January 22, 2008

Butler Faces Loyola For The Second Time

Jan. 22, 2008

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SECOND MEETING: Butler will close out the month of January with back-to-back home games, beginning with a re-match against Loyola on Thursday, Jan. 24. The Bulldogs (17-2, 6-2 Horizon League), coming off a two-game road trip to Ohio, will host Loyola at Hinkle Fieldhouse at 7 p.m. (ET). Butler returned from Ohio with a split of its two-game set. The Bulldogs fell at league-leading Cleveland State, 56-52, on Thursday (Jan. 17), before rebounding with a 78-69 victory at Youngstown State on Saturday (Jan. 19). The split left Butler in sole possession of second place in the Horizon League, two games behind the unbeaten Vikings. Loyola (6-12, 2-6 HL), the last league team to defeat the Bulldogs in Hinkle Fieldhouse, has dropped two of three games since falling to Butler, 66-55, at home on Jan. 7. The Ramblers captured last year's meeting at Hinkle Fieldhouse, 75-71. Butler will face UIC for the first time this season on Saturday, Jan. 26, at 2 p.m.

Butler has won seven straight home games since last year's loss to Loyola.

POLL WATCH: Butler is ranked among the top 15 teams in both the Associated Press and the ESPN/USA Today men's basketball polls for the third straight week. The A.P. poll has Butler at No. 15, while the ESPN/USA Today poll tabs the Bulldogs No. 14. The Bulldogs have been ranked in the A.P. poll for 11 straight weeks and in both polls for 10 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 nationally ranked in basketball (Top 25) for 27 weeks since November 27, 2006.

ADDITIONAL POLLING: The Bulldogs are ranked second in The CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25. Gonzaga is the top-ranked team in the poll.

HIGH MARK: The Bulldogs share the best 19-game record in school history at 17-2. Four previous Butler teams, including last year's squad, recorded a 17-2 mark through 19 games. Last year's Butler team became the first in school history to post an 18-2 record.

BEST START: First-year coach Brad Stevens is the first coach in Butler men's basketball history to own a 17-2 record. Stevens' former boss, Todd Lickliter, legendary coach Paul D. "Tony" Hinkle (1926-27) and Harlan O. "Pat" Page (1920-21) all were 16-3 through their initial 19 contests.

HOME SECURITY: The Bulldogs improved to 6-0 at home this season with a victory over Milwaukee on Jan. 12. Butler has won 29 of its last 31 games in Hinkle Fieldhouse, and the Bulldogs own a 102-14 mark at home since the start of the 1999-2000 season.

Butler is 20-1 in its last 21 Horizon League games in Hinkle Fieldhouse.

SPLIT DECISION: Two nights after dropping a four-point decision at league-leading Cleveland State, the Bulldogs bounced back with a nine-point win at Youngstown State. Butler eased out to a 10-point lead midway through the first half and then stretched that margin to 18 points, 40-22, by halftime. The host Penguins did close to within eight points, 54-46, with 10:31 remaining, but the Bulldogs regained control with a decisive, 15-3, scoring run. The two-game split gave Butler a 5-1 record for January.

YOUNG GUN: Freshman Matt Howard led the Bulldogs in scoring in both games in Ohio. The 6-8 forward topped all scorers at Cleveland State with 16 points and then posted a team-high 20 points at Youngstown State. He hit 14 of 23 (.609) shots from the floor and eight of 10 (.800) from the free throw line in the two games. Howard also had a team-high eight rebounds in each game. The first-year player has led Butler in scoring in five straight games.

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

DOUBLE UP: Senior Mike Green recorded Butler's third double-double of the season and the fifth of his Butler career with 16 points and 10 assists at Youngstown State. He narrowly missed a triple-double, finishing with eight rebounds. The 10 assists were a season-high and the second-highest total of his Butler career, trailing only his 12-assist effort against Notre Dame last year.

Mike Green leads the Bulldogs in scoring (15.3), rebounding (6.0) and assists (4.8).

WINTER HEAT: Senior Pete Campbell responded to the cold temperatures in northeast Ohio with a hot hand against Cleveland State and Youngstown State. He came off the bench and hit five of eight shots and finished with 15 points at Cleveland State. Two nights later, he connected on seven of 10 attempts and posted 19 points at Youngstown State. He hit 10 of 15 shots from beyond the three-point arc in the two games. The two Ohio contests were Campbell's best back-to-back efforts since the first two games of the Great Alaska Shootout in November. The 6-7 forward has had three consecutive double-figures scoring performances for the Bulldogs.

Pete Campbell is shooting .692 (18-26) over Butler's last three games.

BIG DRAW: Cleveland State (5,352) and Youngstown State (6,198) both had their biggest crowds of the season for the games with Butler. Cleveland State had been averaging 3,230 fans at home, while Youngstown State was averaging 2,178 fans prior to last week.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Butler is leading the Horizon League in scoring defense (58.3), scoring margin (+10.8), turnover margin (+3.74), fewest turnovers (10.9), and assist/turnover ratio (1.19). The Bulldogs rank second in three-point field goals (9.11).

•Senior guard A. J. Graves is second on Butler's all-time list for three-point field goals with 265, 49 behind all-time leader Bruce Horan (2002-06).

•A. J. Graves stands seventh on Butler's all-time scoring list with 1,606 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 115 career games, but he has just two twin-digit efforts in eight Horizon League games this season.

•A. J. Graves has moved into eighth place on Butler's all-time assist chart with 281 career assists. He's 24 assists behind assistant coach Brandon Miller, 2000-03, in seventh place.

•Mike Green ranks fifth in the Horizon League in scoring (15.3). He's scored 1,430 points during his collegiate career (641 at Towson and 789 at Butler).

•Mike Green has scored in double-figures in 10 straight games.

•Mike Green stands second in the Horizon League in assists (4.84). He's fourth in the league in assist/turnover ratio (1.88), 12th in rebounding (6.0), and 14th in free throw shooting (.745). Green leads the league in free throws made (111).

•Pete Campbell has taken over the Horizon League lead in three-point field goals (3.13), and he stands third in three-point field goal percentage (.476). He's hit at least one three-pointer in 19 consecutive games, dating back to last season.

•Matt Howard had a career-high four blocked shots at Cleveland State, the most by a Butler player since Feb. 13, 2006, when Brandon Polk had four blocked shots against Green Bay.

•Matt Howard ranks second in the Horizon League in offensive rebounds (2.74) and in field goal percentage (.588). He's third in the league in blocked shots (1.32), and he stands eighth in the circuit in free throw shooting (.802).

•Matt Howard leads all freshmen in the Horizon League in scoring (13.6), rebounding (5.8), blocked shots (1.32), field goal shooting (.588) and free throw shooting (.802). 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 55th consecutive game against Green Bay. A. J. Graves has 109 career starts.

•Butler is ranked fifth in the NCAA Division I in fewest turnovers per game (10.9).

•The Bulldogs lead the Horizon League in average home attendance (5,560) and all games average attendance (6,616).

•Butler has clinched its third straight winning season.