Butler’s late shot lifts No. 6 West Virginia over Marquette

A buzzer-beater over Marquette wasn’t what West Virginia coach Bob

Huggins had in mind with a showdown looming at No. 4 Purdue.

Da’Sean Butler’s 20-foot jumper with 2 seconds left lifted

the sixth-ranked Mountaineers to a 63-62 victory over Marquette on

Tuesday night.

West Virginia (11-0, 2-0 Big East) overcame a five-point

deficit in the final minute and its lowest point total of the

season to improve to its best start since a Jerry West-led team won

14 straight to begin the 1957-58 season.

Butler fouled out of a blowout loss at Marquette last season

but this time kept the Mountaineers in a game in which they trailed

for most of the second half. He scored eight of his 17 points over

the final 12 minutes.

His performance prompted Marquette coach Buzz Williams to

call Butler “the best player in the league.”

“Who do you have that can guard him?” Williams asked.

Huggins admitted his players were still tired from a 90-84

overtime win at Seton Hall on Saturday in which the Mountaineers

blew a 10-point lead over the final minute of regulation.

“We’re just not putting anybody away,” Huggins said. “We were

lucky.”

This time, it was Marquette’s turn to surrender a late lead.

Lazar Hayward paced Marquette with 24 points. His three-point

play started a 10-5 run and Dwight Buycks’ basket with 4:53 left

gave Marquette its largest lead of the second half, 59-53.

Marquette (9-4, 0-1) had a 62-57 lead after a free throw by

Darius Johnson-Odom with 1:02 left, but the Golden Eagles didn’t

score again.

After Johnson-Odom missed the front end of a 1-and-1, Devin

Ebanks, who led West Virginia with 19 points, went the length of

the court and dunked with 16 seconds left to pull the Mountaineers

within 62-61.

Marquette’s Jimmy Butler missed another 1-and-1 with 11

seconds left and the Mountaineers made him pay.

“We’re second in the league in free throws,” Williams said.

“However, you have to be tough enough to make them.”

Butler rebounded Butler’s miss, dribbled the length of the

court, turned around on the top right side of the key and buried a

long jumper with his foot on the 3-point line, prompting a roar

from the sellout crowd.

“Actually, we were supposed to run another play,” Butler

said. “But when they missed the free throw, I looked up at the

clock and said ‘I guess we’re not going to run that.’ I didn’t

really call an audible. I just knew that we didn’t have time to run

that play. I just knew that everybody wanted me to shoot the ball,

and I had the ball.

“I like having it in my hands when the team needs me.”

After a timeout, Joe Mazzulla intercepted a long pass at the

other end of the court to send the Mountaineers unbeaten into

Friday’s matchup at Purdue (12-0).

“I don’t know much about them,” Huggins said, adding he

watched the Boilermakers beat Alabama 73-65 on the road earlier

this month. “This has been a hard stretch. Now I have to go home

and start watching Purdue so I’ll be ready for practice

[Wednesday].”

Kevin Jones added 18 points for West Virginia. He’s the only

Mountaineer player to score in double digits in every game.

Johnson-Odom had 14 points for Marquette, which made 10 of 16

3-pointers but had none over the final 9 minutes.

For the third straight game, Huggins started an all-forward

lineup, which averaged 3 inches taller than Marquette’s starters.

West Virginia got 40 points in the lane but attempted just four

free throws.

Height wasn’t an issue for the Golden Eagles.

West Virginia scored the game’s first seven points. But

behind seven 3-pointers, Marquette led by as many as seven late in

the first half. Ebanks’ 3-pointer at the buzzer cut the Golden

Eagles’ lead to 37-33.