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Category: Butler vs. UConn

Butler-UConn: Huskies claim NCAA championship with 53-41 victory over the Bulldogs

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HOUSTON — Since arriving in Texas last week, Kemba Walker had visions.

Snipping nets. Hearing "One Shining Moment." Confetti floating around him.

While the scene is an annual tradition, Walker accurately imagined himself and his Huskies teammates in the sea of red, white and blue streamers that drifted onto the Reliant Stadium court Monday night after a 53-41 victory over Butler in a game that was more slugfest than slamfest.

"I feel like I'm dreaming," said Walker, who scored 16 points and won the most outstanding player award in front of 70,376 fans.

It was hard for anyone to envision, harder still for many to watch. It was the lowest-scoring championship game since 1949.

Butler forward Gordon Hayward's halfcourt shot clanging off the rim to lose a heartbreaker to Duke was the lasting memory from 2010's championship. This season's title game for the Bulldogs featured a number of misses — 52 to be exact — for Butler fans to stew over until fall.

The Bulldogs shot a record-low 18.8 percent, struggling against Connecticut's defensive length and taking shots that appeared aimed at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

"(Coach Jim Calhoun) just told us we'd have to outwill and outwork (Butler)," said Connecticut center Alex Oriakhi, who finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds. He helped Connecticut outscore Butler 26-2 in the paint.

The Bulldogs joined Michigan's Fab Five squads in 1992 and '93 and Houston in 1983 and '84 to lose consecutive championship games.

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Butler-UConn: Huskies win the title, 53-41

Butler-uconn9_600 Shelvin Mack makes a three-pointer for Butler with two minutes to go, his first points of the second half. So meaningless, UConn leading 48-38.

Poor Pacific 10 (12). Washington State, so far, has the lowest field-goal percentage in a national championship game (21%). Is Butler going to steal that? Seems so.

Butler coach Brad Stevens finds out just how hard this all is. UConn wins, 53-41. "Huskies are the top dog," says CBS broadcaster Jim Nantz. And this is what some people will remember of the mid-majors.

UConn Coach Jim Calhoun wins his third national championship. One for each of the three games he had to sit out this year for NCAA violations.

Oh, and Nantz again: "Connecticut wins best in show." That line is of the quality of the game.

RELATED:

Rare sight in Butler-Connecticut title matchup: Stars who stuck around

Question of the Day: How does the loss by UConn women diminish their legacy?

Coach Shaka Smart agrees to eight-year deal to stay at Virginia Commonwealth

-- Diane Pucin

Photo: UConn's Kemba Walker (15), Donnell Beverly (2) and Tyler Olander (10) celebrate with their teammates after defeating Butler, 53-41, in the NCAA championship game on Monday night at Reliant Stadium in Houston. Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Butler-UConn: Huskies leading big with five minutes left

Butler-uconn8_510 Looks like UConn has found the pretty girls (see Charles Barkley, halftime update).

Alex Oriakhi scores from the baseline, UConn ahead, 41-28, and there's no way Butler can hit the 41-point mark in the final 6:58.

Butler's Andrew Smith makes a rebound layup and the crowd goes wild. Huskies, 41-30.

Clark Kellogg: "Unparalled ineptitude." He meant just Butler but it could be the motto for this whole game.

With five minutes left, the only suspense is, how many more layups can Butler miss? It's UConn 46, Butler 32 with five minutes left.

RELATED:

Rare sight in Butler-Connecticut title matchup: Stars who stuck around

Question of the Day: How does the loss by UConn women diminish their legacy?

Coach Shaka Smart agrees to eight-year deal to stay at Virginia Commonwealth

-- Diane Pucin

Photo: Butler's Matt Howard has his drive cut off by UConn's Charles Okwandu in the second half of the NCAA championship game on Monday night. Credit: David J. Phillip / Associated Press

Butler-UConn: After 30 minutes

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Clang, clang, clang Butler. Then Tyler Lamb makes a steal (maybe it should have been a foul), slam dunk, Huskies lead, 31-26. Butler Coach Brad Stevens calls timeout. At this moment it seems difficult to see the Bulldogs being able to score five more points.

And now Butler is one-for-20 shooting from two-point range as forward Matt Howard misses another layup. Lamb rebounds his own miss and score, putting the Huskies up 33-26 and then Bulldogs have gone over seven minutes without scoring. Butler's Kyhle Marshall then misses two free throws but Shawn Vanzant hits a jumper to cut the Bulldogs' deficit to 33-28. The Bulldog licks its lips. The real bulldog.

(Side note, the Big East has an official in this game, John Cahill. The Horizon League does not. Stevens has noticed.)

Shabazz Napier makes two free throws, putting Huskies up 35-28. Butler has come back from a lot, but coming back without being able to make two-point field goals or free throws? Seems tough.

Napier-to-Lamb alley-oop, UConn ahead, 37-28, then Smith misses an all-alone layup? With 10 minutes to go, UConn is up 11 after a Kemba Walker layup, 39-28.

According to Jim Nantz, this matches Butler's largest deficit of the tournament.

RELATED:

Rare sight in Butler-Connecticut title matchup: Stars who stuck around

Question of the Day: How does the loss by UConn women diminish their legacy?

Coach Shaka Smart agrees to eight-year deal to stay at Virginia Commonwealth

-- Diane Pucin

Photo: UConn guard Kemba Walker tries to keep control of his dribble against the defense of Butler's Matt Howard and Shawn Vanzant on Monday night in the NCAA championship game. Credit: Getty Images

Butler-UConn: After 25 minutes

Butler-uconn6_510 And so we'll give Charles Barkley the final word on what's to come, God help us all: Early in his high school career, Barkley said, he had to date ugly girls. "Unless UConn can speed it up, get to the good-looking women, Butler's going to win this game."

Chase Stigall rebounds the miss of his first three-pointer as if he knows he would miss. And then he makes a three, so Butler goes up, 25-19, but Stigall then fouls Tyler Lamb who makes two free throws, cutting UConn's deficit to 25-21. First points of game for Lamb. Of the game.

UConn reintroduces itself to field goals; Kemba Walker hits one to pull UCon to within 25-23. Huskies went almost eight minutes without one of those. Lamb now makes a three and UConn leads, 26-25. See what happens when you make field goals? The scoreboard changes in your favor.

The crowd is starting to boo as it seems the Bulldogs are getting pushed around more than what is normally allowed without one of those things -- you know, fouls -- being called.

Walker doesn't care. He goes to the hoop, misses the layup (of course) but is fouled. He makes one free throw. So Huskies surge to 27-25 lead.

Analyst Clark Kellogg says this half is "mildly better" as Butler makes a free throw. Alex Oriakhi makes a layup, though, and that counts for two points. Huskies up 29-25 with 15 minutes left.

RELATED:

Rare sight in Butler-Connecticut title matchup: Stars who stuck around

Question of the Day: How does the loss by UConn women diminish their legacy?

Coach Shaka Smart agrees to eight-year deal to stay at Virginia Commonwealth

-- Diane Pucin

Photo: UConn's Alex Oriakhi topples over Butler's Andrew Smith while going for a block during the first half of the NCAA championship game on Monday night in Houston. Credit: Eric Gay / Associated Press

Butler-UConn: Halftime

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So the final score of the BCS championship football between Auburn and Oregon was 22-19. So this is a BCS conspiracy! That's it. The BCS wants to secretly do away with March Madness.

So Butler shoots 22% from the field. And leads.

So Butler gets outrebounded by eight. And leads.

So what will Charles, Kenny and friends say?

Greg Anthony: "Worst half of basketball I've seen in a national championship game." Hard to argue.

Seth Davis: "Looks like two teams competing to see who can play worse.  Very bad showcase for college basketball." Hard to argue.

Charles Barkley: "A team makes six field goals and has the lead. That's sad. That was an awful half of basketball." Hard to argue.

Consensus? At least CBS isn't sugarcoating anything.

RELATED:

Rare sight in Butler-Connecticut title matchup: Stars who stuck around

Question of the Day: How does the loss by UConn women diminish their legacy?

Coach Shaka Smart agrees to eight-year deal to stay at Virginia Commonwealth

-- Diane Pucin

Photo: UConn's Jamal Coombs-McDaniel fouls Butler's Andrew Smith as he grabs a rebound in the first half of the NCAA championship game Monday night in Houston. Credit: David J. Phillip/ Associated Press

Butler-UConn: Bulldogs lead at halftime, 22-19

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Butler's Shelvin Mack hits his first jump shot, a three-pointer, with 4:14 left to tie the score, 19-19.

And then, after a Butler foul, Jim Nantz says, "A break in the action." If only he had said, "Some action in the break." Because commercial interruptions are the highlights so far. It's hard to make the argument for  NCAA basketball over the NBA right now. But then you realize, they don't make NBA guys go play in a dome just out of the blue.

CBS shows the replay of Mack's three-pointer and praises his motion, but he was also unguarded. Everybody's motion is better unguarded.

By the way, has Connecticut ever practiced inbounding the ball?

Andrew Smith was fouled three times on the missed layup with about 2:50 left in the half. No call. Finally you can hear the boos.

"Tied at 19 inside of two minutes," Nantz says.

Some day they will be a book titled "How the Final Four died," and it will be about this game.

And then  Mack makes a three at the buzzer, giving Butler the lead at halftime, 22-19.

Butler scores the last six point of the first half. Think about that, UConn.

RELATED:

Rare sight in Butler-Connecticut title matchup: Stars who stuck around

Question of the Day: How does the loss by UConn women diminish their legacy?

Coach Shaka Smart agrees to eight-year deal to stay at Virginia Commonwealth

-- Diane Pucin

Photo: Butler guard Shelvin Mack celebrates with teammate Ronald Nored after making a three-pointer at the end of the first half against UConn on Monday night in the NCAA championship game. Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Butler-UConn: After 15 minutes

Butler-uconn3_510 Butler's Shelvin Mack gets a point! One!

The Bulldogs are going point by point now, and Andrew Smith ties the score at 13 by making one of two free throws.

Charles Okwandu puts Connecticut up, 15-13, but Butler's Chase Stigall gets inspired to make a three and with seven minutes left in first half Butler up 16-15.

If we were going by (Ralph) Lawler's Law in this game, first team to 100 wins, we would be looking for a winner in about 2012.

A jump shot! By Kemba Walker, of course, puts UConn ahead, 17-16, and this time Stigall can't reply. Well, he tries, but it makes a clanging sound. Donnell Beverly makes it 19-16 UConn, and that feels like a streak, especially when Butler's Matt Howard misses another layup.

RELATED:

Rare sight in Butler-Connecticut title matchup: Stars who stuck around

Question of the Day: How does the loss by UConn women diminish their legacy?

Coach Shaka Smart agrees to eight-year deal to stay at Virginia Commonwealth

-- Diane Pucin

Photo: Butler's Matt Howard challenges a driving layup by UConn point guard Kemba Walker in the first half Monday night. Credit: David J. Phillip / Associated Press

Butler vs. Uconn: After 10 minutes

Butler-uconn2_510 Ouch, my ears hurt. The sound of the ball clanking against the rim over and over and over? Make it stop.

Clang goes Matt Howard's attempt for Butler.

UConn's Kemba Walker gets inside, though, layup, foul and free throw. UConn's ahead, 13-8, now and the Huskies' length seems to be emerging.

Also emerging is the sense that Butler can't afford to miss free throws at all or make any turnovers. The Bulldogs have a slim margin for error.

And has any team won a game without scoring a two-point field goal? Butler's trying. Bulldog's down 13-9, 0-for-the-game from two-point range, shooting 13 percent from the field? Hey, being down 13-9 doesn't seem so bad.

Andrew Smith breaks a five-minute Butler scoring drought and has the Bulldogs' first two-pointer of the game at the 10:19 mark of first half. Butler down, 13-11.

Oh, yeah, Huskies are missing a lot of layups, too.

RELATED:

Rare sight in Butler-Connecticut title matchup: Stars who stuck around

Question of the Day: How does the loss by UConn women diminish their legacy?

Coach Shaka Smart agrees to eight-year deal to stay at Virginia Commonwealth

-- Diane Pucin

Photo: UConn point guard Kemba Walker reacts after scoring and drawing a foul against Butler on Monday night in the NCAA championship game. Credit: David J. Phillip / Associated Press

Butler vs. UConn: First five minutes

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Time to settle the madness; Jim Nantz says tipoff.

And UConn's Tyler Olander gets the first basket and first rebound.

Butler's Chase Stigall gets the first three-pointer.

It looks like the strategy is emerging already. Connecticut going inside early and often, and maybe getting away with a few over-the-backs here and there.

But if the Bulldogs are supposed to be less awestruck because they've been here before, not so much. Shelvin Mack missed a layup.

At the first TV timeout, Butler is one-for-11 shooting from the field; Connecticut, two for nine. Huskies are leading, 4-3. This is certainly the pace Charles Barkley said would work for Butler.

Matt Howard's three could be big, opening up things inside, Butler takes a 6-4 lead but Alex Oriakhi goes inside and then Niels Giffey, too, for the Huskies. So, UConn up, 8-6, after the first five minutes.

RELATED:

Rare sight in Butler-Connecticut title matchup: Stars who stuck around

Question of the Day: How does the loss by UConn women diminish their legacy?

Coach Shaka Smart agrees to eight-year deal to stay at Virginia Commonwealth

-- Diane Pucin

Photo: UConn's Tyler Olander reacts after scoring the first basket of the 2011 NCAA championship game against Butler on Monday night at Reliant Stadium in Houston. Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Butler vs. UConn: Who's going to miss Sir Charles on colleges?

Barkley_300 Charles Barkley says if it's a low-scoring game then Butler wins. High-scoring? Connecticut. So Greg Gumbel asks Charles if Butler should pass up those open threes at the beginning of the game. And Charles doesn't back down. So, yes, Barkley will be missed.

Jim Calhoun in the locker room: "I think we're the better team."

Charles: "I think UConn wins the game because they have better players. I'm going to pick UConn."

Kenny Smith: "I'm starting to root for UConn and the Huskies. I'll take UConn."

Seth Davis: "Winning time will be Kemba time." UConn again.

Greg Anthony: "Having said all of that . . . I think UConn will win this game tonight."

So it's unanimous from the CBS crew. And Jim Calhoun. UConn to win.

RELATED:

Rare sight in Butler-Connecticut title matchup: Stars who stuck around

Question of the Day: How does the loss by UConn women diminish their legacy?

Coach Shaka Smart agrees to eight-year deal to stay at Virginia Commonwealth

-- Diane Pucin

Photo: Charles Barkley during a TNT telecast. Credit: Cary Edmondson / US Presswire

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