Sophomore Zach Hahn came off the bench with a career-high 13 points and Butler used a strong first half defensive effort to defeat host Drake, 58-48, in a non-league contest at the Knapp Center in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday, Nov. 15. The game was the season-opener for both teams.
Hahn was one of three Butler players to score in double-figures in the win. He hit five of nine shots in the game, including three of seven from beyond the three-point arc to compile his team-high total. Sophomore Matt Howard chipped in with 12 points and freshman Gordon Hayward added 11.
But it was Butler's defensive effort that drew praise from Butler head coach Brad Stevens.
"We put a huge emphasis on guarding since we started practice, and I'm proud that we were able to guard those guys. To have (Jonathan) Cox and (Josh) Young as the only players with points in the first half was a good thing."
Butler limited Drake to just 14 points on 23% shooting in the first 20 minutes. Young tallied nine points and Cox added four. Six other Drake players were a combined 0-12 from the field.
Both teams started slowly, with Butler holding a 5-4 lead with five and a half minutes gone in the first half. Butler broke loose first with an 12-0 scoring run that proved decisive. Shawn Vanzant started the rally with a layup, Avery Jukes banked in a three-pointer, Ronald Nored and Vanzant added back-to-back layups and Hahn capped the run with a three-pointer.
Drake never fully recovered. Butler led by 11 at halftime, 25-14, and then held off Drake's comeback attempts in the second half. The host squad trimmed Butler's lead to four at 31-27, but Hahn answered with a three-point field goal to push the lead back to seven.
Hayward then answered a pair of Drake free throws with a three-point field goal to make it 37-29 and Drake never got closer than six points for the remainder of the game.
Young, who scored 25 points in Drake's victory over Butler last year at Hinkle Fieldhouse, finished with a game-high 19 points, but he had to work hard for every one of them.
"Ronald Nored and Shawn Vanzant guarded (Young) most of the time and Shelvin Mack switched off on him some," said Stevens. "For two freshman and a sophomore to guard the way they did against a player who should be on several All-America lists was terrific."
Butler wound up out-rebounding Drake, 35-29, for the game, with Howard and Hayward leading the way with seven rebounds apiece. Veasley added six.
Butler will return to Hinkle Fieldhouse for its next four games, beginning with a test against state rival Ball State on Wednesday, Nov. 19. That contest is set for 7 p.m.