Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Duke survives Butler for fourth national title, 61-59


The feel-good story of the tournament, hometown Butler, couldn’t have possibly come any closer to winning its first national championship without actually hoisting the trophy.

Instead, the big-boy Duke Blue Devils fended off two potential game-winning shots from Bulldogs star Gordon Hayward in the last five seconds to take home their fourth title.

Duke’s Kyle Singler led all scorers with 19 points and Hayward’s short jumper with 5 seconds to go and half-court heave at the buzzer each hit the rim but just wouldn’t go down, letting the top-seeded Blue Devils escape with a 61-59 win in the tournament title game in Indianapolis Monday night.

With the win, Blue Devils (35-5) coach Mike Krzyzewski joined former UCLA coach John Wooden and Kentucky mentor Adolph Rupp as the only coaches to win four or more national titles.

Trailing 60-55 in the last 2 minutes, No. 5 seed Butler (33-5) came back to the brink of winning the title. Matt Howard, whose status was questionable coming in after sustaining a mild concussion during the Bulldogs’ semifinal win over Michigan State, scored down low twice to cut his team's deficit to 60-59.

Singler then missed a jumper with 38 seconds to go, giving the Bulldogs one more shot. After a Duke deflection and a pair of timeouts, Hayward took an inbounds pass, drove the lane and lofted a rainbow from the right side over the backboard which hit the back iron and fell off into Duke’s Brian Zoubek’s hands.

Zoubek was immediately fouled and hit the first free throw with 3.6 seconds left but missed the second intentionally, setting Hayward and Butler into motion. Hayward snagged the rebound and took off down the right side, hurling a shot from half-court that struck the backboard, came off the front iron and bounded away to end the Bulldogs’ run.

The excitement of the final possessions was a fitting end to a back-and-forth championship game. Duke and Butler traded 3-pointers to close the first half, with Nolan Smith hitting for the Blue Devils and Avery Jukes connecting for the Bulldogs, to make the halftime score 33-32, Duke.

Jon Scheyer scored 15 points and Smith added 13, while Zoubek snagged 11 boards.

Hayward and Shelvin Mack each scored 12 points for Butler. Howard also netted 11.

NOTES: Duke was making its fourth championship game appearance in 12 years. The Blue Devils won the 1991 title in Indianapolis. … Butler’s 25-game winning streak has come to an end. The Bulldogs last lost at UAB Dec. 22. … The Blue Devils have won 13 straight neutral-site games. … Duke ends the season on a 10-game winning streak. … This marked the second time since the tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1984 that two private schools played for the title, and the fifth time overall. Georgetown and Villanova met in the 1985 championship.


Video credit – CBS

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