March 23, 2003
By JOHN ZENOR
AP Sports Writer
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - 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 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 the fourth-seeded Cardinals (26-6).
"And you know what? They won," Miller said, referring to the fabled Milan High School team that won an improbable state title in 1954.
Next, the Bulldogs (27-5) meet top-seeded Oklahoma on Friday in Albany, N.Y.
Archey shot 8-of-9 on 3-pointers - hitting all six in the second half - and tied his career high with 26 points to end Pitino's return to the NCAA tournament.
"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."
With their first at-large berth in 31 years, the Bulldogs set a school record for wins and aren't ready to quit yet.
"It's not our goal just to get to the Sweet 16," Archey said. "Our goal all along has been to be national champions.
"We're thrilled and excited, but we're not satisfied."
"It doesn't surprise me when he makes those shots. To be honest, it kind of surprises me when he doesn't. We have tremendous confidence in him."
Pitino won a national championship with Kentucky in 1996. His second Louisville team won the Conference USA regular-season and tournament titles.
"Obviously, if you don't win a championship, you're going to end on a low note," said Pitino, who had won 12 of his last 13 NCAA tournament games. "To me, this is not a low note because of what our team has accomplished this year. And I'm not too disappointed, because Butler is a great team."
Butler, with an enrollment of about 4,000 - less than a fifth of Louisville's - made 14 of 22 3-pointers, including 9-of-13 in the second half.
Louisville's press helped build an early 15-point lead, but Miller - who hit the game-winning shot with 6.2 seconds left against Mississippi State - had few problems with it after that.
"When the game started, I don't think I've ever seen the kind of pressure they put on us," Miller said. "It was unique."
He had six assists, took two charges from Reece Gaines, and drew several hand-checking fouls while bringing the ball up the court.
Gaines scored 22 second-half points and finished with 26, but Louisville could never overcome Butler's big start to the second half.
Gaines scored 11 points in a 3:48 span to bring the Cardinals back and cut it to 70-69 on a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 1:55 left.
Archey answered 24 seconds later with another 3, and Archey and Monserez hit two free throws apiece in the final 12.8 seconds.
"I just kind of smiled my way through the free throws and knocked them both down," said Archey, who has missed only eight foul shots in his career. He set the NCAA record for consecutive free throws with 85 earlier this season.
Archey's coach wasn't surprised by his 3-point display.
"It doesn't surprise me when he makes those shots," Todd Lickliter said. "To be honest, it kind of surprises me when he doesn't. We have tremendous confidence in him."
Butler began to feel it early in the second half, bumping chests and slapping hands on the court when a 13-0 run forced Pitino to call a timeout with his team down 50-39.
Butler had assists on 21 of 27 baskets.
"As Princeton runs an offense for layups, this team runs an offense for 3s, and they're great at it," Pitino said. "They're one of the best shooting teams I've seen."
The Bulldogs withstood the first onslaught, falling behind 24-9 amid a flurry of turnovers and Louisville 3-pointers. They answered with an 18-4 run and actually led by one at halftime.
The Bulldogs left the court clapping their hands and pumping their fists while the Cardinals walked or jogged off with their heads down.
It was a similar scene after the game.
"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."