March 8, 2008

Green's 19 Leads Butler Over UIC 66-50 And Into Horizon Finals

INDIANAPOLIS (AP)--Mike Green showed Illinois-Chicago why he's the Horizon League's most valuable player.

Green scored 19 points and took control during a late first-half run that carried No. 14 Butler to a 66-50 victory in the conference tournament semifinals Saturday night.

Top-seeded Butler (28-3) will play second-seeded Cleveland State (21-11) Tuesday night for the championship and an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament. The Bulldogs lost to Wright State in last year's conference title game, then to eventual champion Florida in the NCAA regional finals.

Pete Campbell added 15 points and A.J. Graves scored 14 for Butler.

Robert Kreps led the Flames (18-15) with 15 points, 11 in the closing minutes after the outcome was assured, and Jermaine Dailey added 12.

Chicago, the No. 4 seed, led most of the first half by dominating the boards, taking its biggest lead at 16-11 after three free throws by Scott VanderMeer.

That's when Green and the Bulldogs took over. The 6-foot guard had five points in a 12-3 run, including a go-ahead basket with 4:40 remaining. Campbell then hit his second of five 3-pointers to give the Bulldogs their biggest lead up to that point in the game.

But it didn't end there.

Driving to the basket on almost every Butler possession the rest of the half, Green scored the next six points for the Bulldogs.

After Dailey hit one of two free throws for the Flames, Green again drove through the lane but rifled the ball out to the left corner for an open 3-pointer by Julian Betko. Then in the closing seconds, Green held the ball near midcourt for a final shot, but this time, as he drove in and drew the Chicago defense to him, he found Drew Streicher alone under the basket for an easy layup and a 34-24 lead at halftime.

Chicago, which hit only two shots from the field the final 11 minutes of the first half and first three minutes of the second period, never recovered.

Even after Green left the game with his third foul, Butler continued to widen the lead. Consecutive 3-pointers by Graves and Campbell pushed the lead to 53-29 with 12 minutes to go, and the Flames got no closer than 13 the rest of the game.