OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — With Roosevelt Jones holding the ball above the top of the key and time running down, there was only one thing for Butler to do.
“The play is called, ‘Get it to ‘Rose’ and get out of the way,'” Bulldogs coach Chris Holtmann said.
Jones ran it to perfection, driving through the middle and banking in the winning layup with 1.9 seconds to lift No. 19 Butler to a 58-56 win over Creighton on Monday night.
“He wanted me to make a play,” Jones said, “and I did.”
The Bulldogs (19-7, 9-4 Big East) wouldn’t have been in position for Jones’ game-winner if point guard Alex Barlow hadn’t scrambled to rebound Kellen Dunham’s missed shot a few seconds earlier.
“It’s a huge play by Alex,” Dunham said. “He makes them all the time in practice and makes them all the time in games, and that’s what makes him a special player. Roosevelt has ice in his veins. It was great to see him attack and be aggressive late and seeing that shot go in was fantastic.”
Devin Brooks missed Creighton’s last-second 3-pointer, ending the upset bid by the team that shares last place with Marquette in the Big East.
Dunham scored 19 points, but only six in the second half as Creighton’s Austin Chatman clamped down on him. But Jones had 12 of his 18 after halftime and Kameron Woods added 10 for the Bulldogs, who were playing without the injured Andrew Chrabascz.
Chatman and Brooks had 17 points apiece to lead Creighton (12-15, 3-11).
Creighton led 54-48 with 3:13 left after Brooks hit a jumper that bounced high off the back of the rim and dropped through the hoop. But Dunham scored, and Barlow converted a three-point play to make it a one-point game.
After Chatman missed the front end of a 1-and-1, Jones drove the baseline for a layup, got fouled by Will Artino and made the free throw to put Butler up 56-54 with 1:52 left.
Chatman then missed in close and scurried back to knock the loose ball back to Brooks, whose layup tied it again.
The Bulldogs had the ball with 43 seconds, and Dunham got off an awkward jumper that Barlow was able to track down, giving Butler the possession with the shot clock off.
Jones let time run down before he made his move to the hoop for the winning shot.
“It’s probably as proud of a group as I’ve been given what we came off of Saturday night, losing a teammate to injury and playing in a hostile environment,” Holtmann said. “I thought they showed great grit down the stretch to pull this one out.”
Butler looked disjointed at times without the 6-foot-7, 225-pound Chrabascz, who broke his right hand in the second half of Saturday’s loss to Villanova. The Bulldogs’ third-leading scorer is expected to miss two to four weeks.
Freshman Tyler Wideman started in Chrabascz’s place and was spelled by Austin Etherington and Jackson Davis. Those three combined for four points and four rebounds.
“It takes toughness to beat a tough team, and we were tough about 95 percent of the time,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “The 5 percent that we weren’t got us beat. They out-willed us.”
GOOD NIGHT, FOLKS
After he made his winning shot, Jones rushed over to the sideline opposite his bench to say, quite demonstrably, good night to the Bluejays backers dressed in blue. “Fans were talking to me throughout the whole game,” he said. “I was just telling them to have a good trip back home.”
Butler: Kellen Dunham has averaged 20.8 points in the last four games. He scored a season-low seven against Creighton last month…. Former coach Brad Stevens, now the Boston Celtics coached, watched from behind the Bulldogs’ bench.
Creighton: This is the second season in program history, and first since 1971-72, that the Bluejays have played six ranked opponents. It’s the first season four ranked teams visited Omaha. … Chicago Bulls rookie Doug McDermott, the 2014 national player of the year and three-time All-American for Creighton, received a big hand when he was shown in a suite on the video board at halftime.
Butler visits Xavier on Saturday.
Creighton visits DePaul on Feb. 24.
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