Butler Continues Busy Slate At Loyola

Jan. 6, 2008

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FULL SCHEDULE: Butler isn't easing in to the 2008 portion of its Horizon League schedule. The Bulldogs will play the second of four league games in eight days when they visit Loyola on Monday, Jan. 7. The game between the two longest-standing members of the Horizon League is slated for 7 p.m. (CT, 8 p.m. in Indianapolis) at the Joseph J. Gentile Center on the Loyola campus. Butler began its busy week with a 73-65 victory over previous league-leader Valparaiso on Saturday (Jan. 5). Following the Loyola tilt, the Bulldogs will return to Hinkle Fieldhouse to host Green Bay in a nationally-televised contest on Thursday, Jan. 10, and Milwaukee on Saturday, Jan. 12. Butler and Loyola both were charter members of the Midwestern City Conference, now known as the Horizon League. The two teams have met at least twice every season since 1980-81. Butler has won three of its last four visits to the Gentile Center, including a 70-66 decision in overtime last year.

Butler's last three wins at Loyola have come in overtime.

POLLING PLACE: The Bulldogs remained at No. 16 in the Associated Press men's basketball poll and at No. 17 in the ESPN/USA Today poll, following last week's win at Southern Illinois. Butler has been ranked in the A.P. poll for eight straight weeks and in both polls for seven consecutive weeks. Last year, Butler became the first team in Horizon League history to be ranked in the "Top 25" for more than five weeks. (Note: New polls will be released on Monday afternoon, Jan. 7)

Butler has been ranked in the Top 20 for 22 weeks since November of 2006.

TOP DOGS: The Bulldogs are ranked No. 1 in The CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 and in the ESPN.com Mid-Major Top 10.

BEST STARTS: The Bulldogs have matched the best 14-game record in school history with their 13-1 start. Butler also opened with a 13-1 record in 1928-29, 1930-31, 2001-02, 2002-03 and 2006-07.

Butler's best 15-game record is 14-1, shared by four squads.

MENTOR MATCH: First-year coach Brad Stevens can match the best coaching start in Butler basketball history with a victory at Loyola. Stevens' former boss, Todd Lickliter, began his Butler coaching career with 14 victories in his first 15 games in 2001-02. Stevens and Lickliter are the only basketball coaches in Butler history to win at least 10 games before suffering a second career defeat.

HOME PROTECTION: The Bulldogs won their fourth straight game in Hinkle Fieldhouse and knocked Valparaiso from the ranks of the Horizon League's unbeaten with a hard-fought victory in front of 7,284 fans. Butler used a 16-7 run in the final 7:21 of the first half to overcome a nine-point deficit and tie the game at 31-31 at halftime. The Bulldogs then used an 18-6 run midway through the second half to build a 13-point advantage and take control of the game. Butler never trailed after taking a 38-36 advantage on a three-point field goal by senior Mike Green with 15:06 left.

GREEN PARTY: Senior Mike Green commented after the Valparaiso win that he sometimes gets caught up in trying to play the perfect game. He didn't reach perfection against the Crusaders, but his performance was none-the-less impressive. The 6-1 points guard matched his career-high and led all scorers with 24 points, and he topped the Bulldogs in rebounds with eight. He also led Butler with four assists, and he set a new career-best with a game-high five steals! The Butler guard had just two turnovers in 38 minutes of action.

Mike Green has averaged 19.2 points over Butler's last five games.

CHARITABLE EFFORT: The Bulldogs offset a 39.6% shooting performance against Valparaiso with a season-high 28 free throws made. Butler hit 12 of 15 from the charity stripe in the first half and then nailed 16 of 18 (.889) free throw attempts in the final 20 minutes. Senior Mike Green led the way by making a season-high 11 of 14 free throw attempts, while freshman Matt Howard and sophomore Willie Veasley each cashed six of six shots from the stripe. Butler out-scored Valparaiso, 28-10, at the line.

Butler has made at least 20 free throws in five straight games.

DOUBLE TAKE: Freshman Matt Howard notched his fifth consecutive double-figures scoring performance and his sixth in seven games as a starter with 12 points against Valparaiso. He ran into early foul trouble against the Crusaders and played just 17 minutes in the contest, but he still managed to reach twin-digits for the 11th time in his young career. The 6-8 forward scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half, including a layup to give Butler's it's biggest lead in the game, 58-45, with 5:30 remaining. Howard has averaged 12.7 points since joining Butler's starting lineup at Detroit.

Matt Howard leads all freshmen in the Horizon League in scoring (11.8 ppg).

IT TAKES A THIEF: The Bulldogs recorded a season-high 12 steals against Valparaiso, breaking the previous high of 10 steals in wins over Ohio State and Florida State. Senior Mike Green paced the effort with five thefts, while seniors Julian Betko and A. J. Graves each added three steals. The Bulldogs have averaged 8.0 steals during their current five-game winning streak.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Butler is leading the Horizon League in scoring defense (57.6), scoring margin (+11.7), turnover margin (+4.07), fewest turnovers (10.9), and assist/turnover ratio (1.16).

•Senior guard A. J. Graves is ranked first in the Horizon League in three-point field goals (3.43).

•A. J. Graves is second on Butler's all-time list for three-point field goals with 256, 58 behind all-time leader and former teammate Bruce Horan (2002-06).

•A. J. Graves stands seventh on Butler's all-time scoring list with 1,561 career points. He's the 39th player in Horizon League history to reach the 1,500-point plateau and the current active league-leader in career scoring. He's sixth in the league in scoring (15.5) this season.

•A. J. Graves leads the Horizon League in free throw shooting (.917). He led the league and finished second in the NCAA Division I in free throw shooting last year with a .948 mark.

•A. J. Graves has scored in double-figures in 86 of 110 career games, but he's looking for his first double-figures scoring performance in Horizon League play this season.

•A. J. Graves leads the Horizon League in minutes played (36.14), while Mike Green stands third (34.93).

•Mike Green has moved into fifth place in the Horizon League in scoring (15.6). He's led Butler in scoring in the past two outings.

•Mike Green has scored 1,359 points during his collegiate career (641 at Towson and 718 at Butler).

•Mike Green stands second in the Horizon League in assists (4.86). He's third in the league in assist/turnover ratio (1.94), 12th in rebounding (5.6) and 13th in free throw shooting (.759). Green leads the league in free throws made (82).

•Pete Campbell scored 10 points against Valparaiso, his highest point total since suffering a sprained knee against Ohio State. He was Butler's second-leading scorer before missing three games with the injury.

•Pete Campbell ranks second in the Horizon League in three-point field goals (3.18), and he's tied for sixth in the league in three-point FG% (.455).

•Matt Howard ranks second in the Horizon League in field goal percentage (.566). Howard also ranks eighth in the league in free throw shooting (.815), and he's second in the league in offensive rebounds (2.50).

•Matt Howard leads all freshmen in the Horizon League in rebounding (5.3). He also tops all league freshmen in field goal shooting and free throw shooting.

•Willie Veasley matched his career-high with six free throws made against Valparaiso .

•Julian Betko and Mike Green were in Butler's starting lineup for the 50th consecutive game against Valparaiso. A. J. Graves has 104 career starts.