Tue, 02/09/2010 - 16:48 — Bill Kintner
INDIANAPOLIS -- It is Saturday night in the Horizon League, the crowd is big, ESPN2 is televising the game and the first and second place teams are playing.
For a college basketball fan it doesn’t get much better than this and watching this all happen in historic Hinkle Fieldhouse, almost guarantees a good night for all the 8528 fans that came out to enjoy the action.
They got quite a show as Butler shot an incredible 67.5 percent (27-40) for the game to beat Wright State 74-62.
It started out like most fans would expect a game between these two teams as Matt Howard scored the first basket on a jumper at the 18:14 mark. Then they started trading baskets with the Raiders leading by as many as three points and Butler leading by as many as four points.
This went on for the first 18:45. Then a layup by Butler’s Willie Veasely, followed by a jumper by Zack Hahn and jumper by Shelvin Mack and the Bulldogs jumped out in front by six points at 35-29 going into the locker room at halftime. There were nine ties and 10 lead changes in the first half.
That was as close as Wright State (15-9, 8-5 HL) would get the rest of the game.
Coming out in the second half Butler went on a 10-2 run and the Raiders would never get closer than 10 points rest of the game.
What was most amazing was Veasley going 9-9 from the field to lead all scorers with 19 points.
“It’s a first for me to be perfect from the field,” explained Veasley after the game. “My teammates found me when I was around the basket, so that is why I hit a high percentage.”
It wasn’t like Wright State couldn’t shoot, they shot a solid 46.9 percent (23-49) from the field.
Wright State coach Brad Brownell thought his team played well for the first 18 minutes of the game, but gave credit to Butler for overwhelming the Raiders.
“I think we played well the first 18 minutes and then got out-played the last two minutes of the first half,” said Brownell. “You can’t spot Butler that many points and expect to win. They are a very good team. They are 20-4 and have won all their league game.”
Wright State changed defenses several times and Butler ((20-4, 13-0 HL) it didn’t slow the Bulldogs down. Wright State tried pressing and it didn’t slow Butler down.
Wright State had a good crowd that came over from Dayton for the game and they were loud in the first half as the game went back in forth, but during the second half Butler’s offensive display took got them to sit back down, as they found they didn’t have much to cheer about.
Butler man-handled the Raiders under the basket too, out-rebounding them 25-16.
One bright spot for the Raiders was Vaughn Duggins, an Indiana boy that scored 18 points during the game and earned every one of them as several Butler defenders smoother him all game. Somehow he managed to wiggle free and make six baskets on 11 attempts.
Butler coach Brad Stevens thought they would have to play their best to beat Wright State, he probably didn’t think that would include shooting close to 70 percent for the game.
Stevens thought the tough schedule they played in December helped them get to the point where they are now, having won 12 games in a row.
“We are better than we were early on this season. We were tested by our tough schedule and it allowed us to assess where we were as a team,” he said.
The game ended with Butler dribbling out the clock for the last 20 seconds of the game. The players shook hands and the Bulldogs briskly walked off the court with their win as they are accustomed to doing.
The Butler pep band kept playing after the game, the fans cheered a little more before they bundled up to head out into the snow to head home. A few fans stayed around so their children could go out onto the court and shoot a few baskets, a long time tradition at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Just another night in the Horizon League.