INDIANAPOLIS – Having miraculously regained possession of the basketball 50 feet from the basket and a mere 3.5 seconds left on the clock, Butler was surely going to need a one of its better shooters to somehow save the Bulldogs, who trailed 63-62 against No. 8 Gonzaga on Saturday.
Unfortunately for Butler, its worst shooter – as far as having a jump shot is concerned – made the critical steal, and now would have to make the dramatic shot.
“Everybody talks about (Roosevelt Jones) doesn't shoot many jump shots,” Butler coach Brad Stevens said. “He doesn't shoot a jump shot.”
No, but the sophomore Bulldog has a knack for somehow getting what he does throw up toward the rim to go in. Jones did so on Saturday to give his team a 64-63 win at the buzzer for what many around the country are now calling the best game yet to be played this season.
“He's very unique,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “He's strong and attacks off of the bounce in an unorthodox way. He kind of shoots it off a dribble that maybe most people don't shoot off of.”
Jones drove down the floor with the thought of “just trying to make a basketball play,” and sank a leaning 13-footer through defensive contact for the game-winning shot.
If you put the 6-foot-4 forward in a gym by himself, he'd struggle to make a shot. But put Jones in traffic, having to fight through another body to score and he's as pure as Bobby Plump.
“He has an amazing floater,” Stevens said. “He has a wonderful touch on it. He always has. He's got different ways of scoring.”
It's ironic that on a team that includes several of the nation's best shooters at their respective positions, Jones is the one that made that shot on Saturday, which sent the 10,228 fans into bedlam.
“He can elevate and finish high,” Stevens explained. “He can float it off of his shoulder. He can kind of pull it back and finish. It's hard to guard a guy that can finish from different angles.”
On Saturday, Jones was doing a good job of keeping both teams in the game. He finished with a game-high 20 points (on 7 of 10 shooting) to go with his five rebounds and four assists. And defensively, he can guard any player (even Gonzaga's 7-footer) on any team. However, he also threw the ball away seven times by himself.
But that was all forgotten - and forgiven - following the victory, which may propel Butler (17-2) from being ranked 13th to a spot inside the top 10 later today.
“These guys are just crazy enough to make me believe (in them),” Stevens said. “Just the stuff they do, the way they play the game, the way that they stay in the game (and) the belief they have in one another.”