Butler outlasts North Carolina surge, 82-71
Posted November 20, 2012
Lahaina, Hawaii — Butler quickly took the lead over North Carolina at the Semifinals of the Maui Invitation at the Lahaina Civic Center. The Tar Heels have not been able to find an offensive rhythm and the Bulldogs are taking advantage.
At the half Butler leads UNC 35-18, Bulldogs Rotnei Clarke leads the team with 11 points and five rebounds. Carolina freshman Marcus Paige leads the Heels with five points, one rebound and one assist.
With under ten to go in the second half, North Carolina has finally found their spark, but it ended up being too little too late. The Heels cut a once 29 point lead to 6, but couldn't get any closer.
FACTS & STATS: Site: Lahaina Civic Center (2,400) -- Maui, Hawaii. Television: ESPN. Home Record: Butler 1-0, UNC 2-0. Away Record: Butler 0-1, UNC 1-0. Neutral Record: Butler 1-0, UNC 1-0. Conference Record: Butler 0-0, UNC 0-0. Series Record: North Carolina leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: The Butler Bulldogs will once again play their cherished role of David as they try to upset the No. 9 North Carolina Tar Heels in the semifinal round of the Maui Invitational at the Lahaina Civic Center.
The winner of this game will advance to the championship round to face either Illinois or Chaminade.
The Bulldogs are coming off a thrilling 72-71 first-round win over Marquette courtesy of a game-winning three-pointer by Rotnei Clarke as time expired. Butler struggled offensively throughout the entire game and had made only 3- of-20 attempts from beyond the arc before Clarke's buzzer beater, but it only turned the ball over seven times which created just enough possessions to squeak out the win. Coach Brad Stevens has taken Butler to unprecedented heights during his tenure, which makes it nearly impossible to count the Atlantic 10's newest member out of any game.
The Tar Heels' 95-49 win over Mississippi State in their first round game was not as glamorous or exciting as the Butler-Marquette contest, but it was much more impressive. UNC dominated the Bulldogs by making 15-of-32 attempts from distance, dishing out 22 assists, and recording 16 steals. Mississippi State managed to net just 28.3 percent of its shots versus the active Tar Heels' defense. Coach Roy Williams seems to have a title contender on his hands despite sending off four first round picks to the NBA over the offseason. UNC has reached the championship game of the Maui Invitational five times in history and it has been crowned tournament champions three times. The last time the Tar Heels won the event was in 2008.
This will be the fourth time in history these two programs collide on the hardwood. The Tar Heels hold a 2-1 edge in the all-time series that has been idle since 1994.
The Bulldogs do not have a superstar that stands out, but they are solid at every position. Khyle Marshall paced the four Butler players that scored in double-figures with 24 points on 11-of-15 shooting from the floor. The junior forward also grabbed nine rebounds to establish a season-high in that category as well. Clarke's last second trey gave him 20 points, but he made only 7- of-21 field goal attempts to get there. Sophomore forward Roosevelt Jones did a great job distributing with a team-best four assists while center Andrew Smith added 10 points in 24 minutes before fouling out.
The Tar Heels, as usual, do have a player that stands out. This season it is sophomore forward James Michael McAdoo. Although he scored only 10 points in Monday's blowout win, McAdoo was unstoppable inside prior to the tournament. He began the season with a pair of double-doubles and finished just one rebound shy of his third at Long Beach State on Friday. UNC showed versus MSU that it will be impossible to leave its perimeter players to help on the star forward. Leslie McDonald drained 6-of-9 three-point attempts on his way to a game-high 21 points while P.J. Hairston made four from deep to net 18 points. Swingman Reggie Bullock has a bigger role in the offense this season after serving primarily as a spot-up shooter and lock down defender in 2011-12.
It is incredible how deep the Tar Heels managed to stay despite losing its four best players. Butler has an edge in experience, but that is its only advantage. When the Bulldogs lost to an unimpressive Xavier squad just a week ago, it became clear they are not the super mid-major they once were when Gordon Haywood and Shelvin Mack were running the show. Butler will put up a much better fight than MSU did, but UNC will create some distance as it moves towards the championship game.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Carolina 79, Butler 64