Bulldogs Visit Long-Time Foe Evansville
TRAVEL CLUB: Butler will play nine of its next 11 games away from Hinkle Fieldhouse, beginning with a trip to southern Indiana to face long-time foe Evansville. The Bulldogs (2-0), who won their home-opener against Indiana State, 76-48, on Wednesday (Nov. 14), will face Evansville (0-1) at Roberts Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 17. The non-league contest is slated for 7 p.m. (CT). Butler and Evansville began playing each other in 1920-21 and have met 112 times since. The two clubs were conference foes for 92 of those meetings, before Evansville joined the Missouri Valley Conference in 1994-95. Both teams boast a first-year head coach. Former Evansville player Marty Simmons returned this year to lead the Aces, while former assistant coach Brad Stevens was promoted to Butler's top spot last spring. The Bulldogs were 4-0 against Evansville with Stevens as an assistant coach. Following the Evansville game, Butler will fly to Anchorage, Alaska, for three games in the Great Alaska Shootout. The Bulldogs open tournament play against Michigan on Nov. 21.
Butler is 8-1 against Evansville since 1994-95.
POLL WATCH: The Bulldogs have returned to the Associated Press (A.P.) "Top 25" for the first time since last year's record-breaking season. Butler climbed to No. 25 in this week's poll (Nov. 12), up three spots from last week's preseason poll. A year ago, the Bulldogs were ranked in the A.P. "Top 25" for a school- and league-record 16 consecutive weeks, including a first-ever "Top 10" ranking on Feb. 5. Butler is among "others receiving votes" (28th) in the ESPN/USA Today national poll for the second consecutive week.
The Bulldogs have broken into the "Top 25" earlier than any other team in Butler basketball history.
END GAME: Prior to Wednesday, none of Butler's current players had ever played in a victory over Indiana State. The Bulldogs put an emphatic end to that streak, with 13 different players contributing to a 28-point victory over the visiting Sycamores! Butler jumped to a 7-1 advantage three minutes into the game and stretched that margin to 13 by halftime. Butler then exploded for 49 points in the second half to cap the wire-to-wire win. Indiana State entered the contest with a three-game winning streak over the Bulldogs.
SHARP SHOOTING: The Bulldogs put on a second half marksmanship exhibition against Indiana State, while closing out their second win of the season. Butler hit 14 of 23 shots (.609) in the final period, including seven of 10 from beyond the three-point arc. The performance was even more impressive at the free throw line, where the Bulldogs connected on 14 of 15 (.933) attempts in the final 20 minutes! Butler finished the game with a 53.3% shooting percentage, 52.2% mark from the three-point line and 94.1% free throw percentage.
FIRST DEFENSE: Butler limited Indiana State to just 14 points on 20.8% shooting (5-24) in the first half. It was the second straight game that the Bulldogs held their opponent below 20 points in the initial period. The up-tempo Sycamores, who scored 78 points in their first game this season, finished with 48 points, the second straight game that Butler kept its foe under 50 points.
Butler was fifth in the NCAA Division I in team scoring defense last year.
ADDED NOTCH: Indiana State was the only team that Butler senior A. J. Graves had faced more than once without a victory. He helped rectify that situation with his best shooting performance in the past 50 games! Graves hit eight of 12 shots against the Sycamores, including six of nine from beyond the three-point arc, and all four free throws he attempted. He finished with a game-high 26 points, matching the fifth-highest single game total of his Butler career.
A. J. Graves has 20 career 20-point scoring performances.
FULL NIGHT: Senior Mike Green had a workmanlike performance in Butler's home-opener against Indiana State. The 6-1 guard finished with 15 points, a team-high eight rebounds, a team-best four assists, one steal and one blocked shot. He hit five of eight shots and had just three turnovers in 31 minutes against Indiana State's fullcourt press.
BACKCOURT STRENGTH: Butler's backcourt of seniors A. J. Graves and Mike Green was rated as the 14th-best backcourt in the NCAA Division I this season by Luke Winn of SI.com. Graves led the Bulldogs in scoring last year with a 16.9 average, while Green topped the team in rebounds (6.0) and assists (4.0), while finishing second in scoring (13.9). Graves was a first team All-League pick last season, while Green was named Horizon League Newcomer of the Year and second-team All-League.
ALL-AMERICA: Senior guard A. J. Graves was named to the 25-player, 2007-08 Preseason Mid-Major All-America Team by CollegeInsider.com. He previously was named to the 2006-07 CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major All-America Team at the end of last season.
SUCCESSFUL START: Brad Stevens has followed his two former Butler bosses and picked up victories in his first two games as a collegiate head coach. Stevens, who worked under Thad Matta for one season at Butler and then served as an assistant coach under Todd Lickliter for six seasons, one-upped his former mentors by picking up his initial win on the road! Matta won his first collegiate game at home against Eastern Illinois, while Lickliter's first win came over Radford in Alaska at the Top of the World Classic.
•Julian Betko and Mike Green were in Butler's starting lineup for the 38th consecutive game against Indiana State. A. J. Graves made his 92nd career start for the Bulldogs, Drew Streicher made his fifth career start and Pete Campbell made his second Butler start.
•A. J. Graves hit six three-point field goals against Indiana State, boosting his career total to 217. He's moved into a tie with Darnell Archey, 1999-2003, for second place on Butler's all-time list for three-pointers, 97 behind all-time leader Bruce Horan (2002-06).
•A. J. Graves stands 14th on Butler's all-time scoring list with 1,381 career points. He needs seven points to catch Rylan Hainje, 1998-2002, in 13th place on the Butler all-time list.
•A. J. Graves has scored in double-figures in 10 straight games, dating back to last season. He has scored in double-figures in 77 of 98 games during his Butler career.
•A. J. Graves averaged 17.4 points in Butler's 21 games away from Hinkle Fieldhouse last year.
•Guard Mike Green has led the Bulldogs in rebounding in each of the first two games this season. He's topped the Bulldogs in rebounding in 18 games during his career at Butler.
•Senior forward Pete Campbell grabbed a career-high seven rebounds against Indiana State.
•Freshman forward Matt Howard came off the bench with 10 points against Indiana State, his second consecutive double-figures scoring performance for the Bulldogs. He had 14 points in his collegiate debut at Ball State.
•Senior Drew Streicher matched his career-high with three blocked shots against the Sycamores.
•Sophomore Willie Veasley sat out Butler's first two games, because of injury, and he'll be sidelined indefinitely. Veasley played in 35 games last season.
•Butler head coach Brad Stevens has added walk-on Alex Anglin to this year's roster. A 6-4 sophomore, Anglin was an all-area performer at Kokomo High School. He's one of three walk-ons on Butler's roster, joining junior Ben Slaton, who earned a spot in 2005-06, and sophomore Nick Rodgers, who earned a spot last year.
•Four players who are in Butler's 1,000-point club saw action against Evansville the last time the Bulldogs visited Roberts Stadium. Current assistant coach Brandon Miller (1,121 pts.) and current Iowa assistant Joel Cornette (1,100) both were in Butler's starting lineup, while Avery Sheets (1,086) and Bruce Horan (1,018) came off the bench.
•Head coach Brad Stevens
celebrated the first day of the NCAA fall signing period by landing
three talented Indiana high school players. The Bulldogs received
signed commitments from 6-7 Garrett Butcher of Edgewood High
School, 6-3 Chase Stigall of New Castle Chrysler High School and
6-7 Gordon Hayward of Brownsburg High School. A year ago, Butler
Hahn and Shawn Vanzant on
the first day of the fall signing period.