DAYTON - Take a cold-shooting team, hobble by injuries and match them against a ranked team that comes out shooting lights-out and it will result in a lop-sided contest.
That is what 9735 fans saw at the Nutter Center tonight as Butler beat Wright State 69-51.
Cold-shooting was an understatement for Wright State. Their three guards were a combined 0-22 for the game. The team shot a measly 26.7 percent (16-60) and just 17.6 percent (3-16) from 3-point land. At no time did Wright State lead in the game.
Butler's Shelvin Mack set the tone at the 19:38 mark when he drove the length of the court, beat his defender and made a layup.
A little less than two minutes later Wright State's Todd Brown hit a jump shot and the Raiders would not score again for five minutes. During that stretch four different Butler players made 3-pointers in addition to a jump shot and a foul shot by Ronald Nored to put Butler (21-2, 12-1 HL) up 19-2.
With 10:26 to go in the first half Zach Hahn made a 3-pointer to put Butler up by 21 points at 27-6. Before the end of the half Hahn would hit five 3-pointers in five attempts.
At the half, Butler led by a comfortable 39-21 score. The Bulldogs shot 56.5 percent (13-23) and 60 percent (9-15) from 3-point land. For Wright State it was 22.2 percent (6-27) and 16.7 percent (1-6).
For Wright State (14-10, 8-5 HL) John David Gardner did not dress because of an on-going hip ailment. Before he got hurt he was starting to pick up some of the scoring the Raider's lost when Vaughn Duggins redshirted because of a hand injury. Scott Grote has been suffering because of a cracked tooth which will probably be removed next week, but he was still able to lead the Raiders in scoring tonight with 13 points.
For the first five minutes of the game Butler pushed the ball up the court and was able to successfully breakdown the Raiders defense before they could get set in their tough half-court defense.
Butler's coach Brad Stevens said that is something they have been doing a little more of this year, but they didn't concentrate on it this week. He said, "We've been moving it a little more lately. When Wright State sets their defense they are so tough."
Butler didn't even need big games from their three biggest scorers to win big tonight. Gordon Haywood scored just five points compared to his average of 13.8 ppg. For Matt Howard it was just seven points compared to his usual 13.1 ppg and Mack put eight on the board versus his usual 12.1 ppg.
In their place Zach Hahn led a scorers with 17 points, which is a way above his average of 5.1 ppg and Ronald Nored averages 3.3 ppg and scored nine points for the Bulldogs.
Hahn said he was just doing what he was supposed to do when he is in the game. "When you have great teammates like Mack, Haywood and Howard, they pass you the ball and expect you to make it," he said.
After the game Wright State's Todd Brown shook his head in disbelief as he talked about Butler's offense. "They came out on fire, Hahn hit like five threes. We got in a hole and we couldn't get back in it (the game)," said Brown. "We had some breakdowns, but they hit every shot. They had guys that don't even look at the 3-point line most nights make those shots."
In the second half it was more of the same.
Butler got their lead up to 24 points at 16:08 mark when Willie Veasley hit a 3-pointer to make it 47-23. The Raiders did work the score down to a 14 point deficit when with less than three minutes to go Gavin Horne went on a mini-tear when he made a jump shot and two 3-pointers.
"We came out and missed a few early. Until you make a few it becomes a difficult situation," explained Wright State coach Brad Brownell. "Butler capitalized on the mistakes we made. We made more defensive errors in the first half than we normally do."
-Wright State is second in the country in scoring defense (55.2) and Butler is third (56.5).
-Wright State is 15th in the country in field goal defense.
-Butler leads the all-time series 19-15.
-Butler is the first ranked team to beat Wright State at the Nutter Center since it opened in 1990.
-Coming into tonight's game Butler has dropped seven straight games against Wright State at the Nutter Center.
-Butler has posted 20 wins for the 11th time in 13 years.
-Butler's next game is February 13th against UIC at 7 p.m. It is the Horizon League game of the week on ESPNU.
-Wright State's next game is at Loyola on February 10th at 8 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN360.