Rushed Reactions: #13 Butler 64, #8 Gonzaga 63Posted by WCarey on January 19th, 2013
Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after Saturday night’s game between Gonzaga and Butler. You can follow him at @walkerRcarey.
Three Key Takeaways.
- The Atmosphere At Hinkle Fieldhouse Was Sublime. With ESPN’s College GameDay broadcasting live from Hinkle Fieldhouse, the Butler fans definitely brought it all night long. Not only did the place fill up long before the opening tip, the place was loud long before the opening tip. The noise level only rose as the night went on, seemingly reaching new heights at different points in the game. The Butler faithful were dead set on letting Gonzaga know just how devoted and faithful they are. Gonzaga did not shoot one free throw without being under a copious amount of verbal harassment from the Butler fans. When Roosevelt Jones nailed the game-winning buzzer-beater, the fans spilled out onto the court and joined the team in what was essentially a mob. As the team made its way to the locker room, the fans stayed on the court to celebrate the hard-fought victory.
- Despite Defeat, Gonzaga Once Again Showed Its A Very Good Team. On a night where Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. combined to score just five points, the strength of the Gonzaga frontline was on display all night. Elias Harris, Kelly Olynyk, and Sam Dower each turned in impressive performances going up against a player in Andrew Smith, who had essentially contained Cody Zeller earlier this season. Harris threw in 20 points and collected seven rebounds. Olynyk added 14 points and seven boards. Dower came off the bench and provided a great spark by scoring 20 points – 16 of which came in the first half. Not only did the Zags’ frontline perform well offensively, it also turned in a strong effort on the defensive side of the court. Smith, who entered the game averaging 12 points per game, was held to just seven points and was only able to get off five field goal attempts. While Gonzaga is surely not pleased in defeat, it should be pleased with the effort it got from its interior players.
- Never Count Butler Out. Ever. Butler has been college basketball’s darling for quite a few years now and there has been no indication of that changing any time soon. Earlier this season it was sophomore former walk-on Alex Barlow who hit a shot with 2.1 seconds left in overtime to top then number one Indiana. Against Gonzaga, Butler looked to sophomore guard Roosevelt Jones for the late-game heroics. After Butler turned the ball over trailing by one with just 3.5 seconds seconds to play, Jones intercepted the Gonzaga inbounds pass and raced into the lane putting up the game-winning shot a fraction of a second before the final buzzer sounded. Considering Butler’s history in close games against strong opponents, no one should be surprised with how the Bulldogs topped Gonzaga. Butler is a team that has adopted the calm and collected demeanor of its coach Brad Stevens and uses this approach no matter the situation. With Stevens at the controls and Butler playing as a team, there really is no situation this team cannot handle or conquer.
Star of the Game. Roosevelt Jones, Butler. The star of the game has to be the player who hit the game-winning buzzer beater, right? Along with those amazing final two points, Jones had himself quite the game. Despite turning the ball over seven times, he was the best player on the court for the Bulldogs for much of the game. Finishing with 20 points, five rebounds, and four assists, Jones showed that he is perfectly capable of carrying this Butler team that did not have the services of its usual leader, Rotnei Clarke, who missed his second consecutive game with a neck strain. The fact that Jones is only a sophomore should leave college basketball fans salivating as he will only get better as he gets older.
- “That was on me. 100 percent on me.” – Gonzaga coach Mark Few, describing the final inbounds play that his team had to run without the luxury of a timeout.
- “For every one of those that goes in, you got some coming. I guess I got some coming.” – Butler coach Brad Stevens, describing just how outrageous Jones’ buzzer-beater actually was.
- “I have never done that in my life.” – Butler guard Roosevelt Jones, responding to the question if he had ever made a buzzer-beater before.
Sights and Sounds. Hinkle Fieldhouse succeeded in showing America that it is one of the toughest places to play in the country. The noise level in the building was consistently very high all night and at times, reached points where you could not even hear the person sitting next to you. With ESPN in the building for its College GameDay show, the level of excitement in the building was practically incalculable. There is no doubt that Hinkle Fieldhouse provides one of the best environments in all of college basketball.
What’s Next. Gonzaga returns to its home court Thursday when it will play host to new WCC foe Brigham Young. Butler will make its first trip to LaSalle as a member of the Atlantic 10 on Wednesday.