November 18, 2008

Bulldogs Face Ball State In Home-Opener

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HOME START: Butler will make its 2008-09 home debut and kickoff a four-game homestand when it hosts Ball State on Wednesday, Nov. 19. The non-league game between the two central Indiana foes is scheduled for 7 p.m. (ET) at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Both teams had a successful start to the season on Saturday (Nov. 15). Butler began its 2008-09 schedule with a 58-48 victory at Drake in a rematch of last year's BracketBusters game at Hinkle Fieldhouse. It was the third straight year that Butler opened the season with a road victory. Ball State opened its campaign at home with a 72-59 victory over Eastern Illinois. Ball State is the first of four Indiana opponents on Butler's home slate this season. The Bulldogs will host IU-South Bend on Saturday (Nov. 22), Evansville on Nov. 29 and Valparaiso on Jan. 30.

Butler was 14-1 in Hinkle Fieldhouse last season.

CENTURY GAME: Butler and Ball State are meeting for the 100th time as basketball opponents. The two central Indiana teams met for the first time in 1924 and have played every season since 1950. Butler has won seven of the last eight meetings and leads the overall series, 62-37. The Ball State series is Butler's fifth-longest, trailing Indiana foes Indiana State (123), Wabash (119), DePauw (116), and Evansville (113).

A LOOK BACK: Butler opened the 2007-08 season with a 61-45 victory over Ball State at Worthen Arena in Muncie. The Bulldogs never trailed in the game, and the contest was tied just once. Butler opened a 10-point lead nine minutes into the game and stretched that margin to 31-17 by halftime. The host Cardinals did make a second-half run to cut Butler's lead to eight points, 39-31, with 11:44 remaining, but the Bulldogs answered with an 11-2 run to take control for good. Butler forward Pete Campbell led all scorers with 17 points, while teammate Matt Howard came off the bench with 14 points. Anthony Newell led the Cardinals with 16 points, while Peyton Stovall added 13 points and 12 rebounds.

Butler's win over Ball State last season helped propel the Bulldogs into the Associated Press (A.P.) "Top 25."

LAST TIME OUT: The Bulldogs trailed just once, at 2-0, on their way to a 10-point win on the road in Butler's season-opener at Drake. The game was the rematch of last year's featured BracketBusters game, won by Drake, 71-64, at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Freshman Gordon Hayward nailed a three-pointer for his first collegiate basket to give Butler a 3-2 lead at 18:23 of the first half, and the Bulldogs remained in front for the rest of the game. Four different Butler players contributed to a 12-0 scoring run midway through the first half that gave the Bulldogs a 17-4 lead and left Drake playing catch-up for the rest of the contest. The defending Missouri Valley Conference champions did cut Butler's lead to four points, 31-27, in the second half, but the Bulldogs responded with an 8-3 run to regain control. Butler's win snapped Drake's streak of 11 consecutive non-conference wins at home and handed the Iowa Bulldogs their first season-opening loss in eight years.

ZACH ATTACK: Sophomore guard Zach Hahn came off the bench at Drake and led Butler with a career-high 13 points. He hit five of nine shots in the game, including three of seven from the three-point arc. His last three-pointer came right after Drake cut Butler's lead to four points in the second half and helped Butler regain control for good. Hahn played a career-high 31 minutes.

Zach Hahn recorded his first career double-figures scoring performance in Butler's win at Drake.

BIG FINISH: Sophomore Matt Howard, Butler's lone returning starter from last year's record-setting team, was held scoreless in the first half at Drake. The 6-8 forward had one rebound and one blocked shot in the first 20 minutes of the contest. He stormed back in the second half and finished the game with 12 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots. His 12 points were second-most for the Bulldogs and third-most in the game. Howard hit five of 10 shots from the field and two of three from the free throw line in the final 20 minutes.

Matt Howard has 26 double-figures scoring performances in his first 35 games at Butler.

NEW KIDS: Butler head coach Brad Stevens had three freshmen in his starting lineup at Drake, and all three made big contributions to the victory. Gordon Hayward sat out a significant portion of the game in foul trouble, but he still managed 11 points and seven rebounds in 17 minutes of action. Shelvin Mack finished with nine points, five rebounds, two assists and one steal in 29 minutes, and Ronald Nored had a game-high four assists, two points, three rebounds and two steals in 25 minutes. A fourth freshman, Garrett Butcher, saw limited action in the win.

The last time Butler had three freshmen in the starting lineup was in 1979-80 - Lynn Mitchem, Tony Warren and Claude Davis.

FIRST DEFENSE: The Bulldogs displayed the same defensive tenacity at Drake that they did a year ago when they led the Horizon League in scoring defense for a third consecutive season. Butler held Drake to nine points in the first 16:36 of the contest and 14 points in the first half! Drake shot just 23% from the field in the first 20 minutes and just 31% for the game. The 48 points were the fewest scored by a Drake team in the Knapp Center since Feb. of 2006.

LONG RANGE: The Bulldogs hit eight 3-point field goals in their win at Drake, with Zach Hahn and Gordon Hayward leading the way with three long-range shots apiece. Avery Jukes and Shelvin Mack each had one 3-pointer. The Bulldogs cashed five 3-point field goals in the first half, while building a 25-14 halftime lead. Butler hit eight or more 3-pointers in 25 games a year ago.

Butler led the Horizon League in three-point field goals (9.38) last season.

HOME WORK: The Bulldogs were 14-1 in Hinkle Fieldhouse last season, with the lone setback coming to #16/18 Drake in the ESPNU BracketBusters game. Butler currently owns a four-game winning streak at home and boasts wins in 37 of its last 40 contests at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The Bulldogs are 110-15 (.880) at home since 1999-2000.

ALL-AMERICA: Butler sophomore Matt Howard was named to the 25-player Preseason Mid-Major All-America Team by CollegeInsider.com. Also named to the preseason honor squad from the Horizon League were Josh Mayo of UIC and J'Nathan Bullock of Cleveland State. Howard further was named first team Mid-Major All-America by CollegeHoops.net. He was the lone Horizon League player selected first, second or third team. Last season, Howard was named to the CollegeInsider.com Freshman All-America Team.

EXHIBITION RE-RUN: Butler passed both of its preseason exhibition tests with victories at home over Marian, 61-31, and Oakland City, 91-52. Sophomore Matt Howard led the Bulldogs against Marian with 14 points and 11 rebounds, while freshman Shelvin Mack topped the squad against Oakland City with 16 points. Mack averaged a team-high 13.5 points in the two games.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Forward Matt Howard made his 27th career start for the Bulldogs at Drake. Butler's other four starters - Willie Veasley, Gordon Hayward, Shelvin Mack and Ronald Nored - each recorded his first career start.

•Junior Willie Veasley led the Bulldogs with 33 minutes played at Drake, one shy of his career-high. Veasley finished with four points and six rebounds.

•Freshmen Gordon Hayward and Ronald Nored each had a team-high two steals at Drake. The Bulldogs finished with seven steals as a team.

•Butler out-rebounded Drake, 35-29, with Matt Howard and Gordon Hayward each recording a team-high seven rebounds. A year ago, Drake out-rebounded Butler, 34-27, in a win at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

•The Bulldogs had a 20-13 advantage in bench scoring at Drake, paced by Zach Hahn's 13 points. Sophomore Shawn Vanzant came off the bench and hit both of his field goal attempts, while junior Avery Jukes added three points in a reserve role.

•Avery Jukes had a career-high two assists in 10 minutes at Drake. •Five current Bulldogs have previously played in a game against Ball State. Matt Howard, Shawn Vanzant and Zach Hahn all saw action in last year's season-opener, while Willie Veasley and Nick Rodgers played against the Cardinals at Hinkle Fieldhouse two years ago.

•Last season, Butler coach Brad Stevens became the third-youngest NCAA Division I coach to guide his team to 30 wins, and the youngest in more than half a century! The 32-year-old Stevens is one of just 11 Division I coaches to have recorded a 30-win season before age 40.

•Butler had the most wins of any Division I team in Indiana for the third straight year last season.

•Butler's .882 (30-4) winning percentage last year ranked fifth in Division I, topped only by the Final Four teams - Memphis (.950, 38-2), Kansas (.925, 37-3), North Carolina (.923, 36-3) and UCLA (.897, 35-4).

•Butler head coach Brad Stevens used the first day of the NCAA Fall Signing Period to sign local recruit Andrew Smith of Covenant Christian High School. The 6-10 center averaged 14.5 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.8 blocked shots, while shooting 63% from the field last year.