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Graves, Butler hold form at home against Bradley

Dec 20, 2007 - 6:49 AM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- A.J. Graves kept Bradley searching for answers at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Graves scored 13 of his 21 points in the second half as 18th-ranked Butler continued its strong showing at home in capturing an 84-64 victory over the Braves on Wednesday.

Shaking off some early shooting woes, the senior guard and preseason Wooden Award candidate notched 20-plus points for the second straight game as the Bulldogs captured their ninth straight home win over the Braves.

While Graves went just 2-of-8 from the field in the first half, Bradley (7-4) also had its issues offensively in the opening 20 minutes. After tying the score at 17-17 on a jumper by Andrew Warren with 6:12 to play, the Braves went on to miss nine of their next 10 shots before the end of the first half.

Bradley also committed five of its 10 first-half turnovers during that span, enabling Butler to take a 34-19 lead at the break on the strength of a 17-2 run.

Despite the solid run, the Bulldogs had to do it without their normally dependable long-range shooting. Butler, which entered the game averaging a Horizon League-best 10.7 3-pointer, managed just two on nine attempts in the first half.

Graves and the Bulldogs warmed up from the arc after the break, going 6-of-10 over the final 20 minutes.

The Braves also entered the mid-major matchup as a highly-regarded 3-point shooting team, but ended up just 3-of-19 (16 percent) from the arc. They missed their first 11 attempts until Daniel Ruffin's successful shot cut their deficit to 47-33 just over six minutes into the second half.

The Bulldogs, who have won 26 of their 28 games at Hinkle Fieldhouse, extended the lead to 59-41 on a 3-pointer by Graves midway through the second half.

The Braves, whose previous two losses were to ranked opponents Vanderbilt and Michigan State, attempted to rally, closing within 59-53 after a pair of free throws by Matt Salley with 7:22 to play capped a 12-0 run.

Matt Howard answered back with a three-point play for Butler, which went on to push the lead back up to 74-56 with just over four minutes remaining behind a 15-3 spurt. Graves and Julian Betko both hit a 3-pointer during the burst.

Mike Green scored 17 points and Howard added 14 for the Bulldogs, who sank eight 3-pointers and went 23-of-28 (82 percent) at the free-throw line.

Butler did get a big boost from Pete Campbell, who returned to the team after missing three games with a knee sprain. The team's top 3-point shooter and second-leading scorer, the senior forward played just nine minutes, scoring three points.

Plagued by foul issues, leading scorer Ruffin had just 11 points for Bradley, which shot 39 percent (21-of-54) and committed 16 turnovers.

Tyrone Cole-Scott also had 11 points and Salley added 10 and 12 rebounds for the Braves, who finished tied in the battle on the boards at 32-32.

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    BRADLEY 19 45 64
    BUTLER (18) 34 49 83 FINAL

    Dec 19 9:09 PM

    BRADLEY 19

    Dec 19 7:55 PM