SECOND SHOT: Butler, coming off back-to-back wins, will continue its three-game homestand on Thursday, Feb. 10, when it faces Wright State for the second time this season. The two Horizon League foes will square off at Hinkle Fieldhouse at 7 p.m. (ET) in a game that will be televised nationally on ESPNU. The Bulldogs improved to 16-9 on the season and 8-5 in the Horizon League with a 72-65 victory over UIC on Monday (Feb. 7). That win came two days after Butler posted a 73-61 victory at then league-leading Cleveland State to complete a season sweep of the Vikings. Wright State (17-9, 10-4 HL) won its third straight game and moved into a tie for second place in the league standings with a 74-70 win at home over Youngstown State on Monday. The Raiders used a 14-4 run in the final 4:13 to take a 69-64 come-from-behind victory over Butler in the first meeting between the two teams last month. That win at Wright State's Nutter Center snapped Butler's seven-game winning streak in the series.
Butler is 53-5 at Hinkle Fieldhouse under head coach Brad Stevens.
HOME IMPROVEMENT: Butler improved to 9-2 at Hinkle Fieldhouse with its victory over UIC on Monday (Feb. 7). It was Butler's fifth Horizon League victory at home in six games this season. The Bulldogs, who were 15-0 at home a year ago, have won 24 of their last 26 home contests, and Butler stands 149-19 in Hinkle Fieldhouse since the start of the 1999-2000 season. Butler has won at least 10 home games in each of the past 15 seasons.
Butler is 69-12 against Horizon League foes at home in the past decade.
POINT PRODUCTION: Butler continues to lead the Horizon League in team scoring offense with a 74.1 points per game average. The Bulldogs have scored 80 or more points in four of their last nine games and in nine total games this season. Only one other Butler team (2007-08) in the past decade has had as many as six 80-point games, and no Butler team since 1995 has had as many as nine.
LAST TIME OUT: The Bulldogs overcame the loss of two starters and held off a determined UIC squad to post a 72-65 victory on Monday. Butler scoring and rebounding leader Matt Howard suffered a deep cut over his right eye in the closing seconds of the first half and didn't play in the second half. Neither did starting guard Chase Stigall, who left the game with a lower leg injury after playing just 10 minutes. With the two regulars ailing, Butler picked up 22 bench points in the second half and turned a one-point halftime lead, 34-33, into a 13-point advantage, 59-46, with under eight minutes left. UIC did close to within four points, 62-58, but the Bulldogs built the lead back to 11 in the final minute and held on for the seven-point win. Butler finished with a 31-15 advantage in bench scoring.
EARLY DEPARTURE: Senior Matt Howard had nine points and five rebounds in 17 minutes in the first half, but his evening ended prematurely when he suffered a cut above his right eye in a collision right before halftime. The bloodied Butler scoring and rebounding leader was helped from the court and received eight stitches to close the wound. He did not return to Butler's bench in the second half. Howard, who has scored in double-figures in 22 games this season, is being evaluated by Butler's athletic training staff, and his status for this week's games is uncertain.
Matt Howard has not missed a game in four seasons with the Bulldogs.
SHARP SHOOTING: Butler hit 14 of 25 (.560) shots in the final 20 minutes against UIC and wound up shooting over 50% for the game. Five different Butler players connected on at least half of their shots, led by senior Matt Howard, who was perfect on four attempts. The Bulldogs hit 28 of 55 (.509) shots for the game, despite hitting just five of 14 (.357) from beyond the three-point arc. It was the fifth time this season that Butler shot 50% or better.
BACKCOURT PUNCH: Butler picked up 44 of its 72 points against UIC from the backcourt quartet of seniors Zach Hahn and Shawn Vanzant and juniors Shelvin Mack and Ronald Nored. Mack led the Bulldogs in scoring for the second time in three games with 17 points, while Hahn and Nored came off the bench with 10 points apiece. Vanzant chipped in with seven points and a team-high four assists. The four guards contributed 26 of Butler's 38 points in the second half.
SCORING RUN: Junior Shelvin Mack posted his ninth consecutive double-figures scoring performance with his team-high, 17-point effort against UIC. During that nine-game stretch, the 6-3 guard has averaged 15.8 points and led the Bulldogs in scoring four times. He's topped Butler in scoring in three of the last four games at Hinkle Fieldhouse, averaging 20.5 points in those four contests.
Shelvin Mack has averaged 16.5 points at Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.
FRESH LIFT: Freshman Khyle Marshall came off the bench and scored 11 points to help lead the Bulldogs past UIC. His effort came two days after he scored 12 points in 15 minutes at Cleveland State, giving him the first back-to-back double-figures scoring performances of his young career. Marshall hit five of eight shots in his 26-minute stint against UIC.
BOARDING PASS: Six-foot junior guard Ronald Nored came off the bench and led the Bulldogs with eight rebounds against UIC. His total tied his career-high set a year ago against Milwaukee and matched last month against Cleveland State. Nored shared the team lead with a pair of offensive rebounds, and he topped the Bulldogs with six defensive boards. It was the first time in his career that the Butler guard led the Bulldogs in rebounding. Butler out-rebounded UIC, 34-32, in the win.
Matt Howard has been named one of 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, presented for notable achievement in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition.
Senior Matt Howard has scored in 129 consecutive Butler games, every game of his collegiate career. He has 95 career double-figures scoring performances.
Matt Howard stands in fifth place on Butler's all-time scoring list with 1,759 career points. He's third on Butler's all-time rebounding list with 793 career rebounds.
Matt Howard ranks second in the Horizon League in scoring (17.1) and third rebounding (7.8).
Matt Howard is leading the Bulldogs, and he ranks ninth in the Horizon League in free throw shooting (.805).
Matt Howard is the lone player in the Horizon League to rank among the league's "Top 10" players in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots, field goal percentage, free throw percentage and 3-point FG%.
Matt Howard has averaged 12.4 points and 5.4 rebounds in nine career games against Wright State. He's averaged 15.2 points and 5.6 rebounds in five career games against the Raiders in Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Matt Howard has averaged 18.3 points and 8.6 rebounds at home this season.
Matt Howard, who hit a pair of three-point field goals against Wright State last month, is second in the Horizon League in 3-point field goal shooting (.459). Howard has hit 18 of his last 36 (.500) shots from the 3-point arc.
Matt Howard was one of five players named to the Capital One Academic All-District V Team for the third consecutive year. Howard is a two-time Academic All-American.
Junior Shelvin Mack stands in 19th place on Butler's all-time scoring list with 1,283 career points. He's 28 points behind Ted Guzek (1954-58) in the No. 18 spot on the Bulldogs' all-time chart.
Shelvin Mack has moved into a tie with Associate Head Coach Matthew Graves for eighth place on Butler's all-time list for three-point field goals with 175.
Shelvin Mack has taken over sixth place on Butler's all-time assist chart with 319 career assists. Avery Sheets, 2002-06, is fifth on the all-time list with 323 assists.
Shelvin Mark ranks fifth in the Horizon League in assists (3.7).
Junior Ronald Nored needed five stitches to close a cut on his left hand, suffered late in the Youngstown State game. He didn't start in Butler's last two games, but he came off the bench in both contests.
Ronald Nored has moved into a tie for 11th place on Butler's all-time assist chart with 278 career assists. He's tied with Darren Fowlkes (1985-89).
Sophomore Andrew Smith has connected on 66 of his last 95 (.695) field goal attempts. Smith leads the Horizon League in field goal shooting (.636).
Andrew Smith, who hit four of six shots against UIC, is shooting .684 (52-76) against Horizon League foes.
Andrew Smith is averaging 10.0 points at Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.
Senior Zach Hahn has hit 16 of his last 34 (.471) three-point field goal attempts.
Freshman Khyle Marshall had a career-high two steals against UIC.
Junior Garrett Butcher, who scored four points in nine minutes at Cleveland State, didn't play against UIC because of a bone bruise in his lower left leg. He's missed five of Butler's last seven games.
Senior Shawn Vanzant had a team-high four assists and just one turnover in 34 minutes against UIC. Vanzant has had eight assists and just three turnovers in Butler's last four games.
Butler is leading the Horizon League in defensive rebounding percentage (.720).
The Bulldogs are 45-3 under head coach Brad Stevens when hitting nine or more three-pointers.
Butler has won 25 of its last 26 games when yielding fewer than 60 points.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times