Butler upset No. 1 Indiana 88-86 in a battle worthy of the Hoosier state's storied basketball tradition.
The Bulldogs showed right from the tipoff that they were not intimidated, leading to a physical game featuring two teams putting out relentless effort. While the Hoosiers tried to push the pace and take advantage of their superior athleticism, Brad Stevens' team refused to let its opponents control the tempo of this game.
The Hoosiers were unable to keep the Bulldogs off the boards, and Butler out-rebounded Indiana 37-31 in this game. Roosevelt Jones led this effort by contributing a game-high 12 rebounds in addition to 16 points and seven assists.
The performance of Indiana's Victor Oladipo ensured that this game stayed close, as he showed that he was the best athlete on the court. He filled up the stat sheet with 18 points, four steals and two blocks.
Down the stretch, Butler held the lead but both Jones and Andrew Smith were forced to watch the final minutes after fouling out. The Hoosiers took advantage of the Bulldogs stars’ absence. With a late surge in the final minutes and a huge three-pointer from Yogi Ferrell, Indiana tied the game and sent it into overtime.
The extra period brought bleak moments for Butler, but consecutive three-pointers from Rotnei Clarke and Chase Stigall put the team in position to win, and Alex Barlow's clutch shot with just seconds left on the clock capped off the upset.
Ultimately, the Indiana comeback wasn’t enough, and Stevens’ game plan to slow down the game and tenaciously go after rebounds led to Indiana’s first loss of the season.
Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde noted that regardless of Indiana's talent or rank, this was never going to be an easy game for the Hoosiers.
Been true for years, but bears repeating: Butler among the most physical teams in the nation. You take a beating playing the Bulldogs.— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) December 15, 2012
Tom Crean's team came out and proved that it was ready to grit its teeth and bang with the Bulldogs, but CBS Sports' Doug Gottlieb pointed out one area in which Butler was still beating Indiana to the punch.
IU matching Butler in terms of toughness and defensive intensity, impressive-now if they will rebound...— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) December 15, 2012
Utah Jazz guard and former Butler standout Gordon Hayward was getting excited over his alma mater's performance.
Big 3 to close the half!! #letsgodawgs— Gordon Hayward (@gordonhayward) December 15, 2012
Peegs.com's Jeff Rabjohns noted that the Bulldogs did exactly what they needed to do in order to stay with the Hoosiers.
Indiana's issues have been rebounding and the ball not moving like it normally does. Butler does that to people.— Jeff Rabjohns (@JeffRabjohns) December 15, 2012
Bleacher Report gave Yogi Ferrell the credit he deserved after hitting a clutch shot.
Indiana's Yogi Ferrell hits a three with 6 seconds left to send Indiana-Butler to OT!— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 15, 2012
But Butler proved it has deep threats with nerves of steel, and Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel took note of the key shots that swung the game in the Bulldogs' favor.
L-O-N-G Stigall 3 puts Butler back in front, 86-84. Erase 4-point deficit with back-to-back 3s. #isitMarchyet?— Pete Thamel(@SIPeteThamel) December 15, 2012
After Barlow sealed the victory, Hayward delivered a brief and smug celebration.
Yup— Gordon Hayward (@gordonhayward) December 15, 2012
Indiana will put its 9-1 record up against Mount St. Mary's on Dec. 19 as it continues to warm up for Big Ten play, which will start off Dec. 31 at Iowa.
Butler improved to 8-2 on the year and will play next against Evansville on Dec. 22.