No. 22 Butler 74, No. 13 Ohio St. 66
Gordon Hayward isn't just a shooter anymore.
The sophomore had 24 points and eight rebounds, and No. 22 Butler beat a ranked team for the first time in four tries this season, holding off No. 13 Ohio State 74-66 on Saturday.
Hayward made seven 3-pointers against Ohio State in a loss last season. This time, he made three 3-pointers and shot 9 of 16 overall on an assortment of driving layups, putbacks and long-range shots.
``I think Gordon is a tremendous basketball player,'' said Ohio State coach Thad Matta, who coached Butler in 2001. ``One thing I noticed that he's added to his game is that he's playing better off the bounce. He has the ability to drive, and he's a good offensive rebounder. He's talented.''
Willie Veasley had 15 points and 10 rebounds and Matt Howard added 13 points and six rebounds for the Bulldogs (7-3).
William Buford scored 20 points for Ohio State, despite playing with a back injury. He was hurt in a drill Thursday morning, and found out he was going to play right before tipoff. David Lighty added 17 points for the Buckeyes (7-2).
Ohio State played for the first time without scoring and rebounding leader Evan Turner. He fractured his lower back when he hit the court on a dunk attempt on Dec. 5.
Butler coach Brad Stevens said he was sorry to see Turner's injury, but Ohio State still remained a quality opponent.
``They're a good team with him, they're a good team without him,'' he said.
The Buckeyes appeared to miss Turner's 11.4 rebounds per game the most. Butler outrebounded the more athletic Buckeyes 40-27.
``I told them before the game if we win the rebounding battle, we win the game,'' Stevens said. ``We rebounded about as well as we've rebounded in a few years.''
Butler's losses to ranked teams Minnesota, Clemson and Georgetown were by a combined 17 points. Stevens said he's not worried about the polls, noting that next Saturday's opponent, unranked Xavier, is as dangerous as any on the schedule.
``The team that's coming in here next week isn't ranked, and they can beat anybody in the country,'' Stevens said. ``Just because there's a number next to them doesn't mean it's any bigger or more meaningful.''
The Bulldogs are more concerned with their overall development. Hayward said playing quality non-conference teams helps.
``It's good for us,'' he said. ``We want those challenges. We look forward to them. What really matters for us is in March. We're working towards that, and we need to improve from all these games.''
Butler led by 17 points in the final 5 minutes, but Ohio State used a fullcourt press to get back into the game. A layup by Jon Diebler cut Butler's lead to 69-66 with 46 seconds to play, but the Buckeyes got no closer.
Hayward scored nine points in the first 9 minutes, including two 3-pointers against Ohio State's zone, to give the Bulldogs a 21-10 lead. A layup by Howard made it 28-18 and Ohio State responded with a 16-0 run to take a 34-28 lead. The Buckeyes held the Bulldogs scoreless for nearly 7 minutes.
Butler finally rallied, and a layup by Howard with 3 seconds left in the first half cut Ohio State's lead to 36-34. Hayward scored 15 points in the half.
The lead changed hands several times early in the second half before Butler gained control. A putback by Hayward capped a 15-0 run during which the Bulldogs held the Buckeyes scoreless for 7 minutes to take a 67-50 lead with 4:37 left.
Butler led 71-66 with 21.7 seconds left and Ohio State had one more chance to draw closer, but Dallas Lauderdale missed two free throws. Butler rebounded, and Veasley made two free throws with 17.1 seconds left.
Veasley made four free throws in the final 37 seconds.
``I love having Willie Veasley on the foul line late in the game,'' Stevens said. ``Willie's a senior, and Willie's been there, and he deserved to step up and seal that game.''
Stevens wasn't surprised that Ohio State rallied.
``I thought we were really good for about 32 minutes,'' he said. ``They're going to go on runs. They've got a lot of good players, and they're really well coached.''