Butler vs Ball State

No. 23 Butler 59, Ball State 38

CBSSports.com wire reports

MUNCIE, Ind. -- Butler coach Brad Stevens asked his road-weary team to do one thing Wednesday night, defend.

His players responded by locking down Ball State.

The 23rd-ranked Bulldogs reverted to their more customary form, opening the game with a flurry of five 3-pointers and then relying on a stout defense for a 59-38 rout, their largest victory margin of the season.

"I thought our guys did a good job focusing," Stevens said. "It's not easy. We got off the plane Sunday. We practiced last night, we came up here late today and we played well."

Over the season's first six games, Butler looked like a different team. Instead of knocking out opponents with 3s and taking care of the ball, the Bulldogs shot poorly, threw the ball away and struggled on defense.

On Wednesday, Butler was playing its way.

Gordon Hayward, last season's Horizon League Newcomer of the Year, scored 15 points and had eight rebounds. Sophomore guard Shelvin Mack also had 15 points, including four 3-pointers in the first six minutes of the game. Matt Howard, the reigning Horizon League Player of the Year, stayed out of foul trouble and finished with 11 points, all but one in the second half.

Defensively, the Bulldogs were even better.

They forced Ball State to repeatedly take the shot clock into single digits and limited the Cardinals to just 19 percent shooting from the field in the half and 31.7 percent for the game. Butler forced 18 turnovers, allowed just 11 first-half points and didn't let the Cardinals get closer than 10 over the final 27 minutes.

It was the perfect prescription for Butler's ills, which included two narrow escapes and two losses in their last four games. And now they'll go home for the first time since Nov. 14, and play three of their next four at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

"I think that [loss to Clemson] woke us up. We were just trying to get back to the basics," Mack said. "We came out a little more determined today. We had something to prove."

Butler has won 14 consecutive games against Indiana schools, including six straight on the road.

Ball State (2-3), meanwhile, lost its third in a row overall and sixth straight in a series that has been played every season since 1950.

Malik Perry led the Cardinals with 11 points and six rebounds, and Jarrod Jones added nine points, but Ball State never had a chance.

Mack made Butler's first four baskets -- all 3s -- and Hayward followed with another 3 to give Butler a 16-4 lead with 13:43 to go in the first half.

The opening run forced Ball State to call two timeouts before the first media timeout, and the Cardinals never recovered.

"Butler came out and hit us hard early, and I think our team got down, got deflated and didn't do a good job rebounding from that run," coach Billy Taylor said. "It's a long game and you have to be able to fight back from that."

Ball State's response: Two baskets in the first 11 minutes and only two more in the final 9 minutes of the half, as Butler built a 29-11 halftime lead.

It was more of the same in the second half.

With about 15 minutes to go, Ball State had nearly as many turnovers (14) as it did points (15).

And though the Bulldogs shot 39.5 percent from the field, they did hit nine 3s and demonstrated a renewed desire to play Butler basketball the way Stevens expects.

"I think our guys really embraced the challenge of seeing how good we could be [defensively] each half," Stevens said. "I think we really had a presence in both halves tonight. Our goal was just guarding guard as well as we could. That's what we want to be."

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
Butler #23 (5-2) «293059
Ball State (2-3)112738
BUT:Gordon Hayward 15 Pts
BUT:Gordon Hayward 8 Reb
BUT:Shelvin Mack 4 Ast
BALLST:Malik Perry 11 Pts
BALLST:Malik Perry 6 Reb
BALLST:Randy Davis 4 Ast

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Ball StateButler
Malik Perry
Gordon Hayward
Butler Bulldogs
G. Hayward, G-F314-76-682215
S. Mack, G305-101-234015
M. Howard, F242-26-930111
W. Veasley, G-F232-50-01124
R. Nored, G150-20-02130
Z. Hahn, G180-60-03230
S. Vanzant, G141-12-24215
G. Butcher, F131-30-02013
A. Jukes, F130-21-21021
G. Leiendecker, G52-30-01025
A. Smith, C50-10-01000
C. Stigall, G40-00-00000
A. Anglin, G-F20-00-00100
E. Kampen, C20-00-00000
N. Rodgers, G10-10-00000
Totals 17-4316-2129131759
Ball State Cardinals
J. Jones, F294-121-23029
P. Sneed, G263-70-04146
M. Perry, F253-35-660311
J. Scaife, G211-31-21013
R. Davis, G180-10-01400
B. Chisholm, G221-52-21114
J. Green, G211-30-02123
T. Watson, F160-40-01010
M. Green Jr., G-F110-12-31002
M. Hubbard, F60-00-00010
Z. Fields, C50-20-02020
Z. Harrison, GDid Not Play
W. Hauser, G-FDid Not Play
F. Henderson, FDid Not Play
D. Mills, GDid Not Play
Totals 13-4111-152271738
Horizon League
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
N. Kentucky12-624-1187
Green Bay12-618-14158
Wright St.11-720-12115
Youngstown St.5-1313-21252
Clev. St.5-139-22260

EastConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Kent St.10-722-14142
Bowling Green7-1013-19225
Miami (Ohio)4-1311-21301
WestConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Ball St.10-721-13169
W. Michigan10-716-16174
E. Michigan7-1016-17175
N. Illinois7-1015-17239
C. Michigan6-1116-16216
Other games
BU 64 Final
UConn 92
Drexel 58 Final
Stetson 48 Final
Louisville 80
ETSU 66 Final
Tenn 78
Illinois 76 Final
Alcorn St 31 Final
Kansas 98
UNLV 74 Final
Arizona 72
Wash St 69 Final
PV A&M 59 Final
Tx A&M 84
DUKE 69 Final
Wisc 73
Florida St 64 Final
Ohio St 77
POST 86 Final