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NCAA Tournament Recap (Illinois St-Tennessee)
Posted: Thur March 12, 1998 at 11:15 p.m. ESTKyle Cartmill fed Dan Muller for the go-ahead layup with 1.8 seconds left in overtime as ninth-seeded Illinois State pulled out an 82-81 victory over Tennessee in the West Region, earning its first NCAA Tournament victory in 13 years at Sacramento, California. Tennessee freshman Tony Harris drove the left side of the lane and wrapped a pass around a defender to C.J. Black for an easy lay-in and an 81-80 lead with 15.3 seconds to play. Cartmill came back on the other end and took the ball along the left baseline, hitting Muller for the open layup to put Illinois State back in front. Vegas Davis had a final shot to win it for the Volunteers, but his desperation 30-footer from the left wing was well off the mark as time expired. Muller finished with eight points and nine rebounds while Rico Hill scored 23 points to lead the Redbirds (25-5), who had not won an NCAA Tournament game since defeating Southern California, 58-55, in 1985. Illinois State, the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season and tournament champion, will face the Arizona-Nicholls State winner in Saturday's second round. Brandon Wharton hit four three-pointers and finished with 23 points to pace the Volunteers (21-8), who have not won an NCAA Tournament game since downing Marquette in the opening round in 1983. Despite committing six of his team's 17 turnovers, Cartmill had nine points and six assists for Illinois State, which led by as many as nine points in the second half before Tennessee rallied. Muller's three-pointer with 9:03 to play gave the Redbirds a 66-57 lead. After Harris made a free throw, Wharton buried a three-pointer and Torrey Harris hit a layup to cut the deficit to 66-63 with 6:17 remaining. Illinois State clinged to a slim lead for the next few minutes, taking a 70-66 lead on a free throw by Rob Gibbons with 4:04 to go. But Tennessee answered with six straight points to take its first lead since the opening minutes of the second half. Rashard Lee hit a jumper before C.J. Black made a layup to forge a 70-70 tie with 2:52 to go. After Muller missed a three, Wharton fed Black for a dunk to put the Volunteers in front with 1:13 remaining. Steve Hansell responded on the ensuing possession with a driving layup, knotting the score, 72-72, with 53 seconds to play. Wharton and Hill traded misses in the final 30 seconds to send the game to overtime. Lee rebounded a miss by Wharton and hit the follow shot to put Tennessee on top, 79-78, with 46 seconds left in the extra session. But the Redbirds' LeRoy Watkins, who scored 18 points, came back just nine seconds later with a driving layup for an 80-79 edge. The Volunteers answered as Black hit a layup, but they were unable to prevent Cartmill from driving and feeding Muller for the game-winning bucket. Hansell, who was replacing injured starting guard Skipp Schaefbauer, did not miss a shot in helping the Redbirds to victory. He finished with 16 points, nine rebounds and six assists, hitting all five of his field goals and all five of his free throws. Schaefbauer is out for the season after suffering a broken femur in the MVC Tournament. Black was 8-of-12 from the field en route to his 18 points for Tennessee, which shot just 37 percent (29-of-79) and made only 6-for-29 from three-point range. Freshman point guard Tony Harris contributed 10 and nine assists, but missed all six of his three-point attempts and was a dismal 1-of-13 from the floor. Gibbons scored the only nine points from the bench for Illinois State, which connected on 42 percent (25-of-60) from the field. Hill, the two-time Missouri Valley Player of the Year, was just 6-of-23 from the field. Lee shot just 4-of-18 and scored nine points while grabbing 11 rebounds for the Vols, who owned a 46-41 edge on the boards.
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