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Butler Bulldogs Defeat No. 8 Arizona To Win Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational Title

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.

Photo: Butler Athletics/Butler Bulldogs Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational Champions
Photo: Butler Athletics/Butler Bulldogs Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational Champions

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.

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