January 18, 2008

Butler Closes Road Trip At Youngstown State

Jan. 18, 2008

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ROAD TEST: Butler will try to bounce back from a loss for only the second time this season when it closes out a two-game, road trip at Youngstown State on Saturday, Jan. 19. The Bulldogs, who fell at league-leading Cleveland State, 56-52, on Thursday (Jan. 17), will face Youngstown State at the Beeghly Center at 7 p.m. (ET). Butler's loss at Cleveland State was just its second in 18 outings, but both setbacks came to league foes and the Bulldogs trail the front-runner by two games heading into this weekend's action. Youngstown State (7-10, 3-4 Horizon League) dropped a 67-61 decision at home to Valparaiso in its last outing on Thursday. The Bulldogs will close out the month of January at home with back-to-back games against Loyola and UIC next week.

Butler has not lost back-to-back games in the past 70 contests.

POLL CLIMBING: Three wins in six days last week helped lift the Bulldogs to No. 12 in both the Associated Press and the ESPN/USA Today men's basketball polls this week. The jump was up two spots from a week ago in both polls and boosted Butler to its highest A. P. ranking since Feb. 5 of last year (No. 10) and its highest ESPN/USA Today ranking since Feb. 12 (No. 12). The Bulldogs have been ranked in the A.P. poll for 10 straight weeks and in both polls for nine 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 24 weeks since November of 2006.

ADDITIONAL POLLING: The Bulldogs are ranked No. 1 in The CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25. Cleveland State is ranked No. 21.

STARTING GATE: The Bulldogs share the best 18-game record in school history at 16-2. Six previous Butler teams, including last year's squad, recorded a 16-2 mark through 18 games. Four previous Butler teams have posted a 17-2 record.

CAREER BEGINNING: First-year coach Brad Stevens is the second coach in Butler men's basketball history to own a 16-2 record. Stevens' former boss, Todd Lickliter, also began his collegiate coaching career with 16 wins in his first 18 games, while Paul D. "Tony" Hinkle (1926-27) and Harlan O. "Pat" Page (1920-21) both were 15-3 through their initial 18 contests.

STREAK SNAPPED: Butler's eight-game winning streak came to an end at Cleveland State on Thursday. The Bulldogs shot just 34% for the game and just 26% from the three-point arc, while dropping their first contest of 2008. The league-leading Vikings led 31-26 at halftime, but the Bulldogs battled back to take their only lead of the game at 44-42 with 7:58 remaining. Cleveland State then out-scored Butler, 14-8, over the final 7:16 to secure the win.

CENTER OF ATTENTION: Freshman Matt Howard led all scorers at Cleveland State with 16 points, and he topped the Bulldogs with eight rebounds. Howard hit five of nine shots from the floor and six of eight from the free throw line to compile his game-high total. He scored eight points in each half. Howard has led the Bulldogs in scoring in four consecutive contests and in six total games this season. He's topped Butler in rebounding in nine different games.

Matt Howard has scored in double-figures in nine straight games.

HOT SPOT: Senior Pete Campbell came off the bench and scored 15 points against Cleveland State. It was his second straight 15-point performance, his highest point total since suffering a knee injury in Butler's victory over Ohio State on Dec. 1. Campbell hit five of eight shots against Cleveland State, including five of seven from beyond the three-point arc. The 6-7 forward has recorded his two highest career scoring performances and three of his five career 20-point efforts in northeast Ohio. He tallied 28 points at Kent State as a freshman at IPFW and then matched that total at Cleveland State last year.

Pete Campbell has averaged 22.8 points in four previous games in northeast Ohio.

DOUBLE TIME: Senior guard Mike Green played just eight minutes in the first half at Cleveland State because of foul problems. He wound up playing 28 minutes in the game, and he finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and three steals. It was his ninth straight double-figures scoring performance and his 41st twin-digit effort in 54 Butler games.

LEAGUE HONOR: Freshman Matt Howard led Butler in scoring in all three wins last week, and his effort earned him Horizon League Player of the Week honors. The 6-8 Butler post player averaged 19.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocked shots for the week. He posted 19 points and five rebounds at Loyola, 22 points and nine rebounds against Green Bay and 17 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots against Milwaukee. He hit 17 of 26 (.654) shots from the floor and 24 of 31 (.774) from the free throw line in the three wins. It was the second time this season that Howard has been honored by the Horizon League.

ROAD WORK: Butler continues to lead the NCAA Division I in wins away from home this season. The Bulldogs are 10-2 away from Hinkle Fieldhouse in 2007-08.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Butler is leading the Horizon League in scoring defense (57.7), scoring margin (+10.9), turnover margin (+3.72), fewest turnovers (10.8), and assist/turnover ratio (1.18). The Bulldogs rank second in three-point field goals (9.00).

•Senior guard A. J. Graves is second on Butler's all-time list for three-point field goals with 262, 52 behind all-time leader Bruce Horan (2002-06).

•A. J. Graves stands seventh on Butler's all-time scoring list with 1,597 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 has 88 double-figures scoring performances in 114 career games, but he has just two twin-digit efforts in seven Horizon League games this season.

•A. J. Graves has moved into a tie for eighth place on Butler's all-time assist chart with 278 career assists. He's tied with Darren Fowlkes, 1985-89.

•Mike Green leads the Bulldogs in scoring (15.2), rebounding (5.9) and assists (4.6).

•Mike Green ranks sixth in the Horizon League in scoring (15.2). He's scored 1,414 points during his collegiate career (641 at Towson and 773 at Butler).

•Mike Green stands second in the Horizon League in assists (4.56). He's fourth in the league in assist/turnover ratio (1.82), 12th in rebounding (5.9), and 14th in free throw shooting (.743). Green leads the league in free throws made (101).

•Pete Campbell is tied with teammate A. J. Graves for second in the Horizon League in three-point field goals (3.00), and he's fifth in the league in three-point FG% (.464). He's hit at least one three-pointer in 18 consecutive games, dating back to last season.

•Matt Howard had a career-high four blocked shots at Cleveland State. Howard has 10 blocked shots in Butler's last four games.

•Matt Howard ranks second in the Horizon League in offensive rebounds (2.78) and in field goal percentage (.582). He's third in the league in blocked shots (1.33), and he stands eighth in the circuit in free throw shooting (.798).

•Matt Howard leads all freshmen in the Horizon League in scoring (13.3), rebounding (5.7), blocked shots (1.33), field goal shooting (.582) and free throw shooting (.798). He's the only player in the league, regardless of class, to rank in the "Top 15" in all five categories.

•Julian Betko and Mike Green were in Butler's starting lineup for the 54th consecutive game against Green Bay. A. J. Graves has 108 career starts.

•The Bulldogs shot just 13 free throws at Cleveland State, their fewest since their loss at Wright State when they had just five charity attempts. Butler averaged 27.3 free throw attempts over their previous eight games, all wins.

•Butler has clinched its third straight winning season.