January 11, 2008

Bulldogs Host Surging Milwaukee

Jan. 11, 2008

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QUICK TURNAROUND: Butler will play its fourth game in eight days and its second in less than 48 hours when it hosts one of the hottest teams in the Horizon League on Saturday, Jan. 12. The Bulldogs will face surging Milwaukee in Hinkle Fieldhouse at 2 p.m. (ET) in a showdown of the league's two longest current win streaks. Milwaukee won its sixth consecutive game and improved to 9-7 overall and 4-2 in the Horizon League with a 71-69 victory at Valparaiso on Thursday. The win moved the Panthers into third place in the league standings, one-half game behind the Bulldogs. Milwaukee snapped a six-game losing skid with a victory over Central Michigan on Dec. 19, and the Panthers have not lost since. Butler won its seventh straight game and its league-best 15th in 16 outings with a 74-65 victory over visiting Green Bay on Thursday.

Only North Carolina (16) and Vanderbilt (16) have more wins than Butler this season.

POLL CLIMBING: The Bulldogs moved up in both the Associated Press and the ESPN/USA Today men's basketball polls, following last weekend's victory over Valparaiso. Butler climbed to No. 14 in both rankings, up two spots in the A.P. poll and a jump of three positions in the ESPN/USA Today poll. Butler has been ranked in the A.P. poll for nine straight weeks and in both polls for eight 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 23 weeks since November of 2006.

ADDITIONAL POLLING: The Bulldogs are ranked No. 1 in The CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 and No. 2 in the ESPN.com Mid-Major Top 10.

STRONG OPENING: The Bulldogs have matched the best 16-game record in school history with their 15-1 start. Butler also opened with a 15-1 record in 2002-03. This year's squad is looking to become the first Butler men's basketball team to post a 16-1 record.

CAREER MARK: First-year coach Brad Stevens owns the best coaching start (through 16 games) in Butler basketball history, following the Bulldogs' victory over Green Bay. Stevens had been tied with his former boss, Todd Lickliter, with a 14 wins in 15 games. Lickliter picked up his 15th career win in his 17th game.

IN THE HOUSE: The Bulldogs improved to 5-0 at home this season with their victory over Green Bay on Thursday. Butler has a six-game homecourt winning streak, and the Bulldogs own a 101-14 mark in Hinkle Fieldhouse since November of 1999.

Butler has won 28 of its last 30 games in Hinkle Fieldhouse.

INSIDE APPROACH: On a night when shots weren't falling from beyond the three-point arc, Butler turned to its inside game to slip past Green Bay. The Bulldogs notched 18 of their 21 field goals against the Phoenix from within eight feet of the basket, and Butler did not have a field goal outside of the free throw lane in the second half. Butler matched its season-low with just three three-point field goals in the game.

Butler ranks second in the Horizon League in three-point field goals.

FREE PASS: Butler's attacking offense against Green Bay resulted in a season-high 41 trips to the free throw line. The 41 free throw attempts were the most by a Butler team since Feb. 23, 2002, when the Bulldogs attempted 41 free throws in a victory over UIC. The last time Butler shot more free throws was on Nov. 18, 2000, when the Bulldogs reached the charity stripe 48 times in a win over Eastern Illinois. Butler hit a season-high 29 charity tosses against Green Bay.

Butler has hit at least 20 free throws in six of the past seven games.

HONEST EFFORT: Freshman Matt Howard made the most of his 29 minutes against Green Bay. The 6-8 Butler post player led all scorers with 29 points, and he added nine rebounds, one assist and two blocked shots. Howard hit five of six shots from the field and a career-high 12 of 15 from the charity stripe. It was his seventh consecutive double-figures scoring performance and the second straight game that he's led the Bulldogs in scoring. Howard has scored in double-figures in all but one of his nine games as a Butler starter.

GREEN WAY: Senior Mike Green ended 2007 on a hot streak and has started 2008 the same way. He posted his seventh consecutive double-figures scoring performance with 18 points in Butler's victory over Green Bay. The 6-1 guard added nine rebounds, two assists and a steal in the win. Over the past seven games, Green has averaged 18.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists. He's led the Bulldogs in scoring twice, in rebounding five times and in assists seven times during that stretch!

Mike Green is averaging 17.8 points in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.

CRASH COURSE: Sophomore Willie Veasley came off the bench and grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds in 24 minutes against Green Bay. The 6-3 Veasley had a career-best six offensive rebounds in the game, helping Butler to 14 total offensive boards. The Bulldogs out-rebounded Green Bay, 38-30, and had a 17-11 edge in second chance points.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Butler is leading the Horizon League in scoring defense (57.9), scoring margin (+11.5), free throw shooting (.777), three-point field goal percentage defense (.318), turnover margin (+3.56), fewest turnovers (11.1), and assist/turnover ratio (1.15).

•Senior guard A. J. Graves is ranked first in the Horizon League in three-point field goals (3.13). Graves is second on Butler's all-time list for three-point field goals with 258, 56 behind all-time leader and former teammate Bruce Horan (2002-06).

•A. J. Graves stands seventh on Butler's all-time scoring list with 1,581 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.

•A. J. Graves posted his first double-figures scoring performance in Horizon League play this season with 13 points against Green Bay. He has 87 twin-digit efforts in 112 career games.

•A. J. Graves has moved into ninth place on Butler's all-time assist chart. He has 275 career assists and trails Darren Fowlkes, 1985-89, in eighth place on the all-time list by just three assists.

•A. J. Graves leads the Horizon League in minutes played (35.88), while Mike Green stands second (34.81).

•Mike Green ranks fourth in the Horizon League in scoring (15.8). He's scored 1,392 points during his collegiate career (641 at Towson and 751 at Butler).

•Mike Green stands second in the Horizon League in assists (4.75). He's fourth in the league in assist/turnover ratio (1.90), ninth in three-point field goal percentage (.442), 10th in rebounding (5.8) and 14th in free throw shooting (.736). Green leads the league in free throws made (95).

•Pete Campbell is third in the Horizon League in three-point field goals (2.85), and he's 11th in the league in three-point FG% (.435). He's hit at least one three-pointer in 16 consecutive games, dating back to last season.

•Matt Howard leads the Horizon League in offensive rebounds (2.69). He ranks second in the league in field goal percentage (.583), and he's seventh in the circuit in free throw shooting (.828). Howard had made 21 consecutive free throws before missing three charity tosses against Green Bay.

•Matt Howard leads all freshmen in the Horizon League in scoring (12.9), rebounding (5.5), blocked shots (1.06), field goal shooting (.583) and free throw shooting (.828). •Sophomore Willie Veasley matched his career-highs with two steals and two blocked shots against Green Bay.

•Freshman Zach Hahn came off the bench and scored a career-high eight points against Green Bay. Hahn hit two of Butler's three three-point field goals in the contest.

•Julian Betko and Mike Green were in Butler's starting lineup for the 52nd consecutive game against Green Bay. A. J. Graves has 106 career starts.