Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Room Service: Devils Deny Butler, 61-59
Butler's Gordon Hayward let fly from half court with the clock running down to zero. The ball banged of the backboard and the front of the rim, his desperation heave just inches from being the most stunning buzzer beater of all time.
But it was not to be for the Butler Bulldogs, who growled and wrestled all the way to the final seconds of the final game. The Duke Blue Devils would be crowned the NCAA men's basketball champions - for the 4th time in school history - with a thrilling, 61-59, final game win.
All four of Duke's titles have come under the tutelage of coach Mike Krzyzewski, who joins Adolph Rupp and John Wooden as the only coaches ever to win four or more national championships. It was Krzyzewski's first championship since 2001. The others were in 1991 and 1992. Rupp guided the Kentucky Wildcats to four, in 1948, 1949, 1951, 1958. John Wooden, the legendary coach of the UCLA Bruins has 10, a record which may never be broken. He took the championship with UCLA 10 times from 1964 to 1975, including an amazing 7 straight seasons from 1967 to 1973.
The game is being hailed as an "instant classic," a title it well deserves. Neither team gave an inch in a contest that saw multiple lead-changes, death-defying drives into the lane, extreme defense and enough drama to make Broadway critics cry. The biggest lead of the game was 6 points, by Duke, and Butler actually had a chance to take the last shot when they recovered the ball when Brian Zoubek inadvertently kicked it out of bounds in one of the many on-the-floor scrambles under the Duke basket.
Butler had the ball in hand with 33 seconds left, down a point, but Hayward's ten-foot baseline floater banged off the rim into Zoubek's hands. He was fouled with 3.3 seconds left, hit the first free throw and purposely missed the second, allowing Hayward to streak to mid-court for the final shot.
Give credit to the Bulldogs, who were painted as the David in the David vs. Goliath presentation, but in reality are a high-quality program from a mid-major conference. The Bulldogs had been ranked in the top 15 all season and entered the final with a 25-game win streak. No opponent during their five tournament wins - including victories over some of the best teams in the country: Syracuse, Kansas State and Michigan St. - scored as many as 60 points. Duke broke the mold with the win.
Butler deserves the final ranking of #2, with their 33-5 record and 18-0 Horizon League total. Duke will finish the season #1, with a record of 35-5 (13-3 in the ACC) and a memorable final game victory, the closest since 1989, when Michigan beat Seton Hall, 80-79.
Duke will sport a whole new look next season, as three starters - Zoubek, Jon Scheyer and Lance Thomas - are all seniors. Juniors Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith could easily jump to the NBA, foregoing their senior seasons.
Butler, on the other hand, may come back ranked #1 preseason. They will lose only Willie Veasley to graduation. Star forward, Gordon Hayward, is only a sophomore, and Matt Howard, who was Horizon League Player of the Year in 2008-09, is a junior. Guards Shelvin Mack and Ronald Nored are also sophomores, so the Bulldogs very likely will return four of their starting five, and an upgrade at one forward position - where Veasley departs - is likely.
Game highlights can be found in numerous places on the internet: here and here, and can be seen in its entirety when it is added to the NCAA Video Vault, along with a decade's worth of games from the Sweet 16 through tourney finals.
College Hoops Player of the Day for Monday, April 5, 2010
Duke's win would not have been possible with the Herculean effort from Kyle Singler, who played all of the 40 minutes and was the game's high-scorer with 19 points. Singler hit 7 of 13 shots from the field, including 3 of 6 from 3-point range, all of them seeming to come at crucial moments. He went to the foul line just twice, canning both of his free throws, and added 9 boards, 2 assists, a steal and 2 blocked shots.
While Singler's stats exemplify his extraordinary all-around effort, what may be the bast part of his game may be overlooked. He defended Butler's Gordon Hayward man-to-man almost all night, limiting the Bulldog star to a sub-par 12 points on 2-for-11 shooting (0-3 on treys). Hayward notched 8 of those 12 at the foul line, where he was perfect. Singler's defensive effort kept Hayward away from the lane for much of the night, contesting every pass to him and every shot he took.
Singler was named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player, an award he most decidedly earned.
A few final notes: Ohio state's Evan Turner was handed the Naismith Award as NCAA Player of the Year, at half time of Monday's game. Turner had already notched the AP Player of the Year and similar awards from the Sporting News and US Basketball Writers Association. Turner led Ohio State to a 29-8 record and a share of the Big Ten title. A junior, Turner is expected to forego his senior season and jump to the NBA.
Coach Jim Boeheim of Syracuse was named AP coach of the year.
The Big Ten and Big 12 tied for the best record in the tournament at 9-5, though one could make the case that the Horizon League (Butler being the sole entrant) topped all conferences with a 5-1 record.
NCAA Conference Scoreboard FINAL (through games of April 5)
Big East (8-8)
Big Ten (9-5)
Big 12 (9-5)
Mountain West (2-4)
West Coast (3-2)
Western Athletic (0-2)
*Conferences with only one tournament team listed as "Other."
Sunday, April 04, 2010
Devils and Dogs to Meet in NCAA Final
5 Butler 52
5 Michigan St. 50
The Butler Bulldogs continue to amaze, now having reached the final plateau of their impressive run through the NCAA tourney field, knocking off the Michigan State Spartans in the first of two semi-final games Saturday.
As has been the case in most of their wins - now at 25 straight - the gritty Bulldogs were led by their best player, Horizon League Player of the Year, Gordon Hayward, who led all scorers with 19 points, while pulling down 9 rebounds. The lanky forward also collected a couple of steals and blocked two shots. And, it was Hayward who grabbed the rebound to finally close out the Spartans on Korie Lucious' purposely-missed free throw at the end of the game.
What makes Hayward's accomplishment in this game so special is that he played almost the wole game without a rest - 39 minutes - and carried the team through the first half as fellow forward Matt Howard was saddled with 2 fouls. He also played most of the second half without the services of Shelvin Mack, who was on the bench, suffering from leg spasms. Somehow, Mack managed to score 14 points. Hayward was 6-for-14 from the field, including 3 of 8 3-point shots.
The Bulldogs face Duke in the final, Monday night.
1 Duke 74
2 W. Virginia 58
When Duke started hitting their 3-pointers midway through the first half, one could almost sense the inevitability of their presence. West Virginia kept allowing open looks, and the Duke bomb squad of Kyle Singler, Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith kept dropping them in from long range.
From 3-point land, Singler hit 3 of 5, Smith, 4 of 9 and Scheyer, 5 of 9. They were also the game's top three scorers, with 21, 19 and 23 points, respectively, but Jon Scheyer was singlularly outstanding, going 7-for-13 overall as the game's high-scorer, with 6 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 steals while not committing a turnover.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
NCAA Cranked Up: Four for the Final
Butler Bulldogs (32-4) vs.
Michigan State Spartans (28-8)
6:07 pm EDT
Butler enters the Final Four for the very first time in school history, but does so with a flourish, sporting not only the best record of all participants, but also the longest winning streak in the nation, a solid 24 straight.
The Bulldogs will have the advantage of playing just 7 miles from their campus, in what amounts to a short home tournament. They will benefit from having many of their fans n hand, though that could also work as a distraction leading up to the Saturday games and possibly a final game showdown for all the marbles.
Butler is led by Gordon Hayward, the Horizon League Player of the Year, who brings size and talent to the front court. In the big games, Hayward has stepped up. He scored 17 points with 5 rebounds against Syracuse and had 22 and 9 in the reginal final win over Kansas State. A lean, 6'9" forward, he's a nightmare to defend.
Shelvin Mack is the scoring guard for the Bulldogs. He too has been on his game in the tournament. Ouside of his 1-for-10 3-point effort against Syracuse, Mack has nailed 12 of 18 from beyond the arc. His scoring will be essential, but Butler wins with defense, mostly in the form of a 2-1-2 zone.
The Spartans have become accustomed to playing under big lights in big pressure games, so Tom Izzo will have his players ready for action. Michigan State has been hobbled by injury, most notably the loss of point guard Kalin Lucas, who is out for the duration of the tourney but has been admirably replaced by Korie Lucious, who staved off elimination with a last-second three-pointer to shock Maryland in the regional semi-final.
Forwards Raymar Morgan and Durrell Summers will be called upon again to carry the scoring load for the Spartans, while Delvon Roe and Draymond Green will do the dirty work under the rim. Summers has carried the team through the tournament, all of which have been close calls for the Spartans. He's scoring at a 20 points per game clip, nearly double his seasonal average. Michigan State comes with grit and determination, but the Bulldogs display much the same attitude. This game will be a war. Butler is a slim, 1 1/2 point favorite.
West Virginia Mountaineers (31-6) vs.
Duke Blue Devils (33-5)
8:47 pm EDT
After the Butler - Michigan St. melange, this game will look like the Varsity kids following the JV game onto the floor. While the previous two teams will be engaged in what may look, at times, like a cage fight, the two more polished squads out of the Big East and ACC bring more finesse and subtlety in their games, especially the Blue Devils.
It's not likely that West Virginia will hold Duke's regular season leading scorer, Kyle Singler, to the 5 points he had in his prior game. Expect Singler to take his shots from the perimeter (he's a 38% three-point shooter) and also bang away inside, though the Mountaineers inside presence should slow him down a little.
Duke's other two top scorers - Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith - both have been on the money during the past two games of the tourney. Smith had a career-high 29 points in the win over Baylor which got Duke on its way to Indianapolis. Scheyer scored 18 against Purdue and poured in 20 against Baylor, hitting 5 3-pointers in the process.
Of the many edges Duke has in this game, their front court size and free throw shooting should serve them well. Brian Zoubek goes 7'1", starter Lance Thomas stands 6'8" and the two Plumlees - Miles and Mason - each go 6'10" and should see plenty of floor time. At the foul line, Scheyer hits at an 88% clip; Singler, 79%, Smith, 78%, and all three get there with stunning regularity.
West Virginia appears to have destiny on their side. Coach Bob Huggins, who played for the Mountaineers from 1975-77, is in his third year with the school, and has developed a great rapport with his players, many of whom he personally recruited. The go-to guy is slick DaSean Butler, who has made a case for himself as tournament MOP. After seeing limited action - and just 9 points - in the opening round win over Morgan St., he put up 28, 14 and 18 points in wins over Missouri, Washington and Kentucky, nabbing 27 rebounds along the way. Butler, a senior, is the floor leader and, if the game comes down to one shot, he will be the one taking it.
Up front, the Mountaineers can keep fresh, tall bodies flowing into the game. Deniz Kilicli, Devin Ebanks and Kevin Jones can all rebound and defend, though they, like most of the West Virginia squad, are not particularly deadly on the perimeter. Point guard Joe Mazzula played a pivotal role in the win over Kentucky and he'll need to step it up again. The condition of Darryl "Truck" Bryant, who was the regular point guard until suffering a broken bone in his foot, is still up in the air. He hasn't practiced as of Tuesday, though it was announced that he would play against Duke. Having him back would be a boost.
In order to win this game, West Virginia will have to challenge Duke's outside shooters and maintain a solid presence inside, easier said than done. The match-ups favor Duke in many regards and the Mountainers are not a good free throw shooting team. Of the starters, Butler is the leader, at 78%. Not surprisingly, Duke is favored by 3 points.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Hayward Earns Saturday's Player of the Day
The Butler Bulldogs advanced to the Final Four for the first time in school history with a 63-56 win over the #2 seed, Kansas State, but their emergence from the West region was by no means a fluke.
The Bulldogs knocked off four good teams to reach the pinnacle of college basketball. After first and second round wins over UTEP and Murray State - who took the Bulldogs to the limit - Butler downed Syracuse, the region's top seed. Through those first four rounds, Horizon League Player of the Year Gordon Hayward has provided backbone, scoring and rebounding, but his effort against the Wildcats on Saturday was his best game of the tournament, registering game-highs with 22 points and 9 boards.
Hayward and the Bulldogs are a dead-serious contender to take the whole shooting match, especially with the decimated brackets which by Sunday afternoon will have wiped out 5/6ths of the top 12 seeds, including either all of the 1s or all of the 3s, pending the outcome of the South region final between #1 Duke and #3 Baylor. Butler will get a bit of a break, playing the winner of the Midwest region, either #6 Tennessee or #5 Michigan State, though either team will give the Bulldogs a good game.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Shock and Disbelief: Bulldogs, Mountaineers Skin 'Cats
5 Butler 63
2 Kansas St. 56
The Butler Bulldogs stunned the Kansas St. Wildcats and advanced to the Final Four out of the West region, employing a scrambling defense and timely offense spearheaded by Horizon League Player of the Year, Gordon Hayward, who had game highs in scoring and rebounding with 22 points and 9 rebounds. The Bulldogs shut down the wildcat guards, Jacob Pullen and denis Clemente, holding the backcourt duo to a combined 32 points. Pullen was 4-for-13, Clemente, 7-for-17.
Butler took an early lead and held on throughout, though the wildcats did take a brief one-point lead midway through the second half, but the Bulldogs beat Kansas St. in most of the important categories: shooting percentage, 3-point shooting, free throws and rebounds. Butler, the #5 seed, knocked off both the #1 seed, Syracuse, and now the #2 seed in the region.
2 West Virginia 73
1 Kentucky 66
In an even more shocking development, West Virginia derailed John Wall and the Kentucky express, beating the Wildcats with a combination of first-half three-point shooting and second-half defense and canniness. The Mountaineers, not known for long-range shooting prowess, hit 8 3-pointers in the first half and took a 28-26 lead into intermission.
In the second half, West Virginia worked the ball inside more often and stymied the Wildcats with their 1-3-1 zone defense. Frustrated by their inaccuracy from long range, Kentucky didn't hit a shot from beyond the arc until the game was in its final minutes, finishing an embarrassing 4-for-32 on 3-point tries. Kentucky also damaged its own chances, connecting on just 16 of 29 free throw attempts. The Mountaineers, meanwhile, were 10-for-23 from 3-point land and 23 of 34 at the charity stripe.
As usual, Da'Sean Butler led his team in scoring with 18 points, but the performance of the night came from Joe Mazzulla, who posted a career-high 17 points, even though he missed most of the final six minutes due to foul trouble and then, after a brief return, fouling out. Mazzulla handled the ball and directed the offense most of the night, which led to, at one point, a 16-point edge. Kentucky tried to crawl back into it late, but did not have the shots nor the time to make a significant run.
In a tournament that has been chock-full of upsets and surprises, these two are remarkable, as is what's left of the high seeded teams. At this juncture, with just 6 teams left in the tourney, three #1s, #2s and #3s have already been eliminated. After tomorrow's games, either all of the 1s or 3s will be gone, as the South region final features #1 Duke vs. #3 Baylor. The Midwest, already decimated by losses to #1 Kansas, #2 Ohio State and #3 Georgetown, features a 6-5 match-up between Tennessee and Michigan State.
Regardless of tomorrow's results, this years Final Four will consist of just 2 of the top 12 seeds, pretty much an unprecedented event and certain to have blown up all the bracket pools around the country.
Another piece of history: West Virginia has reached the Final Four for just the second time in school history. The last time was in 1959 when California defeated West Virginia 71-70, though basketball legend Jerry West just missed a desperation heave from half court that would have won the game. Despite the loss, West was named tournament MVP. Today, 51 years later, West's son, Jonny West, plays for the Mountaineers.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
3rd Round Winners: Butler, W. Virginia, Kentucky, Kansas St.
5 Butler 63
1 Syracuse 59
Andy Rautins and Wes Johnson hit back-to-back 3-point shots to bring Syracuse all the way back from a 35-25 half time deficit and take a 40-39 lead just six minutes into the second half. From there, the lead changed hands 3 times and the game tied twice, but Syracuse wrested a 54-50 lead with 2 minutes left. Butler would not be denied, however, scoring ten straight points to hold a 60-54 lead with 37 clicks remaining. Syracuse extended the game by fouling, but could only draw to within 4 before time expired and Butler moved on to Saturday's regional final.
The top-seeded Orange fell behind early, with lethargic play and 11 first half turnovers. Gordon Hayward led the Bulldogs with 17 points. Shelvin Mack added 14 and Willie Veasley had 13. Butler went to the free throw line 21 times and made 15. Syracuse was just 10-for-14.
6 Xavier 96
2 Kansas St. 101
The Musketeers took the Wildcats into double overtime, but Kansas State emerged with the win as Jacob Pullen was magnificent the entire game, but especially in the overtime periods, nailing important three-pointers with deadly accuracy. Pullen scored 28 points for K-State, hitting 6 of 13 shots from long range. Xavier's Jordan Crawford led everyone with 32.
11 Washington 56
2 West Virginia 69
Washington's Quincy Pondexter got into early foul trouble, but the Huskies managed to lead at the half, but West Virginia's overall size advantage eventually produced defensive stops, easy baskets and a double-digit lead. Washington got as close as 8 points with under 6 minutes to play, but could not produce any semblance of a rally.
Playing without point guard, Darryl "Truck" Bryant, who broke a bone in his foot during a practice and is out for the remainder of the tournament, the Mountaineers still proved to be too much for the undersized Huskies. Kevin Jones led all scorers with 18 points on 7-12 shooting, including 3 of 4 3-pointers and 8 rebounds.
1 Kentucky 62
12 Cornell 45
Kentucky's length and tenacious defense stifled Cornell's outside shooting, maintaining a lead established after the Big Red had opened the game with a 10-2 start. DeMarcus Cousins was a tower of power inside, leading the Wildcats with 16 points and 8 rebounds. Kentucky held Cornell to 33% shooting, with a 24% mark from beyond the arc. Cornell's fonal score was by far its lowest point total of the season in a losing effort. Their previous low was 64 points in a loss to Penn. The Big Red did score 48 points in a three-point victory over Princeton.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Butler, Vols Dance into Sweet 16
6 Tennessee 83
14 Ohio 68
Coach Bruce pearl let everyone get into the act as ten Tennessee players scored in the Vols second round win over upset-minded Ohio. The Bobcats stunned #3 seed Georgetown on Thursday to advance, but proved to be no match for Tennessee.
5 Butler 54
13 Murray St. 52
It wasn't very pretty, but the Butler Bulldogs, shooting only 36% for the entire game, survived a duel with fellow small-school rival Murray State to advance to the regional semi-finals. Sophomore Ronald Nored led the Bulldogs with 15 points and 6 assists. Horizon League player of the year, Gordon Hayward, scored 12 and pulled down 7 rebounds.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Bracket Busters and Myth-Breakers
We've all heard just how rugged the Midwest region is supposed to be, wherein Kansas, the #1 overall seed in the tourney, will be hard-pressed by any number of teams, but that is a flawed idea, a myth, as Kansas will likely breeze through the first three rounds and only face serious competition in their regional final.
While the region boasts some quality teams, the best of them are in the lower half of the bracket, meaning Kansas will only have to play one of the better teams. Tennessee, San Diego State, Georgetown and Ohio Sate are all in the lower half, while the only quality teams in the Kansas draw at the top are Michigan State (5) and Maryland (4). The winner of the Northern Iowa-UNLV game may give Kansas some trouble for the first 15 minutes, but the Jayhawks simply have too much size and experience to imagine that they'd be ousted as early as the second round. Whether Maryland or Michigan State emerges from the other side of the draw, it won't matter. Kansas should handle either of them by ten points at least.
If either Georgetown or Ohio State match up in the regional final against Kansas, that game will provide a true test, though Ohio State has no depth, playing six men at most, and Georgetown, while very good, probably won't be able to keep up with Kansas for a full 40 minutes. That's the big myth this season. Kansas should cruise into the Final Four without breaking a sweat.
As far as bracket-busters are concerned, there are good prospects for upsets in each of the other regions.
#1 seed Syracuse will have its hands full, given they get past Vermont in the opening round. The Orange were upset by the Catamounts in the first round in 2005, though the Orange were a #4 seed that season and Vermont, 13. Figure Syracuse will not allow lightning to strike twice, but after that, it looks like Gonzaga next and then possibly Butler. The Zags haven't exactly knocked over the world this season, though early wins over Wisconsin and Cincinnati and a close loss to Michigan State gave them impetus to cruise through the West Coast conference with a 12-2 mark. A talented team, the Bulldogs are always dangerous, though Syracuse is probably much better.
The other Bulldogs in the draw, Butler, poses different dilemmas for the Orange. A disciplined, well-coached team with tourney experience and a solid bench. Forwards Matt Howard, Gordon Hayward and Willie Veasley are slightly undersized, but match up well with the orange front line. The guard play is solid and Butler won't be intimidated by Syracuse's 2-3 zone. It's easy to see how the Bulldogs could create the first #1 casualty of the tournament.
If Syracuse survives to that point, Kansas State will likely end their Final Four dreams. The Wildcats would be a #1 seed were it not for the potent Jayhawks. K-State can run and score in transition, playing against one of Syracuse's weaknesses. The early games in the lower portion of this region could go any way, with the exception of K-State. Pitt, Minnesota, Vanderbilt or BYU all have solid teams.
Kentucky probably has the easiest draw of any team in the tournament. They will dispose of East Tenn. St. in the opening round, then dust off the winner of the Texas-Wake Forest opener, probably the worst 8-9 match-up in the pool. After that, Temple, Cornell or Wisconsin all have equal opportunity to become the Wildcats' regional semi-final victim. Trouble looms in the regional final, where Marquette, West Virginia or New Mexico could emerge, though the Mountaineers seem to be the only realistic challenge to Kentucky. If West Virginia reached the regional final, their game with Kentucky could produce the national champion.
There's been some expression of a belief that Duke caught a break by getting into this regional draw, but there are minefields throughout what shapes up to be the most busted-up bracket of them all. Will the Blue Devils face Cal or Louisville in the second round? If the Golden Bears step up and beat the Cardinals, they could be the surprise of the tournament, as only two teams came out of the PAC-10. However, if Louisville plays to their potential, there aren't many teams they can't beat. Duke could be an early out.
Other sleepers in the top half of the draw include Sienna and Utah State, both of which are widely unknown, though Sienna has a history of knocking off higher-seeded opponents with regularity. They face Purdue in the opening round, and without Robbie Hummel, the Boilermakers are already vulnerable. Sienna could cause a quick exit.
Even if Duke survives the first two rounds, a win over either Utah State or Sienna cannot be taken for granted.
The bottom of the bracket also features the weakest #2 in the tournament, Villanova, which proved in the latter part of the season to be somewhat overrated. They haven't got the size or the shooters to go deep this year and their draw is loaded. Notre Dame, Old Dominion, St. Mary's, Richmond or Baylor are all teams capable of high levels of play. Villanova is unlikely to last three rounds, maybe not even two.
Baylor or St. Mary's could emerge as a regional finalist and either could reach the Final Four, though Notre Dame and Old Dominion's chances are not bad either. In any case, Villanova is doomed and Duke will be thoroughly tested.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Butler Completes Perfect Horizon Season
The Butler Bulldogs extended the nation's longest winning streak to 18 games and completed their Horizon League schedule with a perfect 18-0 season, knocking off Valparaiso, 74-69, as Willie Veasley cashed 4 of 6 3-pointers and 7 of 12 overall to pace the Bulldogs.
Butler long ago clinched the Horizon championship, and will enter the league tournament as the clear #1 seed. The Bulldogs won despite missing their best player, Gordon Hayward, who missing the game with a back sprain.
Notable: Cornell took a major step toward the Ivy league title with a 50-47 win over Princeton, as Jeff Foote led the Big Red with 19 points. Cornell leads the Ivy at 10-1 with three games remaining on their conference slate. Handing Princeton its third conference loss (two at Cornell's hands) gives Big Red some breathing room at the top. Harvard is currently in second place at 8-3, with Princeton third at 7-3.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Henry Notches 31 as Jawhawks Roll to 9-0 Record
Baseball has Spring Training; pro football has exhibition games; the college basketball equivalent is the month of December, when perennial powerhouses like Kansas get to flex their muscles, test new players and generally beat up on lesser rivals like La Salle.
Now, the La Salle Explorers aren't a bad team. In fact, when they waltzed into Rupp Arena to take on the Jayhawks on Saturday, they were a respectable 6-2. They left with the unmistakable imprint of #1 Kansas dealing them their third loss of the season.
Kansas dominated just about every aspect of the game. They shot 53%, had 44 rebounds and blocked 11 shots. La Salle's numbers, for comparison: 36%, 34, 2. Yes, it was a rout, with the Jayhawks winning, 90-65, for their 9th straight win without a loss. It was the sixth time Kansas had scored 90 or more, this time with a little less balance than normal, as freshman senation Xavier Henry went off for a career-high 31 points on 10-for-15 shooting, including 4 of 5 3-pointers and 7 of 9 from the line. Low post specialist Cole Aldrich chipped in with 19 points of his own. Together, Aldrich and Henry accounted for 2/3rds of the Jawhawk points. Henry has scored in double figures every game this season.
NOTABLE: The Butler Bulldogs got back to their winning ways with a late surge to top Ohio Sate, 74-66. Gordon Hayward scored 24 for the second straight game, as the Bulldogs improved to 7-3. Ohio State dropped to 7-2. Both teams should remain ranked when the new polls come out on Monday.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Butler Improves to 2-0 Off Hayward Effort
The Butler Bulldogs have a pretty good team. How far they go this season rests largely on the big shoulders of 6'8" sophomore Gordon Hayward, who recorded his first double-double with 14 points and 10 boards in Butler's 67-54 victory at Northwestern.
The win made the Bulldogs 2-0, with a bunch of big games just ahead. On Thanksgiving, the Bulldogs host #24 Minnesota, but then on December 8, 12 and 19, the schedule gets extremely tough, at (19) Georgetown, then home for (15) Ohio St. and then unranked Xavier.
It's that kind of scheduling that keeps little Butler consistently in the Top 25 and battle-tested for the Horizon League regular season. The Bulldogs have been in the NCAA tournament each of the last three seasons, having won or shared the regular league title in each of those years and the conference tournament after the conclusion of the 2007-08 season.
Hayward averaged 13.1 points per game last season. He's up to 15.5 so far this year.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Butler Captures Horizon; Memphis Wins 56th Straight in C-USA
Willie Veasley led the Bulldogs with 16 points, earning their third straight Horizon League title. The Bulldogs will be the #1 seed when they host the league tournament, which begins on Saturday, March 7.
#5 Memphis 58, Southern Miss. 42
The Memphis Tigers (26-3, 14-0) already have the Conference-USA title, which they earned on Thursday night with a win over UAB. On Saturday, they extended the nation's longest winning streak to 20 games while winning their 56th straight conference game, easily getting by Southern Miss.
Robert Dozier led all scorers with 18 points. The Tigers have two regular season games remaining before the league tourney. After that, it's on to the big dance, probably as a #2 seed, though some believe Memphis should be a #1.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Top 25, Feb. 26: Butler, Xavier Seek Conference Titles
The Xavier Musketeers continued their march toward the NCAA tournament with a convincing road win over Atlantic-10 pursuer, St. Joseph's. Xavier needs just one more win - over either Dayton (March 5) or at Richmond (March 7) to capture the A-10 regular season crown.
Derrick Brown and B.J. Raymond each scored 18 points in the win which put Xavier at 23-5 overall and 11-3 in conference play.
#24 Butler 78, Youngstown St. 57
Sophomore forward Matt Howard scored 25 points and hauled down 10 boards as Butler punished Youngstown State in Horizon League action. The Bulldogs clinched at least a tie for the league championship, and can take the title outright with a win over Cleveland State on Saturday, Feb. 28.
The Bulldogs are 14-3 in the Horizon, with Wisconsin-Green Bay a game back at 14-3. The teams split their two games this season, with each winning at home by an identical 9 points. There exists a distinct possibility that both could receive NCAA bids, as the winner of the tournament gets an automatic nod. Both teams have solid records.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Curry Returns for Davisdon, but Butler Proves Too Tough
Curry played what was probably the worst half of his career in the opening frame against Horizon League powerhouse Butler, but nearing the break, he began to shake off the aftereffects of the sprained ankle which sidelined him in Davidson's 64-46 loss to Citadel on Thursday.
With 1:31 left in the first half, Davidson was trailing 31-23, when Garrett Butcher fouled Curry (who had hit just 1 of 10 shots from the field for a measly 3 points) and sent him to the line for a pair of free throws, which he canned.
At 1:14 remaining, Max Paulhus Gosselin added a deuce on a layup, cutting the lead to 4 points. After a Butler free throw and basket, Curry dropped in an 11-foot jumper, leaving the Wildcats down just 5 at the half, 34-29. Curry, despite the poor start, finished with 7 points at intermission, on 2-12 shooting (0-9 on 3's), and 3-3 from the foul line.
Curry regained his stroke somewhat in the second half, but by then it was too late, with Butler quickly establishing a double digit lead. The Bulldogs breezed to an unchallenged 75-63 road win. Propelled by freshman Gordon Hayward, who victimized the Wildcats with a game-high and career-high 27 points, the Bulldogs notched their 23rd win against just four losses.
Despite losing their last two conference games, Butler needs only to hold court at home against Youngstown St. and Cleveland St., Thursday, Feb 26 and Saturday, Feb 28, to capture the Horizon League regular season title.
Hayward, a 6'8" frosh, hit 6 of 12 from the field, including 4 of 7 on threes and 11-12 from the foul line. He also collected 10 boards for his fourth double-double of the season.
Curry finished with 20, but was just 6-23 from the field, hitting just 2-13 from outside the arc. 22-6 Davidson still should wrap up the Southern Conference South division, as they close out the season against three of the weakest teams in the conference, NC Greensboro, Georgia Southern and Elon.
Saturday, February 09, 2008
Memphis, Duke, Butler, Kansas All Winners
Trailing 29-26 early in the second half, the Bulldogs outscored their Green Bay hosts 23-10, to seemingly take command of the game with 8 minutes remaining.
The Phoenix responded with a 8-0 run of their own to trail 49-47 with 4:20 left, but Pete Campbell knocked down consecutive three-pointers to increase the lead back to eight.
Campbell joined A. J. Graves, Mike Green and Matt Howard in double figures as the Bulldogs improved to 10 -2 in the conference and 21-2 overall. The loss by the Phoenix dropped them to 7-6 and 13-10 overall, dimming hopes for a trip to the NCAA tournament.
Butler shot only 39% from the field and hit just 8 of 32 threes, but they made them when they mattered most.
Kansas 100 Baylor 90 - The Jayhawks took their first step toward opening up some daylight in the contentious Big 12, putting down the Baylor Bears with their highest point output since a season-opening 107-78 rout of Louisiana-Monroe.
Kansas has scored 90 or more in back-to-back wins, topping Missouri, 90-71, on Monday. The win kept the Jayhawks 1/2-game in front of Kansas State, which topped Oklahoma State, 82-61, earlier in the day. Kansas is 8-1, K-State, 7-1. The two meet at Kansas March 1, in a game that will likely decide the Big 12 champion.
The Wildcats stunned the Jayhawks on January 30, handing them their first loss f the season, 84-75.
Surprising Baylor dropped to 5-3 in the Big 12, but are a solid 17-5 overall and should get an invite to the big dance in March.
Darrell Arthur led the Jayhawks with 23 points. Russell Robinson came off the bench to score 22, hitting 14-of-15 from the foul line. Kansas shot 51% from the field but was 0-9 from behind the three-point line. It was the first time since 1999 that a Jayhawk team failed to register a three-point shot.
This Monday, Kansas plays at #12 Texas, third in the conference at 6-2. It is the only meeting beg 12 rivals this season. The Longhorns beat Iowa State on Saturday, 71-65.
Around the Nation
Elsewhere in the Top 25, top-ranked Memphis made quick work of UCF, 85-64, as the Tigers improved to 23-0 and remain the only unbeaten team in Division 1. #2 Duke dispatched Boston College, 90-80 and #7 Tennessee scraped by LSU, 47-45. Surging UConn won their 7th straight with an 80-68 win over Georgia Tech.
Notre Dame won their 34th straight home game, squeaking by Marquette, 86-83. The Irish canned 10 straight free throws down the stretch to seal the win, holding a huge edge at the charity stripe. Notre Dame was 24-31, while Marquette was just 5 of 8.
Late games of note had Purdue at Wisconsin and Georgetown at Louisville.