Butler dipped into its bag of magic a little early this season.
The Bulldogs, who are known for their heart stopping runs through the NCAA tournament in March, used an Andrew Smith tip-in with one second to play to beat in-state rival Purdue 67-65 in the Close the Gap Crossroads Classic, Saturday, in Indianapolis.
“The play was for Roosevelt (Jones) to get the ball and drive it. If he had an open lane for the layup, go for it, if not, he’s just going to get it up on the rim and hopefully we could get an offensive rebound,” said Smith.
“Fortunately Purdue did not block out and I was right there and the ball came right to me so I was able to tip it in.”
The win snaps a three game losing streak for Butler. For Purdue, it’s another tough loss.
It’s the second time this month the Boilermakers have squandered a double-digit lead. Purdue lost to Xavier, December 3rd after being ahead by 19.
Saturday, they were up by 15 at one point, but allowed the Bulldogs to mount a comeback.
“We had them,” said Purdue guard Lewis Jackson. “Give Butler credit though, we punched them in the mouth, they punched back. We punched them and as soon as we think it was over, they kept fighting.”
Butler’s fight was a team effort. Smith and Kameron Woods each scored 12, but no other Bulldog was in double figures. Erik Fromm helped them stay afloat when Purdue ballooned the lead in the first half. He scored all nine of his points in the opening frame and Khyle Marshall scored nine, as well.
But, it was Butler’s defense that turned the tide. The Bulldogs held Purdue to just 20-percent shooting in the second half (6-29) after going 20-36 in the first. Purdue didn’t score a field goal in the final 8:48.
“It’s amazing when the ball goes in it looks like you have great offense and when it doesn’t, you have bad offense,” said Purdue head coach Matt Painter.
“I thought Rob Hummel had some good looks that didn’t go down. I thought Ryne Smith had a couple of looks that didn’t go down and in the first half they did go down. So I think it really compounds at that point to you are running bad offense, when in reality Butler is pretty good on D and we had some shots that just didn’t go down.”
Hummel finished with a game-high 16-points, but just four in the second half. Ryne Smith added 14 including three triples, but was held scoreless in the second frame.
Lewis Jackson added 13-points, six assists, and seven rebounds. But, made just one of two free-throws with ten seconds left that kept the game tied and opened the door for Smith’s heroics.
“It hurts,” Jackson said. “I’m at a loss for words. It hurts right now.”
Purdue (9-3) heads back to West Lafayette to play IPFW, Tuesday.
“We felt like we should have won the last two games that we lost,” said Painter. “I think we have a positive to look at, but we don’t have a lot to show for it.”
Butler (5-6) travels west for its next two games, first to Gonzaga then to Stanford. Butler captain Ronald Nored thinks the win against Purdue can serve as a catalyst for turning the team’s slow start around.
“Hopefully we learn from this. We learn from the things we did well, the things that led to winning and then also grow from the things that we didn’t do well, “he said. “I think if we do that and take this game and ride along with it, ride along with the things we did well, it can change things.”