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Jeff Eisenberg

Butler's game-winner also a season-saver for Marquette

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

It has to be the basketball gods making things right.

How else do you explain Marquette eking out its second straight overtime victory on the most improbable of game-winning shots after starting Big East play losing five of seven games by a total of 11 points?

With the Golden Eagles tied with St. John's and in jeopardy of double overtime, Jimmy Butler drove into traffic, got stripped of the ball and found himself on the baseline with his back to the basket and less than two seconds remaining. Somehow, someway, he squared his shoulders in the air and buried a spinning buzzer-beater, helping Marquette stave off a damaging loss and escape with a 63-61 victory.

"Because of the games we've been in, no situation rattles our guys because we've been through all of them," Marquette coach Buzz Williams told reporters after the game. "I don't know if that's good or bad, but if they're all close, it prepares you for whatever the situation."

Had the Golden Eagles (18-9) lost to St. John's, their tournament resume would have absorbed another bad loss and they would have fallen to seventh in the Big East, just a game ahead of four teams tied for eighth. Instead they improved to 9-6 in conference play and positioned themselves to all but wrap up an NCAA tournament berth with two more victories in their final three games.

Butler had missed far more conventional potential game-winning jumper at the end of regulation, but Marquette had the confidence in the junior guard to put game on his shoulders again. It was Butler's second game-winner in less than a month, the first one coming against UConn a few weeks ago.

"It was the same play (as UConn)," Butler told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I don't know why, but when I get the ball at the end of the game I'm thinking, 'Maybe the team wants me to take the shot.' If not, then they're just going to have to deal with it."

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