Saturday, January 19, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Butler 64, Gonzaga 63
By Dana O'Neil
INDIANAPOLIS -- A quick look at Butler's ridiculous 64-63 victory over Gonzaga that can be attributable to only one thing: Hinkle magic.
Overview: They share the same nickname, same team colors and same résumé. Once, Gonzaga was a mid-major darling. Once, Butler was a mid-major darling. Now both are national programs -- the Zags coming in ranked No. 8, Butler No. 13.
So while this seemed like a quaint tip of the cap to nostalgia, particularly with Hinkle Fieldhouse serving as host, there was nothing sweet about this game. Certainly not in the big picture -- where this game is about heavy hitters as much as any traditional power-conference battle might be -- and definitely not in the way it was played.
This was a slugfest, just the way Butler likes its basketball, about attitude and chutzpah almost as much as it was about skill and talent.
But in the end, the gym won with an unreal finish.
Turning point: Well, gee, maybe Roosevelt Jones somehow snaring a Gonzaga inbounds pass, driving to the lane and sinking the last shot as the buzzer sounded for the Bulldogs' 13th straight victory.
Key player: Jones. Even before the heroics, he was terrific in the second half, scoring 16 of his 20 points when his team needed them the most -- a team playing without leading scorer Rotnei Clarke by the way. It was just the second time Jones has reached 20 points in his career.
Miscellaneous: With the win, Butler improved to 3-0 against top-10 teams this season. Duke is the only other team that has three such wins. ... Travel issues prevented Gonzaga from getting a full practice at Hinkle. The Bulldogs were scheduled to leave Friday morning from Portland (after playing there Thursday night), but due to trouble with their charter, they ended up practicing in Portland and arriving in Indianapolis late Friday night. ... This marked the first time two top-15 programs played at Hinkle Fieldhouse. In fact, only twice before had a ranked Butler team faced another ranked opponent -- in 2007 against Southern Illinois and in 2009 when Ohio State came to town. ... Keeping on the Hinkle theme, it is the sixth-oldest active college gym (and yes, it’s a gym) in the country. Fordham’s Rose Hill Gym, older by three years, tops the list.
Next game: Butler jumps back into Atlantic 10 action with a game at La Salle on Wednesday. Gonzaga returns home, hosting BYU on Thursday.