December 18, 2007

Butler Hosts Bradley In Pre-Holiday Tilt

Dec. 18, 2007

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HOLIDAY TREAT: Butler will wrap up its pre-Christmas, home schedule on Wednesday, Dec. 19, with a match-up worthy of any basketball fan's holiday wish list. Bradley brings a 7-3 record, including wins in three of its last four outings, to Hinkle Fieldhouse for the 7 p.m. (ET) contest against the 9-1 Bulldogs. The game will be Butler's first at home since Dec. 1, when the Bulldogs defeated Ohio State in front of a sold-out crowd. Bradley is coming off a 72-65 overtime victory at Wright State, the site of Butler's lone setback this year. The Braves also own victories over Iowa and Iowa State this season and have posted two straight road wins over teams from the Horizon League. Two of Bradley's three losses have come to "Top 25" teams Michigan State and Vanderbilt. Butler ended a week layoff for final exams with a 79-68 victory over Florida State at the Wooden Tradition in Indianapolis on Saturday, Dec. 15. It was Butler's fifth win this year over a team from the ACC, Big Ten or Big 12. Butler will be playing in Hinkle Fieldhouse for just the third time this season.

The Bulldogs have won 25 of their last 27 games in Hinkle Fieldhouse.

POLL CLIMBING: The Bulldogs moved up to No. 16 in the Associated Press men's basketball poll and to No. 18 in the ESPN/USA Today poll, following last weekend's victory over Florida State in the Wooden Tradition. The new ranking represented a jump of two spots in the A.P. poll and one position in the ESPN/USA Today poll. The Bulldogs have been ranked in the A.P. poll for six straight weeks and in both polls for five 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. The Bulldogs were nationally-ranked for a school- and league-record 16 consecutive weeks.

Butler has been ranked in the Top 20 for 20 weeks since November of 2006.

ADDITIONAL POLLING: The Bulldogs are ranked second in The CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25. Butler is ranked No. 16 in both the ESPN Power 16 and the CollegeHoops.net Top 50.

REPEAT PERFORMANCE: The Bulldogs became just the second team to win more than one Wooden Tradition trophy and the first to claim wins in consecutive years when they defeated Florida State in this year's event. Sparked by senior guard A. J. Graves, Butler opened a 38-30 halftime lead and then held off the Seminoles behind some clutch free throw shooting in the second half. Graves led all scorers with 25 points, while backcourt mate Mike Green helped seal the decision by hitting nine of nine free throws in the final two minutes. A year ago, Butler defeated Purdue 68-65, to claim its first Wooden Tradition trophy. The Boilermakers picked up their third Wooden trophy in seven appearances with a victory over Louisville in the first game of this year's doubleheader.

Butler improved to 6-2 all-time in Conseco Fieldhouse.

COMFORT ZONE: Senior A. J. Graves, who scored just 14 total points in his previous two games, led all players on the four teams in this year's Wooden Tradition with his 25-point performance. He hit eight of 18 shots against the Seminoles, including a Wooden Tradition record seven three-point field goals. The previous record of five three-pointers was held by Deron Williams of Illinois (`04), Tarquan Dean of Louisville (`03) and J. J. Redick of Duke (`02). Graves' effort wasn't completely unexpected. In his last four games in Conseco Fieldhouse, the Butler scoring leader has averaged 24.5 points!

CHARITY FIRST: Senior Mike Green turned in his third-highest scoring performance of the season with 20 points against Florida State, and half of his points came from the free throw line. Green, who made just three of six free throw attempts in Butler's previous two games, cashed a season-best 10 of 11 attempts from the charity stripe against the Seminoles. He scored 11 of Butler's final 13 points in the game, including nine from the free throw line.

Mike Green made a Butler-record 196 free throws a year ago.

LOOKING DEEP: The Bulldogs, coming off a two-game road trip in which they hit just 10 of 40 three-point field goal attempts, found the target from the three-point arc against Florida State. Butler hit 11 three-pointers in the win and out-scored the Seminoles, 33-15, from three-point range. It was the sixth time this season that the Bulldogs hit at least 10 three-point field goals in a game.

Butler ranks fourth in Division I in three-point field goals (10.7).

GIVE AND TAKE: Butler committed a season-high 15 turnovers against Florida State, but the Bulldogs helped offset that total by matching their season-high with 10 steals in the game. The Bulldogs are ranked second in the NCAA Division I in fewest turnovers per game (10.6). A year ago, Butler ended the season as the Division I national leader in fewest turnovers per game (9.5).

ROSTER ADDITION: The Bulldogs will have a new player in uniform when they take the floor against Bradley. Avery Jukes, who transferred to Butler from Alabama last January, is now eligible with the conclusion of the first semester. A 6-8 forward, Jukes played in just three games at Alabama last year, before transferring to Butler. He was an all-state performer at South Gwinnett High School in Georgia.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Senior forward Drew Streicher tied a Wooden Tradition record with four steals against Florida State. He joined Chris Kramer of Purdue (`07), Luther Head of Illinois (`04) and Clarence Gilbert of Missouri (`01) in the event record book.

•Butler is leading the Horizon League in scoring defense (55.7), turnover margin (+4.20), fewest turnovers (10.6), assist/turnover ratio (1.25) and three-point field goals (10.70).

•Senior guard A. J. Graves is ranked 11th in the NCAA Division I in three-point field goals per game (4.0). He ranks first in the Horizon League in three-pointers.

•A. J. Graves is second on Butler's all-time list for three-point field goals with 248, 66 behind all-time leader and former teammate Bruce Horan (2002-06).

•A. J. Graves has moved into ninth place on Butler's all-time scoring list with 1,508 career points. He's 23 points shy of Wayne Burris, 1973-77, in eighth place. Graves is the 39th player in Horizon League history to reach the 1,500-point plateau.

•A. J. Graves posted his 22nd career 20-point scoring performance in Butler's win over Florida State. He's scored in double-figures in 83 of 106 career games.

•A. J. Graves made his 100th career start in the Wooden Tradition.

•Guards A. J. Graves and Mike Green each turned in a 20-point scoring performance against Florida State, marking the third time in their 44 games as Butler's starting backcourt that both players tallied at least 20 points. Earlier this year, Green and forward Pete Campbell each had in a 20-point scoring performance against Virginia Tech.

•Mike Green has scored 1,283 points during his collegiate career (641 at Towson and 642 at Butler).

•Mike Green stands second in the Horizon League in assists (4.80). He had a team-high three assists against Florida State.

•Pete Campbell, Butler's third-leading scorer, has missed Butler's last three games with a sprained knee suffered in Butler's victory over Ohio State. No time line has been set for his return.

•Pete Campbell was leading the Horizon League in three-point field goals (4.0) prior to his injury.

•Freshman Matt Howard ranks second in the Horizon League in field goal percentage (.606). He's connected on 26 of his last 40 (.650) field goal attempts. Howard also ranks 10th in the league in free throw shooting (.762).

•Matt Howard has scored in double-figures in four of his last five outings, including a career-high 23 points against Ohio State in his last appearance in Hinkle Fieldhouse.

•Matt Howard is ranked third in the Horizon League in offensive rebounds (2.50), and he's tied for 11th in the league in total rebounds (5.6).

•Julian Betko and Mike Green were in Butler's starting lineup for the 46th consecutive game against Florida State.