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Miller's late score helps Butler stun Mississippi State

3/22/2003

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- With one huge shot, Brandon Miller
erased any doubt about whether Butler belongs in the NCAA
Tournament.

Miller's runner in the lane with 6.2 seconds left carried the
12th-seeded Bulldogs past No. 5 Mississippi State 47-46 in the
first round of the East Regional on Friday night.

"To hit a shot like that in the NCAA tournament, nothing
compares to it," Miller said. "It's something you dream about
when you're a kid. It's something you dream about when you're 23.
Definitely the biggest shot of my career."

Maybe the biggest ever for Butler (26-5), which faces Rick
Pitino and fourth-seeded Louisville on Sunday.

After the clock ran out, a euphoric Miller raced around the
court pumping his fist in the air, while teammate Mike Monserez
jumped onto a press table waving his arms at Butler's fans. The
Bulldog players came back onto the court and gathered in front of
their bench a few minutes later, relishing in the victory.

Michael Ignerski missed a fadeaway jumper with 25 seconds left
for Mississippi State (21-10). The 6-foot Miller then brought the
ball up the court and hit the running shot in traffic.

"We had run that play so many times before, I was just trying
to come off the screen and see what the defense gave me,'' said
Miller, a senior transfer from Southwest Missouri State. "I had
the little runner open. That was a shot I didn't have when I came
to Butler, a shot that coach (Todd) Lickliter taught me."

Mississippi State's Timmy Bowers overshot on a 3-point attempt
at the buzzer.

Butler won acclaim at the NCAA Tournament three years ago by
taking Florida to overtime as a No. 12 seed, and the Bulldogs
gained a bona fide reputation when they upset Wake Forest in 2001.
Now the Horizon League regular-season champions can add another
entry to their history of upsets.

Butler felt jilted last year when it failed to get invited to
the tournament, despite a 25-5 record. But this time, the Bulldogs
proved they belong.

"We just felt like we were making up for lost time," Duane
Lightfoot said, "because we felt like we got snubbed last year."

Miller had 14 points and Lightfoot added 13 for Butler, which
received an at-large berth for the first time since 1962.

Mario Austin had 18 points and 10 rebounds for Mississippi
State.

Butler took a 45-44 lead when Michael Monserez picked up a loose
ball and drilled a wide-open 3-pointer from the right corner with
1:55 left. Ontario Harper hit two free throws 22 seconds later _
his first points -- to flip-flop the lead again.

Miller got trapped in the lane and threw the ball away, giving
it back to Mississippi State with 1:33 left. But he more than made
up for that with the game-winner.

"I didn't see exactly what happened," Mississippi State coach
Rick Stansbury said. "He made a tough shot. He kind of flipped it
up there."

Not surprisingly, it wasn't a flashy, high-scoring game. Both
teams rank among the nation's top defensive teams, giving up just
over 60 points per game, and they favor setting up in half-court
offensive sets.

It was a huge contrast to Louisville's full-court press in the
previous game, setting up a clash in styles for Sunday.

Butler clearly wasn't intimidated by the SEC Western Division
champs, jumping out to a 12-3 lead.

"When you have tremendous respect for your opponent, your focus
is very good," Lickliter said. "When these guys saw who we were
playing, I think they all really tuned in and focused on what we
were trying to do."

Mississippi State lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament
for the first time since 1991, spanning three trips.

"Right now, my feelings are that we didn't finish what we
started,'' guard Derrick Zimmerman said. "It's so frustrating."