INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- A.J. Graves and Butler's Bulldogs went inside for a change to beat Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Graves scored 20 points, Mike Green added 14 points and nine rebounds, and the No. 13 Bulldogs finished their busiest stretch of the season with a 66-47 victory over Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Saturday."I got some open looks today," said Graves, who has a team-high 71 long-range baskets this season. "Sometimes guys just want to deny me out to half-court, which is fine. I'll go set screens and we can move the ball other ways, and other guys can score."Graves hit 2 of 8 shots from behind the arc. As a team, the Bulldogs were 6-of-18, including 1-of-8 in the second half."You have to be able to balance it and remain patient," Butler coach Todd Lickliter said of the inside-outside shooting. "A.J. had some good looks. Some of it was, yes, they defended it well, but some of it was good looks that just didn't go down."The Bulldogs (22-2, 10-1 Horizon League), playing their fifth game in 10 days, scored the first nine points of the game. They raced to a 34-18 lead at the half, built it to as many as 24 points early in the final period and were never threatened after that.It was Butler's eighth consecutive win and 20th in a row at home."The focus was where it needed to be," Lickliter said. "Their system is such that it's very deliberate. They're very patient, very skilled, they isolate people, and it takes a lot of focus and team commitment to be able to defend it."The Panthers (8-17, 5-7) were led by Ricky Franklin with 17 points. They shot 35.3 percent and scored a season-low 47 points, and fell to 1-11 on the road this season.Unlike the earlier meeting in Milwaukee, a five-point Butler win in which Graves had all 14 of his points in the second half, the Butler guard had 12 in the first half in the rematch, including both of his 3-pointers."You have a team that's played a lot of games and then they come home and just take care of business," Wisconsin-Milwaukee coach Rob Jeter said."Graves is a constant, but it's always someone else who steps up," he said. "We couldn't establish anything inside."The Panthers' two leading scorers for the season, Avery Smith and Paige Paulsen, combined for 38 points in the earlier loss to the Bulldogs but did not have a point in the first half and finished with 5 and 10, respectively.Pete Campbell added 9 points for Butler, all on 3-pointers. Besides Franklin and Paulsen, no one else had more than 5 points for Wisconsin-Milwaukee."We weren't cutting as hard as we usually do," said Franklin, who finished one point off his career-high. "I was just trying to be aggressive and to keep attacking."The win continued Butler's domination in Hinkle Fieldhouse, where the Bulldogs have won six conference games by an average margin of 25 points.The first half was one of spurts; Butler's were longer and came more often.After the Bulldogs' 9-0 run at the start, Milwaukee scored the next eight before Butler broke the game open with a 10-0 run, including 3-pointers by Green and Campbell.Franklin, who had 12 of the Panthers' 18 points in the first half, cut Butler's lead to 19-11 with a 3-pointer. But the Bulldogs then finished the half with a 15-7 run, including another 3-pointer by Campbell and two by Graves.Butler scored the first eight points of the second half to take a 42-18 lead before Milwaukee scored its lone field goal of the first 8 minutes after halftime.The third trey by Campbell, who was 3-of-5 from long range and leads the Horizon League in 3-point percentage, gave Butler a 47-23 lead. The Panthers closed within 16 points midway through the period before the Bulldogs pulled away for good.