ROAD STRETCH: Butler, coming off a successful opening weekend of Horizon League play, will return to non-conference action when it visits Bradley (4-3) on Wednesday, Dec. 10. The Bulldogs will be playing their third consecutive road contest when they face the Braves at the Carver Center in Peoria, Ill., at 7 p.m. (CT, 8 p.m. in Indianapolis). Butler swept back-to-back league road contests last week to get an early lift in the conference race. The Bulldogs upset preseason favorite Cleveland State, 50-48, in the league opener and then defeated Youngstown State, 79-71. The two wins boosted the Bulldogs to 7-0 on the season and into a first place tie in the league standings with Green Bay and Milwaukee, both of whom swept two league home games. Bradley had a three-game winning streak snapped at #12 Michigan State, 75-59, on Sunday (Dec. 7), in its last outing. The Braves other two losses came at #19 Florida and against UMKC in the CBE Classic. Bradley is 2-0 in Carver Center this season. Butler will end its four-game road stretch at #21 Ohio State on Saturday (Dec. 13).
Butler is 3-0 on the road this season.
FAST STARTS: Butler currently has the sixth-best start in school history with seven consecutive victories. The Bulldogs opened the season with eight straight wins a year ago and with 10 consecutive victories in 2006-07. The best start in school history was the 13 straight wins by the 2001-02 squad. Four teams in Butler basketball history have started a season with at least 10 wins.
Butler is 7-0 for the fifth time in the last eight seasons.
POLL WATCHING: Butler's solid start has caught the attention of the national basketball voters. The Bulldogs received 27 votes in this week's ESPN/USA Today men's basketball poll, and 15 votes in the Associated Press (A.P) national poll. Butler was ranked in the "Top 25" of the two national polls for a school- and Horizon League-record 19 consecutive weeks in 2007-08, including a school-record five weeks in the "Top 10."
LAST TIME OUT: Sophomore Matt Howard and freshman Shelvin Mack combined for 45 points to lead Butler to a 79-71 victory at Youngstown State. The Bulldogs led by as many as 19 points midway through the second half, before holding off a late comeback attempt by the host Penguins. Youngstown State cut the margin to four points, 70-66, with three minutes remaining, but the Bulldogs responded with a lay-up by freshman Ronald Nored and three straight free throws by Howard to regain a comfortable advantage. Howard scored 15 of his team-high 23 points in the second half, while Mack had 16 of his career-high 22 points in the first 20 minutes. It was Butler's sixth straight win over the Penguins.
FAST FORWARD: On Dec. 1, 2007, Butler forward Matt Howard scored a career-high 23 points to help lead the Bulldogs to a 65-46 victory over Ohio State. One year and five days later, he matched that career-high to lead the Bulldogs past Youngstown State. Howard hit a career-best 13 of 15 free throws against the Penguins, while posting his first 20-point scoring performance of the season and the sixth of his career. He topped the Bulldogs with nine rebounds in the win, while adding three assists, two steals and a blocked shot. It was the third time in seven games this season that the 6-8 sophomore has led the Bulldogs in scoring.
Matt Howard leads the Bulldogs in scoring, rebounding, field goal shooting, blocked shots and minutes played.
FRESH LOOK: Freshman Shelvin Mack sparked Butler to a strong start at Youngstown State by hitting six of eight shots in the first half, including four of five attempts from beyond the three-point arc. He scored eight of 10 points on a 10-0 Butler run late in the first period to give the Bulldogs their first double-digit lead in the game, 31-20. Mack finished with a career-best 22 points, and he added a career-high five assists. His four three-pointers in the game matched his previous career-high, set in Butler's victory over IU-South Bend.
Shelvin Mack is the top-scoring freshman in the Horizon League (12.1 ppg).
DIALING LONG DISTANCE: The Bulldogs, paced by freshman Shelvin Mack, connected on nine of 20 shots from beyond the three-point arc in their win at Youngstown State. Mack hit four of seven three-point attempts in the game, while sophomore Zach Hahn came off the bench to hit two of four long-range shots. Junior Avery Jukes, sophomore Shawn Vanzant and freshman Gordon Hayward each added a single three-pointer. The Bulldogs have hit at least eight three-point field goals in five of seven games this season.
Eleven of Butler's 12 players have hit at least one three-pointer this season.
CHARITABLE WORK: Butler connected on a season-best 20 of 25 free throw attempts (80%) in the win at Youngstown State. The Bulldogs attempted just four free throws in the first half of the game, before cashing 18 of 21 attempts (86%) in the final 20 minutes. Butler scored 10 of its final 12 points at the charity stripe, including the final seven points. As good as the Bulldogs' performance was at the free throw line, it paled before the host Penguins, who converted 17 of 17 charity tosses.
FEELING DEFENSIVE: The Bulldogs have held six of their first seven opponents this season under 60 points for the game. Butler limited Northwestern to a season-low 53 points and held Evansville to a season-low 59 points in back-to-back games, before limiting Cleveland State to a season-low 48 points. Earlier this season, Butler limited Drake to a season-low 48 points. The Bulldogs have led the Horizon League in team scoring defense for three straight years.
Butler is ranked sixth in the NCAA Division I in team scoring defense.
•Butler is leading the Horizon League in scoring margin (+14.7), scoring defense (52.4), field goal percentage (.428), field goal percentage defense (.366), turnover margin (+5.6), assist/turnover radio (1.2) and three-point field goals (8.1).
•The Bulldogs are ranked 16th in the NCAA Division I in turnover margin.
•Sophomore Matt Howard is tied for sixth in the Horizon League in scoring (13.4) and for fourth in the league in rebounding (6.6). He's tied for third in the league in field goal shooting (.500).
•Freshman Gordon Hayward is tied for sixth in the Horizon League in steals (1.7). He's had at least one steal in each Butler game this season.
•Junior Willie Veasley had a career-high three steals in Butler's victory at Youngstown State. Two days earlier, he had a career-high four assists in Butler's upset victory at Cleveland State.
•The Bulldogs lead the Horizon League in road wins (3).
•Butler is the last remaining unbeaten Division I team in Indiana. The Bulldogs had the most wins of any Division I team in Indiana for the third straight year last season.
•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 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.