Notre Dame survives gritty overtime win over Butler

The best shall be last, as they say…

and for those who missed out because of sleeping on the East Coast, you missed on a true barn-burner of a basketball game in Pittsburgh.

Butler had the tempo, but Notre Dame had the swagger.

It was all punctuated with Fighting Irish captain Patrick Connaughton’s huge block which prevented a possible Butler win with 2 seconds left in regulation.  This was still a stretch where both teams did not score a single point for 2 minutes and 39 seconds.

With the game tied at 55 heading into overtime, it was again Connaughton who made the huge play.  He was determined to keep shooting, and although he was only 1 for 6 from the field, that one turned out to be really huge.

His three from the near right corner gave the Irish the lead that they would never relinquish.  It was Notre Dame’s 16th overtime win in their last 19 such games, and they have won 10 of their 11 last entering the extra stanza.

Connaughton also had 9 rebounds and a career-high 5 blocked shots.  Jerian Grant and Zack Auguste also came up big in the Irish’s 67-64 overtime win.  For the first time since 2003, Notre Dame is going to the Sweet 16.
They will next play in Cleveland (Mike Golic’s hometown for you ESPN Radio fans) on Thursday night either against Wichita State or Kansas.

Other games on Saturday…

All of the other higher seeds won except one…

UCLA came out out to start the day and cruised past UAB, 92-75.

Kentucky survived a 3 for 15 slump at the beginning when Cincinnati was hanging with the undefeated Wildcats at 13 all 10 1/2 minutes into the game.  But Aaron Harrison’s three created some distance, and the longer the game played on–Kentucky’s margin grew more and ballooned past double digits.  The final score inside a raucous KFC Yum! Center in Louisville was 64-51.

Kentucky broke Wichita State’s one year old NCAA record for most consecutive wins in a season with 36.

In other games…

At Portland, Arizona got past Ohio State 73-58, while in Jacksonville…North Carolina won a real track meet against a hungry Arkansas squad 87-78 where both teams combined to shoot under 40 percent.

In the first ever meeting, Utah slipped past Georgetown 75-64.

However, the real inspirational story of Georgia State came to an end for R.J. Hunter, the son of injured coach Ron Hunter.

With his mom and sister in the stands, all they could do is stare and watch in disbelief as Xavier made some key plays down the stretch to edge out the Panthers 75-67.  Hunter and Chris Ware are both juniors, and are possibly draft picks if they both decide to leave school early for the NBA Draft.

But a bigger moment for the family will be coming sooner than that, as reporter Jamie Erdahl reported that Jasmine will be getting married in late May.

I certainly hope and pray that Coach Hunter (who sported a boot-like cast that would have made any of the Kardashians jealous style-wise) will get that cast off in time to take his daughter down the aisle in time for their late May wedding.

At least, Georgia State gave us as a nation another incredible March moment that will be celebrated for decades to come.

Sunday, Duke will be on in the early afternoon while Gonzaga will be on at night.  Please check my last blog for all of the tip times and network information.

Although it is technically spring on the calendar, Mother Nature is throwing more people winter curveballs as the return of more snow will be hitting the Midwest again on Sunday and Monday.  This after New York City got some more snow on Friday.

Take it easy, everybody.  We will see if more upsets occur before I preview the Sweet 16 round in a few days.  Good night.

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