NCAA Tourney Great Eight Big 12 Recap... Scores, Recaps and Players of the Game

WOW, was I ever wrong. The Butler Bulldogs held off a late Kansas State charge to make it to their first ever Final Four... played in their hometown of Indianapolis. WOW. Simply WOW.

See a complete wrap=up, including a recap and playuer of the game, after The Jump.

Butler (5) - 63
Kansas St. (2) - 56

It's an easy five-mile drive from the Butler campus to the site of its next game, in downtown Indianapolis. Still, it's hard to think of many programs that have taken a longer, more unlikely road to the Final Four.

Yes, the boys from Butler did it -- defeating Kansas State 63-56 in the West Regional final Saturday to make their trip back home something much bigger than that.

The fifth-seeded Bulldogs, the team that plays in the fieldhouse where "Hoosiers" was filmed, are writing their own underdog story, even if they can't really be called underdogs anymore.

Gordon Hayward scored 22 points and Shelvin Mack had 16 to help Butler (32-4) win its 24th straight game and become the first school from a true, mid-major conference to make the Final Four since George Mason in 2006 -- a trip that also ended in Indianapolis.

Trailing almost the entire game, No. 2 Kansas State (29-7) rallied to tie it at 54 with 3:09 remaining. But Butler didn't fold, it only got better. The Bulldogs scored the next nine points to seal the game before K-State guard Jacob Pullen's shot at the buzzer dropped -- but offered no consolation.

Enrollment at Butler is in the 4,500 range, about 15 of whom have reminded everyone why college basketball captures America's heart this time every year.

They are weaving a story about the overlooked and under-appreciated getting their time in the limelight, the kind of tale every underdog, from Charlie Brown to Gene Hackman, has to love.

But make no mistake -- this is not some scrappy, overmatched team that needed a break, no Danny and the Miracles, or Villanova shooting 79 percent to knock off mighty Georgetown.

This is a team that stood toe-to-toe with Syracuse on one night, then Kansas State the next, shutting down two power teams from power conferences with legitimate stars of their own.

Pullen and teammate Denis Clemente didn't score a point for Kansas State until 15 seconds were left in the first half, and it was no matter of luck. Rather, it was the tough, in-your-face defense of Ronald Nored and Willie Veasley that did it -- smothering a pair of players who had combined for 53 points two nights earlier in a double-overtime win against Xavier.

Full Recap
Player of the Game: Gordon Hayward, Butler, 22 pts, 9 reb.
Up Next: Butler vs TBD



Trending Discussions

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Big 12 Hoops

You must be a member of Big 12 Hoops to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Big 12 Hoops. You should read them.

Join Big 12 Hoops

You must be a member of Big 12 Hoops to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Big 12 Hoops. You should read them.

Spinner

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.