Butler Hosts Long-Time Foe Evansville

LONG HISTORY:  Butler will square off against state foe Evansville for the 116th time on Saturday, Nov. 27.  The non-league contest at Hinkle Fieldhouse will start at 2 p.m. (ET) and will be televised locally on WNDY-TV.  Only two teams have played the Bulldogs more often than Evansville.  Indiana State has been a Butler foe 123 times, while Wabash played the Bulldogs 119 times.  DePauw also faced Butler 116 times.  Evansville leads the all-time competition, 60-55, but the Bulldogs have captured the last seven meetings.  The Aces fell to 2-2 on the season with an 82-70 loss at Middle Tennessee on Wednesday (Nov. 24).  That setback came three days after Evansville dropped a 67-54 decision at Indiana, a game that the Aces led at halftime.  Butler won its second straight game and improved to 3-1 on the season with a 70-57 decision  at Siena on Tuesday (Nov. 23).  Following the Evansville game, Butler will begin Horizon League play at Loyola on Wednesday, Dec. 1.

IN THE HOUSE:  The Bulldogs were 15-0 in Hinkle Fieldhouse last year, Butler’s first unbeaten home record since 2002-03.  Butler compiled a 30-2 record at home over the past two seasons, and the Bulldogs are 46-3 in Hinkle Fieldhouse in four seasons under head coach Brad Stevens.  The Bulldogs have won 11 straight home games against opponents from Indiana

Butler has won 17 consecutive games in Hinkle Fieldhouse.

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 is ranked second in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major “Top 25.”  The Bulldogs were ranked No. 1 in the Mid-Major “Top 25” for the first two weeks of the season.

Butler has been nationally-ranked in five consecutive seasons.

LAST TIME OUT:  Butler, behind the strong performance of several players off the bench, rallied from an early deficit and pulled away to a 13-point win, 70-57, at Siena.  It was just the second home loss for the Saints in the past 40 games.  The home team jumped to a 6-0 early advantage and led by eight, 13-5, six minutes into the game.  But the Bulldogs fought back to tie the game to tie the game three times in the first half, the last coming at 21-21.  Forward Matt Howard then gave the Bulldogs the lead for good with his first three-point field goal of the season.  Butler led 37-29 at halftime and stretched the margin to as many as 14 points in the second half.  The Bulldogs had just one starter score in double-figures in the game, but head coach Brad Stevens picked up 38 points from his bench.     

BENCH PRESS:  Butler point-guard Ronald Nored went to the bench with a head injury, following a collision just one minute into the game at Siena, and Butler’s four other starters managed just 15 points in the first half against the Saints.  But the Bulldogs built an eight-point halftime lead behind the strong performance of reserves Andrew Smith, Garrett Butcher, Chase Stigall and Shawn Vanzant.  The four combined for 22 points in the first 20 minutes, and out-scored Siena’s bench, 22-0!  Vanzant finished the game with a season-high 12 points, Stigall added a career-high nine points, Smith had eight points and seven rebounds and Butcher chipped in with six points and seven rebounds.  Butler had a 38-5 advantage in bench scoring in the win.

Butler has had a 75-23 advantage in bench scoring in the past two games.
 
FIRST DEFENSE:  After giving up 88 points at Louisville, the most allowed by Butler under head coach Brad Stevens, the Bulldogs have rebounded by holding Ball State to 55 points and Siena to 57.  Ball State entered the contest averaging 76.0 points per game, while Siena was scoring at a 76.3 clip.  Butler held Ball State to just 20 points in the first half and then limited Siena to 29 points in the first 20 minutes.  Last season, Butler was 20-0 when holding its opponent below 60 points.

Butler has won 23 consecutive games when yielding fewer than 60 points.

DOUBLE TAKE:  Senior Matt Howard led the Bulldogs at Siena with 17 points and 12 rebounds.  It was his second consecutive double-double and the 11th of his Butler career.  Howard had seven points and four rebounds in the first half to help Butler grab a halftime lead, and then he added 10 points and eight rebounds in the final period.  His performance came one game after he recorded 16 points and 10 rebounds in Butler’s home victory over Ball State.  Howard currently ranks second in the Horizon League in rebounding (9.5), and he’s tied for ninth in the league in scoring (15.5).  He’s one of just three players in the league with at least two double-doubles already this season.

Matt Howard had 10 points and 13 rebounds at Evansville last year.

SCORING WATCH:  Senior Matt Howard has moved into a tie with Jeff Blue (1961-64) for 13th place on Butler’s all-time scoring list with 1,392 career points.  He needs eight points to catch Keith Greve (1951-54, 1957-58) in 12th place on the all-time list, and he’s 93 points behind Jon Neuhouser (1994-98), who currently holds the No. 10 spot on Butler’s all-time list.  

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’s last 100-point game came against Evansville in 2001, 101-65.  The most points ever scored by a Butler team also came in a game against Evansville, when the Bulldogs dropped a 136-128 decision in double-overtime at Hinkle Fieldhouse in 1991.

•Senior Matt Howard has moved the No. 12 spot on Butler’s all-time rebounding list with 627 career rebounds.  Mike Miller (1978-81) stands 11th on Butler’s all-time list with 637 career rebounds.

•Matt Howard has scored in 108 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.

•Matt Howard had a career-high four steals in Butler’s win at Siena.  The 6-8 forward also hit a career-best two three-point field goals in the win.

•Junior Shelvin Mack, who scored just nine points in Butler’s win at Siena, is currently the third-leading scorer in the Horizon League with an 18.3 ppg average.  He had scored in double-figures in 13 consecutive games, prior to the game at Siena.  Mack has averaged 17.5 points in two career meetings with Evansville.

•Shelvin Mack is closing in on becoming the 33rd Butler player to reach 1,000 career points.  Mack enters the Evansville contest with 991 career tallies.

•Shelvin Mack has 137 career three-point field goals.  He’s 21 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.

•Guard Ronald Nored, who suffered a cut above his left eye in a collision during the Siena game, continues to be monitored by Butler’s medical staff.  His status is day-to-day.

•Senior Shawn Vanzant posted his first double-figures scoring performance of the season and just the fourth of his Butler career with his 12 points in a reserve role at Siena.  It was his first twin-digits scoring performance since Jan. 2, when he scored 12 points off the bench in a win at home over Milwaukee.

•Sophomore Chase Stigall came off the bench and hit a career-best three three-point field goals at Siena.  He had not scored more than three points in a game, prior to his performance against the Saints.

•Sophomore Andrew Smith has averaged 7.0 rebounds in a reserve role in Butler’s last three games (eight versus Louisville, six against Ball State and seven against Siena).

•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 in each of its last two games.

•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 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.