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Graves' buzzer-beater lifts Butler over Southern Illinois

Dec 29, 2007 - 6:11 AM CARBONDALE, Illinois (Ticker) -- Despite having one of his worst shooting games of the season, A.J. Graves made the shot that counted.

Graves' deep 3-pointer as time expired lifted No. 17 Butler to a dramatic 57-55 victory over Southern Illinois on Friday.

The Bulldogs' leading scorer, Graves was just 2-of-10 from the field when he received the inbounds pass in the backcourt with six seconds left and his team down two points.

The senior guard dribbled up the middle of the floor before crossing over to his left more than 10 feet beyond the arc. Graves then hoisted up a shot that rattled around the rim, hit the backboard and went in as the horn sounded, giving Butler (12-1) its fourth straight victory.

Graves finished 2-of-6 from the arc and added a season-high five rebounds as the Bulldogs have won 12 of their first 13 games for the second consecutive season.

Mike Green scored 19 points to lead Butler, which overcame an extended drought from the floor for much of the second half.

The Bulldogs never trailed by more than five points during the second half despite going without a field goal for nearly 14 minutes. They converted 10-of-14 from the foul line during that span and Green's free throw tied the game at 47-47 with 4:49 remaining.

Pete Campbell broke a string of 11 straight missed shots with a 3-pointer to give Butler a 50-47 lead with 3:01 to play.

Tied at 52-52, Wesley Clemmons gave the Salukis the lead on a 3-pointer with 1:02 left to play. Green made a layup for Butler with 33 seconds left and Southern Illinois had a free throw violation to set the stage for Graves.

Matt Howard chipped in 15 points and Graves finished with 10 for the Bulldogs, who were defeated at home by Southern Illinois, 68-64, on February 17 last season.

Butler shot over 50 percent in the first half but was 6-of-20 (30 percent) from the field in the second half. However, the Bulldogs outscored the Salukis, 21-3, in made free throws for the game.

After trailing by four points early, Butler went on a 14-1 run to take a 15-7 advantage with 13:07 left in the first half.

Southern Illinois answered late in the first half with a 12-2 spurt of its own to take a 27-23 lead with 4:27 left in the half. But the Bulldogs came back behind 3-pointers from Graves and Campbell and led, 31-29, at the break.

The Salukis scored the first six points of the second half and held a slim margin for most of the final 20 minutes. Joshua Bone's fourth 3-pointer of the game gave Southern Illinois its largest lead at 44-39 with 11:30 left to play.

Bone finished with a career-high 19 points and Randal Falker added 14 and seven rebounds for the Salukis (5-6), who made only 3-of-12 from the free-throw line and were 6-of-20 from the arc for the game.

Leading scorer Matt Shaw went scoreless for Southern Illinois, missing all seven of his shots from the field and both of his attempts from the foul line.