Scores

Final

(5) Butler 63

(32-4, 18-0 Horizon)

(2) Kansas State 56

(29-8, 11-5 Big 12)

    4:30 PM ET, March 27, 2010

    EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah

    1 2 T
    #5BUT 27 3663
    #2KSU 20 3656

    Top Performers

    Butler: G. Hayward 22 Pts, 9 Reb, 1 Blk

    Kansas State: C. Kelly 14 Pts, 5 Reb, 2 Ast, 3 Blk

    Butler stuns K-State for school's first Final Four appearance

    Associated Press

    SALT LAKE CITY -- Every day they walk into practice, they also walk onto a movie set -- the one where they filmed the story about the little team that gets its big chance and lives out the unthinkable dream.

    That's the story of "Hoosiers."

    Schlabach: Guarded upset

    Bulldogs guards Ronald Nored and Willie Veasley might have had the biggest impacts in No. 5-seeded Butler's upset of No. 2-seeded Kansas State. Blog
    Nation blog
    Tourney home

    That's also the story of Butler -- the team that's reminding everyone that big schools with big money don't have a monopoly on everything in big-time sports.

    Yes, the boys from Butler did it -- getting 22 points from Gordon Hayward to defeat Kansas State 63-56 in the West Regional final Saturday and advance to the Final Four.

    Next, the Bulldogs take their 24-game winning streak to downtown Indy. Though only five miles from the Butler campus, it's hard to think of many programs that have taken a longer, more unlikely road to get this close to a championship.

    "It'd be just as cool if we moved it to Hinkle," Butler coach Brad Stevens said of his team's fieldhouse. "I'd be all for that."

    Fast Facts

    • Butler advances to its first Final Four in school history, becoming the first No. 5 seed to reach that stage since Michigan State in 2005.

    • The Bulldogs will play the Final Four five miles from their campus.

    • Kansas State's Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente struggled. The star guards combined for 53 points in Thursday's regional semi, but combined for 32 on 11 of 30 shooting.

    • Teams coming off an OT win in the tournament have now lost 10 straight games.

    • Gordon Hayward had 22 points for Butler, his first 20-point game since February 11th.

    -- ESPN Stats & Information

    No such luck. Still, the fifth-seeded Bulldogs (32-4) are writing their own underdog story, even if they can't really be called underdogs anymore.

    Shelvin Mack scored 16 and Ronald Nored and Willie Veasley keyed an in-your-face defensive effort on K-State guards Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente to help Butler 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.

    "This is probably the coolest thing that's ever happened in my life," Nored said.

    Trailing almost the entire game, No. 2 Kansas State (29-8) 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 Pullen's shot at the buzzer dropped -- but offered no consolation.

    "It was a great experience, but it hurts that it had to end today," Pullen said.

    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.

    Insider Analysis

    Get an early look at next round with Insider's Instant Analysis on the keys for Butler in the Final Four. Analysis Insider

    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 Clemente didn't score a point for Kansas State until 15 seconds remained in the first half, and it was no matter of luck. Rather, it was the tough, in-your-face defense of Nored and 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.

    Clemente finished with 18 and Pullen 14, but they shot a combined 11 for 30.

    "Defensively, they just try to hound everybody, try to stay in the lane, pack it in so there's nowhere to drive," Pullen said. "Then they just send five to the glass every time. Did a good job rebounding."

    Led by Hayward's nine boards, Butler won that contest, too, 41-29.

    Lucky, plucky teams simply don't win the way Butler did. Much like in its 63-59 victory over Syracuse, the Bulldogs held the lead in this one for most of the night, but fell behind briefly toward the end.

    Clemente made a 3-pointer with 4:49 left to cap an 8-0 run and give K-State its only lead of the game, 52-51. Teams like Butler are supposed to fold then, right?

    Well, not quite.

    Hayward got fouled going to the hole and made two free throws to take the lead back, and teammate Matt Howard made one more free throw to make it 54-52. Clemente dribbled for what seemed like forever for a layup to tie, and that was the last significant basket the Wildcats would make.

    Coach Frank Martin wouldn't make excuses, but clearly that Xavier game took a lot out of the Wildcats -- and it showed at the end.

    "We looked tired. We were sluggish but I don't think it was as much about our wrongdoing as it was Butler's right-doing," he said.

    With the score tied at 54, Butler took the lead for good on the next possession when Hayward -- that rare NBA prospect playing at a mid-major -- stretched his entire 6-foot-9 frame to not only collect a too-high, alley-oop pass from Nored, but collect himself and make the shot.

    "I've said it already lots of times," Hayward said. "Coach and my teammates put me in that position and sometimes you've just got to make a play, and I was lucky enough to hit it."

    Pullen came back with an air ball and Butler pulled away from there, ending Kansas State's equally gritty quest -- an effort that will certainly gain the Wildcats more cachet in a state that has long thought about the Jayhawks first.

    Big man Curtis Kelly also had 14 points for Kansas State, which shot 38 percent for the game and didn't make a basket outside of 15 feet in the first half.

    Credit for that, once again, goes to the Bulldogs, coached by the 33-year-old Stevens, who has refused to buy into the underdog story.

    Being a mid-major, he insists, is mainly about money and resources, not about 5-on-5 in a 40-minute game with nothing -- or everything -- on the line.

    Stevens found the players who fit his style -- players who like to work hard, don't back down from a challenge and don't care that the big schools didn't come chasing after them.

    They're players who loved Hinkle Fieldhouse, the home of the Bulldogs, but also a tourist stopover because it's where the 1980s classic "Hoosiers," starring Hackman, was filmed.

    "I can't tell you how many times I've watched that movie," said Hayward, a native of Brownsburg, Ind. "I lost count. Growing up in Indiana, I have watched it so many times. But I definitely love that movie."

    Players who appreciate it certainly appreciate team basketball, Stevens said, and now his team will play in a much bigger venue -- Lucas Oil Stadium next Saturday against Michigan State or Tennessee. The stadium seats about 70,000 for basketball. Butler's home games -- all of them -- drew a total of about 90,000 all season.

    A great underdog story, most of America will call it.

    Good bet, though, that the boys from Butler won't settle with being happy to be there.

    "Certainly this is going to be a highlight for all of us," Stevens said. "But you're always moving to the next thing."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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    Team Stat Comparison

     
    BUT
    KSU
    Points 63 56
    FG Made-Attempted 21-46 (.457) 22-57 (.386)
    3P Made-Attempted 7-15 (.467) 5-15 (.333)
    FT Made-Attempted 14-20 (.700) 7-14 (.500)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 16 (0/0) 19 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 11 1

    Series

    DATEGAMELINKS
    » Mar 27, 2010 BUT 63, @KSU 56Recap