BY KYLE BEERY | STAFF REPORTER
The Butler men’s basketball team took a trip to Paradise for Thanksgiving break. But it’s not all fun and games. It’s a business trip.
And the unranked Bulldogs took care of business Wednesday, knocking off the No. 5 University of North Carolina Tar Heels 74-66 in the Battle 4 Atlantis opener on Paradise Island, Bahamas.
Senior Alex Barlow scored 17 points while freshman Kelan Martin also scored 17, sparking the Bulldogs (4-0) on 3-of-6 shooting from three-point range.
The Bulldogs trailed the Tar Heels (3-1) 35-32 at halftime. Barlow hit three-pointers on back-to-back possessions to put the Bulldogs out in front.
Butler later used a 16-4 run over five and a half minutes to extend the lead to 59-45 near the midway point of the second half.
But North Carolina kept it close down the stretch, trading three-point plays for free throws. Down just four, junior Brice Johnson turned the ball over on a back court violation, all but sealing the game for Butler.
The Bulldogs shot just 22-of-72 from the field and they still won, in large part due to their 29 offensive rebounds. Butler out-rebounded North Carolina 57-40 – the Bulldogs had more offensive rebounds than the Tar Heels did defensive rebounds.
This isn’t the first time the Bulldogs have beaten the Tar Heels on an island. Butler beat North Carolina 82-71 in the semifinals of the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational in 2012.
Junior Roosevelt Jones finished with 12 points Wednesday. He was just 3-of-11 from the field, but was a huge help to the Bulldogs at the line, going 6-for-8, including hitting four in a row down the stretch.
Barlow, the starting point guard, fouled out leaving the Bulldogs with one less ball handler on the floor. Junior Kellen Dunham shot just 3-for-17 from the field and 1-for-10 from distance, but he also helped the Bulldogs at the line, a perfect 4-for-4, finishing with 11 points.
Junior Marcus Paige led the Tar Heels with 18 points, and Johnson chipped in 11. Sophomore Kennedy Meeks had seven points, 10 rebounds and five blocks for UNC.
Senior Kameron Woods had a game-high 13 rebounds and six points.
Butler advances to the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis and will face the winner of the UCLA-Oklahoma game Thursday at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN.
The Sooners were ranked No. 19 in the preseason polls, but are now unranked after losing to Creighton and Gonzaga – two familiar opponents of Butler. UCLA is ranked No. 22.
The other half of the bracket features No. 2 Wisconsin vs. Alabama-Birmingham at 7:00 p.m. followed by No. 18 Florida vs Georgetown.
“knock off” not “knock of”