INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Roosevelt Jones stole an inbound pass with 3.5 seconds left and hit a floater from just inside the foul line right before the buzzer to help No. 13 Butler upset No. 8 Gonzaga 64-63 on Saturday night.
Jones finished with 20 points and the Bulldogs have now won 13 in a row including two straight without their top scorer, Rotnei Clarke. It's the first time Butler (16-2, 3-0 Atlantic 10) has ever beaten three top 10 teams in one season. They also defeated No. 9 North Carolina in November and No. 1 Indiana in December.
Gonzaga (17-2, 4-0 West Coast Conference) was led by Saw Dower and Elias Harris who each had 20 points. The loss ended the Zags eight-game winning streak.
After starting the second half in a 33-32 deficit, Butler scored the first five points of the second half and never trailed again. But the Bulldogs also never trailed until Elias Harris' layup made it 59-58 with 1:24 left in the game.
Jones answered 18 seconds later with his own layup to give the Bulldogs the lead, and the team traded the lead on the next four possessions until Butler's Alex Barlow was called for a travel with 3.5 seconds left. But on the inbound play, the Zags overthrew 7-foot center Kelly Olynyk and Jones looped around, caught the ball and drove from midcourt for the winning shot setting off a wild celebration.
It was a game that came with all the trimmings, and it lived up to every bit of the hype.
In the morning, Butler's most famous player, Bobby Plump, took two shots from the same spot in the same gym where he made the winning shot for the 1954 Milan team that became the basis for the movie ``Hoosiers.'' He missed both.
Some fans rekindled memories of past eras with jerseys bearing the names of former Butler players such as Matt Howard and Duane Lightfoot. Every seat was filled 10 minutes before tip-off, and the students who were standing in line more than 2 1/2 before the game's scheduled starting time literally ran into Hinkle to get a precious seat behind one of the baskets to see the first game at Hinkle between two Top 15 teams.
And afterward, those fans rushed the floor.
You may think this was an ugly four-game road trip for the Caps, but with a 3-2 win in Buffalo on Monday, Washington managed to earn five out of a possible eight points.
Here is why the Caps beat the Sabres and managed to save the road swing.
A missed high-stick (maybe) from Ovechkin
Ovechkin scored the first goal of the game in the second period as he deflected a high-shot from Christian Djoos down past goalie Chad Johnson. But did the deflection come on a high stick? The play was reviewed and the goal was ultimately upheld. According to the NHL, it was determined that "video review supported the Referee's call on the ice that Alex Ovechkin's stick was at or below the height of the crossbar when he tipped the puck into the Buffalo net."
NBC Sports Washington analyst Alan May broke the play down during the second intermission and made his case for why the NHL actually got the call wrong.
Was that a high stick? I don't know. As compelling an argument as May made, it still looks inconclusive which means the review made the right call. What surprises me is that the referee did not disallow the goal on the initial call.
Whether the review is truly inconclusive or flat out wrong, Washington was fortunate to walk away from this sequence with the goal.
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A centimeter of ice
Hockey is a game of inches and it took less than an inch to put Washington up 2-0. When an Evgeny Kuznetsov shot hit off the boards and bounced back to the front of the net, it sparked a scrum next to goalie Chad Johnson. Eventually, John Carlson was able to get a swipe on the puck sending it trickling to the goal line, but Kyle Okposo was there waiting and appeared to kick it out to safety just before it crossed. A review triggered by the Situation Room, however, revealed that the puck had just barely managed to cross the goal line before Okposo got to it.
Here's the view the NHL released after the review:
Philipp Grubauer's third period
After dominating the first 40 minutes of the game and taking a 2-0 lead, Buffalo predictably made a late push in the third period with two goals to pull within one. Washington outshot the Sabres in the first and second periods, but Buffalo reversed that trend in a big way in the third as they outshot the Caps 17-6. Grubauer turned aside 15 of those shots and was impressive after barely being tested in the first two periods.
RELATED: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FROM CAPS-SABRE
Coming off an ugly 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, a Buffalo Sabres team missing star Jack Eichel was just what the doctor ordered for the Caps to get back on track. Washington dominated the first two periods and then survived a late surge from Buffalo for the 3-2 win.
After battling to a scoreless first, Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson spotted Washington a 2-0 lead in the second. They then held on in the third period as Buffalo began to tilt the ice in their favor, with Evgeny Kuznetsov scoring the empty-netter to put this game out of reach. Evander Kane would pull Buffalo within one, but with only three seconds left it was too little, too late.
Here are the three stars of the game:
1. Alex Ovechkin: Ovechkin opened up the scoring in the second period as he deflected down an innocent shot from Christian Djoos past Chad Johnson.
Ovechkin also set a physical tone as he battled with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen all game long. After taking a high elbow from Ristolainen early in the game Ovechkin skated up to Ristolainen prior to the faceoff on his next shift and let him know that it was on.
2. John Carlson: Carlson had a hand in both of Washington's first two goals. He recorded a secondary assist on Ovechkin's goal as he made a blue line pass to Djoos which Djoos fired on net and Ovechkin deflected. Carlson then managed to hit the puck past the goal line in a scrum next to Johnson. It looked initially like Kyle Okposo had managed to kick out the puck just before it crossed, but Carlson was awarded the goal as a review showed the puck had completely crossed the line.
3. Philipp Grubauer: A Sabres team that ranks last in the NHL in scoring and that was also without its leading scorer did not test Grubauer much in the first two periods. Facing a 2-0 deficit, however, Buffalo made a third period push to try to tie the game, but Grubauer was up to the task as he turned aside 15 of the 17 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes. He finished with 32 total saves on the night.