INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- Junior Andrew Smith tipped in a missed shot with 0:01 remaining to lift Butler to a dramatic 67-65 victory over Purdue in the first game of the Close The Gap Crossroads Classic at Conseco Fieldhouse on Saturday, Dec. 17. The Bulldogs came back from a 15-point deficit to grab the victory.
Butler didn't take its first lead in the game until just 14 seconds remained. Junior Chase Stigall gave the Bulldogs that lead at 65-64 with a driving lay-up. Purdue (9-3) then tied the game at 65-65 on the second of two free throws by guard Lewis Jackson.
That set the stage for Butler's final possession. Head coach Brad Stevens called a timeout with six seconds remaining to set-up a final play. On the inbounds play, freshman Roosevelt Jones got the ball at the top of the key and immediately drove to the basket. His floating lay-up bounced off the back of the rim, but Smith was on the spot to tip it in with one tick left on the clock.
A final half-court shot by Purdue's Kelsey Barlow came up short, giving the Bulldogs their biggest win of the young season.
"When you're playing a team like Purdue, you have to put the ball in the hands of someone who will be strong with it," Stevens said of the final play. "Rose isn't our highest percentage shooter, but he is able to get a shot whenever he can."
The Bulldogs (5-6), down 46-35 at halftime, turned in a rock-solid defensive effort over the final 20 minutes, limiting Purdue to just 19 points. Butler held the Boilermakers to just a single point in the final 6:40!
"I thought we really defended well in the second half; really defended poorly in the first half," stated Stevens.
Purdue jumped to an 11-2 lead in the nationally-televised contest and stretched that margin to 15, 43-28, late in the first half. The Boilermakers shot a sizzling 56% (20-36) in the first 20 minutes.
Butler's deficit remained at 11 points through the first seven minutes of the second half, and the Boilermakers held a 63-54 advantage with 8:48 remaining. That's when the Bulldogs ignited the sellout crowd of 19,064 with an 11-1 run to take the lead. A dunk by Smith (left) with 3:23 left cut the margin to 64-60 and a minute later freshman Kameron Woods hit a three-point field goal to cut the margin to one, 64-63, setting up the thrilling finish.
Woods and Smith led the Bulldogs with 12 points apiece, while Stigall added 11. Robbie Hummel led the Boilermakers with 16, while Ryne Smith finished with 14.
The Bulldogs will begin a two-game road trip to the west coast with a game at Gonzaga on Tuesday, Dec. 20. Butler will conclude the pre-Christmas trip at Stanford on Thursday, Dec. 22.
(Cover photo by Brent Smith; Andrew Smith photo by John Fetcho)