances.

•Ronald Nored has connected on 24 of his last 30 (.800) free throw attempts.  He entered this season with a .570 career free throw percentage.

•Sophomore Andrew Smith has connected on 22 of his last 28 (.786) field goal attempts, including 11 of his last 12.  Smith is shooting .690 from the field in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.

•Andrew Smith did not play in either of Butler’s games against Cleveland State last year.

•Senior Shawn Vanzant came off the bench with 11 points at Milwaukee, his second consecutive double-figures scoring performance and the fifth for the 6-0 guard this season.

•Freshman Khyle Marshall posted his second collegiate double-figures scoring performance with 10 points against Valparaiso in his last action at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

•Butler is shooting .826 from the charity stripe in six games at Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.  The Bulldogs have out-scored their six Fieldhouse opponents, 128-76, at the free throw line.

•The Bulldogs, who hit five three-point field goals at Milwaukee on Monday, are averaging 7.5 three-pointers at Hinkle Fieldhouse, including 24 in the last three home contests.

•Butler has won its last 27 games when hitting at least nine three-point field goals.  The Bulldogs have hit nine or more three-pointers four times this season.

•The Bulldogs are 44-1 under head coach Brad Stevens when hitting nine or more three-pointers.

•Butler is one of just three NCAA Division I schools to win at least 25 games in each of the last four seasons.  The other two are Kansas and BYU.