January 29, 2009

Butler Faces Valparaiso In Nationally-Televised Contest

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ROUND TWO: Butler will close a three game homestand and begin the second round of Horizon League play when it hosts Valparaiso in a rare Friday evening game on Jan. 30. The second meeting between the league's two Indiana members is slated for 7 p.m. (ET) at Hinkle Fieldhouse and will be televised to a national audience on ESPNU. Butler (18-1) swept the first two games of the current homestand with victories over Green Bay, 68-59, and Milwaukee, 78-48. The two wins lifted the Bulldogs to 9-0 in Horizon League play for the first time in school history and stretched the league's longest active winning streak to ten straight games. Butler is currently owns the fourth-longest active win streak in the NCAA Division I, trailing only Saint Mary's (15), Utah State (14) and Memphis (11). Valparaiso (6-15, 3-7 Horizon League) split two games at home last week, defeating Milwaukee, 63-51, while falling to Green Bay, 83-76. The Bulldogs opened the 2009 portion of their schedule with a 75-62 victory at Valparaiso on Jan. 3, the fourth victory of Butler's current win streak.

The Bulldogs have tied the fifth-longest winning steak in school history.

TOP DOGS: The Bulldogs own the best 19-game record and the best start in Butler basketball history. Five previous Butler teams boasted a 17-2 record through 19 games.

POLL CLIMBING: Butler has climbed to No. 13 in both the Associated Press (A.P.) and ESPN/USA Today national polls, and the Bulldogs are ranked in the "Top 20" of the two national polls for the third consecutive week. Butler was ranked in both polls for a school- and Horizon League-record 19 consecutive weeks last year.

HOME SECURITY: Butler is 10-0 in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season, and the Bulldogs have won 14 straight games on their homecourt since dropping a decision to nationally-ranked Drake in last year's BracketBusters game. The Bulldogs boast wins in 52 of their last 56 contests in the Fieldhouse, including 31 of their last 32 Horizon League games. Butler is 120-15 (.889) at home since 1999-00.

Butler owns the seventh-longest homecourt winning streak in Division I.

LAST TIME OUT: Freshman Shelvin Mack hit a pair of three-point field goals in the first minute against Milwaukee, and the Bulldogs never looked back. Butler used a 13-2 run midway through the first half to take a 15-point lead, 23-8, and the Bulldogs held a 32-19 advantage at halftime. The second half was all Butler. The Bulldogs used another 13-2 run to open the final period and the Panthers never got closer than 18 points for the rest of the contest. All 12 Butler players saw action in the win, and only two Bulldogs, Mack and freshman Gordon Hayward, played more than 20 minutes. The final 30 point difference was Butler's biggest margin of victory against a Division I foe this season.

Butler has 18 wins for the 12th time in 14 years and for the 21st time overall.

SERIOUS PLAYER: At Butler's morning shoot-around prior to the Milwaukee game, the entire team participated in a one-letter-and-out game of H-O-R-S-E. The winner was sophomore Shawn Vanzant. The 6-1 guard then carried his hot hand into the Bulldogs' contest with Milwaukee. He came off the bench and led all scorers with 20 points in 18 minutes of action. He scored 12 points in the final 6:24 of the game, including his first career dunk for Butler's final two points. Vanzant hit six of 10 shots in the game and was perfect on six free throw attempts. He also led both teams with four assists! Vanzant's previous career-high was nine points earlier this season.

VERSATILE ATTACK: Shawn Vanzant was the fourth different player to lead the Bulldogs in scoring in the past four games and the sixth different player to lead Butler this season. Sophomore Matt Howard, who had just seven points in a season-low 19 minutes against Milwaukee, has topped the Bulldogs nine times this season, while freshman Shelvin Mack has led the team in five games.

FRESH LOOK: First-year guard Shelvin Mack was the lone Butler player to score in double-figures in the Bulldogs' two wins last week. Mack finished with 11 points against Green Bay and then posted 14 against Milwaukee. Mack, who has scored in double-figures in four straight outings, has averaged a team-best 14.0 points over the last five games.

DIALING LONG DISTANCE: Six different Butler player combined on a season-high 15 three-point field goals in Butler's victory over Milwaukee. The Bulldogs hit six three-pointers in the first half and then added nine more in the final 20 minutes. It was the eighth time this season that Butler connected on at least 10 three-point field goals in a game. The Bulldogs have averaged 11.5 three-point field goal over the past four games!

Butler is 12-0 this season when hitting at least nine three-point field goals.

GUARD HOUSE: Butler held Green Bay, the Horizon League's highest scoring team, 12 points below its season scoring average and then kept Milwaukee 21 points below its scoring average! Green Bay had scored 91 points in its game prior to facing the Bulldogs, while Milwaukee had scored at least 80 points in five different games this season. The Bulldogs have held six consecutive opponents below 60 points.

Butler ranks third in the NCAA Division I in team scoring defense (55.6).

EARLY PRODUCTION: Butler's duo of Shelvin Mack and Gordon Hayward are climbing the Bulldogs' freshman scoring list. Mack currently stands 13th on the list with 248 points, while Hayward is 14th with 242 tallies. Wally Cox (1954-55) holds the No. 12 spot with 254 points, while Rylan Hainje is No. 11 with 261 points. Butler's freshman scoring record is 476 points by Tony Warren in 1979-80.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Butler is ranked first in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 for the third straight week. Saint Mary's (18-1) is ranked second in the mid-major poll, while Gonzaga (14-4) is ranked third.

•Butler has won 20 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 14 consecutive Horizon League contests in Hinkle Fieldhouse.

•Sophomore Matt Howard has connected on 31 of 46 (.674) field goal attempts in Butler's last eight games. Howard leads the Horizon League in field goal shooting (.517).

•Matt Howard is shooting .588 (40-68) in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.

•Sophomore Grant Leiendecker came off the bench and recorded a career-high 12 points in Butler's victory over Milwaukee. The 6-4 guard hit four of eight three-point field goal attempts in the win.

•Freshman Gordon Hayward continues to lead the Horizon League in three-point field goal shooting (.462). Hayward hit three of six three-point field goal attempts against Valparaiso earlier this month.

•Gordon Hayward recorded a career-high four steals in Butler's victory over Milwaukee. Hayward leads the Bulldogs in steals on the season with 35.

•Butler is leading the Horizon League in scoring margin (+13.0), field goal percentage defense (.377), three-point field goal percentage defense (.298), rebounding margin (+2.5), fewest turnovers (11.7), assist/turnover ratio (1.2) and three-point field goals (9.1). The Bulldogs are second in the league in scoring defense (55.6), field goal percentage (.427), three-point field goal percentage (.372) and assists (13.9).

•Butler's duo of Shelvin Mack and Gordon Hayward are the top scoring freshmen in the Horizon League. Mack ranks seventh overall in scoring with a 13.1 average, while Hayward is eighth with a 12.7 mark. No other freshmen are ranked in the "Top 20."

•The Bulldogs feature three of the top six free throw shooters in the Horizon League. Shelvin Mack ranks third in the league (.800), Matt Howard stands fifth (.776) and Gordon Hayward is tied for sixth (.771).

•Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack are tied for fourth in the Horizon League in three-point field goals (2.2). Sophomore Zach Hahn ranks eighth in the league (1.5).

•Shelvin Mack, who had a career-high eight assists in two of Butler's last three games, leads the Horizon League in assist/turnover ratio (2.1). He ranks third in the league in assists (3.9).

•Gordon Hayward is the only player in the Horizon League who ranks in the "Top 10" in the circuit in scoring (8th, 12.7), rebounding (5th, 6.4), field goal shooting (8th, .468), three-point field goal shooting (1st, .462), free throw shooting (6th-tie, .771), three-point field goals (4th-tie, 2.2), steals (5th, 1.8) and blocked shots (6th-tie, 1.0)! Hayward also is tied for second in the league in defensive rebounds (5.0).