DAILY DISH: Butler upsets Indiana; Arizona outlasts Florida

By: Kels Dayton

Roosevelt Jones (23) and Butler stunned No. 1 Indiana in Indianapolis on Saturday. (Michael Conroy/AP)

Roosevelt Jones (23) and Butler stunned No. 1 Indiana in Indianapolis on Saturday. (Michael Conroy/AP)

Butler knocked off No.1 Indiana, 88-86, in overtime,  in the biggest upset of the early college basketball season on Saturday. The Bulldogs showed the grit and guts that you’d expect from a Brad Stevens-coached team, pushing past the Hoosiers in OT despite losing arguably its two best players in Roosevelt Jones and Andrew Smith to fouls in regulation.

The Bulldogs had no conscience from three-point range, launching and knocking down long-range bombs throughout the second half. Rotnei Clarke cashed a Jimmer-like three from deep with 33 seconds on the shot clock. Moments later, senior Chase Stigall executed a beautiful ball-fake and rose up for a deep triple.

But it was walk-on Alex Barlow who hit the game-winner, a runner in the lane over IU’s Jordan Hulls. In true Butler fashion, Barlow came to Butler as a baseball player, and only got involved in basketball because he wanted to learn from Stevens. His goal is to become a high school basketball coach.

Butler has always been a team filled with Indiana farm kids, excellent shooters and ballhandlers. Indiana big man and local product Cody Zeller nearly committed to Butler before deciding to head to Bloomington. The signing proved to be the seminal moment in the No. 1 Hoosiers’ return to national prominence. But against Indiana in Indianapolis at the Crossroads Classic, the Bulldogs proved that their country kids were better.

Roosevelt Jones led Butler with 16 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists.

Rotnei Clarke finished with 19 points.

CBS’ Tim Brando openly pined for the Bulldogs to end up on his broadcasting schedule in the NCAA Tournament. Who could blame him?

The Bulldogs (8-2) now own signature wins over North Carolina, Marquette and Indiana, and appear be on their way to another terrific season. They will be favored in their next seven games, until a Jan. 19 showdown with Gonzaga at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Late January games with Temple and Saint Louis could prove challenges, but the February schedule is light. Butler has looked ugly at times in losses to Xavier and Illinois, but this team has the chops to earn a pretty decent seed in the NCAAs.


No. 8 Arizona swatted away No. 6 Florida on Saturday in Tucson. (AP Photo/John Miller)

No. 8 Arizona came back from a six-point deficit in the final minute to knock off red-hot Florida, 65-64 on Saturday. The Wildcats trailed, 64-58 with less than a minute to play before forcing two Florida turnovers and capping off the rally with a tough, contested layup from Xavier transfer Mark Lyons.

Solomon Hill scored 18 points for the Wildcats. Nick Johnson added 15, and Xavier transfer Mark Lyons put up 14 in the win.

“We’re the real deal,” Johnson told the AP. “Everyone said something about our schedule before this, and this was an opportunity for us to prove ourselves in front of the nation.”

Arizona (8-0) just might be the real deal. The Wildcats are  fairly young, but seniors Hill and Lyons have taken ownership of the team and appear ready to guide it back to an NCAA Tournament run. The Wildcats didn’t reach the NCAAs last season, but ran all the way to the Elite 8 in 2011. That team was led by future No. 2 draft pick Derrick Williams.

Hill may not be the No. 2 pick in the draft, but he has made a name for himself this season, averaging 13 points and 5 boards per game.

Like Butler, the Wildcats have a favorable schedule, with home dates against Colorado (Jan. 3) and UCLA (Jan. 24) appearing to be the only real challenges in the next month-plus.

Arizona usually finds a way to lose a game or two it shouldn’t, but this win could give the young ‘Cats the necessary confidence to go for the jugular in the weak Pac-12.



One Comment

  1. Pingback: DAILY DISH: Butler upsets Indiana; Arizona outlasts Florida | Sports News and Opinion Aggregator and Publisher

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *