February 3, 2008

Bulldogs Visit Valparaiso For Nationally-Televised Game

Feb. 3, 2008

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STATE GAME: Butler will end a nine-day layoff and begin a stretch of three consecutive Horizon League road tests when it travels to northern Indiana to play Valparaiso on Tuesday, Feb. 5. The two Indiana foes, who met last month in Indianapolis, will square off in the Athletics-Recreation Center on the Valparaiso campus at 8 p.m. (CT, 9 p.m. in Indianapolis). The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2. Both teams have been idle since Jan. 26. The Bulldogs (19-2, 8-2 Horizon League) defeated UIC, 73-57, at home in their last outing, while Valparaiso (14-7, 5-4 HL) dropped a 65-63 decision to Loyola at the ARC. Butler won the first meeting between the two teams this season, 73-65, at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Jan. 5. Following the Valparaiso contest, the Bulldogs will visit Green Bay on Feb. 9 and Milwaukee on Feb. 12.

Butler is 11-0 in Indiana this season, after going 17-3 in the Hoosier state last year.

POLL SITTING: Butler sits at No. 12 in both the Associated Press and the ESPN/USA Today men's basketball polls for the second straight week. The No. 12 position equals Butler's highest ranking this season and third-highest ranking ever. The Bulldogs have been ranked in the A.P. poll for 12 straight weeks and in both polls for 11 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 28 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.

BEST MARK: The Bulldogs share the best 21-game record in school history at 19-2. Last year's Butler team became the first in school history to post a 20-2 record.

TOP DOG: Head coach Brad Stevens is the first coach in Butler men's basketball history to own an 19-2 career record. Stevens' former boss, Todd Lickliter was 18-3 through 21 games, while legendary coach Paul D. "Tony" Hinkle (1926-27) and Harlan O. "Pat" Page (1920-21) both were 17-4 through 21 contests.

WATCH LISTS: Senior Mike Green is one of 16 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, presented annually to the nation's top collegiate point-guard. Also on the list of finalists are Darren Collison of UCLA, DJ Augustin of Texas, Ty Lawson of North Carolina, Derrick Rose of Memphis and Dominic James of Marquette, plus 10 other NCAA Division I, II and III players. Fans can vote for the favorite candidate at www.cousyaward.com. Green also is one of 30 finalists for the Naismith Trophy, given to the nation's outstanding collegiate player.

STRAIGHT SHOOTERS: The Bulldogs hit 17 of 25 (.680) shots in the first 20 minutes against UIC, while building a 43-30 halftime lead. It was the best one-half shooting performance for Butler this season. The Bulldogs cooled considerably in the second half, but still wound up shooting .529 for the game, Butler's best effort since the championship game of the Great Alaska Shootout (.596 vs. Texas Tech)!

GUARDED OPTIMISM: Butler swept its two-game home set with Loyola and UIC, thanks in large part to two solid defensive efforts. The Bulldogs limited Loyola to 50 points on .396 shooting and then held UIC to 57 points. The Flames had entered the game as the second-highest scoring team in the Horizon League. Butler has held 12 foes below 60 points this season.

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

POWER POINTS: Freshman Matt Howard shared Butler's scoring lead with 15 points against Loyola and then he led all scorers with 20 points against UIC. The 6-8 forward hit 12 of 16 (.750) shots in the two games, including seven of eight against UIC. He also hit 11 of 12 attempts from the free throw line. The first-year player has led Butler in scoring in seven straight games.

Matt Howard has scored in double-figures in 12 straight games.

HIGH MARKS: Senior Mike Green had what has become a typical performance for him in helping Butler past UIC. He tallied 15 points, a team-high seven rebounds, a game-high six assists and a team-high two steals, while committing just one turnover in 31 minutes. Two days earlier, he had 13 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals in a win over Loyola. Green is the only player in the Horizon League leading his team in scoring (15.1), rebounding (6.0) and assists (4.86).

Mike Green leads the Horizon League in assists.

HEALTHY MONTH: Senior Pete Campbell bounced back from a knee injury in early December with a strong finish to the month of January. He scored in double-figures in four of Butler's final five games last month, including 15 points in the Bulldogs' victory over Loyola. He shot 52% from the field for the month, including 48% from beyond the three-point arc. Campbell averaged 5.8 points in four games in December, but boosted that to 10.6 for eight games in January.

Pete Campbell ranks 12th in the NCAA Division I in three-point field goal shooting (.466).

BULLDOG BITS:

•Butler is leading the Horizon League in scoring margin (+11.1), turnover margin (+3.67), fewest turnovers (10.8), and assist/turnover ratio (1.21). The Bulldogs rank second behind Valparaiso in three-point field goals (9.00).

•Butler ranks in the "Top 10" in the NCAA Division I in scoring defense (9th, 57.9), free throw percentage (8th, .765), won-lost percentage (6th, 90.5) and fewest turnovers per game (4th, 10.8).

•Senior guard A. J. Graves is second on Butler's all-time list for three-point field goals with 270, 44 behind all-time leader Bruce Horan (2002-06).

•A. J. Graves stands sixth on Butler's all-time scoring list with 1,627 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 89 double-figures scoring performances in 117 career games. He had 16 points in his last outing against UIC, his highest point total since before Christmas.

•A. J. Graves has moved into eighth place on Butler's all-time assist chart with 283 career assists. He's 22 assists behind assistant coach Brandon Miller, 2000-03, in seventh place.

•Mike Green ranks fifth in the Horizon League in scoring (15.1). He's scored 1,458 points during his collegiate career (641 at Towson and 817 at Butler).

•Mike Green has scored in double-figures in 12 straight games.

•Mike Green stands second in the league in assist/turnover ratio (1.92) and 11th in both free throw shooting (.756) and rebounding (6.0). Green leads the league in free throws made (121).

•Pete Campbell ranks third in the Horizon League lead in three-point field goals (3.00) and three-point field goal percentage (.466). He's hit at least one three-pointer in 21 consecutive games, dating back to last season.

•Matt Howard leads the Horizon League in offensive rebounds (2.75). He ranks second in the league in field goal percentage (.604), third in blocked shots (1.29), sixth in free throw shooting (.814), 10th in scoring (14.0) and 12th in rebounding (6.0).

•Matt Howard leads all freshmen in the Horizon League in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots, field goal shooting and free throw shooting. 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 17.6 points and is shooting .653 from the field over Butler's last five contests.

•Julian Betko and Mike Green were in Butler's starting lineup for the 57th consecutive game against UIC. A. J. Graves has 111 career starts.