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Howard, Graves lead Butler past Illinois-Chicago

Jan 26, 2008 - 10:32 PM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Freshman Matt Howard and A.J. Graves helped Butler continue its dominance at home.

Howard scored 20 points and Graves added 16 as the 14th-ranked Bulldogs had little trouble with Illinois-Chicago on Saturday, rolling to a 73-57 victory in a Horizon League contest.

Butler (19-2, 8-2 Horizon) is now 8-0 at home this season and has gone 104-14 at Hinkle Fieldhouse since the 1999-2000 campaign.

"We gave it a good effort," UIC coach Jimmy Collins said. "Butler's a scrappy team. They're going to make you run; they're going to make you do what they want you to do, and they do it well."

The Bulldogs took charge early, opening a 17-5 lead just over six minutes in. Graves keyed the early run with a pair of layups along with a 3-pointer.

"I'm not concerned about my shots," Graves said. "I'm not concerned about anything but winning."

Illinois-Chicago (10-10, 4-5) got within 19-12 midway through the first half on a jumper by Robert Kreps.

Graves and Pete Campbell countered with 3-pointers as the Bulldogs regained their double-digit lead at 25-14 with nine minutes left.

The Flames got within single digits at 37-30 on a 3-pointer from Josh Mayo less than a minute before halftime. But Julian Betko buried a pair of 3-pointers in the final 35 seconds to send Butler into the locker room ahead, 43-30.

"They gave us a great challenge," Graves said. "We just got some defensive stops. When you come away with defensive stops and make some plays on the offensive end, you're going to win some ballgames."

Illinois-Chicago narrowed its deficit to 52-44 eight minutes into the second half on back-to-back layups from Karl White Jr.

Butler responded with a 3-pointer by Graves and six straight points from Howard to regain control.

Graves finished 6-of-15 from the field, including 4-of-12 on 3-pointers. He also had two assists and a steal and matched his season high with five rebounds.

"Everybody wants (A.J.) to do well," Butler coach Brad Stevens said. "I've said all along A.J.'s value is not just in making shots. It doesn't surprise me he's able to do all the other things."

Mike Green added 15 points and Betko finished with 11 for Butler, which shot 52 percent (27-for-51) from the field.

Mayo paced the Flames with 19 points. Scott VanderMeer was the only other player for Illinois-Chicago to crack double digits, finishing with 12.

The Flames, who shot 46 percent (22-for-48), have now lost six of their last eight games.

"Butler invites you to drive, and then they help out," Collins said. "They invite you to shoot from the outside, and then they help and recover. Their defense is good, and if you rush your offense, you play right into their hands."

    --- --- -----
    ILLINOIS CHI 30 27 57
    BUTLER (14) 43 30 73 FINAL

    Jan 26 3:49 PM


    Jan 26 2:46 PM