All Roosevelt Jones wanted to do Saturday night was make a play.
He wound up stealing the ball and a victory.
The sophomore forward looped around Gonzaga's 7-foot center, stole an overthrown inbounds pass with 3.5 seconds left, took a peek at the clock and drove from midcourt into the lane for a buzzer-beating floater that gave No. 13 Butler a 64-63 victory over No. 8 Gonzaga.
It was just one more play in Butler's ever-expanding guide on how to make the improbable victories possible.
"These guys make you believe,'' coach Brad Stevens said. "The way they play the game, how hard they play the game, they just make you believe.''
Why not, given what Butler (16-2, 3-0 Atlantic 10) already has achieved this season.
The Bulldogs have won 13 straight games, including the last two without their leading scorer, Rotnei Clarke. With a win over No. 9 North Carolina in November, a win over No. 1 Indiana in December and now over No. 8 Gonzaga in January, Butler has beaten three top 10 teams in one season for the first time.
The latest came on a night when the power conferences ceded center stage to the two biggest little schools in college basketball.
And, of course, it came in the same Hinkle Fieldhouse where Oscar Robertson won two state titles and led his school to the first undefeated season in Indiana high school basketball, where Bobby Plump delivered the winner in Milan's miraculous 1954 state title run that later became the plot for the movie "Hoosiers,'' and in a venue that had never before hosted a game between two top 15 college teams.
This game had all the trimmings, from Plump's return to the court to a rare game-ending rushing of the floor by Butler's students. Much to Jones' surprise, he was the reason for the postgame celebration.
"I never did it in my life,'' Jones said when asked about the last time he hit a buzzer-beating shot.
The 6-foot-4 sophomore finished with 20 points, five rebounds and four assists. And after Alex Barlow, who hit the winning shot to upset the Hoosiers, was called for traveling with 3.5 seconds left, Jones made the perfect read when Gonzaga point guard David Stockton, the son of NBA Hall of Famer John Stockton, threw the inbounds pass over the head of 7-foot center Kelly Olynyk.
Jones, expecting a lob, played it like an NFL cornerback and moved behind Olynyk. That put Jones in better position to catch the ball than the Gonzaga center.
Then, with fans in the sold-out arena rising and their arms flailing, Jones raced into the lane where he threw up a mid-range shot that went through the net and set off another wild celebration.
Gonzaga (17-2, 4-0 West Coast Conference) didn't even bother to stick around for the replay review. The Zags knew it was good.
"He's just really, really tough. He's aggressive and he's confident and that's a heck of a shot,'' Gonzaga coach Mark Few said after watching an eight-game winning streak end. "I've never consistently seen anyone make so many floaters from 10 to 12 feet.''
Butler got 14 points from freshman Kellen Dunham and eight from Khyle Marshall.
The Zags were led by Elias Harris and Sam Dower, who each scored 20. Olynyk, the West Coast Conference's top scorer, finished with 14 points and seven rebounds despite spending most of the second half in foul trouble.
The numbers paled in comparison to what happened in what was being billed as the best non-power conference game of the season.
Organizers did it up right.
In the morning, Plump missed both of the shots he took from the same spot in the same gym where he made the winning shot in the 1954 Indiana high school state tourney.
Some fans rekindled memories of past eras by wearing jerseys bearing the names of former Butler players such as Matt Howard and Duane Lightfoot. Every seat was filled 10 minutes before tip-off, and the students who were standing in line more than 2 1/2 hours before the game's scheduled start time literally ran into the fieldhouse to find a precious seat behind one of the baskets.
What they really wanted to see was Clarke in his game-day attire instead of street clothes as he battles back from a severely sprained neck.
The consolation prize wasn't bad: An instant classic.
Butler trailed 33-32 at halftime but came out of the locker room and scored the first five points to take the lead. The Bulldogs didn't trail again until Harris' layup made it 59-58 with 1:26 left.
Jones answered 19 seconds later with his own layup to give the Bulldogs the lead, starting a sequence of four straight lead changes.
When Olynyk made two free throws to give the Zags a 63-62 lead and Barlow turned the ball over, it looked as though that would be the last lead change of the night.
But Jones responded by stealing the ball and the game.
"I just made a basketball play,'' he said. "I heard the coach say lob and I just made a basketball play.''
All Roosevelt Jones wanted to do Saturday night was make a play.
Verdigris’ Hanslovan commits to ORU
One of the biggest decisions of her upcoming senior year is finally behind Verdigris High School soccer standout Caitlyn Hanslovan.
The four-year letterwinner and three-time Class 4A state champion forward announced Tuesday that she will commit to playing NCAA Division I soccer at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa.
RSU's Loy earns third-straight Academic All American honor
Rogers State senior outfielder Katrina Loy was named to the Capital One Academic All-America College Division Softball Third Team as announced by the College Sports Information Directors of America.
Area players earn All-Region baseball awards
The awards keep piling up for Verdigris High School graduate Blake Battenfield.
After being named to the Oklahoma Coaches Association All-State Large East team earlier this week, Battenfield and numerous other players from Rogers County earned OCA All-Region accolades.
Battenfield was joined by his teammate, Ryan Hurd, who was a senior outfielder/shortstop for the three-time Class 3A state champion Verdigris Cardinals.
Clyde Barkley Basketball Camp starts May 28-30 in Inola
The Clyde Barkley Boys Basketball Camp will get underway on May 28-30 at Inola High School Gymnasium.
The three-day camp will go from 9 a.m. to Noon and is offered to boys entering third through ninth grade. The cost of the camp is $55 or $100 for two campers in the same family.
Zebras Baseball/Softball Camp set for May 29-31
The Claremore Zebras baseball and softball camp will take place on May 29-31 at Powers Park.
The camp is for boys and girls ages 4-14. The cost of this camp is $60 or $90 for two campers from the same family. Team discounts are also available for seven or more players.
OU athletics pledges support to tornado relief efforts
OU Athletics officials have been advised by local relief agencies that the best way to help Oklahoma disaster victims is to text RED CROSS to 90999 to give $10 or go online to make a donation at RedCross.org.
ORU hosts "Vaulting for Moore" fundraiser
The day after a devastating tornado ripped through Moore, Okla., the Oral Roberts University Track & Field program has announced that it will host a fundraiser to help in the aid and recovery efforts. The “Vaultin’ for Moore” fundraiser will be held inside the H.A. Chapman Indoor Practice Facility on ORU’s campus on Saturday, June 1 at 1 p.m.
ORU claims 4-2 win over SFA in Southland Conference Tourney
Timely hitting and solid relief pitching carried third-seeded Oral Roberts University to a 4-2 victory over sixth-seeded Stephen F. Austin on Wednesday morning at the 2013 Southland Conference Tournament. The opening day victory books ORU (24-30) a spot in the winner’s bracket of the eight-team tournament.
Drillers pledge $10,000 toward tornado relief efforts
The Tulsa Drillers announced today that the team was donating $10,000 to the tornado relief efforts on behalf of those who were affected by this week's storms in Shawnee and Moore, Oklahoma.The donation will be made to the American Red Cross.
Whitaker ready for new role as Texas Tech coach
Candi Whitaker's introduction as Texas Tech's basketball coach was probably news to many Lady Raider fans on Wednesday.
The 33-year-old mother of one son is expecting a second in September.
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- Verdigris’ Hanslovan commits to ORU