INDIANAPOLIS – The ball bounced off the rim, hit the backboard and then the rim again before finally falling through the hoop.
And just like that, Alex Barlow entered Butler lore.
And about two seconds later, No. 1 Indiana was unbeaten no more.
Barlow spun and made a floater with 2.5 seconds remaining in overtime, lifting the Bulldogs to an 88-86 victory in a Crossroad Classic game Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Once it got down to six (seconds), there was no hesitation. I was going to shoot that unless Rotnei (Clarke) or Kellen (Dunham) got wide open. I just figured I would throw it up to the rim, Barlow said. If I missed, I knew they wouldn’t get a shot off.
Luckily, it bounced in.
This game certainly was a classic, one in which both teams staged rallies before the Bulldogs (8-2) eventually came out with the win.
They played a good game, and they made tough shots when we didn’t make tough shots, Indiana guard Victor Oladipo said.
Indiana (9-1) needed a big shot just to force overtime. Kevin Yogi Ferrell delivered, making a three-pointer with 6.6 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game at 76.
I looked at Cody (Zeller) and he popped out, he gave me the ball and I was open to shoot my shot, Ferrell said.
Indiana went up four in overtime. But Butler regained the lead on back-to-back three-pointers by Clarke and Chase Stigall. Zeller made a layup with 19.3 seconds to tie the game at 86. That set the stage for Barlow, who came to Butler as a walk-on and had taken only 10 shots this season.
I didn’t feel like we could call a set, because I didn’t think we could dribble it around until eight or nine seconds because of the pressure, Butler coach Brad Stevens said. So let’s just get into movement and see if we can figure out a way to get to the basket.
Barlow drove, then spun away from IU guard Jordan Hulls and attempted an off-balance floater that went in. Hulls missed a desperation three-point shot from around halfcourt, and Butler fans stormed the court.
We got beat by a really good team, IU coach Tom Crean said. We didn’t rebound the ball well enough today. Our communication defensively was good, but it was sporadic in crunch time. That’s got to get better.
Butler ran several high-ball screens in the end of regulation and overtime, and Indiana countered by making several matchup substitutions. That meant Zeller wasn’t on the floor when Barlow went to the basket for the game-winner.
We wanted to defend their high-ball screen, which they had been running consistently, and not put ourselves in a switch that would be advantageous to them, Crean said. And then everybody had to rebound the ball.
Butler outrebounded Indiana 40-38. IU shot 42.9 percent from the floor and went 27 of 38 from the line (71.1 percent). Oladipo and Zeller led the Hoosiers with 18 points apiece.
We missed some shots, we missed some free throws, that’s all part of it, Crean said. But to me, the big theme from where we have to improve is in our rebounding, and we have to keep shoring up our defense.
Butler shot 51.7 percent in the second half and 71.4 percent (5 of 7) in overtime.
Clarke, defended well by Oladipo, still finished with 19 points. Roosevelt Jones had 16 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Andrew Smith had 12 points. Jones, Smith and Erik Fromm (10 points) fouled out, but Butler still prevailed.
Don’t use this as an excuse to get down on Indiana, Stevens said. I still think they’re a team to beat in April. Our guys just played hard and figured out a way.