Bulldogs Begin League Play At Unbeaten Loyola

LEAGUE START:  Butler will begin its bid for a fifth consecutive Horizon League regular season championship when it visits Loyola on Wednesday, Dec. 1.  The league-opener at the Joseph J. Gentile Center on Loyola’s campus is scheduled for a 7 p.m. (CT, 8 p.m. in Indianapolis) tip-off and will be televised in Indianapolis on WNDY-TV.  Butler became the first team in Horizon League history to record an 18-0 league regular season record a year ago.  Just one of those 18 wins came by less than a field goal and that was a 48-47 decision over Loyola at the Gentile Center.  This season, the Ramblers are 7-0, one of two unbeaten teams in the league standings.  Loyola leads the league in scoring margin (+15.4), free throw shooting (.770) and three-point field goal shooting (.430).  Guards Terrance Hill and Geoff McCammon are the top two three-point field goal shooters in the league, and Hill further leads the league in free throw shooting.  Loyola is 5-0 this season in the Gentile Center.  Butler (3-2) is coming off a 71-68 overtime loss to Evansville, which snapped the Bulldogs’ 17-game homecourt winning streak.

Butler has won 49 of 54 Horizon League games under head coach Brad Stevens.

ROUGH ROAD:  Butler’s league-opener in Chicago begins a three-game stretch that sends the Bulldogs up against unbeaten Loyola, No. 1-ranked and defending national champ Duke (Dec. 4) and 5-1 Xavier (Dec. 9), all away from home.

EARLY LOOK:  Butler was the unanimous favorite in the preseason poll of Horizon League coaches, media and sports information directors, but the first month of the season hasn’t reinforced the league predictions.  Cleveland State (8-0), picked third, and Loyola (7-0), picked 8th, sit on top of the league standings with perfect records, while Youngstown State, tabbed 10th in the poll, is currently third with a 4-1 record.  Butler is in fourth place, while Detroit, the  preseason runner-up pick, is tied for sixth.

RECORD STREAK:  The Bulldogs have won 20 consecutive Horizon League regular season games, one shy of the league record currently shared by Butler (2007-09) and Green Bay (1994-97).  

LAST TIME OUT:  Forward Denver Holmes hit a clutch three-point field goal with 0:18 left in overtime to lift visiting Evansville to a 71-68 victory over Butler.  It was the Aces’ first win at Hinkle Fieldhouse since 1994, and it snapped a seven-game Butler winning streak in the overall series.  The Aces rallied from a 10-point deficit in the second half and held a two-point lead in the final ten seconds of regulation play.  But senior guard Zach Hahn hit a pair of free throws with 0:08 left on the clock to tie the game and send it into overtime.  The three-point field goal by Holmes broke a 67-67 tie and gave the Aces the lead for good.  Butler had a chance to tie the game with seven seconds remaining when Shelvin Mack was fouled on a three-point field goal attempt, but the junior guard missed his second attempt and then intentionally missed the third.  Mack had another three-point field goal attempt to tie at the buzzer, but it came up short.

Butler is 3-2 in overtime games under head coach Brad Stevens.

LATE SURGE:  Evansville out-scored the Bulldogs, 32-25, in the second half to fuel the come-from-behind victory.  It was the first time this season that Butler was out-scored in the final period, and it was the fewest points scored by the Bulldogs in the final 20 minutes.  Butler made just seven of 29 shots (.241) in the second half, including just one of five (20%) attempts from beyond the three-point arc.

Butler has out-scored its opponents, 199-168, in the second half this season.     

POINT SHORTAGE:  Butler played without starting point-guard Ronald Nored in the game against Evansville.  Nored, a starter in 69 of 74 career games, suffered a head injury in a collision early in Butler’s victory at Siena, and he’s been sidelined since.  The 6-0 junior is being evaluated by Butler’s medical staff, but he’ll remain sidelined for the Loyola game.  Nored was the Horizon League Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2009-10.

DOUBLE UP:  Senior Matt Howard recorded his third consecutive double-double with game-highs of 19 points and 13 rebounds against Evansville.  Howard, who picked up two early fouls in the game, played just 27 minutes against the Aces.  Earlier in the week, the 6-8 forward led the Bulldogs at Siena with 17 points and 12 rebounds, and he recorded 16 points and 10 rebounds in Butler’s home victory over Ball State.  Howard, who has 12 career double-doubles, is one of just two Horizon League players with at least three double-doubles this season.

Matt Howard has two career double-doubles against Loyola.

SCORING WATCH:  Senior Matt Howard has moved into 12th place on Butler’s all-time scoring list with 1,411 career points.  He needs 28 points to catch Bobby Plump (1954-58) in 11th place on the all-time list, and he’s 74 points behind Jon Neuhouser (1994-98), who currently holds the No. 10 spot on Butler’s all-time list.  

FOUR FIGURES:  Junior Shelvin Mack became the 33rd Butler player to score 1,000 career points, during the Bulldogs’ game against Evansville.  The 6-3 guard topped the 1,000-point mark with a pair of free throws with 2:31 remaining in regulation play.  He enters this week’s action with 1,004 career points, 14 points behind Bruce Horan (2002-06) in 32nd place on Butler’s all-time scoring list.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Butler’s loss to Evansville knocked the Bulldogs out of both major college basketball polls for the first time since Dec. 22, 2008.  Butler has been nationally-ranked in five consecutive seasons.

•Senior Matt Howard has moved into the No. 11 spot on Butler’s all-time rebounding list with 640 career rebounds.  Rylan Hainje (1998-2002) stands 10th on Butler’s all-time list with 658 career rebounds.

•Matt Howard has scored in 109 consecutive Butler games, every game of his collegiate career.

•Matt Howard scored a career-high 30 points against Loyola at Hinkle Fieldhouse as a sophomore.  He’s averaged 18.0 points and 7.5 rebounds in six career meetings with the Ramblers.  He had just six points in 32 minutes in last year’s game at the Gentile Center.

•Matt Howard currently ranks second in the Horizon League in rebounding (10.2), and he’s sixth in the circuit in scoring (16.2).

•Matt Howard stands second in the Horizon League in both offensive rebounds (3.4) and defensive rebounds (6.8)

•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, who scored 13 points against Evansville, is currently the fourth-leading scorer in the Horizon League with a 17.2 ppg average.

•Shelvin Mack scored 20 points against the Ramblers in the Gentile Center as a freshman in 2008-09.  He had 12 point in last year’s game on Loyola’s homecourt.

•Shelvin Mack has 138 career three-point field goals.  He’s 20 three-pointers behind Darrin Fitzgerald (1986-87) in 10th place on Butler’s all-time list for three-point field goals.  Mack currently ranks eighth in the league in three-point field goals (1.8).

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

•Senior Zach Hahn scored a season-high 11 points against Evansville.  Hahn hit a pair of three-point field goals and a career-best five of five from the free throw line in the game.  He also matched his career-high with five rebounds in the game.

•Zach Hahn currently stands eighth in the Horizon League in free throw shooting (.846).

•Freshman Khyle Marshall had a career-high six rebounds in 15 minutes of action in Butler’s game with Evansville.

•Former walk-on Alex Anglin made his first career start in Butler’s game against Evansville.  He had four points, two rebounds, an assist and a blocked shots in the game, while guarding Evansville scoring leader Colt Ryan.

•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.  Vanzant had four points off the bench against Evansville.

•Sophomore Chase Stigall, who came off the bench and hit a career-best three three-point field goals at Siena, is fourth in the Horizon League in three-point field goal shooting.  Stigall has hit five of 11 (.455) three-point attempts on the young season.

•Sophomore Andrew Smith has averaged 6.5 rebounds in a reserve role in Butler’s last four games (eight versus Louisville, six against Ball State, seven against Siena and five against Evansville).  Smith, who is averaging 18.0 minutes per game, is Butler’s second-leading rebounder on the season.

The Bulldogs are leading the Horizon League in rebounding margin (+6.2).  Butler out-rebounded Evansville, 42-34.  The Bulldogs have out-rebounded four of their first five opponents this season.

•Butler stands second in the Horizon League in team scoring offense (76.4), and the Bulldogs are fifth in the league in team scoring defense (65.0).

•Butler had season-lows for points (68), field goals (20), field goal percentage (.333), three-point field goals (5), three-point field goal attempts (14), assists (8) and steals (1) in its loss to Evansville.

•The Bulldogs matched their season-high with 17 turnovers against Evansville.  Butler also had 17 turnovers in its a loss at Louisville.

•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 currently is third in the Horizon League in three-point field goals per game (7.0).

•The Bulldogs have won 23 consecutive games when yielding fewer than 60 points.  Butler has held three of its first five opponents this season under 60 points.

•The 48 points Butler scored at Loyola last year were the fewest scored by the Bulldogs during their championship season.  The Bulldogs also had season-lows for free throws (5), free throw attempts (10) and three-point field goal shooting (.150, 3-20) in the game at the Gentile Center.

•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.