Butler shows door to Louisville, 79-71

15-point hole overcome with a lot of teamwork, 14 threes, pair of size 15s

East Regional

Ncaa Tournament

March 24, 2003|By Alan Schmadtke | Alan Schmadtke,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The NCAA tournament's last surviving Cinderella has two glass slippers, and they're a size 15.

Determined 12th seed Butler pulled its second East Regional upset in three days yesterday, upsetting Louisville, 79-71, in a second-round game with a combination of grit, teamwork and three-point shooting at Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center.

Darnell Archey sank eight of nine three-points shots for a season-high 26 points, and his two free throws with 12.8 seconds left sealed the Bulldogs' first trip to the Sweet 16 since 1962 -- a year the tournament field was 25 teams.

It's the third consecutive season a No. 12 seed has advanced to the round of 16. Butler's reward is top-seeded Oklahoma on Friday in Albany, N.Y.

"On paper, people tell us we're nothing," Butler center Joel Cornette said. "But we're excited and we're still playing for a national championship. We ... are ... still ... here."

Still here putting on their in-life version of Hoosiers, Hollywood's Oscar-nominated story of the little team that could.

In fact, this team has its home in Indianapolis's Hinkle Fieldhouse, exactly where the championship game in Hoosiers was filmed. Even without hyperbole there are a slew of other parallels, starting with Butler's unselfish style.

The Bulldogs (27-5) wobbled at the start under Louisville's full-court press and seemingly played themselves out of the tournament. Frustrated by early missed shots and turnovers, they drew a technical foul (Mike Monserez) and fell behind 24-9 after 10 minutes.

Louisville looked unstoppable behind Reece Gaines (26 points), Francisco Garcia (16) and Luke Whitehead (14).

"When you get in that situation, you have two choices you can make. You can lay down, or you can grit your teeth and get a little tougher," point guard Brandon Miller said. "In the huddle, we decided to grit our teeth."

Butler's was a huddle of Musketeers, one for all and all for one. A 25-9 run the rest of the half gave the Bulldogs a 34-33 halftime lead and Louisville never led thereafter.

Louisville fell behind by 11 in the second half, crept back by freeing up Gaines for threes (6-for-10) and dribble drives. But the Cards couldn't stop Butler's barrage of threes -- 14 in all.

"Just like the Princeton offense runs the play for a layup, Butler's offense runs it for a three-pointer," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "They're one of the best three-point shooting teams I've seen."

Miller, the hero of Friday's opening-round upset of fifth-seeded Mississippi State, knew his sole goal was not to let the Cardinals trick Butler into a 40-minute race. He was the focus of Louisville's press and half-court traps, so he got the ball to Butler's other shooters.

Archey, who once made a Division I-record 85 consecutive free throws, camped near either corner for shot after shot, setting his career high for threes. His final two from beyond the arc with 4:14 left and 1:31 slammed the door on Louisville (25-7).

Three other Bulldogs added 14 points apiece.

"I've seen Darnell make 33 threes in a row in practice," coach Todd Lickliter said. "He doesn't surprise me when he makes them. He kind of surprises me when he doesn't, to tell you the truth."

Then there's Cornette. He spent as much time yesterday talking to referees as he did teammates. He was warned for head-butting a ball after one of his dunks.

With 3:32 left, he leaped over Butler's bench to save a ball -- he didn't -- and promptly had two large coolers of Gatorade tip over onto his feet. His shoes were soaked. He needed new ones.

"[Assistant] Coach [Mike] Marshall yelled, `We need some 15s right now!' and I realized I wear size 15," reserve forward Rob Walls said. "I got my shoes off as soon as I could."

Said Cornette: "We got six guys with 15s. I guess Rob's just the quickest of those guys. It's like I've been saying all along: It's a team game, and we're all on the same team."

Alan Schmadtke is a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

BUTLER--Monserez 4-8 2-2 14, Curry 2-5 0-0 5, Cornette 7-12 0-1 14, Miller 0-4 3-5 3, Archey 8-12 2-2 26, Lightfoot Jr. 5-9 4-9 14, Sheets 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 27-52 11-19 79. LOUISVILLE--Whitehead 6-8 2-2 14, Brown 3-6 0-0 8, Stone 1-4 0-0 2, Dean 1-5 0-0 3, Gaines 10-15 0-0 26, Dartez 0-0 0-0 0, Northern 0-2 0-0 0, Mohammed 0-1 0-0 0, Garcia 6-12 2-2 16, George 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 28-54 4-4 71. Half--Butler, 34-33. 3-point goals--Butler 14-22 (Archey 8-9, Monserez 4-7, Sheets 1-2, Curry 1-3, Miller 0-1), Louisville 11-25 (Gaines 6-10, Brown 2-5, Garcia 2-6, Dean 1-3, Mohammed 0-1). Fouled out--Garcia. Rebounds--Butler 28 (Cornette 10), Louisville 27 (Whitehead 6). Assists--Butler 21 (Monserez 9), Louisville 13 (Gaines 6). Total fouls--Butler 11, Louisville 21. Technical--Monserez. A--16,471.

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