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Butler's 3 lifts West Virginia in Big East tourney

NEW YORK (AP) — Da'Sean Butler took an inbounds pass and banked in a 3-pointer from the head of the key at the buzzer to give No. 7 West Virginia a 54-51 victory over Cincinnati on Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament.

The third-seeded Mountaineers (25-6) were the only one of the conference's top four seeds to advance to the semifinals. They will face seventh-seeded Notre Dame, which beat second-seeded Pittsburgh, on Friday night.

The other semifinal will have eighth-seeded Georgetown, which eliminated top-seeded and third-ranked Syracuse, against fifth-seeded Marquette, which beat fourth-seeded Villanova.

Cincinnati (18-15) had a chance to win the game, but Dion Dixon lost the ball along the sideline with 3.1 seconds remaining to give West Virginia the final shot.

Butler finished with 15 points, while Lance Stephenson led the Bearcats with 19 points.

Stephenson, the conference's Rookie of the Year, tied the game at 51 on a 3-pointer with 42 seconds to play. Following a timeout, West Virginia couldn't get a shot off and turned the ball over on a shot-clock violation with 6.4 seconds to go.

Dixon, covered by Butler, couldn't control the ball as he headed toward the sideline and turned it over with 3.1 seconds left. Devin Ebanks then inbounded the ball to Butler, who took one move and let it fly while straddling the NBA's 3-point line.

The shot hit the backboard before rattling through the rim, and Dixon immediately dropped to his knees in front of the Cincinnati bench.

Kevin Jones had 17 points for West Virginia, which has won six of its last seven games and is in the semifinals for the third straight year. The Mountaineers have reached the finals once, losing to Syracuse in 2005.

Cincinnati made history by picking up its first wins in the tournament, 69-68 over Rutgers in the opening round and 69-66 over Louisville in the second. The Bearcats' run was more stunning considering they lost five of six too close the regular season.

West Virginia won the teams' only regular-season meeting, 74-68 on Feb. 27.

Both teams struggled offensively with West Virginia having the better shooting effort at 35 percent (21 of 60). That mark included going 4 of 20 from 3-point range.

The Bearcats shot 33.3 percent (17 of 51) and were 5 of 14 on 3s.

What was left of the sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden was worried as regulation wore down because the final game of last year's quarterfinals turned out to be Syracuse's 127-117 six-overtime victory against Connecticut.

The Bearcats would have gladly taken at least 5 more minutes.