The second game of Thursday delivered one of the more shocking upsets imaginable.
UAB, a 14 seed out of Conference USA that was the No. 4 seed in its own league tournament, managed to upend No. 3 Iowa State, 60-59, and burn some brackets right off the bat. The South region is already out of whack.
An unthinkable start to the NCAA Tournament, considering Iowa State won the Big 12 tourney and was considered by many to be a good pick to come out of the South. Instead, Fred Hoiberg’s 25-8 team is now 25-9 and will be back in Ames before the weekend gets here.
This is the power and shock of this tournament. Iowa State, one of the most impressive offensive teams all season, failed to score 60 points for the first time this year — or last.
The big moment came when UAB’s Robert Brown (21 points) hit a 3-pointer with 50.6 seconds to go to put UAB up 57-56.
UAB made just three 3-pointer shots all day, and Brown hit them all. Without him, UAB doesn’t win.
The final minute had plenty of drama — and some lead changes. Iowa State’s Monte Morris hit a runner to give ISU the lead back, 57-56, with 41 seconds to go but then William Lee sank a jumper to give the Blazers a lead they’d never relinquish. Lee (14 points) then blocked Georges Niang’s shot, was fouled, and hit two free throws to get UAB a 60-57 lead.
Credit to UAB for basically dictating how this game was played. Iowa State was out of sorts almost the entire time, and its best player, Niang, was incapable of having a good day. Niang went 1 for 11 in the second half and finished with 11 points.
This marks the third straight NCAA Tournament a 14 has won a game. It’s the first time this has happened since 1995-97. UAB now has a four-game winning streak, its longest since December of 2013.
On Saturday UAB will play the winner of SMU-UCLA.