‘Cats are headed home

By LARRY MORITZ Salina Journal

SALT LAKE CITY — Both the Butler Bulldogs and Kansas State Wildcats are going home — the Bulldogs to participate in next week’s NCAA Tournament Final Four in Indianapolis, the Wildcats back to Manhattan where thoughts can turn to the 2010-11 season.

K-State’s hopes of making its first Final Four appearance in 46 years were shot down in a span of three minutes, as Butler broke open a tie game with nine unanswered points and pulled away for a 63-56 victory over the Wildcats on Saturday afternoon at EnergySolutions Arena.

Butler will make its first Final Four appearance in school history and do it in Lucas Oil Stadium, located approximately four miles from its campus.

Kansas State (29-8) was making its first appearance in a regional final in 1988, but fell short in its effort to extend its season for one more week. With a 29-8 record, the Wildcats set a school record for victories in a season.

“We accomplished a lot, but we didn’t accomplish enough,” said junior Jacob Pullen. “Four minutes away — we were right there and had the lead. We just had some defensive breakdowns and some undisciplined things that cost us the game.”

The Wildcats’ rally from a double-digit deficit in the final eight minutes only made the final result that much harder to take for their fans. K-State trailed 49-39 with 7:24 to play, but put together a 13-2 run to take its only lead of the game.

With the game tied at 54-all, the Bulldogs (32-4) scored the next nine points while holding K-State scoreless on its next five possessions.

“It was just mental,” said junior Dominque Sutton. “We had some mental breakdowns and took shots we really didn’t need and could have done some things different.

“It’s a learning experience. We’re going to learn from this, bounce back and become a better team.”

The Wildcats could return six of their top seven scorers for next year’s team. They were ranked No. 7 in the nation in the final regular season Associated Press poll.

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