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Howard's big second half spurs Butler past Detroit

Jan 11, 2009 - 1:19 AM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Matt Howard scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half, lifting No. 20 Butler to a 54-50 victory over Detroit in a Horizon League showdown on Saturday.

Willie Veasley had nine points for the Bulldogs (14-1, 5-0 Horizon), who have won 16 straight conference games and six straight overall to post its best start in school history.

The Bulldogs struggled with the Titans (4-11, 0-6), who have not beaten a ranked opponent since 1979.

The Titans lost by 23 on Thursday to Valparaiso, but put a scare into Butler.

Detroit used a 6-0 run to take a 50-49 lead with 2:31 remaining, but Gordon Hayward hit 19-footer to give Butler a three-point edge with 1:40 left.

The Titans had a chance to tie it in the final seconds, but Tryl Hartfield's 3-footer hit the front of the rim. Howard grabbed the rebound and made a pair free throws to seal it.

Howard finished 5-of-7 from the floor and 5-of-8 from the free-throw line. The sophomore forward added five rebounds.

Butler had won its last two conference games by an average of 14.5 points, and did not expect a challenge from Detroit, which entered having lost 18 straight Horizon League contests.

The Bulldogs missed 14 of 18 shots at one point in the first half, but scored the final six points of the opening session to close within 26-22 at the break.

Thomas Kennedy, Eulis Stephens and Eugene Blue each scored eight points for Detroit, which shot 39 percent (18-of-46) from the field and dropped its fourth straight.

It was a much better showing than the previous meetings, as the Titans had lost by an average of 20.2 points over their previous four visits to Hinkle Fieldhouse.