It was by design, IU coach Tom Crean said.
At the end of a roller-coaster battle at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, with Butler guard Alex Barlow driving past IU's Jordan Hulls into the paint with a tie score and the overtime clock ticking toward zero, the Hoosiers had no difference-making inside presence to stop him.
Because Crean wanted to best defend Butler's high ball screen action.
Enter guard Remy Abell.
Exit Zeller, a preseason All-American.
The top-ranked Hoosiers (9-1) tied the score at 86-86 on Zeller's basket with 19.3 seconds left in overtime. Crean went with the full-court pressure that had been so effective down the stretch. It forced Butler to call its final timeout when it couldn't in-bound the ball.
Crean had already seen IU botch defensive assignments (going under screens instead of over them, messing up on switches) that led to a pair of overtime three-pointers by Rotnei Clarke and Chase Stigall.
"There was a lot of miscommunication up top," guard Yogi Ferrell said. "In the heat of battle, sometimes you are miscommunicating and everyone made mistakes. We'll get back to practice and work on it."
Bulldogs coach Brad Stevens adjusted his in-bounds play and attacked the press with a small, quick lineup. Crean matched him with his own small, quick lineup of Abell, Hulls, Victor Oladipo, Yogi Ferrell and Will Sheehey.
That backfired when Barlow, a 5-11 walk-on previously better known for his baseball prowess, beat Hulls into the lane to hit the game-winning shot with 2.3 seconds left.
“We wanted to switch on everything,” Crean said. “They were in a ball-screen game. They had run high ball screens at the end of regulation and overtime. In that situation we wanted to continue to have that switching. It was either going to be a (Butler) drive or a three. Everybody had to do what they had to do and rebound.”
Crean had no regrets about not playing Zeller at the end.
“We wanted to make sure that we could defend the high ball screen they had been running consistently and not put ourselves in a switch that would be advantageous to them,” he said.
Zeller said IU has used that defensive approach all season.
“We were playing offense-defense. That's what Coach thought was best. We do a lot of that late in games.”
That the Hoosiers even had an overtime chance was due to Ferrell. His three-point basket with six seconds left in regulation tied the score at 76-76 and created the extra session. He finished with 12 points while hitting 2-of-4 three-pointers, impressive considering he entered the game just 1-for-10 from beyond the arc.
Ferrell's big shot came seconds after his turnover seemed to have cost IU a chance at overtime.
“That's Yogi,” Crean said. “He did the same thing in New York, and he's done the same thing in a couple of practices. He has great mental toughness and continues to understand how much he can improve. He's a 'next-play' guy, and that's why he's such a special guard at that age.”