Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Duke Holds Out Against Butler for NCAA Title

If Gordon Hayward's shot from past half court had gone in, that would have been the best play of all time. It would have been replayed over and over again, and Gordon would have even more girls on twitter asking for him to be their "baby daddy". Actually, the shot was replayed from just about every possible angle after the game had ended. But I don't think that will last very long.

It was clear from the start last night that if Duke (35-5) was going to get that fourth national championship, Butler (33-5) was going to make certain that it was earned and not given.

All game, Duke seemed in some control, at least on the scoreboard. But the lead was never enough to relax. Butler was far too determined for that.

Even when Duke finally seemed to have it, leading 60-55 with the ball and barely 2 minutes to go, Butler forced a turnover, a miss at the rim and, then after a short jump shot, had the ball, after two Matt Howard layups, with a chance to win.

Hayward got the ball at the top of the key, his team trailing 60-59, and ready to hit the game-winner. Only his right baseline fadeaway was long. Duke's Brian Zoubek got the rebound and was fouled with 3.6 seconds left.

He made the first, missed the second. Hayward got the rebound, took off up the right sideline and launched just before the clock turned to zeros.

"I was standing at halfcourt and thought it was going in," Howard said. "That makes it even a little more devastating . . . I've seen him make that numerous times before in practice and in games.''

He almost made it again.

But this NCAA championship game was about a team that knocked out one heavyweight after another until it got to the heaviest of weights in the championship game. Duke had won its first five NCAA games by an average of 17 points. This was not like that.

"Butler wasn't a fairy tale. Butler was for real. Just check the bite marks on almighty Duke from a bunch of Bulldogs who turned what the foolish thought would be a blowout of a national championship game into a classic".

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