LEXINGTON, Ky. - Vander Blue scored 19 second-half points to rally third-seeded Marquette out of another hole, and the Golden Eagles survived No. 6 Butler 74-72 on Saturday to reach the Round of 16.
Like November's first meeting between the teams at the Maui Invitational, won 72-71 by Butler on Rotnei Clarke's buzzer-beating 3-pointer, this was a back-and-forth, high-intensity affair, that came down to the final shot.
Only this time, Butler missed.
Marquette (25-8) will meet the winner of Sunday's game between Illinois and Miami (Fla.) on Thursday in Washington, D.C.
Clarke's 24 points led Butler (28-9).
Blue, the junior whose last-second layup edged Davidson on Thursday, led the Golden Eagles' rally from a 35-27 halftime deficit and tied the game at 69 on 3-pointer with 1:25 remaining.
That set the stage for more late-game drama by his teammates.
After Jamil Wilson's two free throws made it 71-69, Davante Gardner deflected Clarke's pass intended for Kellen Dunham underneath and then made the first of three late free throws for 74-70 lead with 4.7 seconds left.
After Wilson's goaltend on what would have been a layup by Andrew Smith cut the lead to two 2 seconds later, Blue almost became the goat by throwing away the inbounds pass intended for Wilson with 2.9 seconds left.
The Bulldogs, who seem to win every close game at this time of year, couldn't get a good last look. Smith took an off-balance 3 from up top that was way off, slamming into the backboard and setting off another Marquette celebration.
Blue finished with 29 points.
For Butler seniors Clarke and Smith, the loss was hard to take.
"Obviously, it's been a great four years, the best four years of my life," said Smith, who scored 17 in the losing effort. "We don't want to leave, but that's just how it goes."
"I feel blessed to be able to be with these guys and share the memories that we've had this year. It was a goal for me to get here," Clarke said. "I feel like I let these guys down."