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Graves, 3-point shooting lift Butler past Old Dominion

Mar 16, 2007 - 3:31 AM BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) -- A.J. Graves and Butler used the 3-pointer to achieve their record-setting season. That approach did not change in the NCAA Tournament.

Graves made three 3-pointers and scored 18 points as fifth-seeded Butler used a second-half surge to post a 57-46 victory over No. 12 seed Old Dominion in the first round of the Midwest Region.

Mike Green added 14 points, including two 3-pointers, for the Bulldogs (28-6), who set a school record for most wins in a season while receiving their highest seed in the NCAA Tournament.

"It's very exciting, it's a sense of pride," Butler forward Brandon Crone said. "We struggled my first two years here so getting back to where this program belongs (is great). We feel very capable with the players we have and the system to get back here every year."

Butler next will face fourth-seeded Maryland, which was an 82-70 winner over Davidson earlier Thursday.

"I know they're physical, they're very well coached and skilled on the perimeter," Butler coach Todd Lickliter said. "Obviously they have better size than us and we just have to find a way to compete with them and I know that how difficult that will be. They've been a great team down the stretch, one of the best teams in America." A squad that averages just less than nine 3-pointers per game, Butler became an early-season darling as it knocked off Purdue, Indiana, North Carolina and Gonzaga en route to winning the NIT Season Tip-off.

However, the Bulldogs struggled toward the end of the season, losing four of their last eight games to lose out on the Horizon League regular-season and tournament championships to Wright State.

Those struggles appeared to continue into the NCAAs as Graves and Butler managed to shoot 2-of-11 from the arc in the first half to trail at the break, 20-19.

"We were anxious in the first half and we shot some that were a little too deep," Lickliter said. "I thought we were much more patient in the second half and I was very pleased to see that."

The Bulldogs remained down in the second half, 32-29, after Valdas Vasylius hit a 3-pointer for the Monarchs (24-9) with 12:19 remaining. That shot appeared to wake up Butler, which ripped off a 17-0 run over the next six minutes, making five 3-pointers.

Graves knotted the score at 32-32 with a shot from the arc with 11:16 left before Pete Campbell added three in a row. The Bulldogs finished 9-of-24 (38 percent) from long range.

"The first time they just kind of lost me," said Campbell, who entered the tournament making 51 percent (71-of-138) of his 3-pointers. "The next two plays were called for me out of timeouts."

"Pete's been doing that all year," Crone said. "He's come out and hit big shot after big shot so we feed off that. Once Pete gets going, the other team begins to focus on him and it opens things up for everyone else."

For Old Dominion coach Blaine Taylor, Campbell's hot streak brought to life his worst fear.

"I warned the kids before the game that we could compete with their guards but I was worried one of their big guys would make some jumpers and that would be the difference and that's exactly what turned out," he said.

While Butler started to sizzle, Old Dominion went flat, failing to record a basket for more than seven minutes until freshman Gerald Lee's jumper made it 46-34 with 5:02 left.

"I guess we have to execute a little more, be a little more patient," said Monarchs forward Arnaud Dahi, who finished with 10 points on 3-of-8 shooting. "I thought we got a little anxious when they went up."

Green also had 10 rebounds and Crone scored 12 points for Butler, which is attempting to match the run to the regional semifinals under Lickliter in 2003.

Brandon Johnson finished with 11 points for the Monarchs, who shot 33 percent (18-of-55) in losing in the first round for the third straight time dating to 1997.

The 6-9 Lee posted the best game of his season, finishing with 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting and grabbing a career-high 11 rebounds - including six offensive.

Despite the effort by Lee, Old Dominion lost the battle on the boards, 35-34, against a Butler team that averaged 1.2 less rebounds than its opponent.