Originally published March 19, 2011 at 08:43p.m., updated March 20, 2011 at 02:29a.m.

Upset special: Butler beats Pittsburgh 71-70

Butler guard Shawn Vanzant, left, and forward Matt Howard, center, reach for the rebound under pressure from Pittsburgh forward Dante Taylor (11) during the first half of the Southeast Regional third-round NCAA tournament college basketball game, Saturday, March 19, 2011, at the Verizon Center in Washington.

Butler guard Shawn Vanzant, left, and forward Matt Howard, center, reach for the rebound under pressure from Pittsburgh forward Dante Taylor (11) during the first half of the Southeast Regional third-round NCAA tournament college basketball game, Saturday, March 19, 2011, at the Verizon Center in Washington.


— The players in the Butler locker room celebrated their latest stunning upset in the NCAA tournament by screaming, exchanging high fives and hugging each other.

Across the arena, Pittsburgh forward Nasir Robinson sat in front of his locker with his shoulders slumped. His voice was barely audible.

"I take the blame, man. I take the blame for the loss," Robinson said, referring to the pivotal play in Butler's 71-70 victory over the top-seeded Panthers on Saturday night.

Matt Howard made one free throw with 0.8 seconds left to cap a wild final sequence that enabled No. 8 seed Butler (25-9) to advance to the round of 16 and deal Pittsburgh its latest painful exit from the NCAAs.

Each team had a chance to win it from the foul line in the last 2 seconds. After Butler's Shelvin Mack inexplicably fouled Gilbert Brown near midcourt with 1.4 seconds left, Brown made the first try to tie it.

He missed the second, and Howard was fouled by Robinson while grabbing the rebound — a foul even more unnecessary than the one that preceded it.

"I've been playing basketball my whole life and I know I shouldn't have done that. It was a stupid play," Robinson said. "It wasn't the ref's fault. It was my fault."

Robinson tried to answer another question, but got choked up and just shook his head side to side before putting a towel over his head.

When Howard grabbed the rebound of Brown's miss, it appeared the game was headed to overtime because the Bulldogs were out of timeouts. Then Robinson stuck his arm into the fray.

"I was really surprised," Howard said. "I felt his arm come across mine, so I just threw the ball to the rim."

Howard made the first shot, then intentionally banged the second attempt off the rim.

And soon after that, Butler was rejoicing at midcourt.

Mack scored 30 for the Bulldogs (25-9), who used a string of upsets to reach the championship game last year. Butler has won 11 straight overall and is 7-1 in its last eight NCAA tournament games.

The 30 points were two short of Mack's career high and a Butler tournament record. He went 10 for 16, including 7 of 12 from 3-point range.

Unlike Robinson, he got to laugh about a foul that never should have happened.

"It was the dumbest mistake of my life," he acknowledged.

The Bulldogs will next face Wisconsin in the Southeast regional semifinals. No matter what happens, it will almost certainly be tame compared to what Butler went through in Washington.

"You win two games by three points, it's going to be pretty crazy," Howard said.

In their tournament opener, the Bulldogs used a tip-in by Howard to beat Old Dominion at the buzzer. Then came this one, in which Butler blew a 12-point lead and had to rally from a five-point deficit over the final 10:37.

"We're not better than Old Dominion. We're not better than Pittsburgh," Butler coach Brad Stevens said. "We just had the ball last."

Pittsburgh (28-6) was seeking to reach the round of 16 for the sixth time in 10 years. Instead, the Panthers became just another victim of Butler magic.

Pitt has made the NCAA tournament in 10 straight seasons but never gotten past the round of eight. This team loses four seniors, including Brown, center Gary McGhee and guard Brad Wanamaker.

"Anytime we've lost in the tournament, there's been no good losses," coach Jamie Dixon said. "We've just got to keep working harder and keep having great years and keep putting ourselves in a position that we're in."

Brown finished with 24 points, but he will forever remember the missed free throw.

"Everything could have been avoided if I make a free throw and Nasir doesn't foul," he said.

Robinson will probably never remember he scored 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting. He blamed himself for the loss, but his teammates did not.

"It's not he did it intentionally or anything," Brown said. "He's a hard worker. He's a hustler. He was just trying to make a play out there, trying to help the team win."

The outcome might not have come down to that if the Panthers didn't have a shot-clock violation with 10 seconds left. That was one their 12 turnovers, compared to six by Butler.

Pittsburgh trailed 41-32 before Brown drilled a 3-pointer, Wanamaker made a layup and Robinson sank two straight layups to tie it with 15:24 left.

After a timeout, Wanamaker hit a jumper to cap the 11-0 run and give the Panthers their first lead since 4-2.

Soon after that, Pittsburgh reeled off seven straight points to go up 53-48.

To no one's surprise, Butler wouldn't go away.

If Mack was nervous about playing the Big East regular-season champions, it wasn't evident by his demeanor during the Star Spangled Banner: He yawned.

Once the game started, however, the junior guard played with intensity and poise. Mack scored 16 points in the first half, sinking four 3-pointers, and the Bulldogs committed only two turnovers in taking a 38-30 lead at the break.

Because the 6-foot-11 McGhee clogged the lane when Butler had the ball, the Bulldogs opted to take their chances from the outside. Howard hit a pair of 3-pointers, Mack and Shawn Vanzant also scored from beyond the arc, and Butler went 8 for 11 from the field in opening up a 20-14 lead.

Minutes later, Bulldogs reserve guard Zach Hahn connected from long range, Khyle Marshall jammed home a follow shot and Mack hit a 3 to start a 10-2 spurt that made it 30-18.

Brown then scored five points in an 11-0 Pittsburgh run that ended when Mack popped a 3-pointer from the top of the key.


kcglowboy 9 years, 4 months ago

Dear Pittsburgh: After years in our possession, we happily pass along to you the Curse of the Killer B's. Enjoy.

kesmithstl1 9 years, 4 months ago

Butler is hardly in the same category as Bradley and Bucknell!

gchawk 9 years, 4 months ago

My thoughts exactly. My bracket is getting absolutely annihilated.

Hank Cross 9 years, 4 months ago

Pitt won a lot of grind out games that could've gone the other way. I really wish I would've picked Florida to win the SE region.

kesmithstl1 9 years, 4 months ago

anyone else notice it was the Big XII crew of John Higgins? Yes those were fouls, but let the game be decided on the court jerkoffs!

Andrew Holmes 9 years, 4 months ago

They are letting them decide it on the court. If the player wants to foul the official is obligated to call the foul. You can't just swallow your whistle because the game is in the last 20 seconds. A foul is a foul no matter what point in the game you are in.

kesmithstl1 9 years, 4 months ago

I understand that to an extent! And yes, as stated above, those were fouls, but it was a tied ball game, no one gained an advantage on the last call. Just let it go into overtime!

gchawk 9 years, 4 months ago

Who are the court jerkoffs? I thought those were the guys playing Wisconsin right now.

kukuku 9 years, 4 months ago

I agree with the refs' calls. The game WAS decided on the court. Mack had an obvious foul on Brown, which clearly took away his opportunity for a last-second shot. The Butler fans weren't happy, but they should've been mad ad Mack, not at the refs.

And then on the rebound, Howard was clearly fouled again, taking away his opportunity for a last-second heave. It was clearly a foul, and it absolutely prevented him from taking a clean heave.

If you just let players foul in the last few seconds with no consequences, you're just going to see fouling at the end of every single game. If the refs are afraid to call the fouls, they'll just become more and more common.

kesmithstl1 9 years, 4 months ago

I understand what you are saying, but I'm sure both teams would have rather the game be decided in overtime rather than a call with .8 seconds left.

Let's face it, a clean heave would not have won the game for Butler, but the foul call did.

FTC_Jayhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

Dumb. You cannot be certain about the statement that a clean heave would not have won the game for Butler. The refs called it exactly correct. The two fouls at the end of the game weren't any different than any other horribly stupid fouls that took place during the course of the game. Those were some really, really dumb fouls and the onus is completely on the players that committed them.

The refs got it right and the game ended exactly as it should have. The end of the game showed some outstanding judgement by the officials.

kesmithstl1 9 years, 3 months ago

I don't think it's a ridiculous assumption to make that an 80 foot heave would no go in the basket and that the game would have been decided in overtime.

Look, the fouls were stupid, but my thinking is to just let the game be decided by the players, and keep the whistle in your pocket.

Andrew Holmes 9 years, 4 months ago

I hope all the guys were watching this game. I hope they realize that anybody can beat anybody. Hope this game got them focused even more on tomorrow and what is at stake and that they have to come out and work for the win tomorrow.

Ben Kane 9 years, 4 months ago

they were watching. kief tweeted right after it ended. I really think this takes the pressure off of our guys. they don't have to worry now about being the #1 that gets taken out first.

Andrew Holmes 9 years, 4 months ago

I agree. Pitt losing takes all the pressure off of every 1 seed now. I imagine we might see Duke, Ohio St., and Kansas in the Final Four.

Dan Harris 9 years, 4 months ago

See ya K-Suck! wouldnt want to be ya!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

KU_FanSince75 9 years, 4 months ago

Yep, I hope HCBS reminds his team that if you don't play well, what can happen to Pitt can happen to us.

As far as the Wildkitties are concerned, they had a chance to send it into OT. Too bad, so sad. I know I should be rooting for the Big 12 but shedding no tears for the Purples. Not this year, Jacob Pullen.

kesmithstl1 9 years, 4 months ago

alright 75! I like the new aggressive attitude!

I'll miss Pullen though. That guy was a stud!! Kelly can suck it!

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