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Red-hot Butler rolls over South Alabama

Mar 21, 2008 - 10:38 PM BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (Ticker) -- There was no slowing down Butler and Pete Campbell on Friday.

Campbell scored 20 of his 26 points in the first half as Butler rolled to an 81-61 victory over South Alabama in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The seventh seed in the East Regional, the Bulldogs (30-3) built a commanding 47-30 lead at the half against the 10th-seeded Jaguars (26-7), who received an at-large bid despite getting upset in the Sun Belt Conference tournament.

Campbell made 6-of-8 3-point attempts in the first half and sank both of his shots from behind the arc in the second half. As a team, Butler shot 58 percent (15-of-26) from the arc.

"We were just trying to run our offense and look for the best shot, and fortunately, some of them went down," Campbell said.

A.J. Graves added 18 points for the Bulldogs, who will meet second-ranked Tennessee in the second round on Sunday.

Campbell put the Bulldogs ahead for good at 24-23 on a jumper with 6:24 left before the half. He added four 3-pointers in the final minutes before the break as Butler closed with a 23-7 run.

"We started missing some shots, they started making some shots, we missed free throws, and I thought that we got down a little bit," South Alabama coach Ronnie Arrow said. "And they kept coming right at us."

Domonic Tilford opened the second half with consecutive baskets for the Jaguars to pull his team within 47-34.

"I thought that our guys had tremendous poise after they scored the first two baskets of the second half where we turned it over and they laid it in and it's not an ideal situation," Butler coach Brad Stevens said. "You don't want guys that are that talented to get going, but our guys really showed the poise and grit that they have showed all year."

Butler responded with six 3-pointers over the next six minutes to take a commanding 65-42 lead with just under 12 minutes remaining. Campbell and Graves each hit a pair from behind the arc during that run while Julian Betko and Mike Green also added 3-pointers.

Freshman Matt Howard had 11 points for Butler, which shot 51 percent (27-of-53) from the field.

"I don't think Butler did anything tricky on offense," Tilford said. "They just came out and hit shots. I would like to play them again but that is not going to happen. My hat is off to them because they played a great game."

Daon Merritt led South Alabama with 14 points. Daniel Hayles added nine for the Jaguars, who shot 44 percent (21-of-48) from the field.