INDIANAPOLIS (AP)—Butler coach Brad Stevens likes the way his team is winning.
A.J. Graves scored 26 points and No. 25 Butler beat Indiana State 76-48 on Wednesday night.
Less than a week after defeating Ball State, which slows the game and plays halfcourt ball, the Bulldogs beat Indiana State, a more athletic team that presses and pushes the tempo.
“I’m excited because it’s the early part of the season, and we won two different ways playing two completely different styles,” Stevens said. “The guys embraced it.”
Indiana State (1-1) had been a thorn for Butler. The Sycamores gave the Bulldogs their first loss last year, and had won the previous three meetings. This time, the Bulldogs claimed their largest victory margin in the series since the 1959-60 season.
Butler (2-0) shot 53 percent from the field, including 12 of 23 3-pointers, and the Bulldogs outscored the Sycamores 49-34 in the second half.
Graves, a senior guard, shot 8-for-12 from the field and made six 3-pointers. Five different Butler players made 3-pointers, and seven different players took at least one shot from beyond the arc. All are capable shooters, making the Bulldogs tough to defend.
“When you’re playing a team like Butler, you need to fly around, you need to continue to talk and try to get to the shooters,” Indiana State coach Kevin McKenna said.
Butler’s efficient passing and shooting accuracy rendered Indiana State’s defensive gameplan useless.
“They did a good job of moving the ball,” McKenna said. “We tried to do the best we could defensively. We tried to mix zone and man. It kind of got away from us.”
Mike Green had 15 points and eight rebounds and Pete Campbell added 11 points and seven rebounds for the Bulldogs.
Jay Tunnell and Gabriel Moore both scored 10 points to lead Indiana State.
“We’ve got a lot we need to improve, because we’re not ready,” Moore said. “No disrespect to Butler, but I don’t think they’re that much better than us.”
Butler led 27-14 at halftime before Tunnell scored six straight points to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 32-23. Graves responded with a 3-pointer to make it 35-23 with 16 minutes left.
Indiana State’s Cole Holstrom made two 3-pointers to drop Butler’s lead to 44-34, but the Bulldogs scored the next 10 points to seize control for good with just under 9 minutes to play. Butler took a 70-38 lead on a 3-pointer by Zach Hahn with 3:17 to go.
Graves was held to 11 points in the season opener, but he had 12 at halftime against the Sycamores.
Indiana State was called for two shot-clock violations in the first six minutes and missed 14 of its first 16 shots.
The Sycamores cut Butler’s lead to 11-8 on a 3-pointer by Adam Arnold before Butler went on a 16-4 run that included four 3-pointers to take a 27-12 lead.
Butler made five 3-pointers in the first half. The Bulldogs shot 10 for 22 from the field while the Sycamores shot 5 for 24 in the first 20 minutes.
Moore was impressed with the Bulldogs, and said they are a notch above last year’s team that reached the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament.
“They’re better than last year,” he said. “Same style, but they’re just one year better.”