February 22, 2008

Butler Hosts Nationally-Ranked Drake

Feb. 22, 2008

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DOG SHOW: For the second straight year, the O'Reilly ESPNU Bracket Busters will focus a national spotlight on Butler's Hinkle Fieldhouse. No. 8-ranked Butler will host No. 16/18 Drake in a feature match-up of the event on Saturday, Feb. 23. The 5 p.m. (ET) game between two teams sharing the same nickname (Bulldogs) will be televised nationally on ESPN2. A year ago, Butler hosted Missouri Valley Conference champ Southern Illinois in the feature Bracket Busters game. It was the first time a nationally-ranked Butler team played a "Top 25" foe at Hinkle Fieldhouse! Butler (25-2) clinched a share of the Horizon League regular season championship with a 51-46 victory at UIC on Wednesday (Feb. 20). Drake (23-3) dropped a 72-71 decision to Bradley on Tuesday (Feb. 19), but the Des Moines, Iowa, squad has already wrapped up the MVC title.

Butler is one of just seven teams in the NCAA Division I boasting an undefeated record (11-0) in non-conference games this season.

POLL CLIMBING: Butler climbed to No. 8 in both the Associated Press poll and the ESPN/USA Today poll, released on Monday (Feb. 18). Both rankings are Butler's highest ever! Butler reached No. 9 in the ESPN/USA Today polls last year and hit No. 9 in the A. P. poll last week. The Bulldogs have been ranked in the A.P. poll for 14 straight weeks and in both polls for 13 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, and the first team in league history to crack the national "Top 10."

Butler has been nationally ranked in basketball (Top 25) for 30 weeks since November 27, 2006.

ADDITIONAL POLLING: The Bulldogs are ranked first in The CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 (Feb. 18). Saint Mary's (Calif.) is second, while Drake is third.

20-SOMETHING: Butler has posted its tenth 20-win season in the past 12 years. The win over UIC gave the Bulldogs the fourth-highest season win total (25) in school history.

BEST MARK: The Bulldogs own the best 27-game record in school history. Last year's Butler team was 24-3 through 27 games.

LEAGUE RECORD: Butler has established a new Horizon League record for best two-year win total with 54 victories since the start of last season. The previous record of 53 wins was originally set by Butler from 2001-03.

CAREER START: Head coach Brad Stevens is the first coach in Butler men's basketball history to own an 25-2 career record. Stevens' former boss, Todd Lickliter was 24-3 through 27 games, while Harlan O. "Pat" Page (1920-22) and Hall of Fame coach Paul D. "Tony" Hinkle (1926-28) both started 22-5.

WIN STREAK: The victory at UIC was Butler's ninth straight win, the team's longest winning streak this season. The nine consecutive wins tie the ninth-longest winning streak in school history.

HOME RULE: The Bulldogs improved to 10-0 at home this season with their victory over Cleveland State last Saturday (Feb. 16). Butler has won 33 of its last 35 games in Hinkle Fieldhouse, and the Bulldogs own a 106-14 (.883) mark at home since the start of the 1999-2000 season. Butler has won 11 straight games at home, dating back to last year.

LOOKING LONG: Butler went to a perimeter attack against UIC's two-three zone and wound up scoring 39 of its 51 points from beyond the three-point arc. The Bulldogs attempted a season-high 37 of 47 shots in the game from three-point range, and 13 of Butler's 18 field goals came from beyond the arc. The 13 three-pointers tied Butler's fourth-highest total this season.

Butler is 19-0 when hitting eight or more three-pointers in a game.

CLUTCH PERFORMER: Senior A. J. Graves hit the last of his four three-point field goals against UIC with 0:45 remaining in the contest to give Butler the lead for good, 49-46. The 6-1 guard then added two free throws with 0:01.6 left to seal Butler's 25th win. Graves led the Bulldogs with 14 points, his seventh straight game in double-figures and the 95th twin-digits scoring performance of his Butler career.

LEAGUE PICK: Senior Mike Green, who helped lead the Bulldogs to consecutive victories over Milwaukee, Youngstown State and Cleveland State, was named Horizon League Player of the Week (Feb. 18). Green opened the week with a career performance at Milwaukee. He matched his career-high with 24 points and grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds in the overtime victory. The 6-1 Butler point-guard scored 22 of his points after intermission, including 10 in the overtime period. He then led Butler with 17 points, five rebounds and six assists in just 23 minutes of action against Youngstown State, before finishing the week with six points, six rebounds and three assists against Cleveland State. Green shot 50% (14-28) from the field and 80% (16-20) from the free throw line for the week.

Mike Green has averaged a team-best 13.6 points during Butler's current winning streak.

ELITE GROUP: Butler's Mike Green is one of just 10 players in the NCAA Division I who are leading their teams in scoring, rebounding and assists. Green led the Bulldogs in rebounding and assists a year ago, while finishing second on the team in scoring.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Butler is leading the Horizon League in scoring margin (+10.2), team scoring defense (58.5), turnover margin (+3.63), fewest turnovers (10.6), and assist/turnover ratio (1.24). The Bulldogs are second in 3-point field goals (9.19), 3-point field goal pct. defense (.335), steals (6.48) and free throw shooting (.747).

•A. J. Graves stands sixth on Butler's all-time scoring list with 1,718 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. Graves is 15 points shy of fifth place on Butler's all-time list.

•A. J. Graves is second on Butler's all-time list for three-point field goals with 288, 26 behind all-time leader Bruce Horan (2002-06). He's currently fourth in the league in three-pointers (2.96).

•A. J. Graves has averaged a team-best 15.2 points in February and a team-high 18.0 points in Butler's 11 non-conference games. He stands 11th in the Horizon League in scoring (13.9).

•A. J. Graves has moved into eighth place on Butler's all-time assist chart with 301 career assists. He's four assists behind assistant coach Brandon Miller, 2000-03, in seventh place.

•A. J. Graves ranks fourth in the Horizon League in steals (1.52). He leads the league in minutes played (35.59).

•Mike Green ranks sixth in the Horizon League in scoring (14.7). He's scored 1,536 points during his collegiate career (641 at Towson and 893 at Butler).

•Mike Green is second in the Horizon League in assists (4.93) and in assist/turnover ratio (1.75). He's fifth in steals (1.44), sixth in defensive rebounds (4.96) and 10th in both rebounding (6.2) and free throw shooting (.760). Green leads the league in free throws made (146).

•Mike Green stands 10th on Butler's all-time list for free throws made (342).

•Mike Green is the only player in the Horizon League to rank in the "Top 10" in scoring, rebounding and assists.

•Mike Green was in Butler's starting lineup for the 63rd consecutive game at UIC.

•Pete Campbell has moved into 10th place on Butler's all-time list for three-point field goals (154). He's four three-pointers shy of Darrin Fitzgerald (1986-87) in ninth place.

•Pete Campbell ranks second in the Horizon League lead in three-point field goals (3.04) and tenth in three-point field goal percentage (.435). He's hit at least one three-pointer in 27 consecutive games, dating back to last season.

•Matt Howard leads the Horizon League in field goal percentage (.602). He ranks second in offensive rebounds (2.59), fourth in blocked shots (1.15), ninth in free throw shooting (.786), 13th in rebounding (5.7) and 14th in scoring (12.8).

•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, regardless of class, to rank in the "Top 15" in all five categories.

•Matt Howard currently owns the fifth-highest single season scoring total (346 pts) ever by a Butler freshman. He's eight points shy of the fourth-highest total.

•Matt Howard has led the Bulldogs in scoring a team-high 10 times this season. It's the first time in a quarter century that a freshman has led the Bulldogs in scoring at least 10 times.