DAYTON – On their home court, the Ervin J. Nutter Center, better known as the Nutt House, Wright State seems to really rise to the occasion on the rare nights that a ranked team comes to play.
On March 4, 1994 Wright State pulled out a huge upset over the 25th ranked Xavier Musketeers 71-70 on an improbable shot at the buzzer.
Then on December 30, 1999 a 2-8 Raider team beat the 8th ranked team in the country. That upset was a 53-49 win over the eventual national champions………Michigan State.
Tonight it happened again as Wright State kept their home court winning streak alive over ranked teams as the beat the 10th ranked Butler Bulldogs 77-65.
Tonight it was DaShaun Wood who after scoring just seven points in the first half exploded for 23 points in the second half to lead all scorers with 30 points and he threw in six assists for good measure.
Leading 35-27 at the half Wright State (19-8, 12-2 HL) pushed it to an 11 point led when Drew Burleson hit a jumper and was fouled by Brandon Crone. He made the shot and it was 38-27.
Butler (23-4, 11-2 HL) then rolled up their sleeves and went to work.
Crone stole the ball from Wood and drove into make a lay up. Then Butler’s Mike Green made a lay up to make it 40-33.
Burleson fouled Crone attempting to get a rebound and he hit the first foul shot and missed the second shot to get a point closer.
Crone then popped in a long 3-pointer and in less than four minutes the Bulldogs had cut Wright State’s lead to just three points.
The Raiders again worked the lead back up to nine points when at the 11:14 mark Wood made two fouls shots to make it 50-41.
But the Bulldogs were not dead yet.
With 3;28 left in the game Butler’s Pete Campbell hit a 3-pointer to again cut the lead to three points at 62-59.
Enter Wood who immediately hit a 3-pointer to stop the bleeding and get the score up to 65-59.
Less than a minute later Green fouls Wood and he hits both foul shots to make it 67-59.
Just 15 seconds later Wood gets fouled again by A. J Graves and he hits two more foul shots to make it a 10 point lead at 69-59.
For the last two minutes Butler never got closer than eight points.
Wright State Coach Brad Brownell thought the loud crowd was a factor tonight.
“It gave us a little extra boost every once in awhile when we would go through a little cold spell or Butler would make a slight run. It always helps to know you have people behind you, Said Brownell. “We have been playing good basketball for awhile now and I am just pleased that people can come out and see it.”
Graves who is touted as a Wooden Award Candidate had a tough night. He was just 3-16 in shooting and he was just 1-9 from three point land. Graves who leads the country in free throw percentage at 97.1 even missed a free throw tonight.
In the first half Butler lead by as many as six points on two occasions before the Raiders finally grabbed the lead for good when Wood made a 3-pointer with 1:31 left to make it 29-27.
With 54 seconds left Vaughn Duggins hit a 3-pointer and then just as the buzzer went off Will Graham launched a 3-pointer from deep in the corner that somehow just kissed the glass and dropped in to give Wright State a 35-27 lead.
“At the start of the game everyone is going to focus on DeShaun. He is a great player and he draws a lot of attention on defense. We just get the ball to him, they were helping on him on defense, he was just kicking it back to me and I was wide open, hitting shots,” explained Burleson who had 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The Raiders shot an amazing 54.5 percent (24-44) while Butler launched a lot more shots but only shot 36.1 percent (22-61) including a miserable 19.2 percent (5-26) from 3-point land.
Butler Coach Todd Lickliter thought it was a combination of missing good shots and taking some bad shots or forced shots.
“It was a combination where we missed a few good and we got anxious. I thought we took some that were really hurried. I think we were really anxious. Quite possibly because maybe we couldn’t get a good look,” said Lickliter.
For Butler Drone scored 17 points, Green scored 13 and Graves had 10 points.
*Tonight’s crowd of 10,827 was the largest crowd in Nutter Center history as it just eclipsed the old record of 10,803 against Dayton on January 8, 1994 back when they used to play the annual Gem City Jam.
* Burleson acknowledged the crowd as a key part of the equation tonight. “The crowd tonight, they were electric. It is an unbelievable feeling to play in that kind of atmosphere. My hat is off to everyone who came out tonight. I want to thank them for that,” said Burleson.
*The ratings game…..Butler is ranking number 30 in the RPI, number 10 in the Sagarin ratings and number 11 in the CollegeHoops.net Power 50 Rating.
*Poll Climbing…number 10 in the AP Poll and number nine in the ESPN/USA Today Poll.
*At the pre-game shoot-around earlier today Butler kept with their end-of-practice tradition; before they can leave and go back to the hotel someone had to hit a half court shot. The shooters are usually the managers and coaches. Today it went on for awhile. Butler SID Jim McGrath was rooting for Director of Basketball Operations Joel Cornette. He missed his four tries and finally after probably five minutes Butler Assistant Coach LaVall Jordon hit it and the team headed back to the hotel. You can enjoy some fun and games when you are as good as Butler.
*Butler leads the all-time series 16-13. Wright State has won six of the last eight games.
*Butler’s next game is at home on Tuesday against Florida Gulf Coast at 7 p.m.
*Wright States next game is at home Wednesday against Cleveland State at 7 p.m.