NCAA Hoops: Butler Does It ... So Does West Virginia

Butler's Andrew Smith rises above several players to lay in a basket. i

Andrew Smith and Butler rose above Kansas State Saturday to gain a spot in the Final Four. Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Butler's Andrew Smith rises above several players to lay in a basket.

Andrew Smith and Butler rose above Kansas State Saturday to gain a spot in the Final Four.

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The last time West Virginia was in the Final Four was 1959. The last time Butler got there was never.

But both schools punched their ticket for the championship rounds in Indianapolis as upsets continued Saturday in an NCAA men's college basketball tournament already strewn with them.

No. 2 seed West Virginia got a remarkable performance from substitute point guard Joe Mazzulla and benefited from incredibly poor outside shooting by No. 1 seed Kentucky to send the Wildcats home, 73-66.

Butler Going Home Again To Indiana

No. 5 seed Butler used gritty defense and timely outside shooting to beat No. 2 seed Kansas State, 63-56.

Butler, playing out of the lightly regarded Horizon League, entered the tournament as one of many so-called "mid-major" schools looking to scale new heights.

That they did. After surviving a second-round scare against Murray State, the Bulldogs knocked off No. 1 seed Syracuse on Thursday.

Saturday, the Bulldogs used a nearly identical formula, clawing to a 27-20 halftime lead — seeing it evaporate — then regaining control in the final minutes to send the Wildcats home.

Butler's Gordon Heyward scored 22 points and pulled down 9 rebounds to lead the Bulldogs, with moral support from Shelvin Mack, who had 16 points, 7 boards and 3 assists.

Kansas State guards Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen, who drove the Wildcat offense into the Elite Eight for the first time since 1964, were virtually shut out in the first half, then rallied to finish with 18 and 14 points, respectively.

It was Butler's first-ever trip to the Elite Eight, but the Bulldogs had their eyes on going home again to Indiana. They will be competing for the championship in their hometown.

West Virginia's Unexpected 3-Point Plan

The nightcap featured one of the few matchups that went according to the seeds, as No. 1 met No. 2. But the way the game developed defied the odds.

West Virginia did not make a basket from inside the 3-point line in the entire first half. But the Mountaineers — not known as a good outside shooting team — made nine 3-point shots en route to a slight halftime advantage.

Meanwhile, Kentucky missed all of its 3-point shots in the first half — eventually starting the game 0-for-20 from beyond the arc — and made fewer than half its foul shots.

Even so, the Mountaineers needed a career high 17 points and an outstanding floor game from Mazulla to maintain control of the game. And Mazzulla was playing largely because starting point guard Daryl "Truck" Bryant broke his foot in practice earlier in the week.

Senior star DaSean Butler had 18 points and 6 rebounds for West Virginia.

Big East tournament champ West Virginia had not made it to the Final Four since Hall of Famer Jerry West — the guy used as the model for the NBA logo — took the Mountaineers there in 1959.

Freshman star John Wall had 19 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists for SEC champion Kentucky, but it wasn't enough to offset the Wildcats' miserable shooting. They finished the game 4-for-31 from 3-point range and just 16-of-29 from the foul line.

Sunday's Games

On Sunday, two more matchups will complete the lineup for the Final Four.

No. 6 seed Tennessee, playing out of the SEC, will get a second straight shot at a Big 10 champion in No. 5 seed Michigan State, which shared the regular season title with Ohio State and Purdue.

It was Ohio State that Tennessee knocked off Friday night to advance. But while the No. 2 seed Buckeyes didn't play up to expectations this year, Coach Tom Izzo's Spartans have once again battled their way into the Elite Eight, overcoming a season-ending injury to point guard Kalin Lucas.

Despite its long basketball history — and phenomenal success in women's play — Tennessee is making its first Elite Eight experience.

Also on Sunday, No. 1 seed Duke, the ACC champion, will stare down No. 3 seed Baylor, which like Kansas State spent the year slogging through the highly competitive Big 12.

Duke has been there before, but not so much lately. The Blue Devils are back in the Elite Eight for the first time since 2004, led by their "Big Three" of Kyle Singler, John Scheyer and Nolan Smith.

They wore down a depleted Purdue team Friday night for the chance to take on up-and-coming Baylor, which will counter with leading scorer LaceDarius Dunn and running mate Tweety Carter.

The Bears were last in the round of eight in 1950, when there were only eight teams in the field. But they overpowered upstart Saint Mary's 72-49 on Friday night with solid outside shooting and vicious inside defense.

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