March 4, 2006
Senior Avery Sheets scored a game-high 20 points and sophomore A. J. Graves added 19 to lead Butler to a 73-51 victory over UW-Green Bay in the semifinals of the Horizon League Tournament at U. S. Cellular Arena in Milwaukee, Wis., on Saturday, March 4. The win lifted the Bulldogs to 19-11 on the year and into the league tournament championship game for the eighth time.
Sheets scored 14 points and Graves added 11 in the first half to spark the Bulldogs to a 21-point, 44-23, halftime lead. Butler hit 16 of 27 shots (.593), including seven of 14 from beyond the three-point arc, to build the commanding lead.
"You never know what a week off will do, but I thought we needed the extra time off," said Butler head coach Todd Lickliter after the contest. "We came out with great focus and we were very in tune defensively. Our legs were fresher and that showed in our shooting."
Graves opened the scoring with a steal and a lay-up and senior Brandon Polk followed with a short jump shot to give Butler a 4-0 advantage. The Bulldogs, who increased their early margin to 9-1 on a lay-up by Graves and a three-point field goal by Sheets, were never caught.
Brandon Polk gave Butler a ten-point lead, 22-12, with a short jumper at 11:18. The 6-6 forward then hit another lay-up at 0:47 to increase Butler's margin to 21, 44-23. UW-Green Bay (15-16) never got closer than 17 points in the second half.
The Bulldogs wound up shooting 50% (23-46) for the game. Sheets hit seven of the eight shots he took in the game, including four of five from beyond the three-point arc, while Graves hit six of 11 and five of nine from three-point range. Polk chipped in with 17 points, hitting six of 10 shots from the floor and five of six from the free throw line.
Butler will meet the winner of the UW-Milwaukee-Loyola game for the league tournament crown on Tuesday, March 7, at 9 p.m. (EST).