Virginia uses big second half to beat Butler, reach Sweet 16
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Butler made a valiant effort to add to its impressive collection of NCAA tournament upset victories in its second-round matchup against No. 1 seed Virginia on Saturday, but the Cavaliers were resilient and put on an offensive clinic in the second half.
Virginia was 19 of 26 from the field (73.1%) after halftime and scored a season-high 54 points in the half en route to a 77–69 win. Senior guard Malcolm Brogdon scored a team-high 22 points, including the game’s final four points at the free throw line, to go along with five assists and four rebounds.
Butler forward Andrew Chrabascz scored 12 of his game-high 25 points in the first half as the Bulldogs took a 25–23 lead into halftime. Both teams traded baskets for the first 20 minutes as Butler stretched its largest lead of the half to three points, but no further.
Virginia scored the first six points of the second half but Butler countered with a 14–5 run fueled by three three-pointers, a layup and a free throw from Chrabascz. Butler fifth-year senior Roosevelt Jones scored 17 points in the second half and carried the Bulldogs down the stretch.
After first-half turnover issues, Virginia took care of the ball in the second half, posted a plus-six rebounding advantage and found secondary scoring options off the bench en route to a Sweet 16 berth.
Why it matters
Virginia’s second-round win improved the ACC to 9–1 in the NCAA tournament, with three teams having already advanced to the Sweet 16. The Cavaliers haven’t advanced past the Sweet 16 under head coach Tony Bennett but they’ll look to make their best tournament run since going to the Elite Eight in 1995.
Malcolm Brodgon’s big performance reaffirmed his status as one of the best college basketball players in the country and a Virginia star who will go down in Cavalier lore.
Butler finished the season 22–10 but was just 11–9 in this calendar year. The Bulldogs put a scare in the Cavaliers as they tried to send the first No. 1 seed home in this year’s tournament but they came up short, ending the careers of Roosevelt Jones, Kellen Dunham, Austin Etherington and Jordan Gathers in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Ever since No. 15 seed Middle Tennessee upset No. 2 seed Michigan State on Friday, the Midwest Region became Virginia’s to lose. The Spartans sent the Cavaliers home in the last two NCAA tournaments, so Middle Tennessee’s upset certainly made Virginia’s path to Houston more favorable.
The Cavaliers will face No. 4 seed Iowa State and the country’s third-most efficient offense in the Sweet 16.