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article imageNCAA Basketball: Duke ends Butler's fantastic run

By Michael Bearak     Apr 6, 2010 in Sports
The Duke Blue Devils and the Butler Bulldogs met Monday night with the NCAA Men's basketball tournament on the line. Duke won in a nail-biter, winning by two points. For Coach K it would be his fourth championship at Duke.
The Duke Blue Devils, the only number-one seed to survive in the NCAA tournament this year, the team that most experts thought would be the first top-seed out of the tournament, survived to the Final Four and beat West Virginia to make it to the Championship game.
For the Butler Bulldogs getting to the Final Four was going home to Indianapolis. They were a number-five team that had some degree of success out of the Horizon league historically in the NCAA tournament. They were ranked as high as number-nine in the college polls at the start of the season.
It was billed as David versus Goliath match-up and many didn't think that Butler had the horses to keep up with Duke. At halftime it was a 1-point game in favor of Duke. Lucas Oil was packed with over 70,000 fans to watch this Championship game.
The coach for the Bulldogs, Brad Stevens, wasn't even born when Mike Krzyzewski got his first head coaching job at Army in 1975. There is a 29+ year age difference between the two men and Monday night they stood toe-to-toe in Indianapolis with their teams playing for the NCAA Men's Championship.
For many the 2010 run of Butler was documented as a Cinderella tale, drawing comparisons to the 1980's movie "Hoosiers" unfortunately on Monday night tale ended with 2-point loss to Duke, 61-59. Duke was the first team in the tournament to crack the 60 point mark when center, Brian Zoubek hit two free-throws to make the score 60-57. While Duke's biggest lead of the night was only 6 points, Butler fell to a scoring drought in the second half going the better part of seven minutes without a field-goal.
For Duke, they were led by their big three in Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler, and Nolan Smith who all scored in double figures. Duke used their size advantage in the second half with Zoubek, Myles and Mason Plumblee to present a physically more dominant line-up than what Butler could put on the court.
As had been a trade-mark of Butler throughout the tournament, they forced turnovers, and collected more offensive-rebounds than Duke. The Bulldogs also hit 72 percent of their shots at the free-throwline to just 62 percent for Duke.
The Bulldogs also had three players in double figures with Gordan Hayward, Shelvin Mack, and Matt Howard. Both Mack and Howard came off the bench to play major minutes and really lead the Bulldogs as Hayward struggled from the field going 2-11 and 0-3 from behind the arch.
Duke's Jon Scheyer hit 8 of his 15 points off of just three shots in the first half finishing the night 5 for 12 from the field.
The Bulldogs hung close the entire game, as each time Duke pushed their lead out to four, five and even six points Stevens would call a time out, calm his players and set them up for a run, including one seven point run that turned a five point deficit into a two point lead in the second half.
At the end of the game it was 60-59 as Gordan Hayward took an off-balance 15 foot shot that rimmed off and was pulled in by Zoubek, who was then fouled. He proceeded to hit the first shot and deliberately missed the second with three seconds left forcing Butler (who was without a timeout) to heave a desperation shot, which Hayward did, having it hit the backboard and the rim out one last time. Also dashes were the hopes and dreams of the fairy tale upset, ending literally as the buzzer sounded and the Duke players swarmed the court.
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