INDIANAPOLIS (AP)—No problem with A.J. Graves’ eyesight this time.
Graves, who had blurred vision after being poked in the eye in Butler’s last game, scored 25 points Saturday and the 18th-ranked Bulldogs took the lead in the final minute for a 68-65 victory over Purdue.
“I’m fine,” said Graves, a junior guard and Butler’s leading scorer at 17.9 points a game. “I had troubles, obviously, (last) Saturday night and Sunday. It just took me time to get it back, but it’s fine now.”
Brandon Crone’s driving layup and free throw gave Butler (11-1) a 66-64 lead with 59 seconds left. Mike Green of the Bulldogs hit two free throws around one by Purdue in the final 27 seconds, and a desperation 3-pointer by Purdue’s Tarrance Crump was off the mark just ahead of the buzzer.
Graves was limited to 14 points because of the eye injury in Butler’s first loss of the season a week earlier at Indiana State. But he hit four 3-pointers and finished 8-of-14 overall against the Boilermakers (8-2).
“I just go out there and play the game and try to do the best I can for the team,” said Graves, who also made all five of his free throw attempts, improving to 60-for-61 for the season, and came up with three of Butler’s eight steals.
Green added 18 points for the Bulldogs, whose victory in the Wooden Tradition was their third win this season at Conseco Fieldhouse.
“Our guys recovered from a setback last week … came in very focused, withstood some runs and persevered. There’s a lot to be said for guys who are unselfish,” Butler coach Todd Lickliter said.
Purdue, trying for its seventh straight victory, got a career-high 20 points from Gordon Watt.
“They were sagging and I just was fortunate to hit some early. But I need to be there defensively instead of offensively,” Watt said.
The Boilermakers also had 12 points from freshman Chris Kramer and 12 from leading scorer Carl Landry, eight on free throws.
“I don’t know if they played more physical. They’re just a smart basketball team,” Landry said. “They’re a good defensive team.”
Purdue’s last lead was 64-63 on a dunk by Landry. Crone, who missed his first nine shots and was just 2-of-13 for the game, then drove to the basket, was fouled and hit the free throw to give the Bulldogs the lead for good.
“We knew they were good. This wasn’t a surprise to us,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “We outrebounded them by 12, but the turnovers killed us.”
The 19 Purdue errors led to 23 points by Butler.
Landry had a game-high five turnovers and Crump had four.
“That gives them four or five extra possessions, and that’s very critical in a one-possession game,” Painter said.
A layup and then a 3-pointer by Julian Betko gave Butler its biggest lead, 24-16. The Bulldogs managed only one more field goal the rest of the half, but stayed in front from the free throw line and were up 35-33 at halftime.
Watt, a sophomore whose previous high was 14 points last month against Oklahoma, had 12 in the first half, including eight of Purdue’s first 11 as the Boilermakers took an early 6-point lead. But Butler overcame poor shooting and the Boilermakers’ rebounding advantage by forcing repeated turnovers that the Bulldogs turned into baskets.
Consecutive 3-pointers by Green and Graves tied the game for the first time at 11. After an error by Landry, Willie Veasley gave Butler its first lead, then Green hit another 3-pointer to complete an 11-0 run.
Landry, the Big Ten player of the week the past three weeks, missed his only field goal attempt and had four of Purdue’s 12 first-half turnovers.
Along with wins over Notre Dame and Indiana—also at Conseco Fieldhouse in the NIT Season Tip-Off—the victory over Purdue gave Butler its first sweep of Indiana’s “Big 3” teams since 1948-49.