Jan. 13, 2007
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -Butler hardly missed its ailing scoring leader.
A.J. Graves sat out the first game of his career after having oral surgery earlier in the week, but Brandon Crone scored 14 points and Pete Campbell came off the bench with 11 to lead the No. 12 Bulldogs over South Dakota State 62-47 on Saturday.
"With his penetration and his skills, it was definitely going to take a little adjustment," Crone said. "But the system's in place. ... Nothing really changed."
Graves, averaging 18.8 points and leading the nation in free throw percentage, had all four wisdom teeth removed on Thursday. He watched from the sideline, but the Bulldogs (15-2) had no trouble against the smaller Jackrabbits (4-13), playing just their third season in Division I.
"The first 24 minutes, we were about as tight offensively as we could be," South Dakota State coach Scott Nagy said. "It was men against boys."
The only points for South Dakota State in the first 13 minutes came on two 3-pointers by Garrett Callahan. His second 3 gave the Jackrabbits a 6-5 lead, but 3-pointers by Campbell and Marcus Nellems started a 13-0 run that put Butler in control for good.
"A.J.'s obviously a great player, but we don't have a system for one guy," Butler coach Todd Lickliter said. "They understood what was in front of them and they adjusted."
Nellems and Mike Green finished with nine each for Butler. South Dakota State shot 36 percent for the game - 20 percent in the first half - and was led by Kai Williams with 12 points. Callahan had 11.
"Their defense is the best we've seen all year," Callahan said. "They pretty much manhandled us."
Matt Cadwell, South Dakota State's leading scorer at 14.2 points per game, finished with seven, all in the second half.
"We knew that with Graves not playing, they'd be more patient," Nagy said. "I wish Graves would have played. I really do. We'd have loved to take their best shot, although physically we're not ready to play with them yet."
Graves, a junior guard, is expected back for Butler's next game Wednesday night against Youngstown State.
Drew Streicher started in place of Graves, his first start in two years and just the second of his career. Streicher had a basket, Campbell scored again and Streicher hit a 3-pointer to finish Butler's first big run early in the opening period.
After a 3-pointer by Andy Kleinjan, South Dakota State's first points in seven minutes, another 3-pointer by Nellems started an 11-0 run that pushed the Bulldogs' lead to 29-9.
Nellems, who had scored nine points on 3-of-18 shooting in the previous nine games combined, matched that total with his third 3-pointer with less than five minutes left in the first half.
The Jackrabbits, unable to penetrate Butler's defense, made only one basket inside 3-point range in the first half and scored their final three points on free throws as the Bulldogs took a 33-14 lead at halftime.
Butler built the lead to as many as 26 points several times in the second half and never led by fewer than 17 until the final minute.