November 29, 2007

Butler Hosts Former Coach, Ohio State

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HOMECOMING: Butler returns to Hinkle Fieldhouse for the first time since winning the 2007 Great Alaska Shootout and makes just its second home appearance of the season when it hosts 2006 NCAA finalist Ohio State on Saturday, Dec. 1. The game is slated for 7:30 p.m. (ET) and will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU. The Bulldogs' last home contest was a win over Indiana State, 76-48, on Nov. 14. Since then Butler (6-0) has traveled over 5,000 miles and added four wins to the ledger, including consecutive victories over Michigan, Virginia Tech and Texas Tech in Alaska. Former Butler head coach and current Ohio State head coach Thad Matta is making his first return to Hinkle Fieldhouse since 2001, when he guided the Bulldogs to an NCAA Tournament berth. The Buckeyes (4-2) are making their first appearance on Butler's home floor since 1978.

Ohio State is the first Big Ten foe to play in Hinkle Fieldhouse since 1993.

POLL CLIMBING: The Bulldogs climbed to No. 16 in both major college basketball polls (A.P. & ESPN/USA Today), following last weekend's championship at the Great Alaska Shootout. Butler jumped from No. 22 in the A.P. poll, and from No. 23 in the ESPN/USA Today. It's the third straight week that the Bulldogs have been ranked in the "Top 25" in at least one of the two polls and the second straight week that Butler has been ranked in both polls.

The Bulldogs have their highest national ranking since Feb. 19, 2007 (No. 15).

MORE POLLING: The Bulldogs sit atop this week's ESPN.com Mid-Major Top 10. Butler also is No. 1 in The CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 this week. The Bulldogs stood third in the Mid-Major polls last week.

THANKSGIVING FEAST: For the second consecutive year, Butler celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday with a tournament championship. The Bulldogs, who won the NIT Season Tip-Off during Thanksgiving week a year ago, added to their trophy case with a sweep of three games at the Great Alaska Shootout. Butler opened the tournament with a 79-65 victory over Michigan and followed that with an 84-78 win in overtime against Virginia Tech. The Bulldogs capped their tournament run with an 81-71 victory over Texas Tech in the championship game. The three-game sweep gave Butler an 8-1 record in its last nine games against BCS schools.

Butler is this week's ESPN.com National Team of the Week.

THREE THINKERS: Butler set a Great Alaska Shootout record by hitting 47 three-point field goals in three tournament games. The Bulldogs broke the tournament single game record by nailing 17 three-pointers against Michigan and then added 14 three-point field goals in the overtime win over Virginia Tech. Butler finished the tournament by hitting a championship game record 16 of 24 (.667) three-point field goals attempts!

Butler leads the NCAA Division I in three-point field goals (12.8 pg).

OUTSTANDING PLAY: Senior Mike Green was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2007 Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout. He led the Bulldogs in the championship game with game-highs of 23 points and seven assists. He also scored 23 points in Butler's semifinals win over Virginia Tech, while posting 14 points and eight assists against Michigan. Green finished second in the tournament in scoring (60) and third in assists (20). He was named Carrs/Safeway Player of the Game in Butler's wins over Michigan and Texas Tech.

Mike Green is this week's Sporting News National Player of the Week.

TOURNAMENT HONORS: Butler placed three players on the 2007 Great Alaska Shootout All-Tournament Team. In addition to tournament Most Outstanding Player Mike Green, the Bulldogs landed seniors Pete Campbell and A. J. Graves on the 10-player honor squad selected by members of the media. Campbell, who was named Carrs/Safeway Player of the Game after Butler's victory over Virginia Tech, finished as the third-leading scorer in the tournament with 56 points, while Graves wound up fifth with 52 points.

FAMILY TIES: Former Butler player Thad Matta was hired as an assistant basketball coach at Butler by then head coach and now Director of Athletics Barry Collier in 1997. Matta succeeded Collier as Butler's head coach in 2000-01, and two of the people he hired for his staff were assistant coach John Groce and director of basketball operations Brad Stevens. The 2000-01 Butler team included standout guard Brandon Miller. Matta and Groce left for Xavier in 2001-02, and Stevens was promoted to assistant coach at Butler. In 2004, Miller accepted a position on Matta's staff at Ohio State. Last spring, Collier named Stevens head coach at Butler and Miller returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach.

PERFECT START: Brad Stevens became the second consecutive Butler coach to begin his coaching career with six straight victories. Current Iowa head coach Todd Lickliter won his first six 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, before becoming Butler's head coach last spring.

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.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Butler was the top scoring team at the Great Alaska Shootout (81.3 ppg).

•A. J. Graves hit 15 three-point field goals at the Great Alaska Shootout, boosting his career total to 237. He stands second on Butler's all-time list for three-pointers, 77 behind all-time leader and former teammate Bruce Horan (2002-06).

•A. J. Graves, who scored 18 points in Butler's victory over Texas Tech, has moved into 10th place on Butler's all-time scoring list with 1,455 career points. He's 30 points shy of Jon Neuhouser, 1994-98, in ninth place.

•A. J. Graves has scored in double-figures in 14 straight games, dating back to last season. He has scored in double-figures in 81 of 102 career games.

•Guard Mike Green topped 1,200 points in career scoring at the Great Alaska Shootout. He boosted his career scoring total to 1,233 points (641 at Towson and 592 at Butler).

•Mike Green topped all players at the Great Alaska Shootout in three-point field goal percentage, hitting seven of the eight (.875) three-pointers he attempted.

•Forward Pete Campbell led the Great Alaska Shootout in three-point field goals made (17). He was one shy of the tournament record, set by Quinton Day of Missouri-Kansas City last year.

•The seven three-point field goals that Pete Campbell hit in Butler's victory over Virginia Tech were the second-highest single game total of his Butler career. He hit eight three-pointers against Cleveland State last January.

•Forward Matt Howard had 12 points and 12 rebounds in Butler's victory over Michigan. He became the first Butler freshman to record a double-double since 1998-99, when Rylan Hainje posted 16 points and 10 rebounds in a double-overtime victory over Wright State. The last Butler freshman to record a double-double in regulation play was Jon Neuhouser, who had 18 points and 10 rebounds against Wright State in 1995.

•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 wins over Virginia Tech and Texas Tech. Veasley had four points, two rebounds, one assist and one steal in eight minutes against the Hokies, before adding two points and two rebounds in eight minutes against Texas Tech.

•Butler head coach Brad Stevens has named all five seniors, Julian Betko, Drew Streicher, A. J. Graves, Mike Green and Pete Campbell, as his team captains for 2007-08.

•Julian Betko and Mike Green were in Butler's starting lineup for the 42nd consecutive game against Texas Tech. A. J. Graves made his 96th career start for the Bulldogs.

•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.