MUNCIE — The Butler Way never wavers.
Trailing by 11 early in the second half Saturday at Worthen Arena, the Bulldogs (4-0) used their defense to get back into the game and rally for a 59-58 victory against in-state rival Ball State (2-2).
"That's been Butler's M.O. since the giddy-up," said Anderson High School graduate Terry Johnson, the longest-tenured assistant on first-year head coach Brandon Miller's staff. "Even though people know we shoot the 3-pointer, but first things first, you've got to guard. We get some stops, and then we move on."
Butler got plenty of stops in the game's final 14 minutes, holding the Cardinals to 40 percent shooting in the second half and forcing nine of their 17 turnovers after intermission.
Ball State took a 42-31 lead on a layup by Majok Majok with 13:49 remaining, but the Bulldogs scored the next 11 points and 20 of the next 24 overall to regain control.
The run started when freshman guard Elijah Brown hit two free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt. Brown came off the bench to score 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting in just his fourth game at college basketball's top level.
"That's something he's been doing since the exhibition games, bringing us a spark coming off the bench," said senior Khyle Marshall, who led Butler with 14 points and added nine rebounds. "We knew he was coming in. He got in a rhythm, started getting a hot hand, and we went to him. He started knocking down shots. Just like myself, his energy brings everybody else's energy up."
Brown's next basket came on a dunk after a steal and assist from Andrew Chrabascz, and the Bulldogs cut their deficit to five on a steal and basket by Alex Barlow.
After a Ball State timeout, Marshall started a fast break with a steal and finished with a dunk off an assist from Brown. A few possessions later, Barlow tied the game for the seventh and final time with a 3-pointer off another Brown assist.