Men’s Basketball Schedule (Jan. 26)
Butler at Milwaukee, 8 p.m. ET – ESPN3
Valparaiso at Green Bay, 8 p.m. ET – Horizon League Network
Milwaukee and Green Bay will be out to even the score from games that came down to the final minute at Hinkle Fieldhouse and the Athletics-Recreation Center in the first half of the Horizon League season when Butler and Valparaiso visit, respectively, on Thursday night.
At U.S. Cellular Arena, both Butler and Milwaukee will be honoring the nation’s military with military-themed uniforms (Butler’s can be seen here, Milwaukee’s are here) for an ESPN3 audience. On the court, Butler (12-9, 6-3 Horizon), winners of three straight games, will looking to continue its climb up the League standings, while Milwaukee (13-8, 6-3 Horizon) is out to stop a two-game slide that saw them fall into a tie for third in the conference with the Bulldogs and Youngstown State.
In the teams’ first meeting, it was a Chase Stigall three with 49 seconds left that helped lift Butler to a 54-50 win over the Panthers at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Milwaukee led by 10, 40-30, with 13:41 to play, but a 13-2 run from Butler set the stage for the thrilling finish in which the lead changed hands five times down the stretch.
Butler’s depth was a key in the win and has been a vital component of the Bulldogs throughout the year, as Chrishawn Hopkins tied for game-high scoring honors with 12 points and five assists in the win on Dec. 31. Andrew Smith, who finished with 11 points in the game, leads Butler with 10.6 points per game; six Bulldogs are averaging at least six points per game.
Milwaukee will turn to film from its 76-52 win over Butler a year ago to conjure memories of knocking off the Bulldogs. Kaylon Williams notched a triple-double in that game with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
In his senior year, Williams continues to be the engine behind the Panthers, leading the team with 11.6 ppg and ranking 11th nationally with 6.3 assists per game. In conference play, he has been just as consistent, while James Haarsma is putting up a team-best 12.7 ppg in nine conference games.
The Panthers will look to turn Tony Meier loose against the Bulldogs as well. Meier was just 2-for-4 in the loss at Butler, knocking down two three-pointers, but Milwaukee will want more from the preseason second team all-league honoree.
The meeting also features a sideline matchup between the two winningest active coaches in the Horizon League. In under five years, Brad Stevens has tallied 68 conference wins with Butler, moving him into a tie for seventh in League history. Sitting in ninth is Milwaukee head coach Rob Jeter, who owns 67 League victories.
At the Resch Center, Green Bay (7-12, 3-6 Horizon) will look to bottle its second-half effort at the ARC and unleash it upon League co-leader Valparaiso (14-7, 7-2 Horizon) on the Horizon League Network.
Valparaiso would come away with a 90-87 win at the ARC on Dec. 31, but not before a furious rally by Green Bay saw the Phoenix score 51 second half points to give themselves a late chance to tie. Aaron Armstead was the catalyst for the comeback, going 5-of-6 from three-point range and adding 19 points off the bench.
Not to be outdone, the Valparaiso bench outscored Green Bay’s non-starters, 42-32, as Matt Kenney delivered a career-best 21 points and Jay Harris added 17.
As it was in the first game, the battle is likely to be joined in the paint, where the Valparaiso combination of Kevin Van Wijk and Ryan Broekhoff meet Alec Brown and Brennan Cougill. The Crusaders’ international tandem got the better of the matchup the first time, as Cougill’s foul trouble kept the big man from staying on the court.
With Brown posting a 21-point, 11-rebound double-double, Van Wijk and Broekhoff countered with a combined 33 points and nine rebounds to offset the sophomore’s effort. On the year, Van Wijk leads the Horizon League in both scoring (16.0 ppg) and field-goal percentage (.627), while Broekhoff checks in third in scoring at 14.9 ppg, while ranking first in rebounding (8.9 rpg).
Brown, for his part, is 10th in scoring (13.4 ppg), second to Broekhoff in rebounding (7.7 rpg) and second in blocks (3.3 bpg). The sophomore sits just three blocks from breaking the Green Bay career record of 132; with five more, Brown will break his own single-season mark of 67, set last year.