INDIANAPOLIS – When a team comes into your arena and shoots 54 percent for the game, including 60 percent from 3-point land, the home team’s fans quite often go home sad.
But not today, as the visiting University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Phoenix (10-9, 2-4 HL) posted those numbers and still went home with a loss as Butler extended their home court winning streak to 19 games, winning 80-59.
The Bulldogs also did a superb job of shooting too, hitting 52.5 percent from the field, 60.9 percent from 3-point land and a scorching 96 percent (24-25) from the foul line.
A very loose and jovial Todd Lickliter, the Butler Coach, explained after the game the Bulldogs better-than-usual shooting by saying that he demonstrated a new move to his team this week in practice and that Drew Streitcher imitated it today on the baseline in the game.
After a good laugh by everyone in the media room, Lickliter said that the team didn’t do anything different in terms of strategy.
“I think that guys are very comfortable, we emphasized passing the ball with better precision. I think that has been important,” explained Lickliter. “I think the key to shooting is technique and the time you spend shooting. Then it is shooting good shots”
Butler’s A. J. Graves played 36 minutes and scored 26 points to lead all scorers. Graves who had his wisdom teeth pulled a few days ago, played just 13 minutes in Butler’s 67-39 victory over Youngstown State. He said he just started eating solid foods yesterday. So his scoring outburst, which included 5-8 from 3-point land was not expected.
The game started off with a lot of scoring and a lot of fouls by both teams.
When a technical foul was called on the Butler’s bench at the 13:12 mark in the first half Green Bay’s Mike Schachtner made both free throws to give the Phoenix their biggest lead of the game at five points making it 14-9.
Then Graves went to work sinking a 3-pointer at the 12:59 mark followed by a jump shot, four free throws and another 3-pointer.
At half time Graves had 21 points and Butler led 45-26.
“I thought it was a five to eight minute stretch in the first half when we got stuck on 16 points,” explained Green Bay Coach Tod Kowaczyk “It seemed like forever, where I thought we played a little bit panicked and that five to eight minute stretch was really the game..
It was actually 5:85 seconds where Butler went from being down 16-14 to leading 26-16. Graves hit a jumper and the four fouls shots, Mike Green hit a foul shot and Willie Veasley made two free throws.
In the second half Butler (17-2, 51 HL) kept on scoring and so did Green Bay, but with Butler’s “eat up the clock offense” and pressure on defense, they prevented the Phoenix from getting enough shots off to close the gap.
The closest Green Bay got to Butler was 13 points at the 11:59 mark when Troy Cotton made a 3-point shot to cut the score to 54-41.
Green Bay’s senior guard Ryan Evanochko came in averaging 15.2 ppg and after a quiet first half that saw him score three points, he ended up scoring 18 points more points to finish with 21 points.
No other Green Bay players scored in double figures.
One other interesting statistic is that Butler out-rebounded the Phoenix 19-18. When both teams shoot high percentages there are not that many rebounds to grab.
For the Bulldogs Pete Campbell scored 14 points and Brandon Crone scored 13 points.
After the game Kowalczyk thought this team was comparable to 2000-2001 team that went to the NCAA Tournament and finished 24-8.
“Their spacing is so good and their skill level is so good that if you make a rotation, well typically if you make a rotation more times than not you rotate to a good player and they pitch it out to a non-shooter. It seemed like every time they have a player deep in the corner that can make a good shot.”
*Poll watch………The Bulldogs are 15th in the ESPN/USA Today Poll and 18th in the Associated Press Poll.
*Ratings game…..The Bulldogs sit at 17th in the RPI, 11th in the Sagarin and 17th in the CollegeHoops.net Top 50 Power Ranking.
*Butler leads the all-time series 22-13.
*House Rules……Butler has won 19 consecutive games at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse including eight this season. The Bulldogs have won 89 of the last 100 games played in the Fieldhouse. The Bulldogs’ home court winning streak is the ninth-longest active home court winning streak in NCAA Division I.
*Former Wright State Coach Ed Schilling was in attendance at today’s game sitting next to his father Butler Hall of Famer Big Ed Schilling up in the Crow’s Nest
*Green Bay’s next game is at home on January 24th against UIC at 7 p. m.
*Butler’s next game is at Loyola on January 25th at 7 p.m.