INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Butler Bulldogs knocked off a Top 10 opponent for the third consecutive season, winning the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational title with 69-65 win over the #8 Arizona Wildcats on Friday night. Butler senior F Andrew Chrabascz, also named Tournament Most Outstanding Player, was one of four Bulldogs in double figures. Butler remains perfect on the season at 6-0, while the Wildcats fall to 5-1.
The Bulldogs defeated North Carolina in the Atlantis event early in the 2014-15 season and beat Purdue in the 2015 Crossroads Classic to give Head Coach Chris Holtmann a Top 10 non-conference victory in each of his three seasons as head coach at Butler.
“We have a lot of new faces, but they’re not all young,” said Holtmann. “Our guys showed a lot of resolve, a lot of poise. We had a great crowd here tonight, but we heard Arizona’s too as they made that run. But our guys just made plays down the stretch. That’s what these games come down to.”
A runner in the lane from freshman G Kamar Baldwin capped a 9-0 run that put Butler ahead 49-40 with 14:04 to play. That was the first of several huge momentum swings in the second half.
Arizona would not go quietly, ultimately putting together a 15-2 run that gave the Wildcats a 61-57 lead with 3:52 to play. Kobi Simmons sparked that rally as all 14 of his points came in the second half. With Arizona leading 63-59 with two minutes remaining, Butler would score the next 10 points to take the win. Chrabascz had five points during the sequence that also featured junior F Kelan Martin finding junior F Tyler Wideman rolling to the basket for an And-1 dunk that gave Butler a three-point lead with 29 seconds to play.
Baldwin contested his former AAU teammate Simmons’ three-point attempt on the ensuing possession and Butler converted three free throws before a meaningless Arizona basket at the horn determined the four-point final.
Chrabascz was joined on the All-Tournament Team by Martin (game-high 16 points) and Baldwin. Chrabascz followed Thursday’s double-double in the semifinals with a 14-point, seven-rebound performance. Graduate transfer G Avery Woodson had 13 points, shooting 4-of-7 from behind the arc.
The Bulldogs made 23-of-49 (46.9%) from the field, including 6-of-15 (40%) from three. Arizona finished at 24-of-53 (45.3%) from the field, including 3-of-11 (27.3%) from three. Butler made 17-of-21 free throw attempts. Redshirt senior PG Tyler Lewis led the team in assists with six.
Arizona used a size advantage to out-rebound Butler, 35-26, and score 36 points in the paint. However, the Wildcats only made 3-of-11 from three-point range and Lauri Markkanen fouled out.
The Bulldogs continue their west coast swing, traveling to Utah for a Monday night contest. The 9 p.m. (Eastern, 7 p.m. Mountain) tip will air on the Pac-12 Network.
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.
Chris Fultz is a Senior Writer and the Butler Athletics beat writer for the Indiana Sports Report. Chris Fultz is recognized as an accredited member of the media by Butler University Athletics and has full media access.
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