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Butler tested, endures

Butler’s Gordon Hayward, taking a jumper as four Murray State players converge on him, had 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting but made a crucial defensive play with time running out to preserve the victory.

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Butler’s Gordon Hayward, taking a jumper as four Murray State players converge on him, had 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting but made a crucial defensive play with time running out to preserve the victory.

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Butler's Gordon Hayward instinctively left his man for a double-team, deflected Isaiah Canaan's desperate pass into the backcourt and slammed Murray State's storybook shut.

The Racers were close to a second straight upset before the tournament-tested Bulldogs reminded them which small school usually plays big in March.

Ronald Nored's three-point play snapped a tie with 25.4 seconds left, and Butler evaded a second stunner by the 13th-seeded Racers in three days, advancing to the region semifinals with a 54-52 victory Saturday.

Nored had 15 points and Hayward 12 before making the decisive defensive play for the fifth-seeded Bulldogs (30-4), who advanced to the round of 16 for the second time in four years.

"I think we just wanted it," said Hayward, who persevered through a 4-of-13 shooting performance. "I'm sure they wanted it badly, too, but we all just dug in. We did whatever we could to get the job done."

Butler overcame a second straight halftime deficit and finished on a 7-2 run in the final 2½ minutes. The Bulldogs never got comfortable against the undersized Racers (31-5), who beat fourth-seeded Vanderbilt in the first round on Danero Thomas' jumper as time expired.

kANSAS ST. 84, BYU 72: The Cougars had hoped to extend their NCAA Tournament run at least one week and play in a venue in Salt Lake City, 45 miles from campus.

Instead, it's the Wildcats who are headed out West.

No. 2-seeded Kansas State defeated No. 7-seeded BYU in Oklahoma City. K-State, which is making its first NCAA appearance since 2008, advanced to the round of 16.

In preparation for the game, Kansas State coach Frank Martin and his players said it was imperative they find a way to keep BYU star guard Jimmer Fredette in check. The strategy worked well.

Fredette, who scored 37 against the Gators on Thursday and is the first BYU player to record two 40-plus games, finished with 21 points, going 5-of-13 from the field and 1-of-4 from 3-point range.

"The two things I felt going into the game was we had to be very disciplined," Martin said. "And the second thing we saw on tape was he (Fredette) likes to drive the ball to the middle of the floor. For the most part we did a decent job not giving him the dribble drives."

Kansas State (28-7) led 41-31 at halftime after trailing by 10 in the first half. BYU (30-6) continued to stay close until midway through the second half. After pulling within 55-50 with 10:51 left, BYU couldn't get any closer. The Cougars, who had been a prolific 3-point shooting team, were held to 31 percent.

K-State guard Jacob Pullen scored a game-high 34 and guard Denis Clemente added 19.

"It's an amazing feeling," Pullen said. "I thank Frank all the time for this opportunity. I didn't have a million schools knocking on my door. I had some mid-majors, and I had Frank walk in my door and tell me I could play."

Times staff writer Antonya English contributed to this report.

Butler tested, endures 03/20/10 [Last modified: Saturday, March 20, 2010 11:43pm]
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