February 27, 2008

Bulldogs Face Showdown With Wright State

Feb. 27, 2008

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FEATURE MATCH: Only one Horizon League team currently boasts a winning streak against Butler, and that team, the Wright State Raiders, will visit Indianapolis for a showdown with the Bulldogs on Thursday, Feb. 28. The league's two pacesetters will square off at Hinkle Fieldhouse at 9 p.m. (ET) in a game that will be nationally-televised on ESPNU. Wright State (20-7, 12-4 Horizon League) is the only league team the Bulldogs haven't beaten this season, and the Raiders own a three-game winning streak against Butler, including a 43-42 decision in Dayton, Ohio, back in December. Both teams are trying to secure the top seed and the right to host the Horizon League Championship, March 7-11. Butler (25-3, 14-2 HL), coming off a 71-64 loss to Drake, currently leads Wright State in the league standings by two games with two games remaining. The Bulldogs have clinched a tie for the league championship and need one victory to win the title outright.

Butler has not lost back-to-back games in the past 80 contests.

POLL WATCH: Butler slipped six spots in the Associated Press poll and five spots in the ESPN/USA Today poll, following last weekend's loss to Drake. The Bulldogs are ranked 14th in the A. P. poll and 13th in the ESPN/USA Today poll released Monday (Feb. 25). Butler has been ranked in the "Top 25" of the A.P. poll for 15 straight weeks and in both polls for 14 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 (Top 25) for 31 weeks since Nov. 27, 2006.

ADDITIONAL POLLING: The Bulldogs are ranked second in The CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 (Feb. 25), just behind Drake. Wright State is No. 19.

20-SOMETHING: Butler has posted its tenth 20-win season in the past 12 years. The Bulldogs' 25-3 record is the best 28-game mark in school history. Only three teams in Butler basketball history have won more than 25 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 25-3 career record. Stevens' former boss, Todd Lickliter previously held the record with a 24-4 mark through 28 games. Stevens is just the second men's basketball coach in Butler history to guide the Bulldogs to 25 wins in a season. Lickliter was the first, and he did it three times.

HOME WORK: The Bulldogs are 10-1 at home this season, including a 7-0 mark in Horizon League games. Butler has won 33 of its last 36 games in Hinkle Fieldhouse, and the Bulldogs own a 106-15 (.876) mark at home since the start of the 1999-2000 season. Butler has won 24 of its last 25 league games at the Fieldhouse, including eight straight.

STREAK SNAPPED: Butler's nine-game winning streak and 11-game homecourt winning streaks were snapped with the BracketBusters loss to Drake. It was the second straight year that Butler fell at home to a nationally-ranked Missouri Valley Conference team in the annual event. Drake came from behind in the final 10 minutes and used a 7-2 scoring run in the final 20 seconds to secure the victory. Both teams hit 24 of 54 shots in the game, but the visitors wound up making more free throws (18) than Butler attempted (16).

Butler is averaging 71.2 points at Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.

FAMILIAR LEADER: Senior A. J. Graves, who led the Bulldogs in scoring last year, topped Butler in scoring in both games last week. He scored Butler's final five points at UIC and finished with a team-high 14 tallies, before posting a team-best 18 points against Drake. Graves has scored in double-figures in eight straight games, and he's topped Butler in scoring in four of the last seven outings. He has 96 career double-figures scoring performances.

A. J. Graves has averaged 15.6 points during the month of February.

COMFORT ZONE: Freshman Matt Howard scored a season-low two points in Butler's victory at UIC, but he bounced back with 16 points and nine rebounds in the Bulldogs' home game against Drake. Howard has scored in double-figures in all 12 games that he's played in Hinkle Fieldhouse, and he's led the Bulldogs in scoring in six of 12 home games. The 6-8 forward is shooting 63% at home!

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.

SMART CHOICE: Butler seniors A. J. Graves and Drew Streicher both have been named to the 2008 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America University Division Men's Basketball Team. Graves, who was picked first team Academic All-America a year ago, was selected to the second team Academic All-America squad this year, while Streicher was tabbed on the third team. Butler was the lone school to have more than one student-athlete named to the 15-player honor squad.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Butler is leading the Horizon League in scoring margin (+9.6), team scoring defense (59.0), turnover margin (+3.54), fewest turnovers (10.5), and assist/turnover ratio (1.23). The Bulldogs are second in 3-point field goals (9.07) and free throw shooting (.743).

•A. J. Graves has moved into fifth place on Butler's all-time scoring list with 1,736 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 eight points shy of fourth place on Butler's all-time list.

•A. J. Graves is second on Butler's all-time list for three-point field goals with 290, 24 behind all-time leader Bruce Horan (2002-06). He's currently fourth in the league in three-pointers (2.93).

•A. J. Graves stands in eighth place on Butler's all-time assist chart with 303 career assists. He's two assists behind assistant coach Brandon Miller, 2000-03, in seventh place.

•A. J. Graves ranks fourth in the Horizon League in steals (1.50). He leads the league in minutes played (35.64).

•Mike Green ranks sixth in the Horizon League in scoring (14.6). He's scored 1,548 points during his collegiate career (641 at Towson and 905 at Butler).

•Mike Green is second in the Horizon League in assists (4.89) and third in assist/turnover ratio (1.71). He's fifth in steals (1.43), sixth in defensive rebounds (4.89) and 10th in both rebounding (6.1) and free throw pct. (.759). Green tops the league in free throws made (148).

•Mike Green has moved into a tie for ninth place on Butler's all-time list for free throws made (344), four shy of eighth place.

•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 64th consecutive game against Drake.

•Pete Campbell stands in 10th place on Butler's all-time list for 3-point field goals (157). He's one 3-pointer 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 (.427). He's hit at least one three-pointer in 28 consecutive games, dating back to last season.

•Matt Howard leads the Horizon League in field goal percentage (.608) and in offensive rebounds (2.54). He's fourth in blocked shots (1.14), ninth in free throw shooting (.781), and 13th in both rebounding (5.8) and scoring (12.9).

•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 fourth-highest single season scoring total (362 pts) ever by a Butler freshman. He's 13 points shy of the third-highest total and 15 away from the No. 2 spot.

•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.

•Matt Howard has led the Bulldogs in scoring in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season (16.2). Mike Green is averaging 14.7 at home, while A. J. Graves adds 14.5.