December 21, 2007

Bulldogs Close Pre-Christmas Slate In Florida

Dec. 21, 2007

Complete Release in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader

WINTER BREAK: Butler will make its first visit to Florida in two years and close out its pre-Christmas schedule when it travels to Fort Myers, Fla., to take on Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday, Dec. 22. The non-league contest is set for 7 p.m. (ET) at Alico Arena on the Florida Gulf Coast campus. The game will be Butler's second in four days, following a win at home against Bradley, 83-43, on Wednesday (Dec. 19). Florida Gulf Coast is coming off its own trip from Indianapolis to Florida. The Eagles (3-8) visited the Circle City on Monday, Dec. 17, and dropped an 84-62 decision at IUPUI. Butler (10-1) will be playing in Florida for the first time since a 2006 NIT game at Florida State. Following the game with Florida Gulf Coast, Butler will take a brief break before visiting Southern Illinois on Dec. 28.

Butler's last win in Florida came at Florida International, 83-67, in 1996.

POLL CLIMBING: The Bulldogs moved up to No. 16 in the Associated Press men's basketball poll and to No. 18 in the ESPN/USA Today poll, following last weekend's victory over Florida State in the Wooden Tradition. The new ranking represented a jump of two spots in the A.P. poll and one position in the ESPN/USA Today poll. The Bulldogs have been ranked in the A.P. poll for six straight weeks and in both polls for five 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 ranked in the Top 20 for 20 weeks since November of 2006.

ADDITIONAL POLLING: The Bulldogs are ranked second in The CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25. Butler is ranked No. 16 in both the ESPN Power 16 and the CollegeHoops.net Top 50.

HIGH OCTANE: Butler posted its second-highest point total of the season, and its highest in regulation play, while defeating Bradley in a non-league test. The Bulldogs also piled up their highest one half total (49 points in the second half) since 2001! Willie Veasley scored six points and A. J. Graves added five to spark a 17-2 Butler run in the final five minutes of the first half that gave Butler the lead for good. Bradley did trim a 22-point Butler lead to six, 59-53, in the second half, but the Bulldogs out-scored the visitors, 24-11, down the stretch to seal the decision.

Butler has won its last 13 games when scoring 75 points or more.

FULL ROSTER: Butler head coach Brad Stevens had all 15 of his players available for the first time this season in Wednesday's game against Bradley. Sophomore transfer Avery Jukes became eligible at the end of Butler's first semester, and forward Pete Campbell returned from a sprained knee suffered in Butler's win over Ohio State. Stevens used 12 different players against Bradley and only three of the Bulldogs played more than 30 minutes in the contest.

SCORING SURGE: Senior A. J. Graves notched his second consecutive 20-point scoring performance with a game-high 21 points against Bradley. That effort came four days after he scored 25 points to lead the Bulldogs past Florida State. The two 20-point performances also followed back-to-back games in which Graves scored just 14 total points against Detroit and Wright State. The 6-1 guard nailed 11 three-point field goals in the two games against Florida State and Bradley, after going 0-11 from the three-point arc against Detroit and Wright State.

A. J. Graves has 23 career 20-point scoring performances.

CHARITABLE WORK: Senior Mike Green cashed a season-high 10 free throws for the second consecutive game, while helping the Bulldogs hold off Bradley. Green, who made just three of six free throw attempts in Butler's two-game trip to Detroit and Wright State, converted a season-best 10 of 11 attempts from the charity stripe against Florida State, before knocking down 10 of 12 against Bradley. The 12 attempts against Bradley also were a season-high.

FREE PASS: The Bulldogs posted a season-high for free throws made in each of the past two games. Butler hit 20 of 26 free throws against Florida State and 23 of 28 versus Bradley.

RESERVE STRENGTH: Sophomore Willie Veasley, who missed Butler's first four games this season with a knee injury, came off the bench and scored a career-high 12 points against Bradley. He hit all five shots that he attempted against the Braves, and he added four rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot. Veasley has connected on his last seven field goal attempts for the Bulldogs.

DEEP THOUGHTS: The Bulldogs rebounded from a two-game road trip in which they hit just 10 of 40 three-point field goal attempts by nailing 11 three-pointers against Florida State. Butler then added eight more long-range field goals against Bradley. The Bulldogs have hit at least 10 three-point field goals in six different games this season.

Butler ranks fourth in Division I in three-point field goals (10.7).

HANDLE WITH CARE: Butler committed just five turnovers in the second half against Bradley's fullcourt press. The Bulldogs are ranked second in the NCAA Division I in fewest turnovers per game (10.6). A year ago, Butler was the NCAA Division I national leader (9.5).

BULLDOG BITS:

•Butler is playing at Florida Gulf Coast for the first time and is facing the Eagles for just the second time. The Bulldogs defeated Florida Gulf Coast, 79-65, at Hinkle Fieldhouse last year.

•Butler is leading the Horizon League in scoring defense (56.5), scoring margin (+12.9), three-point field goal percentage defense (.296), turnover margin (+4.18), fewest turnovers (10.7), assist/turnover ratio (1.25) and three-point field goals (10.45).

•Senior guard A. J. Graves is ranked 11th in the NCAA Division I in three-point field goals per game (4.0). He ranks first in the Horizon League in three-pointers.

•A. J. Graves is second on Butler's all-time list for three-point field goals with 252, 62 behind all-time leader and former teammate Bruce Horan (2002-06).

•A. J. Graves stands ninth on Butler's all-time scoring list with 1,529 career points. He's two points shy of Wayne Burris, 1973-77, in eighth place. Graves is the 39th player in Horizon League history to reach the 1,500-point plateau.

•A. J. Graves has back-to-back, 20-point scoring performances for the seventh time in his Butler career. He's never scored 20 points in three consecutive games.

•A. J. Graves made his 100th career start in the Wooden Tradition. He's scored in double-figures in 84 of 107 career games.

•Senior Mike Green posted 17 points, a season-high nine rebounds and a game-high six assists against Bradley.

•Mike Green has scored 1,300 points during his collegiate career (641 at Towson and 659 at Butler). He's scored 37 points (18.5) in his last two outings.

•Mike Green stands second in the Horizon League in assists (4.91). He's tied for third in the league in assist/turnover ratio (2.00).

•Pete Campbell, who missed three games with a sprained knee suffered in Butler's victory over Ohio State, returned to action with three points in nine minutes against Bradley. He was leading the Horizon League in three-point field goals (4.0) prior to his injury.

•Freshman Matt Howard ranks second in the Horizon League in field goal percentage (.600). He's connected on 31 of his last 49 (.633) field goal attempts. Howard also ranks 11th in the league in free throw shooting (.766).

•Matt Howard has scored in double-figures in five of his last six outings, including a career-high 23 points against Ohio State.

•Matt Howard is tied for third in the Horizon League in offensive rebounds (2.55), and he's tied for 12th in the league in total rebounds (5.6).

•Senior Julian Betko has hit 10 of 18 (.556) three-point field goal attempts over Butler's last four games. He's averaged 9.5 points over that stretch, including a season-high 14 points at Wright State.

•Julian Betko and Mike Green were in Butler's starting lineup for the 47th consecutive game against Bradley.

•Freshman Shawn Vanzant will be making his first appearance in his home state of Florida. Vanzant was an all-state guard at Tampa Wharton High School.