No. 16 Drake Gets By No. 8 Butler, 71-64
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Josh Young was just trying to beat the shot clock.
The Drake sophomore scored a career-high 25 points Saturday, including three clinching free throws when he was fouled on a desperation 3-point attempt with 20 seconds to go in the No. 16 Bulldogs' 71-64 victory over No. 8 Butler.
"I knew that the shot clock was running down and they did a good job getting me the ball so I thought I'd just put it up there and see what happens," said Young, whose previous high was 24 points. "I ended up getting fouled and was able to get to the line and knock down the free throws."
Drake was ahead by just two points at the time, and Young, who was closely guarded by Butler's Mike Green, didn't realize he was behind the 3-point arc when he went up for the shot.
"I was so focused on getting the shot up before the shot clock went off, I didn't have the presence of mind where I was at," he said.
The win was Drake's first over a top-10 team since a 56-55 win over No. 7 Tulsa in 1982.
"More than anything, it provides a big boost of confidence for our team going into the end of the season and post-season play," Young said.
Drake (24-3) snapped a nine-game winning streak for Butler (25-3), which led by four points midway through the second half but went scoreless for almost 5 minutes during a decisive 9-0 run by Drake.
A 3-pointer by Klayton Korver with 5:30 left put Drake up for good at 61-58, and the Bulldogs widened it to 63-58 on a fast-break layup by Young.
Butler pulled within 64-62 on two free throws by A.J. Graves before Young was fouled by Green and hit the three clinching free throws.
"It was a good call," Green said. "I did get a piece of him. ... He was taking a dribble and then pulled up. So when my hand was in, he leaned forward. It was a good play by him and a good call by the officials."
Graves, who led Butler with 18 points, added two more free throws before a fast-break layup by Leonard Houston and two more free throws by Korver with just over a second remaining.
Drake has already clinched the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championship and likely its first NCAA tournament berth since 1971, but the Bulldogs lost two of the past three games before the win over Butler.
"Especially at the end of the season, games always take on more importance, whether you're trying to get into the NCAA tournament or for seeding in your conferfence tournament or if you're already in you're looking for seeding in the NCAA," first-year Drake coach Keno Davis said. "We haven't talked a whole lot about end-of-season goals. ... We just want to try to get better by the time our conference tournament ends up. There's no better test than coming into this environment."
Leonard Houston added 16 points and Jonathan Cox had 11 points and 11 rebounds for Drake.
Matt Howard finished with 16 points for Butler, which has clinched at least a tie for the Horizon League title.
"Both teams executed well and got good looks," Butler coach Brad Stevens said. "They made plays down the stretch that separated the game.
"We're up four and then, bang, a 9-0 run. Up four is nothing on these guys," he said.
Butler never led by more than three points in the first half and trailed by six early in the second half. Graves then had six points during an 8-0 run, and there were four more lead changes before a basket by Julian Betko and two free throws by Howard gave Butler its biggest lead of the game, 58-54.
Butler didn't score again until there was 3:34 remaining, and the Bulldogs' only points the rest of the game were the four free throws by Graves.
"We did pretty well most of the game, but there were times we let it slip," Graves said. "In a game like this, where possessions are few and far between, you can't do that."
The ESPN BracketBuster matchup between the two mid-majors marked the first time they met in 35 years. Butler leads the overall series 4-3.
Drake led most of the first half as Butler missed nine of its first 10 3-point attempts. Cox hit three straight layups, and Drake took several leads of four points before Butler started hitting from the outside.
Butler hit eight straight from the field, including two 3-pointers by Pete Campbell and another 3 by Graves for a 34-31 lead in the final minutes of the opening half. Cox then scored again, and after Howard hit one of two free throws by Butler, Drake scored the final five points of the half on free throws - three by Young and two by Cox - for a 38-35 lead.