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Duke Edges Butler 61-59 For the NCAA Championship

It wasn't one shining moment, is was 40 of them, and almost one really shining one at the end.

Matt Howard missed his first three shots, and three of four free throws, for Butler, but Duke didn't get away from the Bulldogs, who hung in on a pair of three pointers by Shelvin Mack.

After five lead changes in the first nine minutes, Duke led 18-16 at the 10 minute mark. A 4-0 Butler lead gave the Bulldogs a 20-18 lead, but Howard picked up his second foul in the process.

Mack led the scoring early, with 8 points for Butler, while Kyle Singler had 7 points and 5 rebounds for Duke, by the 8 minute mark.

An 8-0 Duke run while the Bulldogs suffered a four minute drought gave the Blue Devils the largest lead of the game to that point at 26-20 with five minutes left in the first half, forcing a Butler time out.

The Bulldogs immediately answered, with a 7-0 run to take the lead back.

After the ninth lead changes, Jon Scheyer's basket put Duke back up by three with two minutes left in the half.

Avery Jukes had ten first half points for Butler in relief of Howard, his season high, but Nolan Smith's three pointer put Duke up 33-32 at halftime.

Duke did a good job of isolating Butler's Gordon Hayward from the ball, as Hayward had to hunt for only occasional plays on either end of the floor. Hayward got seven rebounds, but only four points, in the first half.

Duke rolled to the finals largely on offensive rebounding, but Butler won that battle handily in the first half, outrebounding the Blue Devils by 7, and that almost offset some stretches of suspect shooting.

Hayward's two free throws started the second half off, but Singler's three pointer gave him 12 points, and Duke the lead right back.

Duke's Brian Zoubek got two fouls in 90 seconds, but Howard got his third on a questionable call less than three minutes into the second half.

Mack's driving layin put the Bulldogs up 40-38, but Smith answered, tieing it again just before the first media timeout of the second half.

Howard came back, but got his fourth foul within seconds, at the 14:10 point.

Ronald Nored's three pushed Butler back ahead 43-42, but Jukes picked up his third foul, leaving the Bulldogs in serious foul trouble inside, and then Singler nailed another three pointer for the lead for Duke.  The Blue Devils would never lose the lead again.

Jukes' drive drew Zoubek's third foul, but he missed both free throws that could have tied it again. Zoubek didn't misfire on the other end, and Hayward got a charging foul when Smith jumped in his way. The apparent wrong call cost Butler a basket, but Hayward wasn't phased, driving hard to the basket the next possession, and Zoubek got his fourth foul as a result, with 11:21 left.

Hayward hit four straight free throws, but Duke's ability to convert inbounds passes produced their third conversion of the second half, and a 51-47 lead midway in the second half.

Zoubek came back with nine minutes left, and survived immediate attacks on both ends of the floor.

Hayward and Mack both took breathers with eight minutes left, and Scheyer capitalized on the absence of all three of Butler's top starters, with a two plus one, and the fourth foul on Jukes.

Howard had to come back after a six and a half minute break, with the Bulldogs down 54-49.

Singler's third great block of the game repelled another Butler attack, and extended the Bulldog drought to four minutes, until Howard hit a pair of free throws.

Lance Thomas broke up a hard drive by Hayward, picking up his fourth foul in the process. The officials reviewed the play, but correctly decided it wasn't a flagrant foul. Hayward calmly hit both free throws to pull Butler within 56-55 with five minutes left.

Singler sank another jumper, but Hayward missed his on the other end.

Duke reversed the earlier Butler rebounding advantage in the second half.

Smith's free throws gave Duke a five point lead, and the Butler field goal drought passed six minutes, repeating the problem they had in the semifinal win over Michigan St.

Mack missed on a baseline drive, and Scheyer snatched the rebound, but Singler lost his footing, and the ball. Howard finally found the basket, making it 60-57 with 1:40 to go, and again, making it a one point game with just less than a minute to go.

The Bulldog bench taped up Howard's bleeding hand, and Singler left a shot short. Zoubek threw Howard down, without getting called, but the ball went off Zoubek, Butler had the possession for the last shot, with the shot clock off.

Duke deflected a pass out of bounds, and Butler used a timeout to set up the last play, but then had to use their last time out when, with Zoubek applying pressure, Hayward couldn't get the ball in.

Hayward's fall away shot was short, and Butler had to foul with 3.6 seconds left. Zoubek made one free throw, but missed the second, and Hayward's half court shot, off a hard Howard screen, for the win rimmed off, giving Duke, and coach Mike Krzyzewski, their fourth National Title, by a 61-59 score.

The Blue Devils became the only team in the tournament to hit 60 points against Butler.

Krzyzewski joined Adolph Rupp (4) and John Wooden (10) as the only coaches with as many as four men's national championships.

Butler coach Brad Stevens matched the master Krzyzewski in managing one of the most competitive championship games in history, where both teams had the chance to win the game in the final five seconds, and will be rewarded for his efforts in the days to come.

Six points was the largest difference in the game, and five was the biggest second half margin. There were 15 lead changes, and the margin of victory was the smallest in the championship game in 21 years.

Singler finished with a game high 19 points, and 9 rebounds, and was the named the outstanding player of the final four. Scheyer added 15 points, and Zoubek had a game high 11 rebounds.

Hayward and Mack co-led four Bulldogs in double figures, with 12 points apiece. But Hayward was only two of eleven from the field, with Singler applying the defensive matchup most of the time.

Butler held Duke to just 5 of 17 on three point shots, but the Blue Devils ability to turn a first half rebounding deficit into a +5 advantage, and pull back within one on the offensive boards, after a masterful Bulldog game plan early opened at one point a +9 advantage, was the key to the win.