Rotnei Clarke’s improbable 3-point heave at the buzzer against Marquette on Monday launched Butler into a second-round matchup against the No. 9 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels in the EA Sports Maui Invitational.
Even more improbable? Clarke and Butler dominating North Carolina for 30 minutes before hanging on for an 82-71 victory Tuesday.
With 11 minutes, 38 seconds left in the second half, the game looked like it would be a blowout. Butler led 60-31 and the Tar Heels couldn’t seem to buy a shot. But after a timeout, North Carolina came out with pressure defense and closed the gap to 62-45 in just more than two minutes, thanks to a handful of Butler turnovers and big 3-point shots by P.J. Hairston and Reggie Bullock.
“When you’re playing a program like North Carolina, you know they’re coming and their run’s coming next,” Bulldogs coach Brad Stevens said. “We didn’t handle it great, but we handled it enough that they never got inside six."