CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Butler survived its stiffest test of the season and has advanced to a Thanksgiving holiday tournament championship game for the second consecutive year. The Bulldogs (5-0) will face Texas Tech (4-1) on Saturday, Nov. 24, in the title contest of the 30th Annual Great Alaska Shootout. The two finalists will meet a 8:30 p.m. (Alaska, 12:30 p.m. in Indianapolis) at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska, in a championship game that will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2. Butler reached the finals with a thrilling, 84-78 victory in overtime, over a strong Virginia Tech squad. Texas Tech, coached by Bob Knight, advanced to the championship game with a 73-63 upset of #14-ranked and previously unbeaten Gonzaga in the other semifinal contest. The Bulldogs will be facing Texas Tech for the first time. One year ago to the day, Butler played Gonzaga for the championship of the 2006 NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden in New York. Butler won that contest, 79-71. The Bulldogs are schedule to return to Indianapolis on Sunday, Nov. 25.
Butler improved to 5-0 all-time in Alaska with the victory over Virginia Tech.
POLL WATCH: The Bulldogs are ranked in the "Top 25" of both major polls (A.P. & ESPN/USA Today) for the first time since last year's record-breaking season. Butler climbed to No. 22 in this week's A.P. poll (Nov. 19), up three spots from last week's rankings, and the Bulldogs have climbed into the ESPN/USA Today poll at No. 23. A year ago, the Bulldogs were ranked in the "Top 25" for a school- and league-record 16 consecutive weeks, including a first-ever "Top 10" ranking on Feb. 5.
The Bulldogs are ranked in the "Top 25" of both major polls earlier than any other team in Butler basketball history.
OVERTIME PAY: It took an extra five minutes of hard work for Butler to finally subdue Virginia Tech in the semifinals of the Great Alaska Shootout. Though the Bulldogs never trailed in the final 22:55, the game was in doubt until the closing seconds of the overtime period. Virginia Tech battled back from an 11-point deficit in the second half and tied the game at 68-68 with 17 seconds remaining in regulation play. Butler senior Mike Green took over in the extra period. He gave Butler the lead for good with a basket less than a minute into the overtime session, and he gave Butler an eight-point edge with a three-point field goal two minutes later. Green went on to out-score Virginia Tech, 12-10, in the overtime period.
LAND OF THE THREE: Butler continued to use the long-range shot effectively in its semifinals win over Virginia Tech. After setting a tournament record with 17 three-pointers in their opening-round victory over Michigan, the Bulldogs cashed 14 three-point field goals in the win over the Hokies. The Bulldogs need just three three-point field goals to tie the Great Alaska Shootout tournament record of 34, set by UC Irvine in 1990. Butler is averaging 12.2 three-point field goals per game through the first five outings this season.
Butler set a school record by hitting 321 three-point field goals in 2006-07.
GAME RECOGNITION: Senior Pete Campbell was named Carrs/Safeway Player of the Game for his effort in Butler's victory over Virginia Tech in the semifinals of the Great Alaska Shootout. Campbell put on yet another long-range shooting exhibition and led all scorers in the contest with 26 points. His scoring total was just two points shy of his career-high, set last year against Cleveland State. He hit seven three-point field goals, including one in overtime that gave Butler a two possession advantage. Campbell also led the Bulldogs in rebounding with five.
Pete Campbell has hit 103 three-point field goals in 40 Butler games.
HANDY MAN: Senior Mike Green continued his workmanlike effort, while helping Butler past Virginia Tech. The 6-1 guard finished with 23 points, four rebounds, five assists, one blocked shot and one steal. He also had only one turnover in 44 minutes against the aggressive defensive pressure of the Hokies. Green scored 12 of Butler's 16 points in overtime, including three free throws in the final 0:23. His 23 points were one shy of his Butler career-high, set against Florida Gulf Coast last year.
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.
SOLID START: Brad Stevens became the second consecutive Butler coach to begin his coaching career with five straight victories. Current Iowa head coach Todd Lickliter won his first five games at Butler, including three in Alaska at the Top of the World Classic, in 2001-02. Lickliter went on to win his first 13 games as a head coach. Stevens served as an assistant coach under Lickliter for six years.
•Julian Betko and Mike Green were in Butler's starting lineup for the 41st consecutive game against Virginia Tech. A. J. Graves made his 95th career start for the Bulldogs, Drew Streicher made his eighth career start and Pete Campbell made his fifth Butler start.
•A. J. Graves hit four three-point field goals against Virginia Tech, boosting his career total to 231. He stands second on Butler's all-time list for three-pointers, 83 behind all-time leader and former teammate Bruce Horan (2002-06).
•A. J. Graves, who scored 17 points in Butler's victory over Virginia Tech last night, stands in 11th place on Butler's all-time scoring list with 1,437 career points. He needs two points to crack Butler's all-time "Top 10."
•A. J. Graves has scored in double-figures in 13 straight games, dating back to last season. He has scored in double-figures in 80 of 101 games during his Butler career.
•A. J. Graves led the Bulldogs with six assists against Virginia Tech. His total was one shy of his career-high, set twice previously.
•Forward Pete Campbell has hit 13 three-point field goals in Butler's first two games of the Great Alaska Shootout. He needs five three-pointers in the championship game to tie the tournament record.
•The seven three-point field goals that Pete Campbell hit against Virginia Tech were the second-highest single game total of his Butler career. He hit eight three-pointers against Cleveland State last January.
•Senior Julian Betko posted a season-high eight points against both Michigan and Virginia Tech. The last time he scored more points was against Ball State (11) last December.
•Sophomore Willie Veasley, who sat out Butler's first four games because of a knee injury, saw his first 2007-08 action in Butler's win over Virginia Tech. Veasley had four points, two rebounds, one assist and one steal in eight minutes against the Hokies.
•Butler head coach Brad Stevens 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.
•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.