INDIANAPOLIS (AP)—Pete Campbell knows how to rise to the occasion.
In his final regular-season game at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday, the senior forward had 24 points on a career-high eight 3-pointers, helping No. 14 Butler cruise to a 65-31 victory over Detroit.
Campbell, along with Butler’s other four seniors, left the game to a standing ovation late in the second half.
The fans “always help when they’re being supportive,” Campbell said. “It’s like another guy on the court, that’s why you love playing at home.”
Mike Green finished with 11 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists for the Bulldogs (27-3, 16-2 Horizon League), who won for the 11th time in 12 games. Their only loss during the stretch came Feb. 23 against No. 20 Drake.
Butler clinched the Horizon League regular-season title with its win over Wright State on Thursday, and earned an automatic berth to the semifinals of the conference tournament March 8 at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Campbell said it was important for the Bulldogs to build momentum heading into the postseason.
“That’s something we definitely talked about,” he said. “We didn’t want to come out, lay an egg and then have to think about it for a whole week (before) the conference tournament. We looked at it as a challenge.”
Butler clearly stepped up to the challenge, taking a 16-3 lead following consecutive 3-pointers from Campbell, who was 4-of-7 from beyond the arc in the first half and had 12 points.
“Once he hits a couple, you really need to find him,” Bulldogs coach Brad Stevens said. “Finding Pete is a positive thing because he can go on a run.”
Detroit cut the deficit to 25-18 on Josh Samarco’s basket before halftime, but that’s as close as the Titans would get.
Butler started the second half with a 15-4 run, taking a 40-22 lead with 15 minutes left. All the Bulldogs’ points came on 3-pointers, including three by Campbell.
Minutes later, Campbell hit his eighth 3 of the game to extend the lead to 43-25.
“He’s one of the best shooters in college basketball,” Detroit interim head coach Kevin Mondro said. “I love watching him play, but don’t like competing against him.”
With the game in hand, Stevens decided to rest his starters for the final 10 minutes, leaving Green one assist short of Butler’s first triple-double since 1984.
Green said he didn’t lobby for extra playing time down the stretch.
“There will be other opportunities,” he said, referring to the Horizon League and NCAA tournaments. “It’s not a big deal.”
Chris Hayes had nine points and six rebounds, and Eulis Stephens added eight points for the Titans (7-22, 3-15), who lost their fourth straight.
“We fought back in the first half, but it was the beginning of the second half that did us in,” Mondro said. “Their lead went from seven to 16 very quickly.”
Butler hadn’t held an opponent to 31 or fewer points since beating Canterbury 52-30 during the 1947-48 season.
“Defense should be a given for us,” Butler forward Drew Streicher said. “That’s something we’ve got to hang our hat on every game.”