INDIANAPOLIS -- With 28 seconds left in Saturday night's national semifinals game against Michigan State, Butler guard Ronald Nored watched in disbelief as his layup spun in and out of the basket at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"I don't know how that one came out," Nored said.
The Butler guard, who is known more for his defense than his offense, didn't have to wait long for redemption in the Bulldogs' 52-50 victory over the Spartans, their 25th consecutive win.
After Michigan State's Draymond Green missed a short jumper with 23 seconds left, Nored grabbed the rebound and was fouled by Green with 6.1 seconds to play.
Nored, a 61.2-percent foul shooter this season, had missed nine of 12 foul shots in the previous four NCAA tournament games. He made three of his first four attempts against the Spartans.
With a crowd of more than 71,000 fans watching him, Nored calmly made both foul shots to give the Bulldogs a 52-49 lead.
"I'm smiling," Nored said. "My teammates were smiling. The crowd was pulling for me. Why not knock them down?"
Nored did and the Bulldogs advanced to Monday night's national championship game against the winner of Saturday night's semifinals game between Duke and West Virginia.
"I just thought they were going to go in," Nored said. "I've been practicing all week, practicing for the last few weeks to knock 'em in just because I've been so terrible in the first five games."
Nored, from Homewood, Ala., went 1-for-7 from the foul line in Butler's 77-59 victory over UTEP in the first round of the NCAA tournament on March 18. Two days later, he went 2-for-5 on free throws in a 54-52 win over Murray State in the second round.
Nored didn't take a foul shot in Butler's previous two NCAA games: a 63-59 win over No. 1-seeded Syracuse in the West Regional semifinals and 63-56 upset of No. 2-seeded Kansas State in the finals.
Still, Nored said he was confident when he walked to the foul line in the final seconds against Michigan State.
"I did my routine, took a deep breath, knocked it in," Nored said. "My teammates believed in me. My coach believed in me. That's all it was."
Nored said he spent extra time this week with Butler assistant Micah Shrewsberry to improve his technique. Nored shot hundreds of foul shots at Butler's fabled Hinkle Fieldhouse this week.
"I saw a picture of me shooting free throws in warmpus," Nored said. "I was short. I shot so many short. I just wanted to kind of get my elbow under and just finish high, and then flick my wrist. It looks like I'm aiming it. It feels like I'm aiming it rather than shooting it. Coach Shrewsberry was working with me on finishing through and finishing high."
Thanks to Nored's two clutch free throws, the Bulldogs have never been higher.