The Butler Bulldogs didn’t get rattled by a double-digit deficit against Ohio State, or the presence of their former coach.
Kelan Martin hit a layup with 3.8 seconds left and Butler edged the Buckeyes 67-66 in overtime on Sunday for the final day of the Phil Knight Invitational tournament.
“We just stayed poised in the moment,” Martin said about keeping cool down the stretch and into OT. “We were down 15 with five minutes left and then we just started pressing and we came up with a couple steals and we got a couple stops. Then we had good looks on the offensive end.”
Martin finished with 24 points for Butler (5-2) in the win over former coach Chris Holtmann’s new team. Kamar Baldwin added 14.
C.J. Jackson’s free throws gave the Buckeyes a 66-65 lead with just under a minute to go in the extra period. The Bulldogs controlled the clock before Martin’s layup and Jackson’s heave missed the mark at the buzzer — sending Butler’s bench onto the court for a boisterous celebration.
“It was obviously an emotional game,” Holtmann said. “They have a lot of fans here. And the obvious things along with the comeback elevated the energy in the room and at the end of the day I’m not sure we responded as well as we needed to. I think those guys know how I feel about them. We’ve been through a lot of stuff together, just like we’ll go through a lot of stuff here with this group. I took a few moments to say a few things to them. But it was such a dramatic finish that you don’t have a whole lot of time with them.”
Butler came back from a 15-point second half deficit to close within 59-54 on Martin’s 3-pointer with 1:31 left in regulation. Nate Fowler added a pair of free throws for the Bulldogs to get even closer. Kamar Baldwin’s 3-pointer with 16 seconds left tied it at 59.
After a timeout, Jackson’s layup didn’t fall for Ohio State (5-2) and Baldwin missed a 3 on the other end to send the game into overtime.
Jackson had 19 points and seven rebounds to lead Ohio State.
Holtmann spent three seasons at Butler, taking the Bulldogs to the Sweet 16 last season before leaving for Columbus. He replaced longtime Buckeyes coach Thad Matta.
Holtmann has said the decision to leave Butler was an emotional one, and before the game on Sunday he said the meeting on the losers’ side of the Motion Bracket was “not ideal.”
“Obviously Coach Holtmann and I are good friends, and these guys know him. It’s always tough when you have to play friends and compete, and somebody’s going to win and somebody’s going to lose,” first-year Bulter coach LaVall Jordan said. “Those don’t get easier, I don’t care how quickly you’ve been removed or how long the relationship’s been, it’s tough to compete against people you know and people you like and care about.”
Butler fell to Texas 61-48 on the tournament’s opening day on Thursday, then held off a late charge by Portland State for a 71-69 victory Friday.
Ohio State beat Stanford 79-71 on Friday after opening the three-day tournament on Thanksgiving Day with an 86-59 loss to No. 17 Gonzaga.
Dubbed the PK80, the tournament celebrated Nike co-founder Phil Knight’s 80th birthday.