Tip Time: Saturday 11/21, 8:00pm EST
Where: Roberts Stadium, Evansville, IN
Last Meeting: Butler – 75, Evansville – 59 (11/29/08)
Summary: Finally. Finally Evansville put together a winning season, earning a 17-14 record after not finishing above .500 since the 2000 season. It wasn’t perfect, with no NCAA or NIT tournament appearances, but a trip to the College Insider tournament gave a program its first taste of postseason play since 1999. Four seniors are gone from that team, taking 71% of the team’s scoring with them, so it is up to coach Marty Simmons’ new faces to pick up the slack and build on what the program accomplished a year ago.
Evansville: FR G Troy Taylor 6-0, 183 (3ppg, 11rpg, 4apg)
Butler: JR G Shawn Vanzant 6-0, 172 (5ppg, 2rpg, .5apg)
Freshman Troy Taylor starts at point for UE and is a strong, athletic guard. He averaged over 21 points and nearly 10 rebounds in high school and continues is continuing the rebounding theme so far, averaging 11 rebounds over these first two contests. So far he hasn’t been a particularly strong scorer, going 2 for 9 from the floor. Vanzant isn’t much of a distributor, at least not yet, but his ability to add an extra scoring punch proved to be crucial in the Davidson game. He left early against Northwestern after suffering a scratched cornea from a pretty hard foul on a second-half drive to the basket, but he’s been cleared to play on Saturday with the use of protective goggles.
Evansville: SO G Kavon Lacey 6-0, 200 (6ppg, 3.5rpg, 6apg)
Butler: SO G Shelvin Mack 6-3, 214 (11ppg, 3rpg, 6apg)
Kavon Lacey is the second part of the two-headed point guard Evansville employs, but neither is he a big scoring threat. More of a combo guard, Lacey is mostly a defender and distributor, both of which he does very well. He played in all 31 games last year and earned four starts. Mack raked Evansville for 18 points in the teams’ prior matchup on 8-of-11 shooting. Mack is coming off of a strong 15-point, 8-assist performance against Northwestern and looks more capable than ever of continuing that level of play.
Evansville: FR G Colt Ryan 6-5, 200 (15.5ppg, 5.5rpg, 5apg)
Butler: SO G/F Gordon Hayward 6-9, 207 (15.5ppg, 9rpg, 2.5apg)
Colt Ryan was a steal for UE. He averaged over 25ppg for Batesville and was selected for the annual Indiana All-Star team. He’s your typical Indiana player; he can do almost everything well. Unfortunately for him, though, he’ll be matched up with either Gordon Hayward or Willie Veasley, both of whom will make scoring the basketball very difficult for him. We all know about Hayward at this point; picking him in this matchup is a no-brainer.
Evansville: SO F James Haarsma 6-7, 230 (16.5ppg, 8.5rpg, 1apg)
Butler: SR G/F Willie Veasley 6-3, 206 (9ppg, 3.5rpg, .5apg)
Haarsma averaged 5.8ppg in just over 18 minutes last year and looks like the primary scoring option. He is shooting nearly 64% from the floor thus far and even has the ability to step out and hit the three, going 4-of-9 from deep last year. Veasley all but disappeared against Northwestern, but his ability to pick up garbage buckets or be the scoring option when no one else is playing can cannot be understated. Still, Haarsma will likely be the more productive player on this day.
Evansville: JR C Pieter van Tongeren 6-10, 235 (4ppg, 2rpg, .5apg)
Butler: JR F Matt Howard 6-8, 230 (9.5ppg, 5rpg, .5apg)
Tongeren is averaging only 13 minutes thus far, so Valparaiso transfer Bryan Bouchie is likely to come into the game early and often to oppose Matt Howard. Howard hasn’t looked like his usual self early on, but neither Bouchie nor Tongeren has the skills to keep him completely under wraps.
G Cox, Ned (5ppg, .5rpg, 1.5apg)
G Holmes, Denver (9ppg, 3rpg, 2.5apg)
G Hudson, Monie (3ppg, 1rpg, 0apg)
F Hopf, Clint (5.5ppg, 3rpg, 0apg)
C Bouchie, Bryan (13.5ppg, 2rpg, 0apg)
G Hahn, Zach (6.5ppg, .5rpg, .5apg)
G Nored, Ron (4.5ppg, 1rpg, 4.5apg)
G Stigall, Chase (0ppg, 0rpg, 0apg)
F Butcher, Garrett (1ppg, 1rpg, 0apg)
F Jukes, Avery (8ppg, 2rpg, 0apg)
C Smith, Andrew (0ppg, .5rpg, 0apg)
Bouchie has played against Butler two years ago and should do a nice job on Howard. Holmes has good size at 6-4 and is a decent outside shooter, but neither will likely be good enough to take over the game. Hahn got his shot going nicely against Northwestern, Jukes played his second solid game in a row, and Ron picked up four more assists against the Wildcats.
Final Analysis: There really shouldn’t be any major concerns with this game. Butler won the last meeting by 16 points against a much more talented and experienced Aces roster; there really isn’t reason to believe that any of the new additions will make that big of an impact.
Prediction: Butler 75 – Evansville 58