Butler pulls upset after Deacons' record-low half
Updated: Saturday March 17, 2001 2:03 AM
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- The NCAA tournament, a dream come true for most teams, turned into a nightmare for Wake Forest.
"This was beyond my worst nightmare," Rafael Vidaurreta said.
The seventh-seeded Deacon Demons (19-11) had the lowest-scoring half in any NCAA tournament game since the introduction of the shot clock in 1985-86, hitting only 3-of-25 while falling behind Butler 43-10 in the Midwest Regional Friday.
While the Deacons rallied with 53 points in the second half, Butler (24-7) cruised to a 79-63 victory, its first NCAA tournament triumph since 1962.
"At the half, I didn't know what to say to the team," Butler coach Thad Matta said.
"We went out fighting," said Robert O'Kelley, whose 20 points in the second half doubled the total his team managed in the woeful first half. 'We had hope. We had faith.'
The Bulldogs went into halftime unable to believe what they'd seen.
Wake Forest coach Dave Odom knew what to say.
"I told them if we score 53 in the second half and hold then to 20, we tie," he said. "We did score 53, but we only held them to 36. Still, that's a good half's work. I was pleased with the way they fought back in the second half."
"The emotions we're feeling are indescribable," Matta said. "The first half, I don't know if we can play better than we did. The second half, we played a little scared with the big lead."
The Demon Deacons, who won their first 12 games this season and looked as if they might contend for national honors, shot 59 percent in the second half after shooting 12 percent in the first.
Their 3-of-25 misery included layups that rolled off the rim, medium-range jumpers that seemed to dip into the basket and pop out, and a laughable 3-point attempt by A.W. Hamilton that missed everything by about a foot and a half.
The Deacons were without one of their top scorers, injured Craig Dawson. But he might not have made much difference after Wake missed its first 12 shots and did not have a field goal until Broderick Hicks got a put-back with 11:02 left.
By then, the Bulldogs led 25-5. The closest Wake got, except for the final score, was 16 points when O'Kelley completed a three-point play that made it 73-57 with 3:04 to play.
Hicks made an uncontested layup in the final seconds that made it a 16-point defeat at the hands of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference champions, who have won nine in a row and 13 of 14.
"They came out with all their guns loaded," Odom said. "They unleashed quite a barrage against us."
Butler was shocked to be leading the Demon Deacons of the powerful ACC by 33 at halftime.
"At the half, everybody in the locker room said we have another 20 minutes to go," Butler's Brandon Miller said. "We were excited. No way did we ever think we'd be leading by that much. In the first half, we played as well as we can."
Wake's 10-point first half was only three points above the all-time low of seven, by Brown in 1939.
As cold as the Deacons were in the first half, the Bulldogs were almost as hot.
When Rylan Hainje drilled a 3-pointer to make it 25-3 with 11:22 to go, Butler had hit 7-of-8 from beyond the arc. The Bulldogs finished 8-of-25.
Miller had 18 points for Butler, Joel Cornette and LaVall Jordan each scored 15, and Thomas Jackson had 14.