Butler beats Bucknell, 68-56, in NCAA basketball tournament
Andrew Smith had a double-double including a career-high 16 rebounds, Roosevelt Jones added 14 points and Butler made its free throws down the stretch to hold off upset-minded Bucknell 68-56 in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday.
After trailing for most of the game, 11th-seeded Bucknell got back into it with a 19-2 second-half run. But after Joe Willman's jumper cut Butler's lead to 43-42 with 6:56 left, the Bison (28-6) went almost five minutes without scoring. Butler went 18-of-20 at the line in the last 4:43.
Willman scored a career-high 20 points for Bucknell, but the Bison couldn't overcome an off day by two-time Patriot League Player of the Year Mike Muscala. Bucknell's all-time leading scorer had nine points, only the second time this season he'd failed to reach double figures.
Top scorers for the Bulldogs were Rotnei Clarke with 17, Roosevelt Jones with 14 and Andrew Smith with 14. The Bisons' Joe Willman had 20 points and Butler held Mike Muscala to 9.
Butler Coach Brad Stevens is now 12-4 in the NCAA tourney.
The Bulldogs will face Marquette on Saturday. The third-seeded Golden Eagles came back to beat Davidson 59-58 on a last-second lay-up. Butler beat Marquette 72-71 on November 19 in the Maui Invitational.
After a year away from the NCAA men's college basketball tournament, the Butler Bulldogs are excited to be back. Excitement, however, doesn't keep teams here. The Bulldogs know it.
Butler returns several players who played in the national championship game in 2011, but most of their team has never even been to the NCAA tournament. That includes leading scorer Rotnei Clarke.
Butler's biggest challenge is Bison big man Mike Muscala. He averages 19 points and 11 rebounds a game and led the nation with 22 double doubles. He is Bucknell's all-time leading scorer.
Around Muscala are three other players who have scored more than 1,000 points in their careers. It will be Butler center Andrew Smith's primary job to guard Muscala, but Coach Brad Stevens says the entire roster will have to help.