Feb 22, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Butler Bulldogs guard Kellen Dunham (24) is guarded by Saint Louis Billikens guard Mike McCall Jr. (11) at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Saint Louis defeats Butler 65-61. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
INDIANAPOLIS - St. Louis moved into position to take the Atlantic 10 basketball championship under interim coach Jim Crews. Now there is every reason believe they will move into a new position, a ranked position in the nation's two top-25 polls.
The Billikens solidified both, completing a season sweep with a 65-61 victory over No. 15 Butler before a sellout crowd of 10,000 Friday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Both teams repeatedly missed free throws down the stretch, but Mike McCall Jr. sank two with 19.3 seconds left to give St. Louis a four-point lead and secure the outcome.
St. Louis, which crushed Butler 75-58 on Jan. 31, improved to 10-2 in the conference and 21-5 overall. The Bulldogs, who were once 16-2, have lost four of 10 and fell to 9-4 and 22-6.
The conference schedule is 16 games.
Butler was 14 of 24 on free throws, a category that was costly.
Dwayne Evans scored 17 points, McCall 16 and Kwamain Mitchell 12 for St. Louis.
Kellen Dunham led Butler with 14, all in the first half. Rotnei Clarke and Roosevelt Jones had 13 each.
The Billikens seized control with an 8-0 burst early in the second half, turning a five-point deficit into a 39-36 lead in only 79 seconds. They began the half by shooting 9-of-11, or 82 percent, in stretching the margin to 48-41.
St. Louis extended the lead to nine, 53-44, when Jake Barnett was fouled behind the arc and made two of three free throws.
Butler shot 52 percent in the first half and had a 20-13 edge in rebounds but led only 34-29 at the midpoint. The Bulldogs committed seven turnovers - three on offensive fouls - to the Billikens' two.
Butler point guard Alex Barlow picked up his fourth foul with 36 seconds left in the half.
Dunham scored 14 points in the half, including seven in succession in a span of less than two minutes. His outburst completed a 10-0 run that pushed Butler ahead 17-9.
After the Billikens trimmed that to 19-18, Clarke's second 3-pointer started a 10-2 run that gave Butler its largest lead of the half, 29-20.
The Billikens stayed close despite shooting 36 percent, including 1-of-10 on 3s. This marked only the fifth game all season in which they trailed by eight or more points.