Junior guard Shelvin Mack scored a game-best 24 points to help the No. 8-seeded Butler Bulldogs beat No. 11 VCU Rams, 70-62, in a NCAA Tournament Final Four contest at Reliant Stadium in Houston, TX. The Bulldogs (28-9) advance to their second straight National Championship game and will either play No. 3 UConn. Last year, the Butler basketball program lost to the Duke Blue Devils, 61-59, in the national title game in their native city of Indianapolis, IN.
Butler earned a 34-28 halftime advantage, but VCU used a 7-0 run in the first four minutes of the second half to take a 35-34 lead. However, the Bulldogs responded with a 10-2 run to take a 54-47 lead with 9:38 remaining. VCU trimmed the margin to just four points, 61-57, after senior forward Jamie Skeen made a 3-pointer with 1:01 remaining. From there, Butler used six points points from senior forward Matt Howard, including four from the free-throw line, to hold on for the victory. Howard finished the contest with 17 points, eight rebound and made 11-of-12 from the charity stripe.
Skeen netted a game-best 27 points for VCU (28-12), which shot 23-of-59 (39 percent) from the field and just 8-of-22 (36.4) from behind the 3-point arc. Teammate junior guard Bradford Burgess chipped in with 15 points and eight rebounds.
Butler out-rebounded the VCU basketball program 44-30, and shot 21-of-58 (36.2) from the field. The Bulldogs made 20-of-26 free throws compared to the Rams 8-of-13.