Butler Visits Siena In BracketBusters Rematch

EAST BOUND:  Butler will make the first of two trips to New York in a 12-day span when it visits Siena for a rematch of last year’s BracketBusters game on Tuesday, Nov. 23.  The contest at Times Union Center in downtown Albany will start at 7 p.m. (ET) and will be televised locally on WNDY 23.  The Bulldogs are coming off a week of dramatically different results.  Butler began last week with an 88-73 loss at Louisville, the Bulldogs’ biggest margin of defeat in 142 games.  Four days later, the Bulldogs raced past Ball State, 88-55, Butler’s biggest margin of victory in 70 games!  The two outcomes left #16/18 Butler at 2-1 on the young season.  Siena also posted a one-sided victory over the weekend.  The Saints rolled over Northeastern, 84-68, in Boston, Mass., to improve to 1-2 on the year.  Butler and Siena met for the first time last February in a featured BracketBusters games at Hinkle Fieldhouse, and the Bulldogs prevailed, 70-53.  Butler will be returning to New York in less than two weeks for a nationally-televised game against Duke on Dec. 4.  The game against Duke will be played at the IZOD Center.                                            

ROAD TEST:  The Bulldogs, looking for their first road victory this season, will be facing a team that is 38-1 in its last 39 home games.  Siena had the nation’s second-longest homecourt winning streak, prior to losing this year’s season-opener  to Vermont at home.

Butler is 34-7 on the road under head coach Brad Stevens.

POLLING DATA:  Butler, ranked No. 2 in the final ESPN/USA Today national poll a year ago, opened the 2010-11 season with a No. 17 ranking in the Associated Press (A.P.) preseason poll and a No. 18 ranking in the ESPN/USA Today preseason poll.  It was the second straight season (and the second time in school history) that Butler was nationally-ranked in the preseason.  The Bulldogs are receiving votes in this week’s A.P. poll and ranked No. 23 in the ESPN/USA Today poll.

Butler has been nationally-ranked in five consecutive seasons.

LAST TIME OUT:  Butler used a 20-6 scoring run midway through the first half to turn a close game against Ball State into a one-sided affair.  The visiting Cardinals, who entered the game with a 2-0 record on two double-digit wins, led 11-9 with 14:25 left in the first half.  That’s when guard Shawn Vanzant ignited the run with a three-point field goal.  Six more Bulldogs scored during the run, which put Butler on top, 29-17.  The Bulldogs stretched the margin to 18, 38-20, with an 8-0 run to end the half and then extended it to as many as 35 points on two occasions in the second half.  The 88-55 final score was Butler’s largest margin of victory in the past 70 games.

Butler’s 88 points were the third-most under head coach Brad Stevens.   

HOME RUN:  The victory over Ball State was Butler’s 17th consecutive win at Hinkle Fieldhouse.  The Bulldogs improved to 46-3 at home in four seasons under head coach Brad Stevens.

FIRST DEFENSE:  After giving up 88 points at Louisville, the most allowed in the Brad Stevens’ era, the Bulldogs rebounded by holding Ball State to just 55 points.  The Cardinals entered the contest averaging 76.0 points per game.  Butler held Ball State to just 20 points in the first half, before yielding 35 in the final 20 minutes.  Last season, Butler was 20-0 when holding its opponent below 60 points.

Butler has won 22 consecutive games when yielding fewer than 60 points.

HOT START:  Junior Shelvin Mack has topped the Bulldogs in scoring in each of the team’s first three games.  He tallied 20 points in 28 minutes in Butler’s season-opening victory over Marian and then posted 25 points in 27 minutes at Louisville.  The 6-3 guard posted 19 points in 31 minutes against Ball State.  Mack, who’s shooting 52% from the field in Butler’s first three games, has topped the Bulldogs in scoring 22 times during his career.  He had a team-high 23 points against Siena last year.

Shelvin Mack has scored 20 or more points in 14 career games.   

DOUBLE TIME:  Senior Matt Howard sparked the Bulldogs to their first half lead against Ball State with 12 points in 15 minutes.  He scored seven points in the final six minutes of the first half to help Butler to a 38-20 halftime lead.  Howard finished the game with 16 points and 10 rebounds, his tenth career double-double.  Howard, plagued by foul problems, played just 19 minutes against Siena last year and finished with just eight points and one rebound.

BENCH WORK:  Butler had a 37-18 advantage in bench scoring against Ball State, thanks in large part to a pair of former starters.  Senior Shawn Vanzant and junior Garrett Butcher, both starters in Butler’s first two games, came off the bench against the Cardinals with solid offensive performances.  Vanzant scored 11 points, the fourth double-figures scoring performance of his career, to pace Butler’s reserves, while Butcher came off the bench with a season-high seven points.  The Bulldogs also picked up seven bench points from 6-11 sophomore Andrew Smith.

BETTER HALF:  Butler head coach Brad Stevens may have discovered the right halftime speech.  The Bulldogs have scored 50 second half points in back-to-back games.  That total matches the most second-half points scored by the Bulldogs a year ago.  Butler hit 12 of 25 (48%) shots in the second half at Louisville, while out-scoring the Cardinals, 50-47, and then connected on 17 of 34 (50%) attempts and out-scored Ball State, 50-35, in the final period.

Butler is out-scoring its opponents, 141-108, in the second half this season.

SCORING WATCH:  Senior Matt Howard stands 15th place on Butler’s all-time scoring list with 1,360 career points.  He trails Rylan Hainje (1998-2002) in 14th place on the all-time list by 12 points.  

PRESEASON HONORS:  Shelvin Mack has already been recognized on several preseason All-America teams.  Mack was chosen first team All-America, along with Kyle Singler of Duke, Harrison Barnes of North Carolina, Jared Sullinger of Ohio State and Jacob Pullen of Kansas State, by Fox Sports.com, and he was named honorable mention All-America by the Associated Press.  The 6-3 Butler guard also was ranked fourth among top 2010-11 point guards and combo guards by Gary Parrish of CBS Sports.com.  He was named to the John Wooden Award 2010-11 Preseason Top 50 list, and he’s on the 2010-11 Naismith preseason watch list.  Mack was chosen as the Horizon League Preseason Player of the Year and named first team preseason All-League.

EXHIBITION LEADER:  Senior Matt Howard averaged 15.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in Butler’s two exhibition wins.  His 19 points against Florida Southern were the most by a Butler player in the two exhibition tests, as were his 10 rebounds against Hanover.  The 6-8 forward, who had 12 points against Hanover, shot .632 (12-19) from the field and .778 (7-9) from the free throw line in the two games.  Howard, who averaged just 22 minutes per game in the two contests, was the lone Bulldog to score in double-figures in each of the two exhibition games.

SUCCESSFUL DECADE:  The Bulldogs’ victory over Green Bay on Dec. 31, 2009, closed out the most successful decade in Butler basketball history.  Butler won nearly 70% of its games during the decade, posting a 10-year record of 236-103 (.696).  The Bulldogs had eight 20-win seasons, earned eight postseason tournament bids and had a pair of NCAA Sweet 16 appearances from 1999-2000 to 2008-09!

RECORD RUN:  Butler’s 118 wins over the four seasons from 2006-2010 set a school and Horizon League record for most wins in four consecutive years.  The Bulldogs also own the Horizon League’s two-year (59, 2006-08 & 2008-10) and three-year (89, 2007-10) records for victories.

Butler has won at least 20 games in five consecutive seasons and in 12 of the past 14 campaigns.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Butler is leading the Horizon League in team free throw shooting (.732).  The Bulldogs were second in the league in free throw shooting (.738) a year ago.

•Senior Matt Howard has moved into a tie with J. P. Brens (1989-93) for the No. 12 spot on Butler’s all-time rebounding list with 615 career rebounds.  Mike Miller (1978-81) stands 11th on Butler’s all-time list with 637 career rebounds.

•Matt Howard has scored in 107 consecutive Butler games, every game of his collegiate career.

•Matt Howard is one of 30 candidates nominated for the 2010-11 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award.  The award is presented to one senior who has shown notable achievement in four areas of excellence - classroom, character, community and competition.

•Junior Shelvin Mack is closing in on becoming the 33rd Butler player to reach 1,000 career points.  Mack enters the Siena contest with 982 career tallies.

•Shelvin Mack is currently the second-leading scorer in the Horizon League with a 21.3 ppg average.  Norris Cole of Cleveland State leads the league at 21.6.

•Shelvin Mack has 136 career three-point field goals.  He’s 22 three-pointers behind Darrin Fitzgerald (1986-87) in 10th place on Butler’s all-time list for three-point field goals.

•The Bulldogs are 30-5 when Shelvin Mack scores at least 14 points and 19-3 when he leads the team in scoring.

•Junior guard Ronald Nored scored just one point against Ball State, but still had a major impact on the outcome of the game.  The 6-0 Butler point-guard turned in a solid defensive performance against the Cardinals’ leading scorer, Jauwan Scaife, holding him to three points in the first half and eight points for the game.

•Ronald Nored didn’t start last year’s game against Siena (it was Butler’s Senior Day), but he came off the bench with eight points, six assists, two steals, two rebounds and a blocked shot.

•Senior Zach Hahn, getting his second collegiate start, led the Bulldogs with a pair of 3-point field goals against Ball State.

•Junior Garrett Butcher, who came off the bench with seven points against Ball State, posted his highest scoring total since February 26, 2009, when he came off the bench with eight points against Youngstown State.  Butcher had off-season surgery on both knees to correct a problem that plagued him all of last season.

•Sophomore Andrew Smith has grabbed 14 rebounds in a reserve role in Butler’s last two games (eight versus Louisville and six against Ball State).

•Butler has won its last 23 games when hitting at least nine three-point field goals.  The Bulldogs are 40-1 under head coach Brad Stevens when hitting nine or more three-pointers.  Butler hit eight three-point field goals against Ball State.

•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.

•Butler is the first team in Horizon League history to record four consecutive seasons of 25 wins or more.  The Bulldogs won 29 games in 2006-07, 30 in 2007-08, 26 in 2008-09 and 33 last season.

•Butler head coach Brad Stevens landed four recruits on the first day of the NCAA’s fall signing period.  Joining the Bulldogs’ 2011-12 freshman class were 6-4 Roosevelt Jones of O’Fallon, Ill., 6-1 Jackson Aldridge of Sydney, Australia, 6-6 Andy Smeathers of Bargersville (Center Grove H.S.) and 6-9 Kameron Woods of Louisville, Ky. (Eastern H.S.).  Jones averaged 20 points and 12 rebounds for 30-4 O’Fallon last year, while Aldridge was a gold medal-winning point-guard on Australia’s U18 team.  Smeathers, averaged 14 points for 17-4 Center Grove, while Woods averaged 7.0 points and 7.0 rebounds at Eastern, one of the top prep teams in Kentucky.