Butler Falls To UCONN In Men's Basketball Final
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
If you're from Indiana, as I am, and the Butler Bulldogs are playing Connecticut you stay up to watch much of the first half, which looks promising. And later, unable to sleep, you wake up to catch the final score - 53-41. I can't bear to say another word, so let's turn it over to NPR's Mike Pesca.
MIKE PESCA: The Bulldogs were underdogs but they knew the score - control UConn's Kemba Walker, play solid defense, get to lose balls, make enough baskets. The top dog Huskies also had their game plan down - shake free, use their size, speed and athleticism. There was one problem for both these teams who knew the shot.
ANDREW SMITH: I mean, shots just weren't falling for us tonight.
RONALD NORED: I got a couple open shots and just missed them.
BRAD STEVENS: It's basketball, you know. Sometimes just don't fall.
JEREMY LAMB: You're not always going to make shots. That's part of the game.
PESCA: It's hard to know who to credit and who to blame for the team's worst shooting performance of the season, but Stevens tried.
STEVENS: The bottom line was I thought they just contested shots better than anybody we played all year and maybe in the last two years. They were long. They were athletic. They were active. They were really in tune.
PESCA: Perhaps the best way to think about it is to just accept that there would be the proverbial lid on the basket and strategize different ways to score anyway. UConn's Alex Oriakhi did find a way. He had 11 points to go with his 11 rebounds and was a main reason why UConn outscored Butler 26 to 2 from down low.
ALEX ORIAKHI: The big men were able to, you know, do whatever they wanted in the post, so, and I took that to my advantage. And I saw nobody could guard me in there and I was able to go to work.
PESCA: For the most part, the Butler players cited bad bounces or bad luck. But freshman forward Khyle Marshall was alone in saying his team may have also been a bit surprised that UConn had ways to win not named Walker.
KHYLE MARSHALL: You know, I think we really underestimated their bigs, to be honest, coming into this game. I mean, our game plan in this game was to contain Kemba, Lamb and Napier, which we did a really good job of Kemba, (unintelligible) only 16 points. Their bigs came in the game and just really stepped up.
PESCA: It was also a victory that was quite reflective of the coach's personality.
JIM CALHOUN: to me that's beauty. That's what this game should be about. That's what this game should be about. And yeah, you'd like a few more baskets made certainly, but it was two teams that weren't going to give into each other and finally our superiority took over. But, damn, I loved it in the sense of the fact of the fight and competitiveness between the two teams.
PESCA: Mike Pesca, NPR News, Houston.
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INSKEEP: This is NPR News.
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