for this game

Graves' late-game heroics help Butler scrape by Illinois-Chicago

Feb 21, 2008 - 7:19 AM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Late in a tie game on the road, No. 8 Butler turned to its senior star to lead them to victory.

A.J. Graves scored five of his 14 points in the last 45 seconds to lift the Bulldogs to a 51-46 victory over Illinois-Chicago in a Horizon League battle on Wednesday.

Pete Campbell came off the bench and added 12 points for Butler (25-2, 14-2 Horizon), which suffered through a 38 percent (18-of-47) shooting effort to record its ninth straight win.

With the game deadlocked at 46-46 after Flames forward Jermaine Dailey completed a three-point play, Graves took a pass from Mike Green and nailed a 3-pointer to put the Bulldogs back on top, 49-46, with 45 ticks remaining.

Illinois-Chicago had a chance to tie with three seconds to play, but junior guard Josh Mayo missed a 3-point attempt and the Bulldogs grabbed the rebound. Graves hit a pair of free throws with one second left to seal the victory.

The Flames had an even worse night from the floor, shooting just 33 percent (18-of-54), including 2-of-14 from the arc.

"It was a good game but no cigar," Flames coach Jimmy Collins said to the Chicago Tribune.

"You're not going to win when you shoot 33 percent at home and two of your seniors (Robert Bush and Karl White Jr.) are 1-for-12."

Butler held its biggest lead of the second half at 25-19 after Julian Betko connected from the arc with 17:44 left in the game. The Flames responded with a 14-3 run to take a 33-28 advantage with 12:21 to play.

Mayo capped the run with back-to-back 3-pointers and finished the game with 15 points on 5-of-16 shooting to lead Illinois-Chicago.

"We were hyped for it and there was a lot of excitement," Mayo told the Tribune. "We just didn't finish."

But Zach Hahn hit a pair of 3-pointers to spark an 11-2 run for the Bulldogs, putting them back on top at 39-35 with 9:01 left in the game.

"Zach (Hahn) came in and made a couple of big threes and made a nice pass to Pete (Campbell) for a third one," Butler coach Brad Stevens said to the Tribune. "They stayed in that zone the entire night, even when we hit a couple. It was a great risk and it almost worked. The threes were all that was available.

"If you don't make shots you have to guard to stay in the game and that's what we did."

Butler finished 13-of-37 from the arc (35 percent), taking just 10 shots from inside the arc and attempting only three free throws.

The Flames took another brief lead at 43-42 with 4:37 left, but Graves was just too much down the stretch.

Daily finished with 13 points on 6-of-6 shooting and eight rebounds for Illinois-Chicago, which has now lost three straight.

"I left everything out there on the floor because this was my last home game, and it was senior night," Dailey told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I only wish we could all play that way every game."

Butler will try to push its winning streak to an even 10 games when it host 18th-ranked Drake on Saturday.