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.''
All Roosevelt Jones wanted to do Saturday night was make a play.
Taylor drains 6 treys, Lady Zebras clip Collinsville, 49-46
When it comes to shooting, the Claremore Lady Zebras would rather drain three pointers than free throws.
Claremore’s Monica Taylor converted four of her six treys in the second half for a game-high 18 points as the Lady Zebras held off Collinsville, 49-46 in the season opener Tuesday night at the Claremore High School Gym.
As the buzzer sounded, the Claremore Zebras found themselves in an unfamiliar place.
For the first time in two years, the Zebras were on the winning side of the scoreboard and pumping each other’s chests after their 43-29 season-opening victory over the Collinsville Cardinals.
Berryhill sweeps Sequoyah in opener
The Berryhill Chiefs boys’ basketball team spoiled the Claremore Sequoyah Eagles’ season opener with a dominant 69-44 road win Tuesday night at Olan Graham field house.
The Chiefs rained down with 10 3-pointers against the Eagles (0-1, 0-0).
Cards soar past Sperry
In a big Class 3A gun down, No. 3 Verdigris had more weapons than No. 6 Sperry.
In their home opener, the 2-0 Cardinals buried eight three-point shots and converted 21-of-23 free throws in rolling past the Pirates 69-54.
Battenfield, Hanslovan spark No. 4 Lady Cards past Sperry
Fourth-ranked Verdigris shot nearly 50 percent and forced Sperry into 22 turnovers, finally pulling away for a 73-41 home opening victory Tuesday night in Class 3A girls basketball.
NFL: Cowboys' Hatcher savors rest, shrugs off rust
Jason Hatcher is happy to have the rest and not worried about accumulating rust.
The Dallas defensive tackle and his teammates were back at work Tuesday - but only for meetings - after having nine of the previous 19 days off thanks to a late bye and their annual mini-bye after Thanksgiving.
NFL: Ravens' Tucker shows range in kicking and singing
The Baltimore Ravens most formidable offensive threat these days is Justin Tucker, a quirky fellow whose skill set transcends kicking a football with uncanny accuracy.
Despite scoring only one touchdown in each of its last two games, Baltimore won twice because Tucker kicked four field goals against the New York Jets and five more in a 22-20 victory over Pittsburgh.
NFL: Vikings QB Cassel on track to start for Ponder
Matt Cassel stepped on the platform, grasped the podium with both hands, looked around and grinned.
''It's nice being up here. I've never been up here before. It's a pretty nice setup,'' Cassel said as he surveyed the makeshift interview area the Minnesota Vikings have set up next to their indoor practice field.
NFL: Rodgers limited as QB questions linger for Packers
Aaron Rodgers would rather not let the ''Will he-or-won't he'' questions linger until Sunday.
The Green Bay Packers' franchise quarterback expects a decision Friday -Saturday tops - whether he'll be medically cleared to face the Atlanta Falcons in a game crucial to the team's dwindling playoff prospects.
NFL: Patriots re-sign WR Austin Collie
The New England Patriots have re-signed wide receiver Austin Collie.
Collie played four games this season before being released after hurting his knee in a 55-31 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 3. He had three catches after signing with the Patriots as a free agent Oct. 3.
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- Taylor drains 6 treys, Lady Zebras clip Collinsville, 49-46