Evansville beats Butler in a game with a wild finish

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Last year, Evansville shocked the world when they went into Hinkle Fieldhouse and knocked off Butler.

But that Evansville team was coming off of a dreadful, 3-15 performance in the Missouri Valley. The Bulldogs were coming off the first of their two national title game appearances. The Purple Aces notched what could legitimately be titled an upset in knocking off Butler last season.

In this year’s rematch, the end result was the same — Evansville again knocked off the Bulldogs, this time by a score of 80-77 in overtime — but the situation surrounding the win is much different. The Purple Aces are a sleeper in the Valley while Butler is in the midst of trying to figure out how they are going to replace Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack.

Evansville barely hung on to win this game, however. After a layup from Ryan cut Butler’s lead to 69-68 and a turnover from Chrishawn Hopkins on the ensuing possession gave Evansville the ball with 16 seconds left, Ryan was fouled with 0.9 seconds on the clock. He missed the first free throw but hit the second, giving Butler a prayer of a chance. That prayer was, apparently, answered. Butler threw the ball the length of the floor to Andrew Smith, who caught the ball and scored.

But the refs waived the bucket off. This is where is got confusing.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMFv7ezawlI]

The refs called a foul on the play and sent Smith to the line for two free throws. But they put 0.2 seconds on the clock. Why is this relevant? Because Smith missed both of the free throws. If he was fouled with 0.2 seconds left, wouldn’t it make sense that the shot counted?

Not necessarily. According to rule A.R. 137 (1), if a shooter is “fouled in the act of shooting but time expires before the release of the ball … [the shot] shall be disallowed since it was not released before time expired. [The shooter] shall attempt two free-throws since the foul was committed before the expiration of time. When one free-throw is successful, the game is over. When both free-throws are unsuccessful, the game continues with an extra period(s).”

It seems the only place that the referees erred was putting 0.2 seconds on the clock. There should have been no time remaining and Smith should have shot without anyone on the lane.

There are a couple of notes to take out of this game. For starters, Evansville managed to win this game despite an off-night from Ryan. He finished with 23 points, but he was just 4-15 from the floor. The Purple Aces put five players in double figures, including getting 27 points off their bench from Jordan Jahr and Lewis Jones. That’s a good sign.

For Butler, Chrishawn Hopkins looks like he is the real deal. The sophomore finished with 23 points and five assists, but he needs to clean up his turnovers (he had five, including the back-breaker with 16 seconds left) and better his shot selection (he went 8-19 from the floor). Smith may have missed those two free throws, but he was a huge reason Butler was is a position to win at the end of the game. He had 21 points, nine boards and four blocks (but he, too, finished with five turnovers).

Of note: Khyle Marshall only had six points and four rebounds, but he was in foul trouble much of the game. Jackson Aldredge played well off the bench, finishing with seven points and three assists.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.