Game Preview: #15 Butler vs Illinois-Chicago

February 11th, 2009

UIC Flames

Record: 11-13 (5-7 away)
Conference: Horizon (4-10)
RPI: No. 202 (vs. Butler #11)
Sagarin’s: No. 199 (vs. Butler #22)
Last Five: 1-4
1st Meeting: Butler 59 UIC 52

When: February 13, 7:00ET
Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse – Indianapolis, IN

PPG: 66.4 (T-6th HL)
Scoring Defense: 64.7 (5th HL)
Scoring Margin: +1.7 (5th HL)
Free Throw Percentage: .746 (2nd HL)
3-Point Percentage: .348 (3rd HL)
Rebounding Margin: +2.1 (2nd HL)
Turnover Ratio: 0.9 (5th HL)

Notes: Not much has gone right for UIC in Horizon League play. Injuries and poor play have led to a disappointing 4-10 conference record, including zero wins against teams in the top half of the standings. The Flames welcomed back a healthy roster in an 11-point win over Detroit last Saturday and will look to pull off the upset against Butler. In the teams' first match up, UIC coughed up a double-digit halftime lead and fell 52-59. Butler’s stellar freshman duo led the way in that win--Gordon Hayward scored 25 and Shelvin Mack added 18 points with 8 assists.

Other stats:
Scoring Margin: +5.1 (4th in Horizon)
Rebounding margin: +2.9 (2nd)
Turnover ratio: +2.2 (4th)
3-Point %: 33.6 (4th)
FT%: 76.6 (2nd)

Starters

UIC SG Mayo, Josh 5’11 175lbs SR
PPG: 16.4, RPG: 2.7, APG: 3.5
Butler PG Nored, Ronald 6’0 170lbs FR
PPG: 3.5, RPG: 3.0, APG: 2.4

Mayo was completely shut down by Willie Veasley in the team’s first meeting. He ended up with seven points (5 of which came in garbage time) and eight turnovers. Picked as the HL preseason POY, Mayo has simply not lived up to the expectations this year. He’ll split time handling the ball with Kreps and Spencer Stewart. Meanwhile, Bulldogs fans should take a sigh of relief, because Nored performed admirably at Wright State after a string of miserable performances. Sigh. (Doesn’t that feel nice?)

Advantage: UIC

UIC G Kreps, Robo 6’0 185lbs SO
PPG: 11.5, RPG: 3.2, APG: 1.6
Butler SG Mack, Shelvin 6’3 185lbs FR
PPG: 12.5, RPG: 3.9, APG: 3.7

Besides having an awesome first name, Robo Kreps has been UIC’s best offensive player for most of HL play. In the last 9 HL games, the sharp shooting guard is averaging 15 ppg. Mack’s got a pretty cool name, himself, as well as an impressive offensive repertoire. Here’s my question: We know Shelvin scores in bunches, but where is he the rest of the game? I

Advantage: Even

UIC F Boyd, Tori 6’5 215lbs SO
PPG: 10.0, RPG: 4.4, APG: 1.0
Butler G Hayward, Gordon 6’8 180lbs FR
PPG: 13.6, RPG: 6.3, APG: 2.0

Boyd is a solid role player and is capable of scoring in double digits any night. On Monday, Hayward was named HL Player of the Week for the third time this season. He shared the honor with GB’s Ryan Tillema, who just so happens to be his main competition of HL POY.

Advantage: Butler

UIC F Buttell, Jeremy 6’7 235lbs JR
PPG: 4.2, RPG: 5.1, APG: 0.7
Butler F Veasley, Willie 6’3 190lbs JR
PPG: 8.9, RPG: 4.0, APG: 1.3

Buttell has stepped in as a starter and makes most of his impact by rebounding. Veasley’s main impact is on the defensive end. As mentioned earlier, he shut down Mayo in the first match up.

Advantage: Butler

UIC C VanderMeer, Scott 7’0 255lbs SR
PPG: 11.2, RPG: 9.2, APG: 1.4
Butler C Howard, Matt 6’8 220lbs SO
PPG: 12.9, RPG: 6.8, APG: 1.1

There’s no way around it, VanderMeer has been a disappointment for the Flames. Sure, his numbers look good—he’s almost averaging a double-double—but check out his field goal percentage: 40.8 percent. Really? You’re 7’0, don’t shoot outside of five feet, and make 40 percent of your shots If you watch a lot of basketball, you know that’s terrible. As for Howard, it’s the same ole story. He simply can’t stay out of foul trouble. But when’s he’s in the game, the offense clicks. So frustrating…

Advantage: Butler

Bench

UIC
G Stewart, Spencer 6-4 185 JR PPG: 5.5, RPG: 3.4, APG: 4.5
F Eppinger, Rob 6'8 240lbs JR PPG: 3.9, RPG: 3.4, APG: 0.4
F Poston, Jelani 6’7 220lbs FR PPG: 3.3, RPG: 2.2, APG: 0.6
Butler
G Hahn, Zach 6’0 170lbs SO PPG: 5.6, RPG: 1.4, APG: 0.8
F Jukes, Avery 6’8 215lbs JR PPG: 4.6, RPG: 2.1, APG: 0.4
F Butcher, Garret 6’7 190lbs FR PPG: 3.7, RPG: 2.6, APG: 0.1

Stewart, UIC’s leading assist man, may start. He’s still recovering from an injury that sidelined him six games, but played 21 minutes in UIC’s win over Detroit. Expect him to play at least that many against Butler. As for Butler’s bench, Zach Hahn went nutso in the first half against Wright State, scoring 15 of his season-high 17 points. Sometimes you just shake your head when he shoots it, even when it goes in. Still, you got to love how he steps up at critical times.

Advantage: Butler

Nothing too extraordinary to say about this one. UIC has talent, but hasn’t won many games this season. They will likely key on Hayward, since he torched them in the first meeting. Butler was able to win despite horrendous first-half shooting in Chicago and shouldn’t have a problem winning in front of the home crowd.

Prediction: Butler 71, UIC 60.

Your turn: What are your predictions on the game? Any other thoughts on the Bulldogs right now?