Butler Closes Homestand Against Unbeaten Evansville
STATE HOUSE: Butler will close out its current four-game homestand against a very familiar foe when unbeaten Evansville invades Hinkle Fieldhouse for a non-league test on Saturday, Nov. 29. The two Indiana opponents will square off for the 114th time in a game scheduled for 2 p.m. (ET). The Purple Aces (3-0) are the second consecutive team to bring and undefeated record to Hinkle Fieldhouse. Butler successfully dispatched the first, Northwestern, by four points in a hard-fought contest the night before Thanksgiving. Evansville has been idle since defeating Buffalo, 64-49, at home on Saturday, Nov. 22. The Aces, playing on the road for the first time this season, have beaten their first three opponents by an average of 15.7 points. Evansville is the fourth unbeaten team the Bulldogs have faced in the first five games this season. The game against the Aces if Butler's final test before beginning Horizon League play at league preseason favorite Cleveland State on Thursday, Dec. 4.
Butler has won nine straight games against Indiana opponents.
LAST TIME OUT: The Bulldogs came back from a 12-point deficit and used a big second half performance to hand Big Ten foe Northwestern its first defeat of the young season, 57-53. The visiting Wildcats shot 68% in the first half, including 67% from beyond the three-point arc, while racing out to a 33-21 advantage. Butler trimmed the margin to nine points, 36-27, by halftime and then out-scored the visitors, 30-17, in the final 20 minutes. The Bulldogs held Northwestern to 27% shooting in the second half, including just 25% from the three-point arc.
The Bulldogs have won seven straight games in Hinkle Fieldhouse, dating back to last year.
COMEBACK TRAIL: The 12-point deficit Butler erased against Northwestern was the biggest overcome by the Bulldogs since last February, when the Indiana squad defeated Milwaukee after trailing, 15-3. The last time Butler overcame a bigger deficit was against Ohio State last December. The Buckeyes had a 14-point lead in the first half and a 12-point lead in the second period.
EARLY SUCCESS: The Bulldogs have won 19 consecutive games in November, dating back to 2005. Butler's last November loss came at Big Ten foe Michigan, 78-74, on Nov. 26, 2005.
HOMELAND DEFENSE: Butler limited Northwestern to just 17 points in the second half of the pre-Thanksgiving win. It was the fourth time this season that the Bulldogs have held an opponent under 20 points for a half. The Bulldogs have held their first four opponents this season under 60 points for the game and are yielding 47.0 points in Hinkle Fieldhouse. Butler has led the Horizon League in team scoring defense for three straight years.
INSIDE APPROACH: Sophomore Matt Howard turned in two big plays in the final minutes of the game to help Butler overcome visiting Northwestern. With Butler clinging to a 50-47 lead, Howard stole the ball in mid-court and raced to the opposite end for a lay-up and five-point advantage at 2:08. Ninety seconds later, he rebounded a missed three-point field goal attempt by teammate Gordon Hayward and scored to give Butler a 54-51 margin. Howard finished with a game-high 17 points, and he shared team rebounding honors with six. The 6-8 forward also matched his career-high with three steals in the contest, and he was a perfect seven of seven at the free throw line.
Matt Howard is shooting .667 (14-21) from the field in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.
FEELING DEFENSIVE: Junior Willie Veasley and freshman Ronald Nored drew big defensive challenges in Butler's game against Northwestern. Veasley was assigned to guard 6-8 honorable mention All-Big Ten forward and two-year scoring leader Kevin Coble, while Nored was asked to chase the Wildcats' current scoring leader and reigning Big Ten Co-Player of the Week Craig Moore, who was coming off a 31-point performance at Brown. Both Butler players stepped up to the challenge. Coble finished with just three points, including none in the final 20 minutes of the contest, while Moore posted 11 points, including just two after intermission.
FIRST LOOK: Butler freshman Gordon Hayward, who was recruited by a couple Big Ten teams, played a career-high 37 minutes against Northwestern and finished with 13 points, six rebounds and two assists. He also matched his career-high with two steals and he recorded his first career blocked shot in the game. Hayward hit two of Butler's four three-point field goals in the game, including one that gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the second half at 43-42 with 7:10 left. The 6-8 forward has scored in double-figures in three of his first four collegiate games.
Gordon Hayward leads Butler's starters in points per minute played (0.5).
CHARITABLE WORK: After shooting 52% (13-25) from the free throw line in their home-opener against Ball State, the Bulldogs have shown significant improvement at the charity stripe over the past two outings. Butler hit 16 of 20 (80%) free throw attempts in a victory over IU-South Bend and then cashed 17 of 24 (71%) shots from the charity stripe against Northwestern. Butler ranked second in the Horizon League in free throw shooting with a .737 team free throw percentage last year.
STEPPING UP: Butler is 11-2 in its last 13 games against schools from the BCS conferences. The two losses were to Tennessee in overtime in the second round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament and national champ Florida in the 2007 national tournament. During that stretch, the Bulldogs have wins over Northwestern, Ohio State, Michigan, Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame, Maryland, Florida State, Tennessee, Texas Tech and Virginia Tech.
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 boasts wins in 45 of its last 49 contests at the Fieldhouse, including 17 of its last 20 non-league games. The Bulldogs are 113-15 (.883) at home since 1999-2000.
Butler is 48-4 in non-league games at Hinkle Fieldhouse since 1999-00.
PRESEASON HONOR: Butler's Matt Howard was named to the Preseason Mid-Major All-America Team by CollegeInsider.com and chosen Mid-Major All-America by CollegeHoops.net. Last season, Howard was named to the CollegeInsider.com Freshman All-America Team.
•Butler has started with a 4-0 record for the third straight year. The Bulldogs won ten straight games to open the 2006-07 season and eight straight a year ago.
•Butler coach Brad Stevens has posted a 5-1 record against teams from the Missouri Valley Conference in his brief tenure as the Bulldogs' head coach. The lone setback came to nationally-ranked Drake in last year's BracketBusters game.
•The Bulldogs hit a season-low four three-point field goals in their win over Northwestern. It was the fewest three-pointers by Butler since the Bulldogs cashed just three long-range shots in a victory over Green Bay last January.
•Freshman Ronald Nored matched his career-high with six point against Northwestern, including the basket that put Butler in front for good, 49-47, with three minutes to play.
•Junior Willie Veasley has scored in double-figures in back-to-back games for the first time in his Butler career. Veasley had a season-high 11 points in Butler's victory over IU-South Bend, and then he posted 10 points in the Bulldogs victory over Northwestern.
•Butler is ranked No. 1 in this week's RPI, published by RealTimeRPI.com. The Bulldogs have a strength of schedule rank of No. 6. Butler is 27th in this week's Sagarin College Basketball rankings.
•Butler head coach Brad Stevens announced that freshmen Chase Stigall and Emerson Kampen will redshirt this season. Stigall is a 6-3 guard from New Castle Chrysler High School, while Kampen is a 6-9 forward from Yorktown High School.
•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 head coach Brad Stevens used
the first day of the NCAA Fall Signing Period to land 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. He helped lead Covenant
Christian to a 15-7 record.