Bulldogs Seek League Title In Rematch With Loyola
TITLE SHOT: Butler can clinch a share of its third consecutive Horizon League regular season title when it hosts Loyola in a rare Sunday (Feb. 15) afternoon game. The two league foes will be meeting for the second time this season when they square off at 2 p.m. (ET) in Hinkle Fieldhouse. Butler (22-2) improved to 13-1 in league play with an 80-61 victory over UIC on Friday (Feb. 13). That victory, coupled with Green Bay's loss at Cleveland State on Saturday (Feb. 14), gave the Bulldogs a three-game lead in the league race with four games to play. The Horizon League regular season champ earns the right to host the quarterfinals and semifinals of the league tournament. Loyola (12-15, 4-11 HL) fell at Valparaiso, 71-47, on Friday in its last outing. The Bulldogs won the first meeting between the two teams this season, 78-55, in Chicago last month.
Butler has tied the eighth-highest single season win total in school history.
HOUSE WORK: Butler is 12-0 in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season, and the Bulldogs have won 16 straight games on their homecourt since dropping a decision to nationally-ranked Drake in last year's BracketBusters game. The Bulldogs boast wins in 54 of their last 58 contests in the Fieldhouse, including 32 of their last 33 Horizon League games. Butler is 122-15 (.891) at home since 1999-00.
POLL WATCH: Butler is ranked in the "Top 25" in both the Associated Press (A.P.) and ESPN/USA Today national polls for the sixth consecutive week. The Bulldogs, ranked as high as No. 11 this season, currently stand at No. 15 in both polls. Butler was ranked in both national polls for a school- and Horizon League-record 19 consecutive weeks last year, and the Bulldogs have been ranked for 26 weeks under second-year head coach Brad Stevens.
THREE STRAIGHT: The Bulldogs own a share of the best 24-game record in Butler men's basketball history. Butler also posted a 22-2 record in 2006-07 under coach Todd Lickliter and last year under coach Brad Stevens.
LAST TIME OUT: Butler built a 12-point halftime lead, 38-26, against UIC behind 50% shooting from the field and then stretched that margin in the second half by shooting 57%! The Bulldogs hit 13 of their first 26 shots in the game and then nailed 16 of 28 in the final 20 minutes. The .553 final field goal percentage was Butler's best in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season and matched the team's second best shooting performance of the season. Butler scored the first four points of the game and had a double-digit advantage before the midway point of the first half. UIC did close to within eight points, 68-60, with four minutes remaining, but the Bulldogs finished with a 12-1 scoring run to nail down the 19-point victory.
Butler is 14-0 this season when leading at halftime.
PICTURE PERFECT: Sophomore Matt Howard, who had just one double-figures scoring performance in Butler's previous five games, broke loose against UIC and matched his second-highest scoring total of the season. And he did it with perfection! The 6-8 forward made all six shots he attempted in the game and all seven free throws to finish with a team-high 19 points. He also led the Bulldogs with eight rebounds, and his 31 minutes were the most he's played since Dec. 23. The Bulldogs are 10-0 when Howard leads the team in scoring.
Matt Howard is shooting .598 in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.
HOT ZONE: For the second straight game, sophomore Zach Hahn came off the bench and connected on a career-high five three-point field goals to lead Butler's long-range assault against UIC. The 6-1 guard, who hit five of eight long-range shots at Wright State, nailed five of nine three-pointers against the Flames. Hahn, who scored a career-high 17 points at Wright State, finished with 15 points against the Flames.
GOING DEEP: The Bulldogs hit 12 three-point field goals in their victory at Wright State last weekend and then went one better in the win over UIC. Butler hit five three-pointers in the first half against the Flames and then added eight more in the final period. The 13 three-pointers matched Butler's second-highest single game total this season. The Bulldogs are 14-0 this year when hitting at least nine three-pointers in a game.
Butler leads the Horizon League in three-point field goals (9.0).
LEAGUE RECOGNITION: Freshman Gordon Hayward, who led the Bulldogs in scoring in two of three games last week, was named Horizon League Co-Player of the Week. The 6-8 forward scored a game-high 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds at Green Bay and then posted 22 points and six rebounds at Detroit. He finished the week with nine points, seven rebounds and four assists in Butler's victory at Wright State. He shared Player of the Week honors with Ryan Tillema of Green Bay.
Gordon Hayward has been league Player of the Week three times this season.
WOODEN WATCH: Butler sophomore Matt Howard has been named to the Midseason Top 30 candidates list for the John R. Wooden Award, presented to the nation's best player by the Los Angeles Athletic Club. Howard currently leads the Bulldogs in rebounding, blocked shots and field goal shooting, while ranking second in scoring.
FIRST-YEAR PRODUCTION: Butler's duo of Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack continue to climb the Bulldogs' all-time freshman scoring list. Hayward has moved into sixth place on the list with 331 points, while Mack stands 10th with 300 tallies. Butler's freshman scoring record is 476 points by Tony Warren in 1979-80. Hayward and Mack are the top-scoring freshmen in the Horizon League. Hayward ranks fifth (13.8), while Mack is eighth (12.5).
•Butler has maintained the top spot in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 for the fifth consecutive week. Gonzaga is ranked second and Davidson stands third.
•The Bulldogs will visit Davidson for a feature game in the 7th Annual ESPNU BracketBusters series on Feb. 21. The game will start at 12 noon and be televised nationally on ESPN.
•Butler's final regular season game against Cleveland State at Hinkle Fieldhouse has been selected as the Horizon League "wildcard" game and will be televised on ESPN2. The game will start at 12 noon.
•Butler picked up its tenth road victory of the season at Wright State. The Bulldogs are leading the NCAA Division I in road wins.
•Sophomore Matt Howard was named Horizon League Scholar-Athlete of the Month for January, and he was chosen first team on the ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-District V Team. Howard is an honor student majoring in finance.
•Matt Howard is Butler's leading scorer in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season. The 6-8 forward is averaging 13.7 points in Butler's 12 home games.
•Matt Howard leads the Horizon League in field goal shooting (.525). Howard finished third in the league in FG% (.583) last year.
•Matt Howard, who had two blocked shots against UIC, ranks second in the Horizon League in blocked shots (1.6).
•Freshman Gordon Hayward continues to lead the Horizon League in three-point field goal shooting (.471). He's hit 12 of 22 (.545) three-pointers in Butler's last four games.
•Gordon Hayward had 18 points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals and one blocked shot against UIC.
•Freshman Garrett Butcher came off the bench and matched his career-high with nine points againt UIC.
•Sophomore Shawn Vanzant injured his left knee in his first minute of action at Detroit and did not return to the game. He did not play at Wright State or against UIC, and his status is being evaluated day-to-day.
•Junior Avery Jukes suffered a sprained knee in practice this week, and he sat out the UIC game. His status is being evaluated day-to-day.
•Butler is leading the Horizon League in scoring margin (+12.0). The Bulldogs are second in the league in scoring defense (56.5) and third in scoring offense (68.5). The Bulldogs also are leading the league in rebounding margin (+2.9).
•The Bulldogs are ranked third in the NCAA Division I in team scoring defense and fourth in field goal percentage defense (.376).
•Gordon Hayward is the only player in the Horizon League
who ranks in the "Top 10" in the circuit in ten different
categories! He's fifth in scoring (13.8), fifth in rebounding
(6.3), fourth in field goal shooting (.495), first in three-point
field goal shooting (.471), third in free throw shooting (.802),
fourth in three-point field goals (2.3), sixth in steals (1.7),
eighth in blocked shots (1.0), fourth in defensive rebounds (4.9)
and tenth in minutes played (32.0).