Shockers in the East
A team of blue-collar kids with crew cuts from a tiny Indiana school beat a powerhouse in the big tournament.
Sound vaguely familiar?
Darnell Archey’s brilliant shooting and Brandon Miller’s deft ball-handling Sunday swept 12th-seeded Butler into the round of 16 for the first time with a 79-71 stunner over Rick Pitino and fourth-seeded Louisville in the East Regional.
The Horizon League team that plays in the gym where the ultimate underdog movie, “Hoosiers”, was filmed, is writing a poignant script of its own with upsets of No. 5 Mississippi State and Louisville (26-6).
“And you know what? They won,” Miller said, referring to the fabled Milan High team that won an improbable state title in 1954.
Next, Butler (27-5) meets top-seeded Oklahoma on Friday in Albany, N.Y.
Archey made eight of nine three-point shots -- including all six in the second half -- and tied his career high with 26 points to end Pitino’s first appearance since 1997 in an NCAA tournament -- in which he won a national championship with Kentucky in 1996.
“I was in the zone. I felt like Michael Jordan in ’92 against the Blazers,” Archey said. “My teammates just kept getting the ball to me with wide-open looks.”
Butler, with an enrollment of about 4,000 -- less than a fifth of Louisville’s -- made 14 of 22 three-pointers, including nine of 13 in the second half.
Mike Monserez had 14 points, nine assists and three steals, making four threes. Duane Lightfoot, a Louisville native, and Joel Cornette had 14 points apiece.
Butler withstood an early onslaught, falling behind, 24-9, amid a flurry of turnovers and Louisville three-pointers. The Bulldogs answered with an 18-4 run and actually led by one at halftime.
“When we were down 15 points, you could look in the huddle and see guys just gritting their teeth and saying this is where we’ve got to get going,” Miller said. “We played tough from there on out.”