Claremore Daily Progress

Sports

January 20, 2013

No. 13 Butler steals 64-63 over No. 8 Gonzaga without Clarke

INDIANAPOLIS — All Roosevelt Jones wanted to do Saturday night was make a play.

He wound up stealing the ball and a victory.

The sophomore forward looped around Gonzaga's 7-foot center, stole an overthrown inbounds pass with 3.5 seconds left, took a peek at the clock and drove from midcourt into the lane for a buzzer-beating floater that gave No. 13 Butler a 64-63 victory over No. 8 Gonzaga.

It was just one more play in Butler's ever-expanding guide on how to make the improbable victories possible.

"These guys make you believe,'' coach Brad Stevens said. "The way they play the game, how hard they play the game, they just make you believe.''

Why not, given what Butler (16-2, 3-0 Atlantic 10) already has achieved this season.

The Bulldogs have won 13 straight games, including the last two without their leading scorer, Rotnei Clarke. With a win over No. 9 North Carolina in November, a win over No. 1 Indiana in December and now over No. 8 Gonzaga in January, Butler has beaten three top 10 teams in one season for the first time.

The latest came on a night when the power conferences ceded center stage to the two biggest little schools in college basketball.

And, of course, it came in the same Hinkle Fieldhouse where Oscar Robertson won two state titles and led his school to the first undefeated season in Indiana high school basketball, where Bobby Plump delivered the winner in Milan's miraculous 1954 state title run that later became the plot for the movie "Hoosiers,'' and in a venue that had never before hosted a game between two top 15 college teams.

This game had all the trimmings, from Plump's return to the court to a rare game-ending rushing of the floor by Butler's students. Much to Jones' surprise, he was the reason for the postgame celebration.

"I never did it in my life,'' Jones said when asked about the last time he hit a buzzer-beating shot.

The 6-foot-4 sophomore finished with 20 points, five rebounds and four assists. And after Alex Barlow, who hit the winning shot to upset the Hoosiers, was called for traveling with 3.5 seconds left, Jones made the perfect read when Gonzaga point guard David Stockton, the son of NBA Hall of Famer John Stockton, threw the inbounds pass over the head of 7-foot center Kelly Olynyk.

Jones, expecting a lob, played it like an NFL cornerback and moved behind Olynyk. That put Jones in better position to catch the ball than the Gonzaga center.

Then, with fans in the sold-out arena rising and their arms flailing, Jones raced into the lane where he threw up a mid-range shot that went through the net and set off another wild celebration.

Gonzaga (17-2, 4-0 West Coast Conference) didn't even bother to stick around for the replay review. The Zags knew it was good.

"He's just really, really tough. He's aggressive and he's confident and that's a heck of a shot,'' Gonzaga coach Mark Few said after watching an eight-game winning streak end. "I've never consistently seen anyone make so many floaters from 10 to 12 feet.''

Butler got 14 points from freshman Kellen Dunham and eight from Khyle Marshall.

The Zags were led by Elias Harris and Sam Dower, who each scored 20. Olynyk, the West Coast Conference's top scorer, finished with 14 points and seven rebounds despite spending most of the second half in foul trouble.

The numbers paled in comparison to what happened in what was being billed as the best non-power conference game of the season.

Organizers did it up right.

In the morning, Plump missed both of the shots he took from the same spot in the same gym where he made the winning shot in the 1954 Indiana high school state tourney.

Some fans rekindled memories of past eras by wearing jerseys bearing the names of former Butler players such as Matt Howard and Duane Lightfoot. Every seat was filled 10 minutes before tip-off, and the students who were standing in line more than 2 1/2 hours before the game's scheduled start time literally ran into the fieldhouse to find a precious seat behind one of the baskets.

What they really wanted to see was Clarke in his game-day attire instead of street clothes as he battles back from a severely sprained neck.

The consolation prize wasn't bad: An instant classic.

Butler trailed 33-32 at halftime but came out of the locker room and scored the first five points to take the lead. The Bulldogs didn't trail again until Harris' layup made it 59-58 with 1:26 left.

Jones answered 19 seconds later with his own layup to give the Bulldogs the lead, starting a sequence of four straight lead changes.

When Olynyk made two free throws to give the Zags a 63-62 lead and Barlow turned the ball over, it looked as though that would be the last lead change of the night.

But Jones responded by stealing the ball and the game.

"I just made a basketball play,'' he said. "I heard the coach say lob and I just made a basketball play.''



 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • BASEBALL: Howe’s RBI-double rallies Zebras past Vinita

    Claremore senior designated hitter Bryce Howe delivered an RBI-double in the bottom of the fifth inning that helped rally the Zebras to a 6-3 win over Vinita in the 4-State Festival Friday night at American Legion Park.

    April 13, 2014

  • DSC_0100web.jpg BASEBALL: Zebras rock Memorial, 9-0

    Going, going, gone...
    With the bases loaded in the top of the fifth inning, Claremore senior designated hitter Bryce Howe made Tulsa Memorial pay for intentionally walking senior catcher Matt Whatley.
    Howe’s grand slam — his second of his varsity career — boosted Claremore to a 9-0 victory over Tulsa Memorial Thursday afternoon in Metro Lakes Conference action.

    April 13, 2014 3 Photos

  • FILBYweb.jpg BASEBALL: McGill’s seventh-inning hit propels Sequoyah past Sallisaw

    Logan McGill’s bases loaded ground ball with one out in the bottom of the seventh scored McKaine Foster, giving Sequoyah a 5-4 victory over Sallisaw Friday evening in the 4-State Baseball Festival.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • SOCCER: Lady Zebras blast Metro Christian, 3-0

    The No. 3-ranked Class 5A Claremore Lady Zebras scored two goals in the first half to complete the 3-0 win over Metro Christian Friday night.

    April 13, 2014

  • DSC_0068web.jpg BASEBALL: ‘Cats sweep Aggies

    The Rogers State University baseball team swept a doubleheader against Heartland Conference opponent Oklahoma Panhandle State Friday afternoon at the Diamond Sports Complex.
    The Hillcats took advantage of four Aggie errors and tallied eight hits en route to a 4-0 victory.
    In the nightcap, RSU belted 10 hits to register a 5-2 win.

    April 13, 2014 2 Photos

  • WNBA DRAFT: Phoenix Mercury select OSU's Tiffany Bias

    Tiffany Bias became the third player in Oklahoma State history taken in the WNBA Draft, going to the Phoenix Mercury with the fifth pick (17th overall) of the second round on Monday evening.

    April 15, 2014

  • Arkansas hosts A-Club Spring Reunion on April 25-26

    The A Club is hosting its annual Spring Reunion weekend April 25-26 around the Razorback football team's Red-White Spring Game.

    April 15, 2014

  • WNBA DRAFT: Tulsa Shock add Hooper, Plaisance to 2014 roster

    The Tulsa Shock have selected Jordan Hooper with the 13th overall pick and Theresa Plaisance with the 27th overall pick, respectively, in the WNBA Draft.

    April 15, 2014

  • WNBA DRAFT: Tulsa Shock select Baylor's Odyssey Sims

    The Tulsa Shock have selected guard Odyssey Sims with the second overall pick in the WNBA Draft.

    At Baylor, Sims finished her career averaging 28.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game her senior year.

    April 15, 2014

  • NCAA MEN'S BB: Kentucky's Cauley-Stein returns for junior season

    Kentucky has announced that 7-foot center Willie Cauley-Stein will return for his junior season.
    Cauley-Stein missed the final three games of the Wildcats' run to the NCAA championship game after sustaining a left ankle injury in the Midwest Region semifinal against Louisville.

    April 15, 2014