SALT LAKE CITY - Willie Veasley, getting back on defense, glanced up and watched his three-pointer bounce high off the rim - as so many of Butler's shots had before.
He paused, though, as the ball drifted back, caromed off the backboard and fell through the net - a huge bounce that helped seal the Bulldogs' 63-59 upset of top-seeded Syracuse last night in the West Regional semifinals.
"I was headed down the court on defense because I figured it was going to go over the top of the backboard. But I looked back and it came down and went through," Veasley said. "That was a H-O-R-S-E shot. I've never made a shot quite like that."
Veasley followed his fortunate trey with a tip-in as the Bulldogs scored 11 straight points and became the latest mid-major team to knock off a top seed in the NCAA Tournament.
With its 23rd straight victory, Butler (31-4) reached the regional final for the first time in school history.
Wes Johnson had 17 points and nine rebounds for the Orange (30-5), which had 18 turnovers. Syracuse has not reached a regional final since winning the national title in 2003.
"We accomplished a lot this season, as the expectations for this team weren't very high,'' Johnson said. "We won games we weren't supposed to and won the Big East Conference outright. We have a lot to be happy about. But to lose like this, it hurts."