Butler rallies to beat top-seeded Syracuse 63-59
AP Sports Writer
SALT LAKE CITY — Butler became the latest mid-major team to knock off a top seed in the NCAA tournament.
Willie Veasley scored five of his 13 points during Butler's 11-0 run down the stretch, and the Bulldogs rallied to upset No. 1 seed Syracuse 63-59 tonight in the West Regional semifinals.
The fifth-seeded Bulldogs (31-4) fought through Syracuse's vaunted zone defense and kept the Orange (30-5) from getting their fast break going most of the night.
Now, Butler is one win from going home to Indianapolis for the school's first Final Four.
Gordon Hayward scored 17 points and started the celebration while dribbling out the clock after the Bulldogs forced Syracuse into its 18th turnover.
Wes Johnson had 17 points and nine rebounds for Syracuse, the second No. 1 seed to go down. Northern Iowa stunned top-ranked Kansas in the second round of the Midwest Regional last weekend.
Scoop Jardine added 14 points and five assists and Andy Rautins scored 15, including a 3-pointer to open the second half that sent the Orange on a 15-4 run that gave them their first lead.
But the Orange couldn't overcome the turnovers, and the 2-3 zone that so many wondered whether Butler could crack was no match for the Bulldogs' sharp shooting in the final minutes after Syracuse had taken a 54-50 lead with 5:23 left.
Ronald Nored hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to one, Matt Howard scored on a layup to put the Bulldogs back ahead and then Veasley got a fortunate bounce off the rim and backboard before his 3-pointer finally went in to put Butler up 58-54.
Veasley added a tip-in on an offensive rebound on Butler's next possession and the Bulldogs held on for their first trip to the regional finals.