There you have it folks. The Butler Bulldogs advanced to the championship game on Monday with a 52-50 win over Michigan State. Butler took control of the game after the break as it started the second half on a 16-9 run for a 44-37 lead with 12:18 left.
The remainder of the game was a free throw contest for the Bulldogs as they hit 6 of 8 down the stretch. Butler had just one field goal over the final 12:18 of the game. But it was enough. Gordon Hayward led the way with 19 points and Shelvin Mack added 14.
Durrell Summers scored 14 points for Michigan State.
Butler is hanging tough, especially on defense. Durrell Summers (13 points) and Korie Lucious (11 points) are shooting a combined 9-for-17 for Michigan State. The problem is no one else is getting it done for the Spartans. Butler leads 47-43 with 4:15 left.
Butler has continued its offensive surge as Matt Howard drained two free throws for the Bulldogs, who has extended their lead to 46-41 with 9:24 left in the game.
Butler has become a very efficient offensive team in the second half. Ronald Nored drained three free throws and Matt Howard hit a layup for the Bulldogs. Butler leads 39-37 with 13:34 left in the game.
The first half was a bit of a defensive battle. Michigan State held a 28-25 lead, Butler's Shelvin Mack hit a three with 38 seconds left, tying the score at 28.
Michigan State has spread the ball well. Korie Lucious has eight points, while Durrell Summers and Draymond Green have seven points each. Gordon Hayward has been the star for Butler with 13 points. Mack has 12 points.
Both teams cooled off from three-point range after a hot start.
Both teams ended scoring droughts. Garrick Sherman scored on a layup off a feed from Draymond Green to give Michigan State a 24-20 lead. But Gordon Hayward came back with a three for Butler 14 seconds later. Michigan State leads 24-23 with 3:55 left in the first half.
Both teams are off to a hot start behind the arc. Michigan State is 5-for-10 from three, while Butler is 4-for-9 from long range. But the Spartans have the early edge, 22-20, with 6:55 left in the first half. Expect a defensive struggle the rest of the way.