NCAA Tournament: Marquette rallies past Butler; Syracuse bounces Cal
Lexington, Ky. • Back and forth went Marquette and Butler, trading makes and misses in a high intensity rematch that made a case for being the best game so far of this NCAA tournament.
In the end, Vander Blue and the Golden Eagles advanced as the Bulldogs couldn't muster any more of their March magic.
Blue scored 19 second-half points to rally third-seeded Marquette out of another hole, and the Golden Eagles survived 74-72 on Saturday to reach the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament.
"I know everybody in our team, we weren't ready to go home," said Blue, who made a last-second layup to win Marquette's first game of this tournament, 59-58 over Davidson. "We had two close games we had a lot of those this year. What we went through earlier this year prepared us for this weekend."
Like November's first meeting between the teams at the Maui Invitational, won 72-71 by Butler on Rotnei Clarke's buzzer-beating 3-pointer, it came down to the final shot. Only this time, Butler missed, as Andrew Smith's off-balance 3 from up top was way off target.
"The difference in the game was the level of pressure they put on us in the second half and certainly the shots they made," Butler coach Brad Stevens said. "They had a few I didn't think were going in that bounced in."
Marquette (25-8) will meet the winner of Sunday's game between Illinois and Miami (Fla.) on Thursday in the East Regional semifinals at Washington, D.C.
Syracuse 66, California 60 • In San Jose, Calif., C.J. Fair scored 18 points, James Southerland added 14 and fourth-seeded Syracuse survived a second-half drought of more than 12 minutes without a field goal to beat No. 12 seed California.
The Orange (28-9) frustrated California with their zone defense to overcome a dismal shooting night when they made just 39 percent of their shots and missed 15 of 41 free throws.
Syracuse will face either Indiana or Temple on Thursday in Washington.