UAB, the 14th seed in the South, stunned 3rd seeded Iowa State, 60-59, sending the Big 12 tournament champs home early.
The final minute was spectacular. Robert Brown sank a 3-pointer with :50 left to give UAB the lead, 56-55. The Blazers had missed nine straight 3-pointers before he made that one. Monte Morris of Iowa State came down and made a runner for the Cyclones to take a 56-55 lead with :38 left. And then, the game winner – Wiliam Lee hit a jumper from the foul line with :23 left.
Georges Niang, Iowa State’s best player, had an awful day, including missing his final three shots. His last miss, with less than :15 left, led to two UAB free throws. After shaking off early foul trouble, he shot just 4-of-15 and finished with 11 points. It’s unclear if he’ll return for his senior season or not. Iowa State was pegged as a Final Four sleeper after winning the Big 12 tournament last week.
The UAB win – the Blazers were 13.5 point underdogs – opens up the bracket for Gonzaga to reach the regional final, where it likely would play Duke. The Blazers grabbed a staggering 19 offensive rebounds and will advance to play Saturday against UCLA or SMU.
If you care, underdogs are now 6-0 in the tournament.