Published March 26, 2011
NEW ORLEANS – Of course Butler erased a late deficit. Of course the Bulldogs hit a clutch 3-pointer late in overtime. Of course they're going back to the Final Four.
This is the Butler Way.
Shelvin Mack scored 27 points, including five in overtime, and Butler returned to the Final Four with a 74-71 victory over Florida on Saturday.
"This is a huge deal," said Zach Hahn, whose two 3-pointers helped his team stay close in the first half. "I don't know that any other mid-major has ever done this. It's hardly happened once, let alone twice. It's an unbelievable feeling."
Butler, the Horizon League champ, has now vanquished three higher seeds from major conferences — top-seeded Pittsburgh, fourth seeded Wisconsin and now second seeded Florida — in succession.
Those big wins came after Howard tipped in a winner in the final seconds against Old Dominion.
This game had another frantic finish.
"We just kind of stayed together, stayed the course, figured it out, and just played resiliently," Butler coach Brad Stevens. "I'm incredibly proud of these guys. They carried their coach in a big way. ... Our players did a great job, and (they are) just a special group. We're really lucky that they're Butler Bulldogs."
Matt Howard scored 14 and Khyle Marshall added 10 for the Bulldogs (27-9), who showed again they simply won't give in, climbing out of an 11-point hole in the last 9:25 of the second half.
Mack's 3-pointer with 1:21 left in overtime gave Butler the lead for good at 72-70.
Kenny Boynton missed a long 3 that could have given Florida (29-8) the lead with a little under 20 seconds left. Alex Tyus appeared to have the offensive rebound, but Howard tied him up and the possession arrow favored Butler.
Florida had to foul Mack with 10.6 seconds to go, and he hit both shots for the final margin.
"Congratulations to Butler," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "You know, they had great, great heart tonight. ... I knew they had that, you know, all year long."