Bulldogs Face No. 1 Duke In Carquest Auto Parts Classic

SECOND CHANCE:  For the second time in seven months, Butler will square off against Duke in a nationally-televised game.  The two national finalists from last year’s NCAA Tournament will meet at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, N.J., on Saturday, Dec. 4, in a rematch that will be televised on ESPN at 3:15 p.m. (ET).  Butler and Duke battled to the wire in last spring’s NCAA title game, and the outcome wasn’t decided until a half-court shot by Butler’s Gordon Hayward bounced off the front of the rim at the final buzzer.  Duke captured its fourth national crown with the 61-59 decision.  The Blue Devils haven’t missed a beat since the national championship game, rolling off seven consecutive victories to start this season and claiming the No. 1 spot in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today national polls.  Butler has stumbled twice in its first six 2010-11 outings.  The Bulldogs, who lost Hayward and forward Willie Veasley from last year’s starting unit, have used four different starting lineups through the first six games.  Butler will be playing at the IZOD Center for the first time.        

Butler has won five of its last six games against “Top 25” teams.

TOP CHALLENGE:  Butler is 0-2 all-time against No. 1-ranked teams.  The Bulldogs lost to No. 1-ranked Michigan, 99-81, in 1964-65, and then fell to top-ranked DePaul, 103-79, in 1979-80.  Both of those game were played on the road.  

LAST TIME OUT:  Senior Zach Hahn hit a pair of free throws with seven seconds remaining to give Butler a three-point lead, and the Bulldogs survived a final possession by host Loyola to post a 65-63 victory in the Horizon League opener for both teams.  The previously unbeaten Ramblers rallied from an 11-point deficit in the second half and closed to with one, 63-62, on a pair of free throws by Jordan Hicks with 0:15 left.  Loyola then fouled Hahn, and the 6-1 guard calmly sunk both free throws to give the Bulldogs a three-point advantage.  Butler guard Shelvin Mack intentionally fouled Loyola’s Courtney Stanley with three seconds remaining, and he made one of two charity tosses for the final margin.  Loyola’s 7-0 start this season was the school’s best since 1962-63.

Butler improved to 50-5 in Horizon League play under head coach Brad Stevens.

RECORD STREAK:  Butler’s win at Loyola gave the Bulldogs 21 consecutive Horizon League regular season victories.  That streak ties the league record, which was shared by Butler (2007-09) and Green Bay (1994-97).

SHARP START:  Butler shot a crisp 62% (16-26) from the field, including 56% (5-9) from beyond three-point range, in the first 20 minutes at Loyola.  The hot start helped the Bulldogs to a 38-28 halftime lead.  The Bulldogs cooled considerably in the second half, but still wound up shooting 47% (24-51) for the game and a season-best 50% (9-18) from the three-point arc.  Butler added eight of 10 (80%) shots from the free throw line in the win.

DIALING LONG DISTANCE:  Five different players contributed to a season-high nine three-point field goals in Butler’s win at Loyola.  Senior Zach Hahn led the way by hitting three of four long-range shots, including two of two in the final 20 minutes.  Senior forward Matt Howard connected on both three-pointers that he attempted and sophomore Chase Stigall came off the bench and hit two of four distance shots.  Senior Shawn Vanzant and junior Shelvin Mack each had one 3-pointer in the win.

Butler has won its last 24 games when hitting at least nine three-pointers.  

POINT SHORTAGE:  Butler played without starting point-guard Ronald Nored in the games against Evansville and Loyola.  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 continues to be evaluated by Butler’s medical staff, and his status is day-to-day.  Nored was the Horizon League Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2009-10.

SENIOR MOMENTS:  Seniors Matt Howard and Zach Hahn grabbed the lead roles in Butler’s league showdown against unbeaten Loyola.  Howard hit six of 10 shots in the game and shared the team scoring lead with 15 points.  He also had a team-high seven rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot in the win.  Hahn matched Howard’s point-total on four of six shooting from the field and four of five from the free throw line.  The 15 points were two off of Hahn’s career-high.  Howard scored 10 points in the first half, while Hahn had 10 points in the final period.    

Matt Howard has led Butler in scoring in three straight games.

SCORING WATCH:  Senior Matt Howard stands in 12th place on Butler’s all-time scoring list with 1,426 career points.  He needs 13 points to catch Bobby Plump (1954-58) in 11th place on the all-time list, and he’s 59 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 weekend’s game with 1,013 career points, five points behind Bruce Horan (2002-06) in 32nd place and 10 points behind J. P. Brens (1989-93) in 31st place on Butler’s all-time list.

FAMILIAR FOES:  Butler’s Shelvin Mack spent nearly as much time with Duke’s tandem of Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler as he did with his own teammates last summer.  All three were members of the 2010 USA Basketball Men’s Select Team, which was chosen to train against the U.S. National Team.  The three also gathered at several summer camps, including the LeBron James Camp.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Senior Matt Howard has moved into the No. 11 spot on Butler’s all-time rebounding list with 647 career rebounds.  Rylan Hainje (1998-2002) stands 10th on Butler’s all-time list with 658 career rebounds.

•Matt Howard has scored in 110 consecutive Butler games, every game of his collegiate career.

•Matt Howard had 11 points and four rebounds in 19 minutes against Duke in last year’s national championship game.  Howard’s playing time against the Blue Devils was limited by foul problems.

•Matt Howard currently ranks second in the Horizon League in rebounding (9.7), and he’s sixth in the circuit in scoring (16.0).  Howard stands sixth in FG% (.545).

•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 matched a season-low with just nine points at Loyola, is currently seventh in scoring in the Horizon League with a 15.8 ppg average.

•Shelvin Mack has 139 career three-point field goals.  He’s 19 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.

•Shelvin Mack shared Butler’s scoring lead (with Gordon Hayward) against Duke last spring with 12 points.

•Shelvin Mack and Duke’s Seth Curry were teammates on the U.S. Men’s U19 National Team, which captured a gold medal at the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship in Auckland, New Zealand.

•Senior Zach Hahn, who scored 11 points against Evansville prior to notching a season-high 15 points at Loyola, has scored in double-figures in back-to-back games for just the second time in his collegiate career.  He had 17 points at Wright State and 15 against UIC in back-to-back game in his sophomore season.

•Zach Hahn currently stands eighth in the Horizon League in free throw shooting (.833).  Hahn has hit nine of his last 10 free throw attempts.

•Senior Shawn Vanzant had five points and a team-high four assists as a starter at Loyola.  Vanzant is one of six returning Bulldogs who saw action against Duke in last spring’s national title game.

•Freshman Khyle Marshall matched his career-highs with nine points and six rebounds in a nine-minute stint off the bench at Loyola.  The 6-7 forward also recorded his first collegiate assist.

•Sophomore Chase Stigall, who came off the bench and hit a career-best three three-point field goals at Siena, had six points, a career-best four rebounds and a career-high two assists in 21 minutes at Loyola.

•Chase Stigall has moved into second place in the Horizon League in three-point field goal shooting.  Stigall has hit seven of 15 (.467) long-range shots this season.

•Sophomore Andrew Smith had four points and three rebounds at Loyola in his first collegiate start.  Smith averaged 6.5 rebounds in a reserve role in Butler’s previous four games (eight versus Louisville, six against Ball State, seven against Siena and five against Evansville).

•The Bulldogs are 41-1 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 (7.3).

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

•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.

•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.