The Bulldogs defeated Pittsburgh 71-70 in a wild upset Saturday.
All photos courtesy of John Fetcho.
Posted on 20 March 2011.
The Bulldogs defeated Pittsburgh 71-70 in a wild upset Saturday.
All photos courtesy of John Fetcho.
Posted on 20 March 2011.
Butler, now riding an 11-game winning streak and two wins away from the Final Four, will face No. 4-seeded Wisconsin in the Sweet 16 Thursday in New Orleans after a 71-70 win against Pittsburgh yesterday.
Matt Howard did it again. The ball ended up in his hands, and he found a way to win.
“You win two games by three points—it’s pretty crazy,” said Howard, who also scored a game-winning layup as time expired against Old Dominion.
With the score tied and 0.8 seconds remaining, he was fouled while rebounding a missed Pittsburgh free throw.
Howard hit one free throw, purposefully missed the second off the back rim, and gave a small fist pump as time expired.
The foul by Panther junior forward Nasir Robinson to send Howard to the line might go down as the worst foul in Pittsburgh history, but it followed what could have been the worst in Butler’s history were it not for Howard’s presence of mind.
Junior guard Shelvin Mack fouled redshirt senior Gilbert Brown at midcourt to send the Panther forward, a 78.8 percent free throw shooter, to the line.
“That was probably the dumbest mistake of my life,” Mack said.
Mack was vindicated by Howard, though, making Mack’s 30 points the most memorable part of his game. Mack went 10-of-16 from the floor on 7-of-12 3-point shooting.
Howard finished the third-round game with 16 points and six rebounds.
This is Butler’s fourth trip to the Sweet 16 in the last eight years. Butler (25-9), a No. 8 seed in this year’s tournament, has never been a No. 4 seed or better during those four trips.
Pittsburgh (28-6) would have clinched their sixth trip to the Sweet 16 in the last 10 years had they defeated the Bulldogs.
Butler’s win over the Southeast Region’s top seed and 2010 No. 1-seed Syracuse makes them the third team in NCAA tournament history to defeat a No. 1 seed prior to the Final Four in two consecutive years.
Both teams are in the Big East conference, which is annually labeled the best conference in college basketball and also had a tournament-record 11 teams in the tournament this year.
Posted on 18 March 2011.
The No. 8 seed Butler men’s basketball team will play No. 1 seed Pittsburgh tomorrow night in the third round of the NCAA tournament after a 60-58 victory over No. 9 seed Old Dominion yesterday.
But the Bulldogs (24-9) advancing to the third round and tallying a 10th consecutive win might not have happened, if senior forward Matt Howard hadn’t channeled some Irish luck on St. Patrick’s Day.
While many were searching for a pot of gold at the other end of a rainbow, Howard found a missed tip-in on the other side of the basket and laid it in as time expired.
“Matt did what Matt does, and that is win games for Butler,” Brad Stevens, the Bulldogs’ head coach, said after the game.
Howard gave credit to sophomore center Andrew Smith, who was able to tip a heave from senior guard Shawn Vanzant off the backboard and in Howard’s direction.
“My guy went with [Smith] on that jump,” Howard said, “And it’s pretty easy when it’s just you and the ball and the rim.”
Howard finished with 15 points and eight rebounds—right around his season averages of 16.7 points and 7.8 rebounds.
Things looked gloomy for Butler early in the second half. Howard was called for his third foul with 16:36 remaining, and Smith was called for his fourth 40 seconds later.
But up stepped junior forward Garrett Butcher, who finished with six points (2-3 FG, 2-2 FT) and six rebounds. While Smith was being protected on the bench, Butcher’s sporadic plays of proper positioning and hustle kept the Bulldogs in the game and, sometimes, in the lead.
And speaking of leads, there were 21 lead changes in the game.
Junior guard Shelvin Mack, Smith and Vanzant battled to keep the Bulldogs on the right side of those lead changes.
Mack tied Howard’s 15 in the game, going 5-of-14 from the field on three 3-pointers, and also led the team in assists with five.
Smith efficiently scored 11 on 5-of-9 shooting to go along with six rebounds. Vanzant finished with eight points, two rebounds and one assist.
Redshirt senior forward Frank Hassell of Old Dominion (27-7) was mostly responsible for ODU re-taking the lead. In a back-and-forth game, he was the Monarchs’ go-to-guy.
Hassell led all scorers with 20 points, getting all of those from low in the paint or at the free throw line.
Butler had a six-point lead with 2:35 remaining, but that lead disappeared during the next two minutes. ODU redshirt junior forward Kent Bazemore hit a pair of free throws with 32 seconds remaining to tie the game at 58.
But having a game’s final possession is a clear advantage, as proven by other games’ winners (No. 7 seed Temple, No. 4 seed Kentucky and No. 7 seed UCLA) that same day.
The rest is history—Vanzant drives but somehow throws the ball up as he goes to the floor, Smith tips it up off the backboard, and Howard swoops in to clinch the win.
“Shock,” Hassell said when asked what he felt during the buzzer beater. “I was praying to God that the red light had come on [before Howard’s shot]. When they showed the replay, the shock just turned to hurt.”
Surprising to most was Butler’s rebounding advantage when all was said and done.
The Monarchs entered the game as the nation’s leader in rebounding differential. But the Bulldogs outrebounded their opponent 32-39 overall and 18-13 on the offensive glass—perhaps none more important than Howard’s as the final seconds ticked away.
“That was two really good teams playing a really hard-fought game,” Butler head coach Brad Stevens said. “It’s what you envision the eight-nine game to be in an ideal world. Both teams came out shooting the basketball well and both teams, kind of unusually, found their defensive rhythm later in the game.
“We had the last possession and we were fortunate to win.”
Butler’s game versus Pittsburgh tips at 7:05 p.m. Eastern.
Posted on 06 March 2011.
The Butler Bulldogs will ride an eight-game winning streak into the final game of the 2011 Horizon League Men’s Basketball Championship where they will face host Milwaukee. Butler has tied Xavier’s record of six consecutive Horizon League appearances in the league championship game.
Senior guard Shawn Vanzant scored a season-high 18 points, all in the second half, to lead the Bulldogs (22-9, 13-5 HL) to a 76-68 victory over Cleveland State on Saturday at U.S. Cellular Arena in Milwaukee. Butler never trailed in the contest.
Prior to the game, Cleveland State head coach Gary Waters noted that his team would need to stay out of foul trouble to stay competitive against Butler. The Vikings (26-8, 13-5 HL) did that, recording only seven personal fouls in the first half. However, Butler was called for 12 first half fouls, including two fouls on four of five Bulldog starters.
Amidst the early foul trouble, the Bulldogs committed seven turnovers in the first eight minutes of play. Despite shooting 57 percent during that stretch, Butler found itself knotted at 13 with 11:30 remaining in the first half.
A turning point came at the 10:48 mark when senior forward Matt Howard drained a 3-pointer, giving Butler a 16-13 lead and sparking a 9-2 Butler run.
Howard, who finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, was one of four Bulldogs, along with Vanzant, to score in double figures. Junior guard Shelvin Mack scored 15 and sophomore center Andrew Smith added 12 points and eight rebounds. As a team, Butler outrebounded Cleveland State, 38-29.
The Vikings refused to go down without a fight, hitting four of their final five shots and battling back to within four points with only 30 seconds remaining.
On the last possession of the half, junior guard Ronald Nored penetrated the Viking defense and nailed a 15-footer to send Butler into the locker room with a 41-35 lead.
In Cleveland State’s victory over Wright State on Friday, senior guard Norris Cole scored 13 of his game-high 15 points in the second half. However, a different senior dominated the second half on Saturday.
With the Vikings on a 10-2 run, Butler found itself clinging to a 60-58 lead with five minutes remaining in the game. In a 50-second stretch, Vanzant knocked down two 3-pointers, extending the Bulldogs lead to eight and causing the Butler faithful who made the trip north to rise to their feet.
“The most important of Shawn’s shots was the three when Cleveland State had cut it to a two-point game,” Butler head coach Brad Stevens said. “Most college players won’t make that shot. It was a gut check shot.”
Despite 14 points from Cole in the final 11 minutes, Cleveland State would never get closer than four points. Cole led all scorers with 24 points. A Vikings win would have marked the 100th coaching victory for Waters at Cleveland State.
Vanzant sunk three free throws in the final minute to seal the win, 76-68, for Butler.
During the past four years, Vanzant was looked to primarily on the defensive end, but has recently assumed more of a role on offense.
“It’s a terrific example of what hard work does,” Howard said. “In the summer, you wouldn’t see anyone in the gym more than Shawn.”
Later that night, Milwaukee defeated Valparaiso, 70-63, to secure itself a spot in the championship game versus Butler.
During the Bulldogs’ postgame press conference, Milwaukee and Valpo were warming up a few hundred feet away. When asked which team worries him more, Stevens chose his response wisely.
“We’re playing Tuesday at 9:00 p.m.”
Posted on 02 March 2011.
The Butler men’s basketball team earned a share of its fifth consecutive Horizon League regular season title Saturday, when it defeated Loyola, 63-56, in front of a sold out crowd.
However, tiebreakers will send the Bulldogs (21-9, 13-5 HL) to Milwaukee as the No. 2 seed, which grants them a first- and second-round bye in the conference tournament.
The victory could have been the last home game for the 2011 senior class, which consists of guard Alex Anglin, guard Zach Hahn, forward Matt Howard, guard Grant Leiendecker and guard Shawn Vanzant.
During the past four seasons, the five seniors have helped lead the Bulldogs to four Horizon League regular season championships, two Horizon League tournament titles and three straight NCAA tournament appearances, including last year’s national runner-up finish. Their 110 wins are the second-most by any senior class in Butler men’s basketball history.
A 7-2 Butler run just after the 13-minute mark in Saturday’s contest was capped by five straight points from junior guard Shelvin Mack, giving the Bulldogs a 14-10 lead.
The Ramblers (16-14, 7-11) responded with an 11-2 run of their own, taking a 21-16 advantage with 7:41 remaining in the first half.
Loyola held that lead until the one-minute mark when junior guard Ronald Nored scored in transition, drew a foul and attempted to convert the three-point play at the free-throw line. Nored’s free toss was off the mark, but
Howard pulled down the rebound and found a cutting Nored who laid it up and in to give Butler a 29-26 lead.
The Bulldogs would never trail again.
On the final possession of the half, Mack drained a 3-pointer as time expired to send the Bulldogs into the locker room with a 32-26 lead. Mack scored 14 first-half points and finished the game with 18, leading all scorers.
A few minutes before halftime, Butler head coach Brad Stevens, left the game to see an eye doctor.
“My vision got progressively worse as we were getting ready to start the game,” Stevens said in a press release. “By the final media timeout of the first half, I could not see the other end of the court and everything in front of me was blurry.”
Stevens was later diagnosed with a corneal edema, a condition in which the cornea swells from being overly hydrated by accumulated fluid.
Stevens recovered and returned to practice on Sunday.
Associate head coach Matthew Graves relieved Stevens in the second half and was at the helm when sophomore guard Chase Stigall put on a show.
Stigall, who was held scoreless in the first half, scored five consecutive points to start the second.
He finished with 10 points, including a momentum-shifting play near the eight-minute mark, when Loyola freshman guard Denzel Brito grabbed a defensive rebound following a missed 3-pointer by Howard.
As Stigall’s teammates hustled down the court to defend the Ramblers transition offense, Stigall snuck up behind Brito, stole the ball and converted a layup.
However, the Bulldogs needed help from a few seniors to seal the victory.
Putting Loyola’s comeback hopes further out of reach, Vanzant, who finished with 10 points, knocked down a 3-pointer to put the Bulldogs up by eight, 60-52.
Hahn was able to help seal Butler’s 63-56 victory by sinking two crucial free throws in the game’s final minute.
Nored finished with eight points, and sophomore center Andrew Smith finished with six points and a game-leading 11 rebounds.
Following the game, feelings were bittersweet as the seniors said their goodbyes to the home crowd and reflected on their time at Butler University.
“Now that it’s over, it’s a little bit crazy to think that you’re never playing on Hinkle’s floor again as a Butler Bulldog,” Howard said. “We’re very appreciative of everyone that came out. We haven’t had a crowd like that all year.”
The city of Connersville, Ind., bought 1,400 tickets to see Howard, a Connersville native, put up nine points and seven rebounds in his Hinkle finale.
New Castle (Ind.) High School, alma mater of Hahn and Stigall, purchased 200 tickets for the afternoon game.
Butler will play in the Horizon League Tournament Semifinals at 6 p.m. on Saturday in Milwaukee. The Bulldogs face the winner of a Cleveland State-Wright State contest, which takes place Friday evening.
Regardless, Graves is confident that his squad is peaking at the right time.
“Heading into postseason play, the way we have been defending is encouraging,” Graves said. “We are right where we need to be.”
Posted on 01 January 2011.
Butler was dunking, Matt Howard dove into the opponent’s bench, and seven different Bulldogs scored at least eight points in Saturday’s 76-59 win against Valparaiso.
The win was Butler’s 22nd consecutive Horizon League regular season win, a new record for the conference.
And the Bulldogs (10-4, 2-0 HL), now on a six-game winning streak, will look to extend that record Monday as they begin the week’s three-game conference stretch.
Butler picked up where it left off at the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu by getting multiple players involved on offense. When the opponent tried to stop a Bulldog from scoring, others scored in their stead.
The Crusaders (10-5, 2-1 HL) did their best to stop Howard from scoring, allowing him only eight points in the game, although the senior forward still managed to grab eight rebounds.
But others scored while Howard was being pressured or double-teamed.
Guard and fellow senior Zach Hahn made three-of-six 3-point shots for his nine points, and senior Shawn Vanzant and junior Ronald Nored each scored 11 on a combined eight-of-15 shooting from the field.
Freshman forward Khyle Marshall continued his stretch of improved play by scoring 10 points, making it his first double-digit performance as a Bulldog.
Junior guard Shelvin Mack led all scorers with 16 points. Mack shot four-of-eight from the field while also grabbing four rebounds and dishing out six assists.
Butler dominated both ends of the court in the first half, shooting 12-of-28 from the field and forcing nine Crusader turnovers in the first 20 minutes.
Mack led the Bulldogs on offense with seven points at the half, while Nored led things on the defensive end by getting three of his four steals in the game prior to the break.
Valparaiso did not roll over for the second half, though.
The Crusaders shot six-of-14 from behind the arc after halftime and were led in that category by freshman guard Jay Harris, who had zero points in the first half and 14 in the second.
But after Valpo shaved a double-digit deficit down to five points, Butler responded with a flurry of three-pointers and finally a perfect eight-for-eight free throw shooting to close out the game.
Butler’s first of three Horizon League games in the coming week is at Milwaukee (7-8, 2-2 HL) at 8 p.m. EDT.
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