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NCAA tournament: Butler holds off Texas, 56-48, in Midwest opener

NCAA tournament: Sixth-seeded Butler holds off Texas, 56-48, in Midwest opener

Kellen Dunham scored 20 points, including a pivotal 3-pointer with 1:18 to play, to lift sixth-seeded Butler to a 56-48 victory over 11th-seeded Texas in an NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional game on Thursday.

The Bulldogs (23-10) advanced to play third-seeded Notre Dame on Saturday. The Longhorns (20-14) added to a miserable day for the vaunted Big 12. Texas joined Baylor and Iowa State, both No. 3 seeds, as early tournament exits after struggling all afternoon to find any rhythm, a microcosm of another disappointing season.

Jonathan Holmes led the Longhorns with 15 points and Isaiah Taylor added 14 but Texas shot just 34 percent from the field and turned it over 15 times while failing to make it beyond the first weekend of the NCAAs for the seventh straight year.

A pullup jumper by Taylor drew Texas within 44-43 with 2:42 to play but the Longhorns never got closer. Dunham knocked down a free throw and then hit a three-pointer from the right wing to make it 48-43. Dunham shook his right index finger as he trotted down the court in celebration.

Taylor bricked a shot in the lane and Kameron Woods made two free throws to stretch Butler's lead to 50-43 and the Longhorns never got within a possession the rest of the way.

The Bulldogs did what they've done consistently throughout their run from mid-major darling to major March player over the last decade: they limited their mistakes and let Texas fumble its way into them.

It's the identity that forged consecutive national title game appearances in 2010 and 2011 and one that re-emerged this winter under coach Chris Holtmann, who took over last October when Brandon Miller took a medical leave of absence from which he never returned.

Butler finished tied for second in the revamped Big East behind relentless rebounding and solid decision-making.

It's a formula that has escaped the Longhorns for long stretches under coach Rick Barnes. Texas rose as high as No. 6 in the AP Top 25 in December before another freefall through Big 12 play. The Longhorns needed a late mild stretch — winning three of their last four — just to make the 68-team NCAA field.

Still, Texas insisted it had turned the corner coming into the tournament. If so, the Longhorns ended up just spinning in circles once again.

Butler led by as many as 11 points in the first half before Texas ground the game to a halt. The Bulldogs went without a field goal for more than 10 minutes, but Texas could do little more than play ping pong off the backboard and miss shot after shot. The Longhorns outrebounded Butler 41-28 but all those second chances didn't lead to an avalanche of points.

Dunham hit a 19-footer to tie the score at 30 with and reserve forward Kelan Martin threaded to the basket for a layup and later converted a traditional three-point play to give Butler a 39-30 lead with 10:35 to play.

Texas scraped back behind Taylor but could never completely close the gap, leaving Barnes with an uncertain offseason after another talented group played less than the sum of its parts.

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