Jan. 25, 2007
CHICAGO (AP) - Despite two airballs from 3-point range in the second half, A. J. Graves wasn't scared to try more in overtime.
Graves hit three 3s in overtime, including the go-ahead basket with 55.2 seconds to play, and No. 14 Butler beat Loyola of Chicago 70-66 Thursday night for its eighth win in nine games.
"If I miss, I miss," said Graves, who finished with 26 points. "They have a lot of confidence in me, these guys. They expect me to shoot and score points when the time comes. I'm just going to keep shooting. If they don't go in, I can't be negative about it. That's just going to make it worse."
The Horizon League's second-leading scorer finished 5-of-10 from 3-point range and made the big plays when the Bulldogs (18-2, 6-1) needed them.
When Butler was down 59-57 with 13.3 seconds to play in regulation, Graves made both free throws after getting fouled on a drive to the basket. When the Ramblers took their first lead of the second half after trailing 39-29, Graves made a pair of foul shots to tie the score at 52, and hit a layup to put Butler up two with 6 minutes left in regulation.
Then there was the overtime when he scored 10 points and was 3-for-3 from behind the arc. None of that surprised Butler coach Todd Lickliter.
"It's the other way around," Lickliter said. "When he goes into one of those spells when he misses a few (that is surprising.)"
Blake Schlib, who put Loyola up 66-65 when he hit a 3-pointer with 2:53 to play in overtime, scored a game-high 27 points. Majak Kou added 14 points for the Ramblers (13-8, 4-4) and Leon Young scored 12 points in a reserve role.
With the shot clock dwindling and the game clock at 24.2 seconds, Schilb was fouled while hitting a leaning jumper in the lane to put Loyola up 59-57. He missed the free throw and Graves dribbled down the court and was fouled on a drive.
The Division I leader in free-throw percentage calmly hit both free throws to tie the score at 59 with 13.3 seconds to play. Schilb's 18-foot jumper at the buzzer was errant and the teams went to overtime.
Trailing 69-66, the Ramblers had two chances to tie the score in the final minute. On the first, Tracy Robinson fumbled the ball out of bounds in front of the Loyola bench. On the second, Robinson's 3-pointer bounced off the rim and hit the shot clock, going out of bounds to Butler with 2.9 seconds to play.
"We certainly had our opportunities, had our chances," Loyola coach Jim Whitesell said. "When you're the winning coach, you feel great. When you're the losing coach, you don't feel so good."
What was much more surprising than Graves being slightly erratic with his 3-point shooting was that he missed two free throws, including one in overtime. He came into the game having made 91-of-92 free throws on the year.
"Yeah it happened," Graves said. "I'm just glad those two didn't cost us the game. You just move on from there."
When he missed his first attempt of the night, the third-longest single-season and fourth-longest career free throw streak in Division I history ended at 63. The attempt, which came after being fouled on a 3-point shot, bounced softly twice before falling off the rim. He made the next two and finished 7-of-9 on the night. Butler reserve forward Pete Campbell scored 11 points of his 12 points in the first half.