February 8, 2007

No. 10 Butler Dominates Cleveland State, 92-50

Feb. 8, 2007

Box Score |  AP Photo Gallery 

CLEVELAND (AP) - As one of Butler's guards dribbled up the court in the final seconds of the first half, a lonely voice from the stands pleaded for mercy.

"Campbell," the fan yelled toward Bulldogs forward Pete Campbell. "Please, stop shooting!"

Sorry, too late. The damage had already been done.

Campbell made six of his eight 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 28 points, and No. 10 Butler showed off its outside touch by making a school record 20 3s in a 92-50 blowout of Cleveland State on Thursday night.

Campbell finished 8-of-11 on 3s and the Bulldogs went 20-of-33 from behind the arc, also setting Horizon League and arena records.

"It was one of the best displays of shooting I've ever seen," said first-year Cleveland State coach Gary Waters. "I've seen one guy get in the zone, but the whole team in a zone? I want to say it was embarrassing, but we contested most of those shots, and they went in."

Ranked higher in the AP's poll than at any time in school history, Butler (23-2, 11-1 Horizon) extended its winning streak to nine in a row with an eye-popping display of offensive efficiency and marksmanship.

Butler, which knocked off Notre Dame, Indiana, Tennessee and Gonzaga earlier this season, dominated the overmatched Vikings (8-18, 2-11) from the opening tip. Mike Green added 14 points, Brandon Crone 13 and A.J. Graves 12 for the Bulldogs, who set season-highs in points, field goals, assists and margin of victory.

"On any given night, we're capable of that," Butler coach Todd Lickliter said. "Pete's a great shooter, but it goes back to guys sharing the basketball."

J'Nathan Bullock scored 18 points and Victor Morris 12 to lead the Vikings.

Campbell, who has made 62 percent (44-of-71) of his 3-point tries in the last 111 games, came off the bench with 14:43 left in the first half.

By the time Lickliter subbed for him just six minutes later, the 6-foot-7 junior, who began his college career at Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne, hit five consecutive 3s - each one tickling the bottom of the net - to help the Bulldogs open a 29-8 lead.

"A lot of them were really good looks," Campbell said. "We moved the ball extremely well, that was the key to starting off well. It just seems like a lot of my shots are open, and I'm just doing my best to knock them down."

Waters briefly switched from a man-to-man defense to a 2-3 zone, but that hardly slowed the Bulldogs or Campbell.

"We couldn't stop them," Waters said. "We tried that (zone) but then they made some more 3s and so we had to get out of that, too."

Crone and Green each hit another 3-pointer, and Campbell capped an 18-point first half with his sixth 3-pointer and Butler's arena-tying 12th to make it 45-25 in the final minute of the first half.

It was more of the same in the second half as the Bulldogs pushed their lead to 66-37 on a 3-pointer by Marcus Nellems. Campbell's final 3 made it 84-43 and Nellems hit another to put Butler up by 43.

Lickliter then cleared his bench in the final minutes and walk-on Nick Rodgers, who has a No. 4 on the back of his jersey but not his name, drilled Butler's 20th 3 - his first career shot and points - with 1:21 left.

"I was really happy for him," Campbell said. "The fans were giving him a hard time about his jersey and asking him what his GPA was, things like that. So it was nice to see him make that. We were all fired up for him."

Butler's first five baskets and nine of its first 10 hoops were 3-pointers as the Bulldogs jumped to a commanding lead. The quick start stunned the Vikings and an upset-minded crowd, which came to see the highest-ranked team to visit Cleveland State since No. 7 Michigan played the Vikings in 1996.

As a mid-major program, Butler doesn't get the publicity of some bigger-name schools. But Waters, who spent the previous five years at Rutgers in the Big East, said the Bulldogs are for real.

"They're a very disciplined team," Waters said. "They shoot the ball as well as any team in the country. That's a hard team to beat."