Butler Ends League-Opening Road Trip At Wright State
ROAD CHALLENGE: Butler, having survived its first Horizon League test on the road, faces another major challenge when it visits defending League champ Wright State on Saturday, Dec. 8. The two teams, who tied for the Horizon League regular season title a year ago, will square off in the Ervin J. Nutter Center in Fairborn, Ohio, at 7 p.m. (ET). Butler has just two wins in its last 10 meetings with the Raiders, and the Bulldogs have dropped six straight games to Wright State in the Nutter Center, including last year's Horizon League Tournament championship contest. The Raiders, picked second behind Butler in this year's Horizon League preseason poll, have three starters back from last year's NCAA Tournament squad. The Bulldogs opened Horizon League play with a 53-46 victory at Detroit on Thursday, Dec. 6.
Butler is 8-0 for the fourth time in seven seasons.
POLL WATCH: The Bulldogs climbed to No. 13 in both major college basketball polls (A.P. & ESPN/USA Today), following last weekend's victory over Ohio State. Butler moved up three spots from No. 16 in both polls. It's the fourth straight week that the Bulldogs have been ranked in the "Top 25" in at least one of the two polls and the third straight week that Butler has been ranked in both polls. Butler was ranked for a school- and league-record 16 consecutive weeks a year ago.
The Bulldogs have their highest national ranking since Feb. 12, 2007 (No. 13).
ADDITIONAL POLLING: The Bulldogs sit atop The CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 for the second consecutive week. Butler also was No. 1 on the ESPN.com Mid-Major Top 10 last week, and the Bulldogs are No. 9 in the ESPN Power 16.
CLOSING RUN: The Bulldogs out-scored Detroit 15-6 over the final four minutes of the game to secure the seven-point victory on Thursday, Butler trailed, 40-38, with just over four minutes remaining, when Mike Green was fouled. He made the first free throw and missed the second, but forward Matt Howard slipped through the defense to tip in the miss and give Butler the lead. The game was tied at 42-42 just over a minute later, before Julian Betko gave the Bulldogs the lead for good with a three-point field goal. Howard and Green each added four points down the stretch for Butler's final total.
Butler improved to 6-0 away from Hinkle Fieldhouse this year.
FIRST IMPRESSION: Freshman Matt Howard was given his first collegiate start at Detroit, and he responded with a career-best performance. The 6-8 forward, who was playing in place of injured Pete Campbell, finished with a team-high 20 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. The 12 rebounds matched his career-high and helped Butler to a 30-21 advantage on the boards. Howard hit eight of 13 shots from the floor and four of five from the free throw line.
Matt Howard has two double-doubles in his last five games.
LOOKING LONG: Butler was out-scored from beyond the three-point arc for the first time this season in the win at Detroit. The Titans hit four three-point field goals in the game, while Butler managed just three. The last time Butler had fewer three-point field goals was in a 55-50 win at Milwaukee a year ago. The Bulldogs made just one three-pointer in that victory. Butler hit just three of 19 long-range shots at Detroit for a season-low 15.8%.
Butler is ranked second in the NCAA Division I in three-point field goals made (12.3 as of 12/3/07).
BEST DEFENSE: One game after limiting Ohio State to a season-low 46 points, the Bulldogs held Detroit to a season-low 46 points. It was the fifth time in eight outings that the Bulldogs held their opponent below 50 points. Butler gave up just 17 points in the first 20 minutes at Detroit and 29 points in the final period. The 17 points marked the fifth time this season that the Bulldogs held an opponent below 20 points for a half. Butler leads the Horizon League in team scoring defense (55.8).
Butler has held five opponents to their lowest point total of the season.
NATIONAL LEADER: The Bulldogs again are leading the NCAA Division I in fewest turnovers per game (9.4 as of 12/3/07). A year ago, Butler ended the season as the Division I national leader in fewest turnovers per game (9.5).
QUALITY START: Brad Stevens became the second consecutive Butler coach to begin his coaching career with eight straight victories. Current Iowa head coach Todd Lickliter won his first seven games at Butler, including three in Alaska at the Top of the World Classic, in 2001-02. Lickliter went on to win his first 13 games as a head coach.
LEAGUE RECOGNITION: Freshman Matt Howard came off the bench and sparked the Bulldogs against Ohio State, and his performance earned him Horizon League Player of the Week honors. Howard scored 11 of Butler's first 13 points in the game and had 13 of Butler's 20 points in the first half. He finished with a career-high 23 points on nine of 13 shooting from the field and five of five shooting from the free throw line. The 6-8 forward led the Bulldogs and tied for game-high honors with seven rebounds, and he added two assists and a steal.
•Butler is leading the Horizon League in scoring margin (+14.1), turnover margin (+4.50), fewest turnovers (9.9), assist/turnover ratio (1.43) and three-point field goals (11.13).
•The Bulldogs were ranked sixth in this week's NCAA Division I statistics in assist/turnover ratio, 11th in three-point field goal percentage and 13th in free throw percentage.
•A. J. Graves is ranked fourth in the NCAA Division I statistics in three-point field goals per game (4.7). He stands second on Butler's all-time list for three-point field goals with 241, 73 behind all-time leader and former teammate Bruce Horan (2002-06).
•A. J. Graves stands 10th on Butler's all-time scoring list with 1,477 career points. He's eight points shy of Jon Neuhouser, 1994-98, in ninth place.
•A. J. Graves had a streak of 15 consecutive double-figures scoring performances snapped at Detroit. He has scored in double-figures in 82 of 104 career games.
•Mike Green has scored 1,257 points during his collegiate career (641 at Towson and 617 at Butler).
•Guard Mike Green leads the Horizon League in assists (5.13). He had three assists at Detroit.
•Forward Pete Campbell sat out the final 13 minutes of the Ohio State game after suffering a knee sprain, and he did not play at Detroit. No time line has been set on his return.
•Pete Campbell is tied for eighth in the NCAA Division I in three-point field goals per game (4.0), and he ranks 16th in Division I in three-point field goal percentage (.500).
•Freshman Matt Howard ranks third in the Horizon League in field goal percentage (.614). He's connected on 21 of his last 31 field goal attempts. Howard also ranks 15th in the league in free throw shooting (.765).
•Matt Howard had a career-high eight offensive rebounds at Detroit. Howard ranks third in the Horizon League in offensive rebounds (2.63).
•Senior Drew Streicher is ranked eighth in the NCAA Division I in assist/turnover ratio (6.00). Streicher had 12 assists and just two turnovers through Butler's first seven games.
•Sophomore Willie Veasley, who sat out Butler's first four games because of a knee injury, has played in Butler's last four contests. He had two points in eight minutes at Detroit.
•Butler head coach Brad Stevens added
Anglin to this year's roster. A 6-4 sophomore, Anglin was an
all-area performer at Kokomo High School. He's one of three
walk-ons on Butler's roster, joining junior Ben Slaton, who earned
a spot in 2005-06, and sophomore Nick Rodgers, who
earned a spot last year.