YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP)—Butler coach Todd Lickliter looked at the box score and shook his head over his team’s 10 turnovers.
Maybe it’s that kind of perfectionism that’s led to the Bulldogs’ best three months of basketball in school history.
Mike Green scored a season-high 23 points, Pete Campbell added a season-high 20 and No. 13 Butler won its seventh straight, beating Youngstown State 71-58 on Wednesday night.
The Bulldogs were playing their fourth game in seven days but didn’t look like it. They dominated the Penguins with their 3-point shooting in the first half, then attacked the rim in the second half with the same result.
With the victory, Butler (21-2, 9-1 Horizon League) surpassed the 20-win mark for just the third time. With No. 2 Wisconsin falling to Indiana, the Bulldogs are tied with the Badgers for the most wins in the nation.
Lickliter didn’t want his players to find out.
“We probably won’t be able to fit on that plane—big heads,” he said.
The Bulldogs had managed to go unscathed through one of the toughest portions of their schedule—four games in four states in seven days.
But Lickliter was still worrying about the 10 turnovers—a lot for a team that entered the game leading all Division I schools in fewest turnovers per game (9.7).
“We had lapses where we struggled, but we would on top of those build and so we didn’t collapse,” Lickliter said.
Quin Humphrey and Keston Roberts led Youngstown State (9-14, 4-7) with 17 points each. It was the third straight defeat for the Penguins, who lost 67-39 to Butler two weeks ago.
“It’s hard to play against them because you have to choose your poison,” Humphrey said. “You cut out the 3-point line and you’ve got Mike Green that’s going to penetrate. We tried to stop him and then there are shooters that are going to knock it down.”
Butler didn’t even need much help from A.J. Graves, who entered leading Butler with a 18.2-point average. He finished with 11 points on an off night shooting 3-for-10 from beyond the arc.
Green picked up the slack, leading Butler with seven rebounds and four assists. He shot 7-of-14 and was able to steady the Bulldogs as the Penguins tried to get back in it.
“I just did my job,” he said. “If they stopped me from getting to the rim, my job was to find guys.”
The Bulldogs shot 9-for-18 from 3-point range in the first half, then took it inside after the Penguins took away the perimeter.
“They switched everything so we had to try to dive and get to the basket,” Lickliter said.
Youngstown State got within 57-45 on Byron Davis’ 3-pointer with 9:01 left. But Campbell led Butler on a 7-0 run with a put back and a 3-pointer.
The Penguins started taking long-distance shots to mount a late comeback— symbolic of their night was John Barber’s 3-point attempt, which stuck between the rim and the backboard with 1:40 left.
Campbell came off the bench to hit four 3-pointers, hitting his first three attempts.
“He’s a shooter,” Humphrey said. “He got one on me in the second half. I was sure I got him. I got a hand in his face, then he hit it, I was like ‘wow.”’
Despite Butler’s impressive start, Wright State is just a game behind them in the Horizon League standings.
“We want to take care of business,” Green said. “If we’re going to win the league, we want it to be because of us. We don’t want to wait on somebody else.”
The Penguins put together an 8-0 run early to take a brief lead and get the crowd into it, but they missed some easy baskets and fell behind 39-23 at halftime.
Youngstown State has beaten only one ranked opponent in 18 tries, their lone win coming in 1952.