Bulldogs Close Homestand Against UIC

Jan. 25, 2008

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FIRST ENCOUNTER: Butler will wrap up a brief two-game homestand against UIC on Saturday (Jan. 26) afternoon with a shot at first place in the Horizon League on the line. The Bulldogs will be meeting UIC for the first time this season when the two teams square off at Hinkle Fieldhouse at 2 p.m., in yet another key league contest. Butler trails league-leading Cleveland State by one-half game in the conference standings following Thursday (Jan. 24) night's action. The Bulldogs defeated Loyola, 63-50, at home, while Cleveland State lost for the first time at Green Bay, 59-50. A Butler win and a Cleveland State loss at Milwaukee on Saturday would give the Bulldogs sole possession of first place in the league for the first time this season. UIC (10-9, 4-4 HL) dropped a narrow 60-56 decision at Valparaiso on Thursday and slipped into a three-way tie for fifth place in the league. Following Saturday's game with UIC, the Bulldogs will have a 10-day layoff before returning to action at Valparaiso.

Butler has won eight straight home games, dating back to last season.

POLL WATCH: Butler is ranked among the top 15 teams in both the Associated Press and the ESPN/USA Today men's basketball polls for the third straight week. The A.P. poll has Butler at No. 15, while the ESPN/USA Today poll tabs the Bulldogs No. 14. The Bulldogs have been ranked in the A.P. poll for 11 straight weeks and in both polls for 10 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.

Butler has been nationally ranked in basketball (Top 25) for 27 weeks since November 27, 2006.

ADDITIONAL POLLING: The Bulldogs are ranked second in The CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25. Gonzaga is the top-ranked team in the poll.

HIGH MARK: The Bulldogs share the best 20-game record in school history at 18-2. Last year's Butler team became the first in school history to post a 19-2 record.

BEST START: First-year coach Brad Stevens is the first coach in Butler men's basketball history to own an 18-2 record. Stevens' former boss, Todd Lickliter, legendary coach Paul D. "Tony" Hinkle (1926-27) both were 17-3 through their initial 20 contests.

HOME SECURITY: The Bulldogs improved to 7-0 at home this season with their victory over Loyola. Butler has won 30 of its last 32 games in Hinkle Fieldhouse, and the Bulldogs own a 103-14 mark at home since the start of the 1999-2000 season.

Butler is 21-1 in its last 22 Horizon League games in Hinkle Fieldhouse.

CLOSE GUARDED: The Bulldogs limited visiting Loyola to just 14 points in the first 16 minutes of the game, while building a 14-point lead. Loyola was left playing catch-up the rest of the game, and the Bulldogs went on to pick up their seventh league win in nine outings. Butler held Loyola to 23 points in the first half and 27 points in the final period. The 50 total points were the fewest by a Butler opponent in a win by the Bulldogs since Dec. 6, when Detroit tallied 46. (Wright State scored 43 points in a 43-42 victory over the Bulldogs on Dec. 8). Butler has held nine opponents to 55 points or less this season.

Butler leads the Horizon League in team scoring defense (57.9).

DOUBLE TAKE: Freshman Matt Howard recorded his third career double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds against Loyola. The 6-8 forward also had two steals, two blocked shots and an assist in a solid all-around effort. He hit five of the eight shots he attempted against the Ramblers and five of six attempts from the free throw line. Included in his rebounding total was five offensive rebounds. The first-year player has led Butler in scoring in six straight games.

Matt Howard has scored in double-figures in 11 straight games.

RESERVE STRENGTH: Senior Pete Campbell continued to bring a hot hand off the bench, and he shared Butler's scoring lead against Loyola with 15 points in 25 minutes. It was the fourth straight game that he's scored at least 15 points in a reserve role.

Pete Campbell is shooting .667 (24-36) over Butler's last four games.

HELPING HAND: Senior Mike Green has moved into a tie for the Horizon League lead in assists (4.80), after posting four assists in the Bulldogs' victory over Loyola. He's currently tied with Cedric Jackson of league-leading Cleveland State. Green has had at least four assists in 15 different games this season, and he's led the Bulldogs in assists in 18 of 20 contests.

Mike Green is averaging 4.3 assists per game for his Butler career.

CHARITABLE NIGHT: Butler hit 14 of 18 (.778) attempts from the free throw line, including nine of 11 (.818) in the second half, against Loyola. It was the best performance at the line for the Bulldogs in the past six games. Butler ranks second in the Horizon League and eighth in the NCAA Division I in team free throw shooting (.763).

BOARD WORK: The Bulldogs out-rebounded Loyola, 29-26, bringing Butler to within one rebound of its opponents (590-589) on the season. Butler has out-boarded four of its last five foes, including the past two.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Butler is leading the Horizon League in scoring margin (+10.9), turnover margin (+3.65), fewest turnovers (10.9), and assist/turnover ratio (1.18). The Bulldogs rank second in three-point field goals (9.00).

•Senior guard A. J. Graves is second on Butler's all-time list for three-point field goals with 266, 48 behind all-time leader Bruce Horan (2002-06).

•A. J. Graves has moved into sixth place on Butler's all-time scoring list with 1,611 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.

•A. J. Graves has 88 double-figures scoring performances in 116 career games, but he has just two twin-digit efforts in nine Horizon League games this season.

•A. J. Graves has moved into eighth place on Butler's all-time assist chart with 281 career assists. He's 24 assists behind assistant coach Brandon Miller, 2000-03, in seventh place.

•Mike Green ranks sixth in the Horizon League in scoring (15.2). He's scored 1,443 points during his collegiate career (641 at Towson and 802 at Butler).

•Mike Green has scored in double-figures in 11 straight games.

•Mike Green stands fourth in the league in assist/turnover ratio (1.85), 10th in free throw shooting (.750) and 12th in rebounding (6.0). Green leads the league in free throws made (117).

•Pete Campbell, who hit three of six three-point field goal attempts against Loyola, has taken over the Horizon League lead in three-point field goals (3.12), and he's tied for third in three-point field goal percentage (.477). He's hit at least one three-pointer in 20 consecutive games, dating back to last season.

•Matt Howard has taken over the Horizon League lead in offensive rebounds (2.85). He ranks second in the league in field goal percentage (.590), third in blocked shots (1.35), and seventh in free throw shooting (.804).

•Matt Howard leads all freshmen in the Horizon League in scoring (13.7), rebounding (6.1), blocked shots (1.35), field goal shooting (.590) and free throw shooting (.804). He's the only player in the league, regardless of class, to rank in the "Top 15" in all five categories.

•Matt Howard has averaged 18.2 points and is shooting .632 from the field over Butler's last six contests. He's added 40 rebounds (6.7) and 13 blocked shots (2.2) in those six games.

•Freshman Zach Hahn had a career-high four assists against Loyola.

•Julian Betko and Mike Green were in Butler's starting lineup for the 56th consecutive game against Green Bay. A. J. Graves has 110 career starts.

•Butler is sixth in the NCAA Division I in fewest turnovers per game (10.9).

•The Bulldogs lead the Horizon League in average home attendance (5,312) and all games average attendance (6,476).

•Butler has clinched its third straight winning season.