Dec. 22, 2004
Freshman A. J. Graves scored a career-high 29 points and junior Avery Sheets added 14 to lead Butler to a 74-68 victory over visiting Ball State in a non-league showdown at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Wednesday, Dec. 22. The win, Butler?s second straight, lifted the Bulldogs to 5-3 on the season and snapped the Cardinals' (5-3) three-game winning streak.
Graves turned in the best performance of his young career, hitting 10 of 15 shots from the floor and eight of eight from the charity stripe. He handled the ball for a career-high 36 minutes against Ball State?s pressure defense, and committed just one turnover. The first-year guard scored Butler's final eight points from the free throw line to stymie Ball State?s comeback attempt. His final point total was the most for a Butler freshman since 1998-99, when Rylan Hainje scored 29 points against UW-Milwaukee.
Sheets hit five of 12 shots from the floor and four of four from the free throw line for his final point total, and he led both teams with five assists and two steals. He played 35 minutes without a turnover!
"We were able to keep the ball in A. J.'s hands and Avery's hands and then the guys played off them really well," said Butler head coach Todd Lickliter after the game. "Ball State just wouldn't go away. I admire their fight."
The Bulldogs looked like they might run away with the game in the first half. Butler opened a 37-22 lead in the first 20 minutes of the contest behind 11 points from Graves and eight by Sheets. The Bulldogs shot 52% from the field and committed just one turnover. The Cardinals hit just 37.5% in the first half.
But the second half was a different story. Ball State came out in a fullcourt press and chipped away at the Bulldogs' lead. The visitors closed to within four points on two occasions in the final minute, but Graves answered with two free throws each time.
Sophomore Nick Brooks added 11 points and four rebounds to the Butler attack, while junior Bruce Horan hit three three-point field goals and added nine points. Sophomore Jamie Smalligan led the Bulldogs with six rebounds.
Terrance Chapman led the Cardinals, who had won five of six outings coming into the game, with 23 points and nine rebounds. Peyton Stovall chipped in with 15 points and Skip Mills added 14.
The Bulldogs will take a brief break before heading to Arizona to compete in the Fiesta Bowl Classic. Butler will meet Richmond in the first round on Tuesday, Dec. 28.