BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A team of blue-collar kids with crew cuts from a tiny Indiana school beat a powerhouse in the big tournament.
Sound vaguely familiar?
Darnell Archey's brilliant shooting and Brandon Miller's deft ball-handling Sunday swept 12th-seeded Butler into the round of 16 for the first time with a 79-71 stunner over Rick Pitino and Louisville in the East Regional.
The Horizon League team that plays in the gym where the ultimate underdog movie, "Hoosiers", was filmed is writing a poignant script of its own with upsets of No. 5 Mississippi State and the fourth-seeded Cardinals (26-6).
Next, the Bulldogs (27-5) meet top-seeded Oklahoma on Friday in Albany, N.Y.
Archey shot 8-of-9 on 3-pointers — hitting all six in the second half — and tied his career high with 26 points to end Pitino's return to the NCAA tournament.
Butler, with an enrollment of about 4,000 — less than a fifth of Louisville's — made 14 of 22 3-pointers, including 9-of-13 in the second half.
Mike Monserez had 14 points, nine assists and three steals, making four 3s. Duane Lightfoot, a Louisville native, and Joel Cornette added 14 points apiece.
Louisville's press helped build an early 15-point lead, but Miller — who hit the game-winning shot with 6.2 seconds left against Mississippi State — had few problems with it after that.
He had six assists, took two charges from Reece Gaines, and drew several hand-checking fouls while bringing the ball up the court.
Gaines scored 22 second-half points and finished with 26, but Louisville could never overcome Butler's big start to the second half.
Gaines scored 11 points in a 3:48 span to bring the Cardinals back and cut it to 70-69 on a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 1:55 left.
Archey answered 24 seconds later with another 3, and Archey and Monserez hit two free throws apiece in the final 12.8 seconds.
Butler began to feel it long before that, bumping chests and slapping hands on the court when a 13-0 run forced Pitino to call a timeout with his team down 50-39.
Butler had assists on 21 of 27 baskets. With their first at-large berth in 31 years, the Bulldogs set a school record for wins and aren't ready to quit yet.
They withstood the first onslaught, falling behind 24-9 amid a flurry of turnovers and Louisville 3-pointers. Butler answered with an 18-4 run and actually led by one at halftime, with Brown's layup off a nice bounce pass from Miller making it 34-33.
The Bulldogs left the court clapping their hands and pumping their fists while the Cardinals walked or jogged off with their heads down.
It was a similar scene after the game.
|Duane Lightfoot Jr.||32||5-9||4-9||0-0||2||3||0||2||1||1||3||14|
|.519||.579||.636||Team Reb: 3||Team TO: 0|
|.519||1.000||.440||Team Reb: 2||Team TO: 0|
Disqualifications: Francisco Garcia .
Technical Fouls: Mike Monserez.
Officials: David Libbey, Mark Whitehead, John Higgins .