February 19, 2011

Butler Rolls At UIC, 79-52

Butler 79 UIC 52 : February 19, 2011

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CHICAGO, ILL. -- Senior Matt Howard led four Butler players in double-figures and the Bulldogs used a strong finish to the first half to pull away from host UIC and post a 79-52 victory at the UIC Pavilion on Saturday, Feb. 19.  The win was Butler's sixth straight and gave the Bulldogs a sixth consecutive 20-win season.

The Bulldogs (20-9, 12-5 HL), who trailed early in the game, used a 21-5 run in the final 7:37 of the first half to take control of the game.  Sophomore Andrew Smith scored eight points to ignite the decisive run, while junior Shelvin Mack scored six consecutive points in the final 1:46.  The run gave Butler a 40-27 halftime lead.

"I thought through the better part of the last part of the first half and through the second half our guys played with a great purpose on both ends,"  said Butler head coach Brad Stevens after the game.  "Probably as indicative as anything was rebounding the ball the way they did during those stretches."

Howard, who finished with a game-high 19 points, and Smith, who added 16, each had nine rebounds for the Bulldogs, who out-rebounded UIC, 39-32.  The Flames (7-22, 2-15 HL) entered the game as the top rebounding team in the Horizon League.

UIC opened the game by hitting nine of its first 13 shots.  The Flames took their biggest lead at 21-17 on a lay-up by Paris Carter with 10:34 left in the first half and remained in front until Smith gave the Bulldogs the lead for good with a dunk at 6:41.  Butler out-scored the Flames, 15-3, in the final 5:30 of the first period.

"I thought we played off the energy that we were using defensively," noted Stevens of his team's first half run.  "We had a couple moments where we turned them over and got some run-outs, and that always gives you a little extra juice."

Butler didn't let up in the second half, stretching the lead to 21 in the first 10 minutes of the final period and eventually taking the advantage to 30 points, 74-44, with just over four minutes remaining.  The Bulldogs picked up points from 11 different players.

Senior Shawn Vanzant chipped in with 11 points and Mack added 10 to the Bulldogs' total.  Seniors Paul Carter (15) and Robo Kreps (10), both playing their final home game, led the Flames.

Butler shot 53% (17-32) in the first half and finished the game shooting 50% (32-64).  The Bulldogs held UIC to 38.2% shooting (21-55).  The Flames' 52 points marked the second time in the past three games that Butler held an opponent under 55 points.

The Bulldogs will have a week off before closing the regular season at home against Loyola on Saturday, Feb. 26.  Butler currently sits in third place in the Horizon League, trailing league-leading Cleveland State (12-4) and Valaparaiso (11-4).