Butler Gets Past Michigan State To Earn First Title Game Appearance

April 4th, 2010 – By Cory

Butler Lived up to the hype of coming home to play in the final four, as they defeated the Michigan State Spartans 52-50 on Saturday.

The Bulldogs will be playing for the school’s first basketball championship ever.

Butler covered the 1 1/2-point spread which oddsmakers spotted the Spartans on USA Online Sportsbooks, and will face Duke in the national championship game.

The Bulldogs were led by Gordon Hayward and his game high 19 points. Heyward also had a team high nine rebounds, to go along with two blocks and two steals.  Hayward came up big for the Bulldogs in the second half, knocking down several critical jumpers to keep the pressure on the Spartans.

Hayward spoke about the teams mentality all season, saying “We’ve been talking about the next game all year, and it’s great to be able to say the next game’s for a national championship.”

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo had some glowing words for the Horizon conference champs, giving them all the credit as they stymied the Spartans on offense.

“If I was not playing, I’d be a Butler fan, I like the way they play, I like their story. They play like a Big Ten team,” he said in a post-game interview.

The Bulldogs as a team shot very poorly from the floor, managing a weak 15-for-49 performance on the night. Michigan State did not fare much better however, shooting 18-for-42.  Butler took care of the ball and did not turn it over, which was important throughout the match up.

The Bulldogs managed only five assists for the game while the Spartans piled up 11, but found a way to get it done despite the fact.

Additionally, Butler converted on their free-throw opportunities to keep them in the game, despite the inept performance from the floor on the offensive side of the court.  The Bulldgos converted 17-of-24 from the charity stripe, compared to 10-for-18 the Spartans made. As per the usual, free-throw shooting was a pivotal factor in the games’ outcome.

The Spartans out-rebounded the Bulldogs, but were unable to convert on second-chance opportunities.

Butler Head Coach Brad Stevens was impressed by the effort that both teams exerted throughout the game, and knows it could have easily gone the other way.

“Both sides really battled,” he said after the game. “We were lucky to be up 2 at the end.  We’ve talked about this since the first week of practice and I said if we stayed focused and do our job, why can’t we play for a national championship.”

Butler seems to be a team of destiny, having not lost a game dating back to the last part of December, now at 25 in a row. The hometown team will have the full support of fans, which drives their determination.

The Bulldogs are trying to become the first team since the 1975 UCLA Bruins to win a national title in their home state.

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