December 30, 2008

Butler Rallies To Beat UAB, 72-68

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -Freshman Shelvin Mack made five 3-pointers in the first seven minutes of the second half to match his career high of 22 points and rally No. 25 Butler from an 11-point deficit to a 72-68 victory over Alabama-Birmingham on Tuesday night.

It was the first time the young Bulldogs (11-1) played since moving into the Top 25 on Monday.

Robert Vaden, an Indianapolis native and former player at Indiana University, led the Blazers (8-5) with 23 points and Paul Delaney III added 19.

UAB coach Mike Davis made his first appearance in Indiana since resigning as coach of the Hoosiers after the 2005-06 season and the homecoming started well as the Bulldogs spent 20 minutes looking more like impostors than a ranked team.

Mack started the comeback by hitting consecutive 3s and two free throws in the first three minutes of the second half to get Butler within 40-37.

Less than two minutes later, Mack hit two 3s in seven seconds to give Butler a 43-42 lead and then broke a 45-45 tie with yet another 3 with 13:09 to go.

The fifth 3 ignited Butler's 12-2 run that ended with the Bulldogs going 3-of-4 from the free throw line, two courtesy of a technical foul on Davis with 6:44 left. They gave Butler a 62-51 lead.

Vaden scored four points in a 9-0 run and his fourth 3 got the Blazers within 64-63 with 3:52 to go. But the Blazers couldn't convert any of their chances to take the lead and the Bulldogs sealed it with Matt Howard's layup and six free throws in the final minute. Howard finished with 19 points.

The dramatic turnaround was a stark contrast from a first half in which the Bulldogs' usual formula did not work.

Butler managed only 19 shots in the first half, struggled to defend the 3-point line and missed free throws.

The Bulldogs also committed 10 turnovers in the first 20 minutes, after averaging only 11.6 in their first 11 games. UAB converted those miscues into 16 points, scoring seven straight late in the half to make it 38-27.