COMING HOME: Butler, coming off a two-game road trip to Chicago, will begin a stretch of three consecutive home contests when it hosts Green Bay in a key Horizon League showdown on Thursday, Jan. 22. The game between two of the top three teams in the league standings will tip at 7 p.m. (ET) in Hinkle Fieldhouse and will be televised locally on MyNDY 23. Butler (16-1) improved to 7-0 in Horizon League play with back-to-back victories over Loyola, 78-55, and UIC, 59-52, on the trip to Chicago. The 7-0 mark matches Butler's 1990-91 squad for the best Horizon League start in school history. The Bulldogs also stretched the league's longest current winning streak to eight consecutive games. Green Bay (14-5, 6-1 Horizon League), just a game behind the Bulldogs in the league standings, brings a four-game winning streak and victories in eight of its past 10 contests to Indianapolis. The Wisconsin club leads the league in team scoring offense (71.0), field goal shooting (.435), three-point field goal shooting (.393) and free throw shooting (.795). Green Bay has won three consecutive league games.
BEST STARTS: The Bulldogs have tied the best 17-game record and the best start in Butler basketball history. Butler also recorded 16-1 record a year ago. This year's team is bidding to become the first Butler squad to post a 17-1 mark.
HOME SECURITY: Butler is 8-0 in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season, and the Bulldogs have won 12 straight games on their homecourt since dropping a decision to nationally-ranked Drake in last year's BracketBusters game. The Bulldogs boast wins in 50 of their last 54 contests in the Fieldhouse, including 29 of their last 30 Horizon League games. Butler is 118-15 (.887) at home since 1999-00.
POLL CLIMBING: Butler is ranked in the "Top 20" of both major national polls for the second consecutive week. The Bulldogs are No. 16 in this week's Associated Press (A.P.) national poll and No. 17 in the ESPN/USA Today poll. Butler was ranked in both polls for a school- and Horizon League-record 19 consecutive weeks last year.
LAST TIME OUT: The Bulldogs weathered their lowest scoring half of the season and stormed back in the final 20 minutes to pull out a seven-point decision at UIC. Butler hit just seven of 30 (.233) shots in the first half and trailed the Flames, 28-17, at halftime. It matched Butler's biggest halftime deficit this season! The margin grew to 13 points, 30-17, at the start of the second half, before the Bulldogs rallied to out-score UIC, 42-22, over the final 18:06! Junior Willie Veasley came up with a steal and a lay-up with 8:25 remaining to give Butler its first lead of the second half, 43-42, and freshman Gordon Hayward later hit two free throws to give the Bulldogs the lead for good at 47-45 with 5:54 left. Veasley, Hayward and freshman Shelvin Mack combined to score 40 of Butler's 42 points in the second half! The 13-point second half deficit was the largest overcome by the Bulldogs this season.
Butler has clinched its fourth consecutive winning season.
FEELING DEFENSIVE: Butler's two games in Chicago couldn't have been more different at the offensive end of the court, or more similar at the defensive end. The Bulldogs shot 50% from the field, including 11 of 22 from the three-point arc, and scored 78 points at Loyola. Two days later, Butler shot just 33%, scored just 17 points in the first half and finished with just 59 points. But the Bulldogs prevailed in both contests by holding the two Chicago foes below 60 points. Butler limited Loyola to 34% shooting and 55 total points, and then kept UIC to 38% shooting and 52 points. The Bulldogs have held four consecutive opponents to 55 points or less.
Butler ranks second in the NCAA Division I in team scoring defense (55.8).
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Junior Willie Veasley had perhaps the best two-game defensive performance in the Horizon League this season on Butler's trip to Chicago. The 6-3 Butler forward held the Ramblers' J. R. Blount, the third-leading scorer in the league, to just two points in the Bulldogs' win at Loyola. He then limited league scoring leader Josh Mayo to just seven points in Butler's win at UIC. Veasley also contributed 18 points, nine rebounds and four assists to the two Butler victories.
FRESH CONNECTION: Butler freshmen Shelvin Mack and Gordon Hayward took turns leading the Bulldogs in scoring in Chicago. Mack scored a game-high 20 points at Loyola, while Hayward added 11 points and eight rebounds. Hayward then stepped up with a game-high 25 points and seven rebounds at UIC, while Mack finished with 18 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Mack leads the Bulldogs with four 20-point scoring performances this season, while Hayward is second on the team with three 20-point efforts.
HOME BODY: Sophomore Matt Howard has led the Bulldogs in scoring at Hinkle Fieldhouse this season with a 14.3 average. The 6-8 forward has shot 60.3% from the field in his eight games at home this year, while recording double-figures scoring performances seven times. He's also led the Bulldogs in rebounding at home with a 5.3 average.
Matt Howard has averaged 15.1 points over Butler's eight-game win streak.
DIALING LONG DISTANCE: The Bulldogs connected on 22 three-point field goals in their two victories in Chicago. Butler hit 11 of 22 three-pointers in their win at Loyola and then cashed 11 of 39 long-range attempts at UIC. The 11 three-pointers are the most by the Bulldogs in Horizon League action this season and the third-highest total overall this year. Butler had a season-high 13 three-point field goals in a victory at Bradley and 12 three-pointers in a win over Florida Gulf Coast. Butler has hit 10 or more three-point field goals seven times this season.
Butler is 10-0 this season when hitting at least nine three-point field goals.
•Butler is ranked first in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 for the second straight week. Saint Mary's (17-1) is ranked second in the mid-major poll, while Gonzaga (12-4) is ranked third.
•Butler has won 18 consecutive Horizon League regular season games, dating back to last season. The Bulldogs' last Horizon League setback came at Cleveland State on Jan. 17, 2008.
•The Bulldogs have won 12 consecutive Horizon League contests in Hinkle Fieldhouse.
•Sophomore Matt Howard has connected on 26 of 36 (.722) field goal attempts in Butler's last six games. Howard ranks second in the Horizon League in field goal pct. (.518).
•Matt Howard had his fourth double-double of the season with 18 points and 11 rebounds at Loyola. He had just six points at UIC, snapping a string of eight consecutive games in double-figures.
•Matt Howard and freshman Gordon Hayward each had 15 rebounds on Butler's trip to Chicago. The two are tied for fourth in the Horizon League in rebounding (6.6).
•Gordon Hayward, who hit 9 of 17 (.529) three-point field goal attempts in Chicago, leads the Horizon League in three-point field goal shooting (.476).
•Gordon Hayward matched his career scoring high with 25 points at UIC. He also scored 25 points at Ohio State.
•Butler is leading the Horizon League in scoring margin (+12.2), scoring defense (55.8), field goal percentage defense (.384), fewest turnovers (11.8) and three-point field goals (8.8). The Bulldogs are second in the league in field goal percentage (.426), three-point field goal percentage (.369), rebounding margin (+2.8) and assist/turnover ratio (1.2).
•Butler's duo of Shelvin Mack and Gordon Hayward are the top scoring freshmen in the Horizon League. Mack ranks eighth overall in scoring with a 13.1 average, while Hayward stands ninth with a 13.0 mark. No other freshman is ranked in the "Top 20."
•The Bulldogs feature three of the top five free throw shooters in the Horizon League. Shelvin Mack ranks third in the league (.827), Gordon Hayward stands fourth (.781) and Matt Howard is fifth (.773).
•Shelvin Mack, who matched his career-high with eight assists at UIC, has moved into first place in the Horizon League in assist/turnover ratio (2.3). Mack ranks fifth in the league in assists (3.7).
•Shelvin Mack hit six three-point field goals in two games in Chicago, and he's moved into fifth place in the Horizon League in three-point field goals (2.1).
•Gordon Hayward is the only player in the Horizon League
who ranks in the "Top 10" in the league in scoring (9th, 13.0),
rebounding (4th-tie, 6.6), field goal shooting (7th, .468),
three-point field goal shooting (1st, .476), free throw shooting
(4th, .781), three-point field goals (3rd, 2.3), steals (7th, 1.8)
and blocked shots (8th, 0.9)! Hayward also ranks second in the
league in defensive rebounds (5.1).