The sold-out arena roared as the game ended, and the Bulldogs rushed to midcourt where they celebrated with Barlow.
“I thought he just rose up over Hulls and it looked good,” Stevens said. “Don’t use this as an excuse to get down on Indiana. I still think they’re the team to beat in April. Our guys just played really hard and when it really mattered, they figured out a way.”
Butler (8-2) has now won six straight at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, better known as the home to the NBA’s Pacers, and four of the last five when this series been played in Indianapolis. The Bulldogs have wins over Marquette of the Big East, North Carolina of the ACC and back-to-back victories over Northwestern and Indiana of the Big Ten.
And Barlow, the surprising star, overshadowed a supporting cast that had strong games, too.
Roosevelt Jones scored 16 points and matched his career-highs with 12 rebounds and six assists before fouling out with 2:03 left in regulation.
Andrew Smith finished with 12 points and nine rebounds and held national player of the year candidate Cody Zeller in check until fouling out just 17 seconds after Jones.
Rotnei Clarke, who transferred to Butler from Arkansas, scored 13 of his 19 points and made three of his five 3-pointers in the second half.
In all, five Bulldogs players finished in double figures while the defense held one of America’s most proficient offenses to just 42.9 percent shooting from the field.
“We cost ourselves at the end of the game defensively,” coach Tom Crean said after waiting more than an hour to take questions. “They made the plays, there’s no question about that. But we made the mistakes on how we guarded them.”