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 January 10, 2013

EL DORADO – Freshman Kadeem Allen scored a career-high 30 points and the Hutchinson Community College men’s basketball team used a 15-0 run in the second half to earn a huge Jayhawk West road victory on Wednesday night as the NJCAA second-ranked Blue Dragons defeated arch-rival Butler 81-67 at the Power Plant.

Starting 17-0, the Blue Dragons (3-0 Jayhawk West) tied the 2010-11 Blue Dragons for the third-best start in team history. The Blue Dragons snapped Butler’s nine-game winning streak and handed the Grizzlies (13-3, 1-1) its first home loss of the season.

Allen’s 30-point effort was highlighted by a 60-foot basket at the buzzer to end the first half that gave the Blue Dragons a 37-35 lead. He scored 15 second-half points, including four during the key stretch of the game where the Blue Dragons assumed control.

Leading just 49-47, HCC went on a 15-0 over a stretch of 5 minutes, 28 seconds of the second half. Allen hit a pair of free throws at the 10:34 mark to give Hutchinson a 65-57 lead. The closest Butler got after that run was 12 points.

Playing without point guard D’Von Campbell for the second-straight game because of injury, Allen also had to protect the ball against Butler’s full-court pressure. Allen finished the game 10 of 21 shooting overall, 3 of 6 from 3-point range and 7 of 11 from the 3-point line. Allen added six rebounds, a career-high-tying six assists, two steals and a blocked shot to lead HCC.

Five players scored in double figures for the Blue Dragons, who one day earlier jumped two spots to No. 2 in the NJCAA poll. Sophomore A.J. Spencer finished with 12 points and six rebounds. Sophomore Alex Davis and 11 points, nine rebounds, three blocked shots and two steals. Sophomore Rozell Nunn had 11 points and seven assists. Freshman Tafari Whittingham also had 11 points.

The Blue Dragons shot 50.8 from the field (31 of 61), going 3 of 8 from 3-point range and 16 of 27 from the free-throw line. The Dragons did commit a season-high 23 turnovers, but out-rebounded the Grizzlies 41-39.

Eric Watson had 15 points and five rebounds to lead Butler as he was the only Grizzly player in double figures. Sean Osler and Jordan Madrid-Andrews had nine points each. Sean Goodwin had eight points.

Butler shot 40.6 percent (28 of 69), going 2 of 16 from 3-point range and 9 of 15 from the foul line. The Grizzlies committed 20 turnovers.

A very intense first half featured 13 lead changes and six ties.

Trailing 6-2 early, the Dragons used a 9-0 run to build an 11-6 lead after two Allen free throws with 14:27 to play in the opening half. An Allen basket pushed the Dragon lead to a first-half high of seven at 15-8 with 11:31 to go. Butler quickly responded with a 9-0 run over the next 1:41 to take a 17-15 lead on Trent Richardson’s transition dunk.

The intensity picked up from that point as the lead changed hands nine times over the next 7 minutes with neither team building more than a two-point lead at any time during that stretch. HCC freshman Nathan Jackson hit two big shots, one a jumper and another on a putback to tie the game at 29-all with 2:58 to play.

Butler led 35-31 with 30 seconds left. The Dragons cut the lead down to one when Spencer converted a three-point play. Butler went for the last shot. The Grizzlies missed and Spencer tipped the loose ball into the hands of Allen, who heaved it from 60 feet to score at the buzzer to give HCC a 37-35 halftime lead.

Both teams spent the first 5 ½ minutes trading baskets, but the Blue Dragons never relinquished the lead. Ja’ln Williams’ basket with 15:57 to play pulled Butler within 49-47. The Dragons responded with another Spencer three-point play to push the lead back to five.

That play also sparked the key 15-0 run for Hutchinson. On back-to-back possessions, Spencer grabbed defensive rebounds and went coast-to-coast to score in transition and kick Hutchinson’s lead to double figures for the first time at 58-47 with 12:32 to play. Hutchinson scored 15 unanswered points and when Allen sank two free throws with 10:34 to go, Hutch led 64-47.

The Grizzlies went without a field goal for almost 8 minutes and scored just two points. A Jack Pyle basket pushed the Dragon lead to a game-high 19 at 68-49 with 7:29 to go.

Butler went on a 7-0 run to pull within 68-56 with 6:36 remaining, but Davis converted a three-point play to turn back the Grizzlies, who never got the lead back down to single digits again.

After playing three games in five days to open the league season, the Blue Dragons get Saturday off and will play host to No. 9 Barton next Wednesday at the Sports Arena.

GAME NOTES – This was program victory No. 1,614. … HCC’s 17-game winning streak ties three other teams for the sixth-longest winning streak in Blue Dragon history. … This was Steve Eck’s 95th win with HCC. … HCC is 116-60 all-time vs. Butler. .. The Dragons have led in 16 of 17 games at halftime. … This was HCC’s eighth game to shoot 50 percent or better. … HCC is 11-0 when reaching 80 points. … Butler’s two 3-point goals were an opponent low for HCC. … Butler was held 13 points under its season scoring average and 10 points lower than its season field-goal percentage. 

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