Mike Green matched his career high with 24 points and No. 12 Butler used a big second-half run to beat Cleveland State 70-55 in Indianapolis, for its fifth Horizon League championship and first automatic berth in the NCAA tournament since 2001.
Butler (29-3) blew a 14-point lead in the first half but pulled away again midway through the second half and took a 60-44 lead with 6 minutes to go on consecutive 3-pointers by Drew Streicher and reserve Zach Hahn.
J’Nathan Bullock, who led Cleveland State (21-12) with 21 points, scored the next five for the Vikings, but they never came closer than 13 points the rest of the game.
Matt Howard added 16 points and Streicher scored a season-high 11 for the Bulldogs.
Both of Butler’s NCAA appearances since it last won the Horizon tournament came as at-large selections. The Bulldogs would’ve been a lock to get in to the NCAA tournament even if they had left it up to the selection committee. But this time they punched their own ticket.
Cleveland State came in as the Horizon’s No. 2 seed behind the top-seeded Bulldogs and reached the title game for the first time. The loss left the Vikings on the NCAA bubble, however, still needing help from the selection committee on Sunday to make their first tournament appearance since 1986.
Everything went Butler’s way the first 7 minutes and again for the last seven.
Helped by repeated turnovers by Cleveland State, Butler took a 7-0 lead, widened it to 14-4 on a 3-pointer by A.J. Graves and took its biggest lead of the first half at 20-6 with consecutive 3-pointers by Pete Campbell and Streicher.
The Vikings held the Bulldogs to two baskets and six free throws over the next 9 minutes, however, and pulled within 30-29 on a rebound basket by Cedrick Jackson. Butler built the lead back to five, but Bullock hit 1 of 2 free throws, Joe Davis scored and Jackson hit two foul shots to tie the game for the only time at 34.
Two free throws apiece by Green and Graves gave the Bulldogs a 38-34 lead at halftime.
The Vikings played most of the second half without Jackson, who re-injured his left ankle and left early in the second.
Cleveland State came within 43-41, but a basket by Howard and two straight by reserve Willie Veasley started Butler’s decisive 17-3 surge. Cleveland State never recovered.
Green, the league’s Most Valuable Player for the season, was also named tournament MVP.
Oral Roberts 71, IUPUI 64: At Tulsa, Okla., Moses Ehambe hit seven 3-pointers and scored 25 points, and the Golden Eagles (24-8) beat the Jaguars (26-7) to win their third straight Summit League tournament title.
Robert Jarvis added 16 points and Shawn King scored 10, and the two teamed up to lead the Golden Eagles down the stretch.
Summit League player of the year George Hill had 24 points to lead the Jaguars.
Western Kentucky 67, Middle Tennessee 57: At Mobile, Ala., Jeremy Evans had 20 points and 14 rebounds as the Hilltoppers (27-6) defeated the Blue Raiders (17-15) to win the Sun Belt Conference tournament championship.
Tyrone Brazelton and Courtney Lee added 13 points apiece as Western Kentucky won the Sun Belt for the sixth time.
Desmond Yates had 16 points for Middle Tennessee, while Demetrus Green scored 12 points and Theryn Hudson added 10 for the Blue Raiders.
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