Butler’s Brad Stevens has coached—and won—just five games in his career. Texas Tech’s Bob Knight is six wins why of reaching 900 for his career.
Fortunately for Stevens, he has the more experienced team as his 22nd-ranked Bulldogs meet Knight’s Red Raiders on Saturday for the championship of the Great Alaska Shootout.
Stevens took over at Butler (5-0) after Todd Lickliter moved on to coach Iowa. Lickliter left his assistant plenty of talent with five senior starters from a team that lost to eventual national champion Florida in the regional semifinals of the 2007 NCAA tournament.
Knight, the all-time winningest coach in Division I, has one senior that starts regularly in Martin Zeno. The legendary coach has also relied this season on freshmen such as John Roberson and D’Walyn Roberts to help the Red Raiders to a 4-1 start.
The Bulldogs moved into the national rankings last season after beating Indiana, Tennessee and Gonzaga en route to capturing the NIT Season Tip-Off. They are in position to win another November event this season after beating Virginia Tech 84-78 in overtime in the semifinals on Friday.
Senior point guard Mike Green scored 12 of his 23 points in overtime and also found Pete Campbell for a key 3-pointer in the extra session. Green was also steady in Wednesday’s 79-65 win over Michigan, finishing with 14 points and eight assists.
“It’s hard against teams like Virginia Tech and Michigan and whoever we play tomorrow to get in and finish and be tough because they’re so long, and they’re so athletic but I thought Mike Green did an unbelievable job getting to the rim, being strong with it,” Stevens said.
Campbell made seven 3-pointers and scored 26 points to lead Butler, which had another big game from beyond the arc.
The Bulldogs made 14 3-pointers after making a season-high 17 against Michigan. They’ve hit at least 10 in four straight games.
Leading scorer A.J. Graves has turned in back-to-back 17-point performances in this tournament. Graves is shooting just under 48 percent on 3s this season.
The Red Raiders advanced by beating No. 14 Gonzaga 73-63 on Friday. Alan Voskuil scored a career-high 28 points and Roberts added 11 off the bench for Texas Tech.
“He came up with the ball. He rebounded. He did a lot of things and I think he was tired when it was over with,” Knight joked about Voskuil. “We’ve got be very careful about that, I think.”
The play of Roberts and the reserves helped pick up Zeno, who failed to have at least one basket for only the second time in his career after he missed all four shots.
Roberson also had a difficult night after making six 3-pointers and scoring 22 points in Thursday’s 74-47 win over Alaska-Anchorage. He missed all four 3s and scored eight points.