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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Butler winning big games again, Bulldogs upset North Carolina with a dozen 3-pointers

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(AP)

It's November, so it's premature to say the Butler Bulldogs are back. But after watching them take down ninth-ranked North Carolina in the Maui Invitational, it's tempting.

Butler coach Brad Stevens and his players are living the good life in paradise this week and they're doing it with the 3-pointer.

They upset Marquette with an improbable running 3-pointer in their opening game of the tournament. They built a 29-point lead against the Tar Heels and then survived a huge UNC rally late. The Bulldogs hit 12 3-pointers in the game.

Butler having success from behind the arc bodes well for the rest of the season considering it's coming off a year when it made just 28 percent of its 3-point attempts and ended up in the CBI tournament.

[Also: The system behind Jack Taylor's historic 138-point game for Grinnell]

Nine of the Bulldogs' dozen 3-pointers came from Arkansas transfer Rotnei Clarke and freshman Kellen Dunham, who obviously weren't on the roster a year ago.

Meanwhile, a young North Carolina team likely learned a valuable lesson that it can't just show up and beat teams, especially programs like Butler.

When a team loses four players to the NBA draft in one year and brings back a roster with only three players who have started a game in their careers, it's a safe bet it will stumble at least once early in the season. That's definitely what happened to the Heels.

The Tar Heels plodded through the first half scoring just 18 points, the lowest point total in one half in 16 years. But give them credit for regrouping and fighting almost all the way back. The Tar Heels came within six points in the final two minutes before the Bulldogs hit free throws to put them away.

This game might actually help both these teams down the line.

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