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They won with some clutch shooting. Singler went 3 for 6 from 3-point range and the Blue Devils went 6 of 6 from the free throw line in the second half until Zoubek's intentional miss.
They won with a mean streak. It was most pointed when Lance Thomas took down Hayward hard to prevent an easy layup with 5:07 left. The refs reviewed the play and decided not to call it flagrant -- one of a hundred little moments that could have swung such a tight, taut game.
They won because that last shot didn't go in.
"Speechless. It's the best feeling in the world," Smith said. "That shot didn't go in and I just hugged Kyle and just hugged my teammates. We've worked so hard and we finished it together."
A perfect ending for Duke, which won a different way this season, on a team that had no superstars.
Good teams only become great in Coach K's mind when they win it all, and though the members of this group may not end up with lottery-pick money in their pockets, they'll have a national title forever.
They'll be mentioned in the same breath as Christian Laettner and Shane Battier and Grant Hill, all immortalized by the Cameron Crazies, who were outnumbered about 5-to-1 at cavernous Lucas Oil Field.
They'll be the ones who put Duke back on top on Tobacco Road, where last season, North Carolina brought home its second of two championships in the time since Duke last made the Final Four, six years ago.
That's like a lifetime down there. But now, the Blue Devils are standard-setters.
"There's only one team that can say they are national champions and that's us," freshman guard Andre Dawkins said.
Even though the trophy won't go to Butler, the point has been proven.
Teams with mega-money from power conferences aren't the only ones that win in big-time college sports. Nothing proved that better than the Bulldogs in their run through this year's NCAA tournament.
In the true team fashion that has defined "The Butler Way," the Bulldog scoring was distributed almost perfectly even. Hayward and Shelvin Mack had 12 each. Matt Howard, coming off a concussion in the semifinal win over Michigan State, finished with 11, and 2-point-a-game scorer Avery Jukes kept Butler in it with all 10 of his points in the first half.
"Hate losing," Hayward said. "It's one of the worst feelings personally that I have, is losing. So it's great for us to be here, but that's not what we wanted to do. We wanted to win."
They weren't alone.
They captured America's attention, and its heart, and came close to writing the unthinkable sequel to "Hoosiers." In the movie, the winning team is tiny Hickory High, and Jimmy Chitwood hits the game-winner at the buzzer to strike a blow for the little guys.
Thankfully, that movie is still available on DVD.
This game might be too, someday.
"My congratulations and empathy are with the Butler team, who played winning basketball," Krzyzewski said. "And, yeah, to me, it was a game that we won, but they didn't lose."
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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