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Experience pays off for Butler

Shelvin Mack #1 of the Butler Bulldogs celebrates

Shelvin Mack #1 of the Butler Bulldogs celebrates against the Kansas State Wildcats during the west regional final of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament. (March 27, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

We're aren't even through the first weekend of the tournament and already there was a buzzer-beater.

Senior forward Matt Howard scored on a put back as time expired to lift Butler past Old Dominion, 60-58, in a second-round game.

You can't really put a price on how having experienced players can impact a game.

Butler's top three scorers, Howard, Shelvin Mack and Andrew Smith were all playing with four fouls over the final four-plus minutes. All three of those players were key members of last season's team that advanced to the national championship game.

If any one of those three fouled out, the outcome might have been different.

Just check out the final few minutes.

Mack made a layup to give the Bulldogs a 56-52 lead with 3:11 left. Howard added two free throws to extend the advantage to 58-52 at the 2:43 mark. Old Dominion answered with a 6-0 run to tie the score at 58 with 32 seconds left.

The final possession came down to positioning. Butler's Shawn Vanzant missed a layup, but Smith was there to get a hand on the offensive rebound. He did what he could to get it on the glass. Howard was there to clean it up. 

"That was a great job of Andrew to tip it to me," Howard said. "After that's is a layup.

New York Sports