Butler just got after it on the defensive end, and that's what Coach Brad Stevens had in mind. He told Len Elmore of CBS that that they wanted to take away Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente, KSU's standout guards. Held K-State to 38% shooting from the field and 5-of-15 from trifecta. K-State took the lead 52-51 on Clemente's three-pointer with 4:51 left, but Butler came right back. Gordon Hayward hustled after a rebound, got it, put it up and was fouled. He sank both free throws. But probably the play of the game was made by Homewood's Ronald Nored with just over two minutes left and Butler leading 56-54. Nored confidently drove the lane and banked a left-handed lay-up over a couple of defenders to put the Bulldogs up, 58-54. They just stayed aggressive on both ends of the floor in the last two minutes with some key baskets and key steals and earned a spot in the Final Four. I tweeted this. This team is just mentally tough. I picked K-State because of their guard play, but they were obsolete at times during the game. The Bulldogs were all over them. Nored played a key role in the defensive effort. He's a great kid and a tremendous all-around player.
Butler just took the two guards out of the game with their in-their-face perimeter defense. Butler's next opponent is going to have to play extremely hard and extremely well to beat them. This is not George Mason, an 11-seed that made it to the Final Four in '06. This is a five seed and a very legit team that has won 24 games in a row.It'll be UT or Mich State. Butler just got after K-State outside and just outhustled them on the boards.
Couple of key stats: Butler won the battle of the boards, 34-29. Hayward had nine. That's pretty amazing. K-State really had them outsized. Butler seven-of-15 from trifecta, 46.7%. Butler 14-of-20 from line, 70%; K-State, seven-of-14, 50%. Hayward scored 22 for the Bulldogs and Shelvin Mack added 16. Clemente had 18 and Pullen 14, but they were a combined 11-of-30 from the field. What an effort. I think it would be pretty neat if this team played KY in the finals. May not happen, but could be great entertainment. Game would be in Indianapolis, Butler's home city.