January 13, 2011

Bulldogs Face Detroit In First Place Showdown

MARQUEE MATCH-UP:  Butler will face one of the top teams in the Horizon League for the second time in eight days when it visits Detroit for a nationally-televised game on Friday, Jan. 14.  The feature contest at Calihan Hall will tip at 9 p.m. (ET) and be broadcast on ESPNU.   The Bulldogs (12-5, 4-1 Horizon League) are making their second consecutive Friday night ESPNU appearance.  A week ago, Butler handed then league-leading Cleveland State its first conference loss, 79-56, on the national network.  The Bulldogs then completed the home weekend sweep with an 84-79 victory over Youngstown State on Sunday (Jan. 9).  The two wins lifted Butler into a share of first place in the league standings, along with Detroit, Wright State and Valparaiso.  The Titans (10-7, 4-1 HL), who stand 6-2 at home this season, are coming off their own league sweep, after picking up road victories at Loyola and UIC last weekend.  Butler and Detroit both suffered their lone Horizon League setback at the hands of Milwaukee earlier this month.  The Bulldogs will continue their two-game, league road trip with another top test on Sunday evening at Wright State.              

Butler is 24-5 in Horizon League road games under head coach Brad Stevens.  

RACE WEEK:  The logjam at the top of the Horizon League standings could gain some clarity this weekend, or become even more confused.  The four teams tied for first place face off against each other with Butler visiting Detroit and Valparaiso traveling to Wright State on Friday.  The two home teams will switch opponents on Sunday, with Butler going to Wright State and Valparaiso visiting Detroit.  Cleveland State (4-2), trailing the quad-leaders by a half game, has a single contest at Youngstown State on Saturday (Jan. 15).

VICTORIES 101:  Butler’s five current seniors picked up their 101st career victory with the win over Youngstown State.  That’s the second-most career wins by a four-year class in Butler men’s basketball history, trailing the 118 career wins of last year’s duo of Willie Veasley and Nick Rodgers.  The 2003 class of Joel Cornette, Darnell Archey, Lewis Curry and Mike Moore compiled 100 wins over four seasons.

LAST TIME OUT:  Butler survived a sizzling, second half shooting performance by visiting Youngstown State and held on for an 84-79 league victory.  The win was Butler’s second straight and eighth in the last nine outings.  Youngstown State rallied from a nine-point deficit in the final 20 minutes by connecting on 10 of 14 (.714) three-point field goal attempts.  The Penguins missed their first three-point attempt after intermission and then connected on nine of their next ten long-range shots!  The sharp-shooting exhibition helped Youngstown State build an eight-point lead 61-53, but the Bulldogs battled back and eventually took the lead for good, 81-79, on a tip-in by sophomore Andrew Smith with a minute remaining.  The Penguins wound up hitting a school-record 14 three-point field goals in the game.

BOUNCE BACK:  Junior Shelvin Mack, who had scored just nine points in Butler’s first two games last week, exploded with a career-high 28 points in the Bulldogs’ victory over Youngstown State.  The 6-3 guard hit five of eight shots, including three of five from beyond the three-point arc, and scored 15 points in the first half, while leading Butler to a 41-37 halftime lead.  He added 13 points in the second half, including eight of Butler’s final 10 points.  His three free throws in the final 0:33 sealed the Bulldogs’ 12th victory.  Mack had just three points in Butler’s loss at Milwaukee, and he scored just six points in the Bulldogs’ victory over Cleveland State.

Shelvin Mack has 15 career 20-point scoring performances, and three have been against Youngstown State.       

CLUTCH PERFORMER:  Senior Matt Howard scored 11 of 13 Butler points, including eight straight, midway through the second half against Youngstown State to help the Bulldogs erase an eight-point deficit.  He scored six straight points after Butler fell behind, 61-53, and later added a conventional three-point play to give Butler a 64-63 lead.  The 6-8 Butler forward wound up scoring 15 points in the final 20 minutes, and he finished the game with 26 points, his fourth 20-plus scoring performance in the past nine games.  Howard hit seven of 11 shots against the Penguins and added 11 of 12 from the free throw line.  He also shared Butler’s rebounding lead in the game with six.  Howard was coming off a 17-point performance against Cleveland State.

Matt Howard ranks second in the Horizon League in scoring (17.6).

FREE HELP:  Butler was able to offset the long-range shooting of Youngstown State with a strong performance at the free throw line.  The Bulldogs shot .788 from the charity stripe in the win and out-scored Youngstown State, 26-7.  It was the ninth time this season that the Bulldogs have shot 75% or better from the free throw line, and the 26 free throws made were the second-most in a game this year.  Butler hit 10 of 13 (.769) free throws in the first half and 16 of 20 (.800) in the final 20 minutes.   

Butler leads the Horizon League in team free throw shooting (.752).

FAST LANE:  Head coach Brad Stevens picked up his 100th career win in his 120th game with Butler’s victory over Cleveland State.  Only five coaches in NCAA men’s basketball history reached 100 career victories faster than the Butler coach, and none has done it in the last three decades.  Doc Meanwell of Wisconsin reached the milestone in his 109th game in 1918, Buck Freeman of St. John’s did it in his 110th game in 1932, and Adolph Rupp of Kentucky made it in his 116th game in 1936.  Jerry Tarkanian at Long Beach State (1973) and Jim Boeheim of Syracuse (1980) both reached career victory No. 100 in their 117th game.  Stevens is tied for sixth on the NCAA list of “Fastest to 100 Wins” with Fred Taylor of Ohio State (1963), Everett Case of North Carolina State (1950) and Charles Osborn of Bradley (1961).  Butler’s coach also is tied for fifth on the list of “Fastest To 50 Wins.”  He recorded his 50th career victory in his 56th game in 2009.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Senior Matt Howard has scored in 121 consecutive Butler games, every game of his collegiate career.  He has 88 career double-figures scoring performances.

•Matt Howard has moved into seventh place on Butler’s all-time scoring list with 1,631 career points.  He’s fifth on Butler’s all-time rebounding chart with 732 career rebounds.

•Matt Howard ranks third in the Horizon League in rebounding (7.8).

•Matt Howard is leading the Bulldogs, and he ranks second in the Horizon League in free throw shooting (.849).

•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 has averaged 11.3 points and 6.0 rebounds in six career games against Detroit.  He’s averaged 12.6 points and 8.0 rebounds against the Titans in Calihan Hall.

•Matt Howard is shooting .522 from the field, .500 from the three-point arc and .900 from the free throw line against Horizon League foes this season.

•Junior Shelvin Mack’s 28 points against Youngstown State were the most by a Butler player since Feb. 15, 2009, when Matt Howard scored 30 against Loyola.

•Shelvin Mack moved into 24th place on Butler’s all-time scoring list with 1,168 career points.  He needs just two points to catch Chris Miskel (1992-96) in the No. 23 spot on Butler’s all-time chart.

•Shelvin Mack, who hit five three-point field goals against Youngstown State has moved into 10th place on Butler’s all-time list for three-point field goals.  He’s connected on 164 career three-pointers, 10 behind Jermaine Guice (1990-94) in ninth place.

•Shelvin Mack had six assists in Butler’s two wins last weekend, giving him 284 for his Butler career and moving him into 10th place on Butler’s all-time assist chart.

•The Bulldogs are 35-6 when Shelvin Mack scores at least 14 points and 22-3 when he leads the team in scoring.

•Junior Ronald Nored has had four double-figures scoring performances in Butler’s last seven games.

•Ronald Nored matched his season-high with four steals against Youngstown State.  Nored leads the Bulldogs and ranks 10th in the Horizon League in steals.

•Ronald Nored had a pair of assists against Youngstown State, boosting his career total to 259.  He stands 15th on Butler’s all-time list, one behind Wayne Burris (1973-77) in the No. 14 spot.

•Sophomore Andrew Smith has connected on 32 of his last 41 (.780) field goal attempts, including 21 of his last 25.

•Senior Zach Hahn, who had started Butler’s previous 13 games, did not play against Cleveland State, because of a bout with the flu.  The 6-1 guard did play seven minutes against Youngstown State.

•Senior guard Shawn Vanzant played 31 minutes against Cleveland State with three assists and no turnovers.  He then played 30 minutes with two assists and no turnovers against Youngstown State.

•Sophomore Chase Stigall came off the bench and scored eight points in a career-high 26 minutes against Youngstown State.  He also matched his career-high with two assists in the reserve stint.

•Freshman Khyle Marshall has averaged 7.5 points and 3.3 rebounds in a reserve role in Butler’s past four games.  He matched his career-high with 11 points against Cleveland State.

•The 14 three-point field goals that Youngstown State hit against the Bulldogs were the most by a Butler opponent since Loyola cashed 14 three-pointers eight years ago to the day.

•Butler has won 25 of its last 26 games when yielding fewer than 60 points.

•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.