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NCAA TOURNAMENT SWEET 16 ROUNDUP: Butler pulls shocker of No. 1 Syracuse, joins Kentucky, Kansas State and West Virginia in Elite 8

Photo by Steve C. Wilson

Photo by Steve C. Wilson

SALT LAKE CITY -- Butler became the latest mid-major team to knock off a top seed in the NCAA tournament.

Willie Veasley scored five of his 13 points during an 11-0 run down the stretch, and the Bulldogs rallied to upset No. 1 seed Syracuse 63-59 on Thursday night in the West Regional semifinals for their 23rd straight victory.

The fifth-seeded Bulldogs (31-4) fought through Syracuse's vaunted zone defense and kept the Orange (30-5) from getting their fast break going most of the night.

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. The Bulldogs play second-seeded Kansas State on Saturday.

Gordon Hayward scored 17 points and started the celebration while dribbling out the clock after the Bulldogs forced Syracuse into its 18th turnover.

Wes Johnson had 17 points and nine rebounds for the Orange, the second No. 1 seed to go down. Northern Iowa stunned top-ranked Kansas in the second round of the Midwest Regional last weekend.

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No. 2 Kansas State 101, No. 6 Xavier 96, 2OT

SALT LAKE CITY -- Jacob Pullen made a 3-pointer with 31.2 seconds left in the second overtime for the go-ahead points, and second-seeded Kansas State beat No. 6 Xavier in a thriller.

Terrell Holloway answered with two free throws, but Pullen came back with two of his own. Then, Xavier's Dante Jackson missed a 3-pointer that would've tied it and the Wildcats (29-7) iced it.

Xavier's Jordan Crawford hit a 35-foot shot with 4 seconds left in the first OT to tie it. Holloway sent the game into the first overtime by making three straight free throws after being fouled while shooting from behind the arc with 5 seconds left.

Crawford led Xavier (26-9) with 32 points and Pullen led the Wildcats with 28, including eight in the second overtime.

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EAST REGIONAL

No. 1 Kentucky 62, No. 12 Cornell 45

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Kentucky avoided the latest big upset by the Big Red.

John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson stopped Cornell's captivating NCAA tournament run, sending the top-seeded Wildcats to a win in the East Regional semifinals.

With much of the Carrier Dome crowd -- and the country -- pulling for an upset by the 12th-seeded Ivy Leaguers, Cornell bolted to a 10-2 lead in the opening minutes.

But Kentucky overcame the early deficit with a swarming defense, spoiling all the fun at Cornell's loudest and largest pep rally.

John Calipari has the Wildcats (35-2) in the regional final in his first season, erasing much of the sting of the program's decade-long slide from the top.

The climb back is nearly complete. Kentucky moved within one win of its first Final Four since winning the national championship in 1998 and will play second-seeded West Virginia on Saturday.

All the fan adulation and media hype shifted to Cornell this week after brainy Big Red (29-5) stunned the field with an improbable run to the round of 16. This was no Revenge of the Nerds -- they proved they could play with the big boys.

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No. 2 West Virginia 69, No. 11 Washington 56

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Da'Sean Butler shook off a sore right hand and helped West Virginia shake off feisty Washington to reach the East Regional final.

Butler kept playing after hurting himself midway through the second half and scored 14 points while Kevin Jones added 18 and eight rebounds in leading the second-seeded Mountaineers over the 11th-seeded Huskies.

Playing their first game without injured point guard Darryl Bryant, coach Bob Huggins' Big East tournament champions (30-6) won their ninth in a row and set a school record for victories, surpassing the mark set by the Jerry West-led 1958-59 team that lost in the NCAA title game.

Justin Holiday scored 14 points for the Huskies (26-10), who were at a disadvantage after leading scorer Quincy Pondexter picked up his third foul with 4:27 left in the first half. Pondexter didn't score his first basket until 2:30 into the second half, and finished with seven points.

Washington had a nine-game win streak snapped.