With the ice that has been pumping through his veins all season long, it would be safe to think that nothing really fazes Butler sophomore guard Alex Barlow. Well, that is of course unless he has a wide-open court ahead of him.
“The last one that I got a layup I kind of fell on my ankle weird,” said Barlow. “I was so far out in front of everyone else, you know. The guys always give me problems about my lay-up style when I get wide-open layups. I try to finish it like a normal layup that time, and I’m sure I’ll still hear how I never really jump on my layups.”
It was Barlow, the same guard who hit the game-winning shot against then #1 Indiana back in December and stole the ball that led to Roosevelt Jones’ game-winning shot over now #1 Gonzaga, once again stepping up when his name was called Thursday in the Bulldogs (27-8) 68-56 victory over Bucknell (28-6). Barlow finished the game with 10 points, five rebounds, four assists, and threw in a block for good measure.
“He was great,” said Butler Senior Andrew Smith about Barlow. “Those two steals in the first half and he was just hounding their guards the whole day. He doesn’t always look the part, but he’s a tough cookie.”
Barlow’s biggest contributions came both in similar fashion, pick-pocketing Bucknell for steals that ultimately led to those intimidating layups, but the timing of the second couldn’t have been any bigger. Butler had just taken a 41-40 lead, after clawing their way back from a six-point deficit earlier in the half, and Barlow stole the ball from Brian Fitzpatrick and took it to the house. The sequence of events seemingly deflated Bucknell, who surrendered a 12-2 run following the turnover that essentially knocked the Bison out of the tournament.
“After watching the film, I sort of thought their guards were their weakness,” said Barlow.
“Obviously they are good, they both scored over 1,000 points. But I thought I could get up on them a little bit and try to make them uncomfortable. Because you know if they got it in the post they have two really good bigs, and we were trying to keep them from getting it in the post. I figured if I got up in them, they wouldn’t be able to get it in the post. It gave me a chance to get some steals, some breakaway layups, and I just tried to bring energy an cause some havoc.”
Butler Head Coach Brad Stevens jump-started Barlow’s day, giving him the opportunity to be in the starting line-up over Freshman Kellen Dunham, and Barlow did nothing but make his coach look even smarter than he already is.
“He was really locked in and you could see it all week,” said Stevens. “Alex has always been an energizer bunny in a lot of ways, and you just get a pulse when guys are really engaged. He was really engaged all week.”
And though Barlow can add Thursday’s game to a growing list of great moments in a Butler uniform, he did make sure to note that this was only his first NCAA game, and he’s now hoping for many more.
“Just getting the chance to go to Maui was a lot of fun,” said Barlow.
“Getting to play against IU, getting to play during College Gameday against Gonzaga, and playing in a new conference has been a lot of fun. But to cap it off in the NCAA tournament has been awesome, but we are not done yet. We have to play one more against Marquette, and we’ll go from there. We’ll just play hard on Saturday and try to get another win.”