Madness is officially upon us.
In one of the all-time classic “No, No, No, No, YES!!!! moments in NCAA Tournament history, Georgia State’s R.J. Hunter just created a highlight for the ages by knocking down a game-winning 35-foot 3-pointer with three seconds left to send the No. 14 seed Panthers to a 57-56 win over No. 3 seed Baylor.
Hunter — the leading scorer in the Sun Belt this season and a potential first-round pick in the upcoming NBA Draft — had been quiet for most of the day until the final two and a half minutes, when he scored 12 of Georgia State’s final 13 points to send the Panthers on a 13-0 run to see them through to the Round of 32.
Even Panthers’ coach (and R.J.’s father) Ron Hunter, who coached from a stool as he’s nursing a torn Achilles injury that he suffered following the Panthers’ win in the Sun Belt Championship game, fell out of his chair following his son’s miraculous 3.
(via Dan Woike)
Baylor looked like they had taken control of the game at that point, leading by 12 with three minutes to go. But then, a series of bad decisions — including a late missed Rico Gathers dunk and a few poor inbounds passes into coffin corners against the Georgia State press — led to turnovers and a run. Overall, the Bears turned the ball over 20 times on the day, leading to 21 Panthers points. That’s the ball game right there.
Obviously, the parallels and connections to the 1998 Valparaiso-Bryce Drew moment here are uncanny. There’s the father-son dynamic between player and coach. Then, there’s also the fact that Baylor’s coach Scott Drew — an assistant on the 1998 Valpo team — is Bryce’s brother and former coach Homer Drew’s (who was in the crowd for this moment) son. He noted after the game how it feels to be on both sides of something like this.
“Well, I think I’ve been a part of one of the best moments in college basketball in the NCAA Tournament with my brother hitting that shot and I think I’ve been part of one of the worst that I’ll remember, R.J. hitting that shot,” Drew said.
My guess is that this becomes one of the most iconic moments of this season’s NCAA Tournament, and is considered one of the best moments in first round history going forward into the future. Just an awesome moment for college basketball.
Looking forward now to this tournament, this is the first time since 1995 that two No. 14 seeds with move on to the Round of 32, following UAB’s upset win over Iowa State today. That will certainly bust some brackets. Georgia State moves on to face the winner of the upcoming Xavier-Ole Miss game.(h/t to Jerry Palm, who was at the game today and relayed the quote from Scott Drew regarding being on the other side of this moment)