ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. - The seventh-ranked Butler men survived a test on a neutral court on Friday, holding off Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa 71-63 in the first game of the Cowley Classic to stay undefeated on the season.
In a contest that featured 14 lead changes and nine ties, Butler needed a late 10-0 run in the second half to eventually seal the contest.
Down 59-57 with seven minutes to go, Travis House scored a layup to tie the game. Damien Akao, Lamar Wofford and Caelan Neal each hit a pair of free throws and Jacolby Harris got a steal and a layup to put the Grizzlies ahead 67-59 with 3:20 to play.
The Grizzlies led most of the first half, as they took a 40-35 halftime lead. Trailing 12-10, House hit back-to-back three-pointers to put Butler in front with 13:49 before half. Tonkawa (9-5) would eventually pull within within one, but the Grizzlies scored the final four points of the half.
The Grizzlies' ability to get to the foul line played a key role in the victory. Butler shot 25-of-35 (71 percent) charity shots – including 16-of-19 In the second half – while Tonkawa made just 9-of-18. The clutch foul shooting overshadowed Butler's poor second-half shooting (7-of-26, 27 percent).
Butler will finish non-conference play tomorrow with a 7 p.m. tipoff at Cowley.