INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- A questionable call may have cost Southern Illinois a shot at a second straight upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Rickey Paulding hit 1-of-2 free throws with 4.1 seconds remaining to snap a tie and give sixth-seeded Missouri a thrilling 72-71 victory over the 11th-seeded Salukis in the Midwest Region.
After Jermaine Dearman's layup tied the contest, 71-71, with 25 seconds left, the Tigers (22-10) set up for the last shot. With six seconds to go, Paulding began a drive and made contact with Dearman, who was called for a blocking foul and fouled out.
Paulding, who made his last seven field goals after an 0-for-5 start and finished with 19 points, missed his first free throw, but swished the second to make it 72-71.
Following a timeout with 1.5 seconds to go after getting the ball across halfcourt, Southern Illinois (24-7) had a good look. Its hopes ended when Kent Williams' turnaround jumper from the left wing clanged off the front of the rim at the buzzer.
Marquette advanced to a second-round meeting on Saturday against third-seeded Marquette, which held off Holy Cross, 72-68.
Last season, Southern Illinois, also as an 11th seed, reached the "Sweet 16", upsetting Texas Tech and Georgia before losing to Connecticut.
Arthur Johnson recorded 24 points and 11 rebounds for Missouri, which allowed Southern Illinois to stay in this one by committing 23 turnovers that the Salukis converted into 29 points.
With Missouri getting unsteady play from its starting backcourt tandem of Ricky Clemons and freshman Jimmy McKinney, Southern Illinois was poised for the upset, taking a 64-58 lead on two free throws by Williams with 5:06 left. But the Tigers responded in time, reeling off the next 11 points. Paulding capped the run with a jumper that made it 69-64 with 2:22 left.
Nicknamed "Big Game", Dearman scored 19 points for the Salukis. He averaged 19.7 points and 9.7 rebounds in last year's NCAA Tournament.
The Salukis did not go quietly in a contest that featured 20 lead changes, closing to 69-67 on Stetson Hairston's 3-pointer with 2:08 to go.
Johnson's turnaround jumper in the lane gave the Tigers a four-point with 1:50 left, but Josh Warren answered with a jump hook in the lane as the shot clock was expiring.
Johnson gave Southern Illinois an opening by missing two free throws on Missouri's ensuing possession. Williams missed a wide-open 3-pointer and Travon Bryant grabbed the rebound for Missouri, only to be called for an offensive foul with 30 seconds left.
Dearman got the ball on the inbounds pass and scored on a drive to tie the contest for the ninth and final time.
Missouri struggled to move on despite shooting 54 percent from the field (28-of-52). Clemons and McKinney combined for just nine points and 11 turnovers.
Williams contributed 16 points for Southern Illinois, which shot just 40 percent (26-of-65) and was outrebounded, 41-29. The Salukis did themselves no favors by shooting only 52 percent from the foul line (11-of-21).