The cast of characters has changed.
Butler’s character has not.
Rotnei Clarke scored 11 of his 17 points in the last 8:44, Andrew Smith had a double-double with a career-high 16 rebounds and 14 points, and Butler withstood a late rally from upset-minded Bucknell for a 68-56 victory in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday in an East Regional game at Lexington, Ky.
Roosevelt Jones added 14 points for the sixth-seeded Bulldogs, who watched an 11-point lead turn into a 6-point deficit before regaining control of the game for good.
Butler (27-8) has won 11 of its last 13 games in the NCAA Tournament, the only two losses coming in the 2010 and 2011 title games.
Joe Willman had a career-high 20 points for Bucknell (28-6). But the 11th-seeded Bison couldn’t overcome an off day from two-time Patriot League Player of the Year Mike Muscala, who had 9 points, only the second time this season he’s failed to reach double figures.
California 64, UNLV 61 — Allen Crabbe had 19 points and nine rebounds, reserve Robert Thurman scored all 12 of his points on dunks, and the 12th-seeded Bears held off the fifth-seeded Runnin’ Rebels in an East Region matchup at San Jose, Calif.
The Golden Bears (21-11) held the Runnin’ Rebels (25-10) without a basket for more than 11 minutes in the second half. Bryce Dejean-Jones scored 15 points for UNLV.
Syracuse 81, Montana 34 — Brandon Triche scored 20 points and C.J. Fair added 13 as the fourth-seeded Orange shut down the No. 13 seed Grizzlies in San Jose.
Michael Carter-Williams chipped in 4 points, 8 rebounds, and 9 assists as the Orange (27-9) raced out to an early lead that grew as big as 50 points and coasted past the Grizzlies (25-7) to their most lopsided tournament win since beating Brown, 101-52, in the first round in 1986.
Michigan State 65, Valparaiso 54 — Derrick Nix had 23 points and a career-high 15 rebounds to help power the third-seeded Spartans (26-8) past the 14th-seeded Crusaders in Auburn Hills, Mich.
Erik Buggs scored 14 and Matt Kenney had 10 points for the Crusaders (26-8).
Memphis 54, Saint Mary’s 52 — Matthew Dellavedova’s 3-pointer from the right wing sailed long as time expired, allowing the sixth-seeded Tigers to hold on for a win over 11th-seeded Gaels at Auburn Hills.
The Tigers (31-4) led by 15 in the first half, but nearly gave the game away in the final seconds. With Saint Mary’s down 5, Eividas Petrulis banked in a 3-pointer with 3.1 seconds to play. Memphis then lost the ball when Jordan Giusti deflected the inbound pass off the Tigers’ Joe Jackson and out of bounds.
Dellavedova, the career leader in scoring for the Gaels (28-7), was able to get a shot off from in front of his team’s bench, but it was well long.
Saint Louis 64, New Mexico State 44 — Dwayne Evans scored 24 points and Cody Ellis added 12 as the fourth-seeded Billikens ripped the Aggies at San Jose.
Playing through the death of Rick Majerus in December, Saint Louis reached another mark for its late coach. The Billikens (28-6) eclipsed the 1988-89 team’s school record of 27 victories.
Evans shot 11 of 16 and finished a point shy of his career best to propel Saint Louis past 7-foot-5-inch New Mexico State freshman Sim Bhullar. The Billikens held Bhullar to 4 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks.
Bandja Sy had 17 points and nine rebounds for the 13th-seeded Aggies (24-11).
Oregon 68, Oklahoma St. 55 — Damyean Dotson scored 17 points and Arsalan Kazemi added 11 points and 17 rebounds to help the 12th-seeded Ducks beat the fifth-seeded Cowboys at San Jose.
Dominic Artis scored 13 points and helped frustrate Oklahoma State star freshman Marcus Smart on the defensive end to give the Ducks (27-8) their first tournament win in six years.
Smart was held to 14 points for the Cowboys (24-9).
Colorado State 84, Missouri 72 — Dorian Green scored 17 of his 26 points in the first half and the No. 8-seeded Rams used good shooting and rebounding to run away from the Tigers in Lexington, Ky.
First-year Rams coach Larry Eustachy earned the victory with his fourth tournament team.
Phil Pressey’s 20 points led the Tigers (23-11). Greg Smith and Jon Octeus each added 12 points while Wes Eikmeier added 11 for Colorado State (26-8), which was rarely threatened by Missouri.
Michigan 71, South Dakota State 56 — Glenn Robinson III scored 21 points and Mitch McGary added 13 points and nine rebounds, helping the fourth-seeded Woverines (27-7) beat the 13th-seeded Jackrabbits at Auburn Hills.
South Dakota State (25-10) trailed by only 4 at halftime, but couldn’t keep up. High-scoring guard Nate Wolters was held to 10 points.
VCU 88, Akron 42 — Troy Daniels had 23 points and Juvonte Reddic scored 21 as the Rams (27-8) posted the most lopsided victory by a fifth-seeded team over a No. 12 in tournament history.
The Zips (26-7) were led by Demetrius Treadwell’s 15 points.
Wichita State 73, Pittsburgh 55 — Malcolm Armstead scored 22 points, Cleanthony Early added 21, and the ninth-seeded Shockers defeated the Panthers in Salt Lake City.
Freshman Steven Adams led Pitt (24-9) with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Call Hall added 11 points for the Shockers (27-8), who forced Pitt into 15 turnovers and held the Panthers to 1 of 17 from 3-point range.
Arizona 81, Belmont 64 — Mark Lyons scored 23 points and the sixth-seeded Wildcats rolled past the No. 11 Bruins at Salt Lake City.
The Wildcats (26-7) used their huge size advantage to shut down the Bruins (26-7), who were led by Kerron Johnson’s 22 points.