CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- Essentially down to five players during the second overtime, Kentucky somehow avoided its first opening-round NCAA Tournament loss in 13 years.
Tayshaun Prince had 28 points and seven rebounds and made two foul shots to seal the game with 1.1 seconds to play as the fifth-seeded Wildcats posted a thrilling 85-80 victory over No. 12 St. Bonaventure in a Midwest Region contest.
"We feel very fortunate," Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said. "I want to compliment St. Bonaventure. Coach Jim Baron and his staff did an outstanding job of getting that team ready to play. This was a tremendous college basketball game." Kentucky (22-9), which has not gone out in the first round since 1987, appeared to have the victory secured in the first overtime, leading by three in the waning moments. But freshman Marvin Stone inexplicably fouled Bonnies senior David Messiah Capers, who was attempting a 3-pointer from the left wing.
Messiah Capers, a 56 percent shooter, made all three of his attempts from the line to tie it with four-tenths of a second left. He made two more shots from the line and followed with a jumper to give the Bonnies (21-10) an 80-78 lead 1:40 into the second overtime.
"I was just trying to give our team a chance to keep competing and I did that," Messiah Capers said. "I had not really taken too many free throws in the last seven or eight games but when I was on the line all I was concentrating on was making them." Stone's follow shot tied it and Keith Bogans made the first of two free throws with 2:01 remaining to put the Wildcats on top for good.
Bogans' layup with 11 seconds to go made it a 3-point contest, and St. Bonaventure's dreams of an upset were erased when Tim Winn missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key with three seconds left.
"Our coaching staff does a great job of preparing us mentally and physically for any situation," Wildcats senior center Jamaal Magloire said. "We went into this game with our heads high. Our feeling was we would execute even better in the overtimes than in regulation because of how we are prepared." Kentucky played the final five minutes without starting point guard Saul Smith and key reserve Jules Camara, who had fouled out. In addition, starting forward Desmond Allison was suspended indefinitely earlier in the week after an arrest for driving under the influence.
In each of the previous 11 NCAA Tournaments, a 12th seed has beaten a No. 5 in the first round. With Indiana State's loss to Texas earlier in the day, that streak will only continue with wins by Butler or Utah State on Friday.
Bogans collected 19 points and five rebounds and Magloire 11 and nine for Kentucky, which will play Saturday against the winner of the game between Syracuse and Samford.
"We were hungry," Magloire said. "We always felt we could rise up and do whatever it took to win. This was a collective team game for us. It was our burning desiere that got us the win." Patricio Prato scored 20 points and Messiah Capers added 16 for the Bonnies, who were appearing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1978. They have not won a game in the "Big Dance" since 1970.
"It was a great ballgame," Baron said. "A heck of a way to start off the NCAA Tournament. Our kids play hard and were just one bucket away from beating Kentucky and advancing. I am so proud of this team and the support our crowd gave us." After a sluggish start in which they fell behind by 10 points nine minutes into the contest, the Wildcats controlled play and were leading, 44-31, with just under 16 minutes left following a layup on the break by Smith.
But Kentucky went cold and the Bonnies battled back. They scored seven quick points, including a 3-pointer by Messiah Capers, to come within eight points. After two free throws by Bogans, Prato's layup and J.R. Bremer's 3-pointer began a 14-2 run.
Prato's 3-pointer with eight minutes left gave St. Bonaventure its first lead of the second half at 49-48 and Caswell Cyrus, who finished with just seven points but 18 rebounds, capped the run with a dunk that made it 52-48.
As a 12th seed, the Bonnies were one of the last at-large teams to make the NCAA Tournament. They had four players score in double figures -- Winn had 10 points and 10 assists -- and committed only 12 turnovers to Kentucky's 18.
"Our crowd wanted us to win and so did we," said Messiah Capers. "It was a great feeling to have them cheering for us during, as well as after, the game. I am just pleased to be involved." The Wildcats, who shared the Southeastern Conference's regular-season title with three other schools, held just a 46-42 rebounding advantage after being outhustled early but outscored the Bonnies 23-12 at the foul line.23-13.
"That (resiliency) has been the profile of this team all season," Tubby Smith added. "We were not picked to win the SEC regular-season title, yet we tied for it. As we have matured and grown, and have gone through the difficult times, we have come together as a team." Kentucky led 60-59 following a three-point play by Prince with 2:20 left in regulation, but Bremer drove for layup and Winn did the same, giving the Bonnies a three-point advantage.
In appeared St. Bonaventure would pull the upset after Cyrus blocked an attempt in the lane by Prince, who misfired on a 3-pointer moments later. But Prince redeemed himself by coming off a screen and draining a tying 3-pointer with 7.1 seconds to go. Winn then drove the length of the court but missed a potential game-winning layup as time expired.
Prince also went 5-of-6 from the foul line during the first overtime and Kentucky built the lead to 76-73 on two free throws by Magloire with 8.7 seconds left. But Stone's mistake gave the Bonnies life and Messiah Capers was perfect from the line despite two timeouts by Kentucky after each of the first two.
"All I can say is that our kids believed in themselves, and they deserve to be here," said Tubby Smith. "From the preseason conditioning to the daily pressures at the University of Kentucky, they have earned the right to be here." The Wildcats, who received nine points and eight rebounds from Camara, shot 50 percent (28-of-56) from the floor compared to just 38 percent (29-of-77) by St. Bonaventure, which was 9-of-32 from beyond the arc.
Bremer, a native of Cleveland Heights, had 17 points, three assists and two steals for the Bonnies, who grabbed 19 offensive rebounds.