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Back to Back Final Four’s for the Bulldogs

Posted By Patrick Greissing On Mar 27 2011 @ 7:13 pm In NCAABK | No Comments

The Butler Bulldogs have done it again. The third time was the charm for the Bulldogs as they beat the Florida Gators on Saturday 74-71 in OT, to advance to the Final Four in Houston next Saturday.  It is a remarkable achievement for the little school in Indianapolis. To do it one time was astonishing. So to do it in back to back seasons after losing their best player to the NBA and two seniors to graduation makes the moment even more unfathomable.

For the first 30 minutes of the game against Florida, the Bulldogs were getting beat up in every way possible. The Gators were abusing Butler inside, were making their foul shots and getting the bounces. Then inexplicably with Butler down 11 with a little over 9 minutes remaining everything began to change.

The loose bulls were no longer 50/50 balls, they were 100% Butler. It all started when Coach Stevens put seldom used guard Chrishawn Hopkins into the game. In the 4 minutes he played, he made a key assist on a Howard basket and followed that up with a huge 3 pointer which began to give all the momentum to Butler. Then Khyle Marshall started to feed off of the energy and picked up a couple of his 7 offensive rebounds down the stretch. Every loose ball and key play was going Butler’s way.

As they continued their comeback they found themselves down by 1 with about 35 seconds to play and they had the ball sideline out of bounds. In typical Butler fashion they called a play that would go to their senior and MVP Matt Howard. Howard took the ball and went right to the basket, he missed the shot but was fouled. He made the first to tie it at 60, but missed the second. Florida failed to score on its final attempt of regulation so we were headed to OT. Through four tournament games, Matt Howard has had the final points in regulation time in each game for the Bulldogs.

In OT, Butler’s hard work, will and ability to get to all the loose balls were the difference. Ronald Nored continued to shut down the Florida guards in OT and added 4 critical free throws. But a huge Shelvin Mack 3 pointer gave the Bulldogs the lead for good with 1:20 remaining. He added two free throws for the 74-71 Butler victory.

If you looked at the stat line for the game, one would wonder how Butler won this game. They did not shoot the ball well at all, they committed double digit turnovers, shot the ball from the foul line poorly until the final 3 minutes of regulation and in OT. Everything looks like Florida should have won the game. But you can’t keep stats on hard work, heart and will. Those key intangibles would not allow Butler to lose the game and are sending this group to the Final Four in Houston, where they will face the VCU Rams out of the CAA.

Final Four Schedule:

Butler vs. VCU at 6:09                                  

UCONN vs. Kentucky at 8:49

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