Butler Falls In Maui Invitational Championship Game
LAHAINA, HAWAII -- Brandon Paul led four Illinois players in double-figures with 20 points and helped lift the Fighting Illini to a 78-61 victory over Butler in the championship game of the 2012 Maui Invitational on Wednesday, Nov. 21. The loss stopped Butler's dramatic run through the tournament.
Paul scored 10 points in the first half, while leading Illinois to a 39-28 halftime lead. The Fighting Illini (6-0) opened the game with a 16-7 run and led by as many as 15 points in the opening 20 minutes. Illinois hit 15 of 30 shots in the opening period, including seven of 17 from beyond the three-point arc.
"I thought we looked a step behind on both ends of the floor," said Butler head coach Brad Stevens after the game. "I told our guys when a team is shooting it like that, No. 1 you have to change schemes, which we did in the second half. And No. 2, you have to get every loose ball and we didn't."
Butler (3-2) did make a run in the second half and cut the margin to five, 49-44, with just over twelve minutes remaining. But Illinois answered with a 10-0 run, including back-to-back three-point field goals by Tyler Griffey, to regain control.
Senior Rotnei Clark scored 27 points to lead all players in the game, but he was the only Butler player to score in double-figures. He was one of six players named to the Maui Invitational All-Tournament Team.
Paul was named tournament MVP, and he was joined on the All-Tournament team by teammate D. J. Richardson, who scored 14 points. Tracy Abrams finished with 17 and Griffey added 14.
Butler opened the eight-team tournament with a last-second victory over Marquette and then stunned #9 North Carolina in the second round. It was the fourth time in as many tries that the Bulldogs reached the championship game of a tournament in Hawaii.