Feb. 12, 2005
Freshman A. J. Graves scored 21 points and three other Butler players added double-figures scoring totals to help the Bulldogs to a 65-50 victory over visiting Detroit in a Horizon League game at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday (Feb. 12). The win snapped a two-game losing skid and lifted Butler to 10-13 on the season and 5-8 in league action, while Detroit slipped to 9-14 overall and 6-7 in the league.
Graves turned in the second-highest scoring performance of his young career. He hit seven of 10 shots from the floor and six of seven from the free throw line. The 6-1 guard took over for the Bulldogs in the second half, scoring 17 of his 21 points after intermission.
"The guys were in tune with one another," said Butler coach Todd Lickliter after the game. "The ball movement was very good and we were very in tune defensively."
The Bulldogs only trailed twice in the game - on an opening basket by Detroit's Brandon Cotton and at 7-6 on a three-point field goal by James Thues. Butler answered with a 7-0 run, sparked by back to back three-point field goals by Horan, and held an advantage for the rest of the game.
Butler's biggest lead in the first half was 14 points, 29-15, but Detroit held the Bulldogs scoreless for the final 7:54 of the first period and trimmed the lead to seven points, 29-22, at halftime.
The Titans closed to within four points, 35-31, with 14:32 remaining, but Graves sparked a 10-2 run that took the lead back to double-digits. The Butler guard followed a layup by sophomore Brian Ligon with five straight points on two layups and a free throw. Horan closed the run with a three-point field goal. The Bulldogs went on to stretch their second half lead to as many as 18 points.
Graves, the top free throw shooter in Division I, hit six of seven attempts from the charity stripe down the stretch to help preserve the win. His final point total was eight points shy of his career-high, set in December against Ball State.
Butler, beaten badly on the boards in a loss to Detroit earlier this season, held its own inside with the Titans. Detroit had a 31-27 rebounding advantage, but the Bulldogs picked up 26 points from forwards Polk, Crone and Ligon, while Detroit's post players managed just 11 points.
"(Butler) brought more aggressiveness and fight," said Detroit coach Perry Watson. "In the first game our post players dominated, but today we didn't get a field goal from our (starting) post players."
The Bulldogs were led in rebounding by Ligon, Horan and guard Gary Patterson, all with four caroms. Butler had just one turnover in the first half and just six for the game. The Bulldogs hit 10 three-point field goals, including five by Horan.
Cotton led the Titans with 22 points, while Thues added 11.
Butler will return to action at league-leading UW-Milwaukee on Wednesday, Feb. 16, before returning home to host non-league foe Valparaiso in a Bracket Buster game on Saturday, Feb. 19, at 2 p.m.