Butler overcomes 21-point deficit to improve to 19-0

Butler overcomes 21-point deficit to improve to 19-0

EL DORADO, Kan. – The Butler men overcame a 21-point halftime deficit, getting a bucket from Robert Joiner with 1.1 second to play to pick up a 72-71 win over Pratt.

With the win, No. 4-ranked Butler stays undefeated at 19-0 and remains in first place in the Jayhawk West at 5-0. Pratt is now 12-7 overall and is now tied for third in the conference at 3-2.

The Grizzlies fell behind early, trailing 11-2. The deficit would grow to 10 points with six minutes left in the half and the Grizzlies didn't score over the final four minutes as Pratt pushed the advantage to 41-20 at the break.

It is the first time Butler had trailed at the half of any game this season and was also the largest deficit Butler has faced this year. The Grizzlies, though, came out hot to start the second half, scoring the first eight points.

Butler continued to chip away at the deficit and eventually took the lead for the first time when Robert Joiner came up with a steal in the full-court press. His ensuing dunk tied the game and electrified the Power Plant crowd. He was fouled on the play and made the free throw, putting the Grizzlies ahead 59-58 with 7:04 to go. 

The Grizzlies would push their lead to 66-60 after five straight points by Damien Akao with five minutes to play. At that point, Butler had outscored Pratt 46-19 in the second half.

Pratt, the defending Region VI champions, would not go away. The Beavers retook the lead at 69-68 and then got another basket with 20 seconds left to go ahead 71-70.

Butler took a timeout with 7.5 seconds to play. Eventually, the Grizzlies got the ball to Robert Joiner. He moved into the paint and banked a shot off the backboard with 1.1 seconds to play. Pratt had the ball stolen as it tried to inbound to end the game.

Jacolby Harris had 15 points to lead Butler, 13 of them coming in the second half. Lamar Wofford and Travis House had 11 points apiece. Damien Akao scored eight points while Kyle Steward and Robert Joiner had seven apiece. 

Butler will look for its 20th straight win when it travel to Concordia on Wednesday night to take on Cloud County (14-4 overall, 1-3 KJCCC West). A win would match the second-longest winning streak in school history. The 1993-94 Grizzly squad won 20 straight contests and went undefeated in conference play after opening the season at 10-4.