During a highly-contested second half, the Butler men came away victorious down the stretch with a 77-68 home win over Northeastern Oklahoma A&M on Tuesday at the Power Plant.
Juwan White led the Grizzlies (7-2 overall) to their seventh consecutive win with a season-high in both points (21) and rebounds (9), while Jon'il Fugett added a season-high 18 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals while playing a full 40 minutes.
The contest had a total of 15 lead changes and 11 ties, with the second half going back-and-forth with 10 lead changes and six ties. However, Butler grabbed the momentum behind a key 7-0 run jumpstarted by a Chiddy Golden three-pointer.
Golden's trey from the far corner at the 6:30 mark put Butler in front for good at 59-57, then Jalin Thorne added baskets on consecutive possessions to give the Grizzlies a 63-57 lead with 4:50 to play.
NEO (5-4 overall) worked the deficit to one point on two separate occasions, but Jaden Lee's three-point play with 1:23 remaining proved to be the dagger. With Butler up 67-66, Lee drove the baseline and scored a basket while getting fouled, then added the bonus free throw for a four-point Grizzly lead.
In the final minute, Butler hit 5-of-6 free throws while White added a jumper as the Grizzlies pulled away for the win.
Butler led by as many as eight in the first half, building a 32-24 lead behind on a 9-0 run late in the half. Kamron Brice scored the first seven points on a pair of layups and a three-pointer, then Sam Ward added two free throws with 4:03 remaining before the break.
NEO closed the margin to 35-32 heading into the locker room, then opened the second half with a 12-2 run for a 44-37 lead. Butler answered back with a quick 7-0 run with White hitting a layup and a trey to tie the contest at 44 with 14:40 to play.
For the next eight minutes, neither team could grab more than a two-point lead until Golden's trey sparked Butler's 7-0 run.
NEO hit 51 percent (28-of-55) from the field, while Butler made just 46 percent (27-of-59). However, the Grizzlies managed to work their way to the foul line, where they shot 10 more charity attempts and made 61 percent (16-of-26). The Norseman struggled at the free-throw line, hitting just 44 percent (7-of-16). Butler also had a huge rebounding advantage (40-19) and pulled down 14 offensive boards.
Ravel Moody was the Norsemen's leading scorer with 19 points while grabbing six rebounds, while Reaudale Williams scored 13 points.
Butler will return from Thanksgiving break by opening Jayhawk Conference play at home against Seward County (5-1 overall) on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
NOTES: Butler evened the all-time series at 7-7 with NEO. The two teams had not played against each other since 1998... Butler is two wins away from matching the longest winning streak under head coach Bryan Miller. The Grizzlies won nine straight under Miller, after he was named interim coach during the 2015-16 season.