Early run helps Butler roll past Loyola-ChicagoJan 16, 2009 - 4:49 AM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Butler had won 59 games over the last two seasons, but even those teams never got off to as good a start as this year's Bulldogs.
Freshman Shelvin Mack scored 20 points and Matt Howard added 18 and 11 rebounds as No. 18 Butler cruised past Loyola-Chicago, 78-55, in a Horizon League contest on Thursday.
Fellow freshman Gordon Hayward chipped in 11 points and eight rebounds for the Bulldogs (15-1, 6-0 Horizon), who are off to their best start in conference play since beginning 7-0 during the 1990-91 season.
"We certainly have the capability," Butler coach Brad Stevens said. "Everyone shares the ball. Tonight we had a lot of points off our defense which was encouraging."
Butler, which won 30 games and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season, lost four starters and its top two scorers from a season ago.
However, any youth or any inexperience has yet to show up for the Bulldogs, who have won seven straight overall.
Butler took control of the game early with a monster 22-0 burst to open up a 24-4 lead with 10:26 left in the first half. Mack made three consecutive 3-pointers and Howard added six points during the run that saw the Bulldogs score on seven consecutive possessions.
"At the beginning of both halves we really got going," Howard said. "Shelvin (Mack) hit a couple threes and everyone chipped in."
Loyola-Chicago (10-8, 2-4) tried to make the game close, cutting the deficit to 33-22 on a pair of free throws by J.R. Blount with 3:30 left before the half. The Bulldogs would respond and took a 39-24 advantage into the locker rooms.
Butler wasted little time putting the game away early in the second half, scoring the first 12 points to take a 51-24 bulge with 16:11 remaining. Howard had six of the points on two layups and a pair of foul shots.
"I think the game was pretty self-explanatory," Ramblers coach Jim Whitesell said. "Butler jumped us right from the start. We pulled back within 11 or 12, but then really mismanaged the offense. The second half was very disappointing. We had a lot of experienced guys on the floor, but they couldn't get anything going."
The Ramblers never recovered and finished the game shooting 34 percent (19-of-56) from the field, including 10-of-27 from the arc.
Butler connected on 50 percent (29-of-50) of its shots - 11-of-22 from the arc - and had 21 assists compared to 10 turnovers.
"We shot well, which always helps when you're on the road," Stevens said. "I thought we played great at the start of both halves and we were a little more consistent for longer periods of time."
Ross Forman scored 13 points to pace Loyola.
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