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.
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.
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.