Willie Veasley glanced up while running back on defense as his three-pointer bounced high off the rim like so many of Butler's shots had before.
He paused, though, as the ball drifted back, caromed off the backboard and fell through the net — a huge bounce that helped seal the Bulldogs' 63-59 upset of top-seeded Syracuse on Thursday night in the West Regional semifinals in Salt Lake City.
Veasley followed his fortunate three with a tip-in as the Bulldogs scored 11 straight points and became the latest mid-major team to knock off a top seed in the tournament.
Former Bryan Station star Shelvin Mack had 14 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals for Butler. Now, after reaching the regional finals for the first time in school history, Butler is one win from going home to Indianapolis for the Final Four.
"I was headed down the court on defense because I figured it was going to go over the top of the backboard. But I looked back and it came down and went through," Veasley said. "That was a H-O-R-S-E shot. I've never made a shot quite like that."
Veasley pumped his fist and grinned as he continued toward the other end. It was fitting that he was already headed back on defense. Instead of Syracuse's vaunted zone controlling the game, Butler's pesky man-to-man defense was the difference as the Bulldogs scrapped through poor shooting and won their 23rd straight game.
"We said this word over and over in Indianapolis, and that word is 'resolve.' These guys have resolve," Butler Coach Brad Stevens said. "It's hard to measure, but they've got it."
West Virginia 69, Washington 56: Clutching his right hand and writhing in pain on the court, West Virginia senior Da'Sean Butler allowed himself only two seconds to worry that his college career was over — and maybe the Mountaineers' NCAA Tournament run, too.
When Butler realized the hurt was subsiding, he got up and went about his business in lifting the second-seeded Mountaineers to the East Regional final with a win over 11th-seeded Washington in Syracuse.
"Once I stood up, the one thing that was pretty numb was my hand, and I said, 'All right, I'll be fine,'" he said.
He was, and so were the Mountaineers (30-6). Coach Bob Huggins' team set a school record for victories, extended its winning streak to nine and advanced to the round of eight for the second time since 2005.
Seeing Butler on the court, however, was a major scare for West Virginia, which was playing its first game without point guard Darryl Bryant, who broke his right foot in practice on Tuesday.
Butler had his right hand wrapped in ice in the Mountaineers' locker room and said he'll be ready to play Saturday. Kevin Jones led the Big East Tournament champions with 18 points and eight rebounds, while Butler finished with 14 points and seven rebounds.
Kansas State 101, Xavier 96 (2OT): Jacob Pullen hit a pair of three-pointers in the second overtime to help K-State outlast Xavier in an instant classic at Salt Lake City.
"It was two teams that didn't want their season to end," said Pullen, who finished with 28 points.
This was the fifth game to go to overtime in the tournament — and the second that went to double OT. This is the first time Kansas State has made it this far since 1988.
The sixth-seeded Musketeers (26-9) were seeking their third trip to the regional finals in seven years.
"As good a game as I've ever coached or been a part of," Xavier Coach Chris Mack said.
Trailing by three at the end of regulation, Xavier's Terrell Holloway got fouled while heaving up a 30-footer with 5 seconds left and calmly made all three free throws. Xavier was down by three again at the end of the first overtime, but Jordan Crawford jacked up a 35-footer that hit nothing but net.