Feb. 8, 2008
NORTHERN TREK: Butler will try to extend a four-game, winning streak and solidify its hold on first place in the Horizon League when it begins a two-game, Wisconsin road trip at Green Bay on Saturday, Feb. 9. The nationally-ranked Bulldogs will be playing Green Bay for the second time this season when they face the Phoenix at 7 p.m. (CT, 8 p.m. in Indianapolis) in the Resch Center. Butler improved to 20-2 overall and 9-2 in the Horizon League with a come-from-behind, 71-68, victory at Valparaiso in front of a sold-out crowd and a national television audience on ESPN2 on Tuesday (Feb. 5). The Phoenix (13-9, 7-5 HL) moved into a tie for third place in the league standings with a 76-71 victory in overtime against Valparaiso on Thursday (Feb. 7). The Bulldogs will finish the two-game trip to Wisconsin with a nationally-televised (ESPNU) game at Milwaukee on Tuesday, Feb. 12.
The Bulldogs have won 20 games for the 10th time in 12 years.
POLL CLIMBING: Butler climbed to No. 10 in the Associated Press poll and to No. 11 in the ESPN/USA Today poll, released on Monday (Feb. 4). Both rankings are Butler's highest this season, and the A.P. ranking is Butler's first "Top 10" appearance since Feb. 5, 2007. Butler reached No. 10 in the A.P. and No. 9 in the ESPN/USA Today polls last year. The Bulldogs have been ranked in the A.P. poll for 12 straight weeks and in both polls for 11 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 28 weeks since November 27, 2006.
ADDITIONAL POLLING: The Bulldogs are ranked first in The CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 (Feb. 4). Gonzaga is ranked second in the poll.
BEST MARK: The Bulldogs share the best 22-game record in school history at 20-2. Last year's Butler team became the first in school history to post a 21-2 record.
TOP DOG: Head coach Brad Stevens is the first coach in Butler men's basketball history to own an 20-2 career record. Stevens' former boss, Todd Lickliter was 19-3 through 22 games, while legendary coach Paul D. "Tony" Hinkle (1926-27) and Harlan O. "Pat" Page (1920-21) both were 18-4 through 22 contests.
BIG SHOT: Senior Pete Campbell nailed his fifth three-point field goal of the game with 0:17 left to give the Bulldogs their first lead, 70-68, and ultimately the victory at Valparaiso. Butler fell behind, 12-0, in the nationally-televised contest, and the host Crusaders had a 10-point lead early in the second half. The Bulldogs battled back and eventually tied the game four times in the final 13 minutes, the last coming at 65-65 on a field goal by senior A. J. Graves at 1:01. A three-point field goal by Valparaiso's Jarryd Loyd and a layup by Butler's Mike Green in the final minute set the stage for Campbell's game-winner.
LOOKING LONG: The Bulldogs hit 11 three-point field goals in their victory at Valparaiso. It matched the team's highest one game total in the past 16 contests. Butler made 10 total field goals in the first 20 minutes of the contest and eight came from beyond the three-point arc. The Bulldogs' 27 three-point field goal attempts in the game were their most since Dec. 1, when Butler attempted 30 three-pointers in a win over Ohio State.
Butler is 15-0 when making at eight or more three-point field goals.
LEAD ROLE: The last time senior A. J. Graves led the Bulldogs in scoring was three days before Christmas. But with team scoring leaders Mike Green and Matt Howard plagued by foul problems at Valparaiso, Graves stepped up and helped fuel the Bulldogs' come-from-behind win. The 6-1 guard scored a game-high 20 points, including three key baskets in the final three minutes. He hit shots to tie the game at 60, 62 and 65 and then had the assist on Pete Campbell's game-winner with 0:17 left. It was the first time Graves topped the Bulldogs since Dec. 22, when he tallied 17 points in a win at Florida Gulf Coast, and the 20 points were his most since Dec. 19, when he posted 21 in a victory over Bradley.
A. J. Graves has scored 20 or more points 23 times during his Butler career.
FINISHING TOUCH: Senior Julian Betko experienced swelling in his left knee at Valparaiso and was held out of Butler's starting lineup for the first time in two seasons. He had started 57 consecutive games for the Bulldogs. Betko did get into the game with 0:07 left and challenged the final shot attempt by the Crusaders. His brief appearance extended his streak of consecutive games played to 91, every game of his Butler career. Betko, who has helped Butler to 69 victories during his career, is expected to be available in Wisconsin.
WATCH LISTS: Senior Mike Green is one of 16 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, presented annually to the nation's top collegiate point-guard. Also on the list of finalists are Darren Collison of UCLA, DJ Augustin of Texas, Ty Lawson of North Carolina, Derrick Rose of Memphis and Dominic James of Marquette, plus 10 other NCAA Division I, II and III players. Fans can vote for the favorite candidate at www.cousyaward.com. Green also is one of 30 finalists for the Naismith Trophy, given to the nation's outstanding collegiate player. Senior guard A. J. Graves is one of 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, a tribute to college seniors based on classroom, community, character and competition.
Butler seniors A. J. Graves and Drew Streicher have been named to the five-player 2008 CoSIDA Academic All-District V Team. Also chosen to the team were Bryan Mullins of Southern Illinois, Mike Schachtner of Green Bay and Jason Holsinger of Evansville. The five players are now candidates for the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Team. Graves was a first team Academic All-American last year, while Streicher was named to the District V All-Academic Team a year ago.
Butler is leading the Horizon League in scoring margin (+10.8), team scoring defense (58.3), turnover margin (+3.64), fewest turnovers (10.7), and assist/turnover ratio (1.19). The Bulldogs rank second in three-point field goals (9.09).
A. J. Graves stands sixth on Butler's all-time scoring list with 1,647 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.
Senior guard A. J. Graves is second on Butler's all-time list for three-point field goals with 274, 40 behind all-time leader Bruce Horan (2002-06). He currently ranks fourth in the league in three-pointers (3.00).
A. J. Graves has 90 double-figures scoring performances in 118 career games. He's currently tied for 10th in the Horizon League in scoring (13.8).
A. J. Graves has moved into eighth place on Butler's all-time assist chart with 287 career assists. He's 18 assists behind assistant coach Brandon Miller, 2000-03, in seventh place.
A. J. Graves ranks fourth in the Horizon League in steals (1.55). He leads the league in minutes played (35.55).
Mike Green ranks fifth in the Horizon League in scoring (15.1). He's scored 1,472 points during his collegiate career (641 at Towson and 831 at Butler).
Mike Green has scored in double-figures in 13 straight games.
Mike Green leads the Horizon League in assists (4.77) and in assist/turnover ratio (1.84). He's fifth in steals (1.41) and 11th in both free throw shooting (.760) and rebounding (6.0). Green leads the league in free throws made (127).
Pete Campbell, who tallied 17 points as a starter at Valparaiso, has scored in double-figures in five of Butler's last six games.
Pete Campbell ranks second in the Horizon League lead in three-point field goals (3.11) and third in three-point field goal percentage (.465). He's hit at least one three-pointer in 22 consecutive games, dating back to last season.
Matt Howard leads the Horizon League in offensive rebounds (2.77) and in field goal percentage (.607). He ranks third in blocked shots (1.32), fifth in free throw shooting (.814), and 12th in scoring (13.6) and rebounding (5.8).
Matt Howard leads all freshmen in the Horizon League in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots, field goal shooting and free throw shooting. He's the only player in the league, regardless of class, to rank in the "Top 15" in all five categories.
A. J. Graves pulled down a career-high eight rebounds at Valparaiso. He also had a game-high four assists in the Butler win.
Mike Green was in Butler's starting lineup for the 58th consecutive game at Valparaiso. A. J. Graves has 112 career starts.