No. 1 Hoosiers stunned by Butler, 86-88 in OT
Tom Crean spent the first hour after Saturday's game contemplating what went wrong.
Alex Barlow, a 5-foot-11 walk-on guard, backed his way into the lane and hit a spinning 6-foot jumper with 2.4 seconds left in overtime to give the Bulldogs an 88-86 win over the Hoosiers, likely ending their season-long reign as the nation's top team.
''The thing that hurt us as much as anything in this game is the things that we saw,'' Crean said after waiting more than 60 minutes to take questions. ''It's the lay-ups that get you. It's the drives, it's the lay-ups. It's those types of things. Those things hurt us. The bottom line today is that we didn't rebound the ball well enough today.''
Indiana didn't resemble the nation's top-ranked team against the surging Bulldogs (8-2), who have won five in a row overall, six straight at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and four of the last five when this series has been played in Indianapolis.
Crean groaned about the rebounding. Butler held just a 40-38 advantage, but it marked the first time this season the Hoosiers (9-1) have been beaten on the glass.
But there were far bigger problems.
Indiana committed 13 turnovers, a handful that allowed Butler to stay close and a big one when Barlow poked the ball away from Yogi Ferrell with 1:14 to go in overtime. That miscue led to a 3-pointer that gave Butler an 86-84 lead and allowed it to dictate the rest of the game. Ferrell, a freshman, finished with six turnovers.
And then there was the decisive play - Barlow's strong back-down move.
Indiana immediately called timeout to set up a play but all the Hoosiers could muster was a long heave from Jordan Hulls that sailed to the left of the basket.
''For us to get back into the game, we played better defense. It's that simple,'' said Victor Oladipo, who scored 18 points. ''They executed down the stretch, that's why they won. It's that simple.''
The Hoosiers were beaten by a kid who spurned college scholarship offers to play his best sport, baseball, and opted to come to Butler for only one reason - to learn how to coach basketball from Brad Stevens. He showed everyone he can hoop it up, too.
Stevens didn't hesitate to constantly keep the ball in Barlow's hands after three key Butler players had already fouled out. The sophomore, who had scored only 12 points in nine games this season and 18 in his college career, delivered with a series of key plays.
Barlow finished with a career-high six points, came up with a big steal that led to a go-ahead 3-pointer late in overtime and finally won it with a shot that bounced off the back of the rim, straight into the air and finally through the net for the school's first win over a No. 1 team.
The sold-out arena roared as the game ended, and the Bulldogs rushed to midcourt to celebrate with Barlow.
''I thought he just rose up over Hulls and it looked good,'' Stevens said. ''Don't use this as an excuse to get down on Indiana. I still think they're the team to beat in April. Our guys just played really hard and when it really mattered, they figured out a way.''
Barlow overshadowed a supporting cast that put up stronger numbers.
Roosevelt Jones scored 16 points and matched his career highs with 12 rebounds and six assists before fouling out with 2:03 left in regulation.
Andrew Smith finished with 12 points and nine rebounds and held national player of the year candidate Cody Zeller in check until fouling out just 17 seconds after Jones.
Rotnei Clarke, who transferred to Butler from Arkansas, scored 13 of his 19 points and made three of his five 3-pointers in the second half.
In all, five Bulldogs players finished in double figures while the defense held one of America's most proficient offenses to just 42.9 percent shooting from the field.
The Hoosiers were led by Zeller's 18 points, including a layup to tie it at 86 with 19.3 seconds left in overtime. Reserve Will Sheehey added 13 points.
Clearly this was not the same Indiana team that won its first nine games by an average of nearly 32 points while shooting 51.5 percent from the field.
''There's a lot of things (to work on),'' said Zeller, who had only five rebounds and four baskets. ''We got outrebounded. There's a lot of little things that we have to figure, but we'll get back to work and figure them out.''
The difference Saturday was that Butler never let the Hoosiers get away from them - even when Smith and Jones went to the bench with four fouls midway through the second half.
Stevens reinserted both players with 9 minutes to go in regulation, trailing 57-50, and the Bulldogs responded with a 12-0 run that gave them a 66-59 lead with 4:31 left.
Butler still led 71-64 when Jones fouled out, and the Hoosiers answered with five straight points from the free throw line. They finally tied the score on Ferrell's 3-pointer from the right wing with 6.1 seconds to go, and Butler's Chase Stigall missed a 3-pointer off the front of the rim as time expired.
In overtime, Indiana looked as though it would take control when Zeller's layup made it 84-80 with 2:12 to play. But the Bulldogs again rallied, getting a 3 from Clarke, a steal from Barlow that led Stigall's 3-pointer, and Barlow's improbable winning shot.
''I just figured I would throw it up to the rim,'' Barlow said. ''If I missed it, I knew they wouldn't get a shot off. Luckily, it bounced in.''