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Butler Bulldogs Beat No. 17/17 Cincinnati with Last Second Heroics

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Butler Bulldogs, coming off a home win against SIU-Edwardsville, traveled for their only true road game of the non-conference season to face the #17/17 Cincinnati Bearcats at Fifth Third Arena on Wednesday, December 2. A driving bank-shot layup by redshirt senior G/F Roosevelt Jones in the paint with 0:01 seconds left on the clock was the 78-76 game-winner for Butler. The Bulldogs overcame a nine-point, second-half deficit to improve to 5-1 on the season as Cincinnati falls to 7-1.

“That was a Butler win,” said Butler Head Coach Chris Holtmann. “I say that with a lot of pride. These guys made play after play and battled. Cincinnati is a good team; they’re tough and well-coached. For us to come in here, with this crowd and in this environment, and get a win. I’m really proud of that effort.”

After going 0-of-4 in the first half from the field with zero points in the first half, Roosevelt Jones saved his clutch scoring ability for the second half. After knocking down two big free throws to give Butler the 74-73 lead with 43 seconds remaining, Jones fought his way through three defenders to catch a full court inbounds pass from graduate transfer F Austin Etherington. After controlling the full court heave, Jones regained his balance at the top of the free throw line and drove to the left to hit the tough layup with his right hand off the glass with 0:01 seconds on the game clock. All of this took place with under four seconds remaining in the game. Jones’ buzzer-beater answered an Octavius Ellis three-point play on a putback with four seconds to play that tied the game at 76.

Photo: Butler Athletics/Roosevelt Jones (John Fetcho)
Photo: Butler Athletics/Roosevelt Jones (John Fetcho)

After trailing by five at halftime and as many as nine points in the second half, Butler fought back to take a 67-66 lead on back-to-back three-pointers by senior G Kellen Dunham with 4:47 to play. It was the first lead for the Bulldogs since a 22-20 advantage midway through the first half.

The Bulldogs shot 54% in the second half after going 12-of-36 (33.3%) in the first 20 minutes. Dunham had a game-high 24 points while all of Roosevelt Jones’ 10 points came in the second half. Sophomore G Kelan Martin had 14 points off the bench, including a 2-of-4 (50%) performance from three,  while junior F Andrew Chrabascz (11), who fouled out with 6:51 remaining in the game, and sophomore F Tyler Wideman (12 points, nine rebounds, four steals and three blocks) rounded out the five Bulldogs in double figures. Butler only committed six turnovers on the night against a Bearcats’ defense that was fourth in the nation in points allowed entering the contest.

Eight three-pointers kept the lead with the Bearcats until the closing minutes. Cincinnati also had a season high 10 blocks, including eight in the first half to limit Butler’s efficiency from the field prior to halftime.

Jacob Evans came off the bench to lead Cincinnati with 16 points, which included four threes. Ellis also had 16 for the Bearcats. The home team shot 50%.

The Bulldogs forced 14 Cincinnati turnovers while only committing six. Butler turned those 14 turnovers into 16 points while Cincinnati scored five. The game featured seven ties and 10 lead changes. Cincinnati had won 49 straight games when scoring at least 60 points, a streak broken by the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs return to action Saturday at Hinkle Fieldhouse, hosting Indiana State for a noon tip. Tickets are still available and the game will be broadcast nationally on FS1. The game begins a three-game homestand with match-ups with VMI (Monday, Dec. 7) and Tennessee (Saturday, Dec. 12) to follow.

Chris Fultz is a senior writer for the Indiana Sports Report and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by Butler Athletics and has full media access. Follow @CafultzISR and the @IndySportsRep on Twitter

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