for this game

Making another run, Butler tops Wisconsin

Mar 25, 2011 - 6:25 AM New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Butler's relentless defense tired down the stretch, but by that point the Bulldogs had built a big enough lead to keep another deep NCAA Tournament run going with a 61-54 victory over Wisconsin.

Matt Howard scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, while Shelvin Mack added 13 points, including a critical step-back jumper in the final minute to secure the Bulldogs' 12th straight win.

They will put that on the line in the Southeast Regional final on Saturday against Florida, an 83-74 overtime winner over BYU earlier Thursday at New Orleans Arena.

Butler (26-9), the No. 8 seed and last year's national runner-up, held Wisconsin (25-9) to 30 percent shooting and silenced leading scorer Jon Leuer to three points.

"We've got a really good group of guys, and they've really bought into it," Butler head coach Brad Stevens said. "They only care about each other and getting better. That's a real testament to them."

Jordan Taylor got hot late and ended with 22 points for the fourth-seeded Badgers, who shot 29 three-pointers and made only seven.

"It was just kind of one of those nights, the ball wasn't going through the hoop. It's frustrating, definitely frustrating, especially when you end your season like that," Taylor said.

Butler's previous four NCAA Tournament games were decided by two points or fewer, the most recent coming in a 71-70 upset of top-seeded Pittsburgh last Saturday in a foul-filled ending.

There was no memorable finish time, though Wisconsin nearly erased a 20-point deficit with a late run.

A full-court press sparked a 9-0 stretch that Taylor capped with a three- pointer to pull the Badgers within 53-49 with 1:38 remaining.

But Mack answered with an 18-footer to halt the rally, and Leuer finished a forgettable a 1-for-12 shooting night with a miss from the left corner, ending the comeback bid and keeping the Bulldogs dancing late into March for the second straight year.

"I don't know necessarily that I'm shocked by it because I know what this team is capable of," Howard said of the team's success. "The type of guys that we have, and when we buy into the coach's game plans and are able to execute it."

Howard, who hit a buzzer-beating layup to defeat Old Dominion in the second round, drained a three-pointer to break an early tie.

Shawn Vanzant had buckets on the next two possessions for an 18-11 lead near the midway point of the first half, and the defense took over from there.

Butler, making its fourth Sweet 16 appearance in nine years, held Wisconsin without a field goal in the final 5:40, and went into the locker room holding a 33-24 advantage.

The Bulldogs' defense -- coupled with poor shot selection by Wisconsin -- was just as good in the early stages of the second half, limiting the Badgers to one field goal over the first nine minutes.

Wisconsin missed 16 straight shots at one point, and found itself trailing 42-24 following a Khyle Marshall jumper 5 1/2 minutes in.

Butler extended the lead with its tallest player, the 6-foot-11 Andrew Smith, on the bench with an ankle injury. Smith eventually returned and hit a layup for a 47-27 margin, which stayed in double digits until the final stages.

Game Notes

Butler has held six of its last nine opponents below 60 points...Vanzant netted 10 points for Butler, which held a 37-31 edge on the glass...Leuer scored a combined 41 points in Wisconsin's first two wins in the tourney and was averaging 18.7 points coming in...Wisconsin averaged 71.0 points in wins over Belmont and Kansas State to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2008.