No. 4 Butler holds off Barton late to start season 17-0

No. 4 Butler holds off Barton late to start season 17-0

The Butler men now have the second-best start to a season in school history after holding off Barton 73-71 on Saturday afternoon at the Power Plant.

The Grizzlies are 17-0, which betters the 16-0 starts by Butler teams in the 1988-89 and 1996-97 seasons. The only team to start with more wins was the 1941-42 team, which went undefeated at 26-0 on the season. 

Butler is also 3-0 in conference play for the first time since the 1993-94 season. The 3-0 start puts the Grizzlies in first place in the Jayhawk West.

Butler had an 8-3 lead early, but trailed Barton for most of the first 10 minutes of the game. The Grizzlies were down 20-17 before going on an 8-0 run. Chris Howell scored four of those points, the second being on a jump shot that put Butler up 25-20 with 9:05 left in the half.

The Grizzlies would stretch the lead to as many as 10 in the period before Barton went on an 11-1 run that tied the game 33-33 with 2:28 to play before the half.

Butler would answer with five straight points on a pair of free throws by Lamar Wofford and a 3-pointer by Damien Akao and led 38-34 at the break after a late Barton free throw.

The Grizzlies dominated the start of the second half. Robert Joiner hit a 3-pointer that triggered a 17-3 run that pushed the Grizzlies to a 55-37 lead. Butler still led by as many as 15 points with 10:33 to go, but Barton came charging back.

The Cougars eventually tied the game on a 3-pointer by Khalil Gracey and moments later took a 69-67 lead following a layup by Jalin Barnes with 3:01 to play.

Butler answered with a 3-pointer by Kyle Steward with 2:48 left to go ahead 70-69 and the Grizzlies would not trail again. A Derrick Byrd layup and a free throw by Lamar Wofford proved to be just enough for Butler to hang on to the win.

Steward led Butler with 20 points, while Lamar Wofford just missed a second consecutive double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds. Chris Howell came off the bench to score 11 points with 11 rebounds. Caelan Neal had seven assists for the Grizzlies while Jacolby Harris had six assists and three steals.

Jalin Barnes led Barton (14-3 overall, 2-1 Jayhawk West) with 19 points. Ahmad Walker had a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Cougars.

The Grizzlies will look to continue their winning streak on Wednesday with a long road trip to Colby to take on the Trojans, who were 10-7 overall and 1-2 in conference play before a road game at Garden City on Saturday night.