MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- Jermaine Watson continues to be the finisher for Boston College.
Watson turned in some clutch work down the stretch to support a strong effort from Craig Smith as No. 6 Boston College held on for a 58-51 triumph over 11th-seeded Utah in the first round of the St. Louis Region.
Boston College (24-9) let a 12-point lead slip away as Tim Frost's inside bucket capped a 13-4 tear for a 49-49 tie with 3:46 remaining. But Watson, a former starter who comes off the bench to provide a spark, proved to be pivotal.
Watson responded with a three-point play, giving the Eagles the lead for good. After Utah (24-9) got a pair of free throws from Tim Drisdom to pull within one, Watson missed a short shot before Smith put home the rebound to restore a 54-51 lead with 1:23 to go.
"It's nice to have a focal point in what we want to do," Eagles coach Al Skinner said. "Offensively, I thought we showed a lot of patience and executed and got some good looks."
The Runnin' Utes had two possessions to tie, but Nick Jacobson missed a contested 3-pointer with 49 seconds left on the first try. Utah got back the ball, but was seemingly unaware of the situation and committed 35-second violation.
"They did a great job of switches and things and getting on top of the games," said Utah coach Kerry Rupp, who replaced Rick Majerus on January 28. "But we have had problems with times all year when people really pressure us."
Boston College will meet Georgia Tech on Sunday.
The 6-7 Smith collected 19 points and eight rebounds as he was able to successfully maneuver around Utah's taller frontcourt. Smith scored 13 points after halftime.
"I think we've matured a little and grown and we're trying to get better," Skinner said.
Jacobson missed all 10 shots in the first half, including six from the arc. He never quite warmed up, but Drisdom picked up the slack with nine of his 13 points after the break to rally the Utes.
It was Jacobson who drained a 3-pointer to lift Utah to an 73-70 victory over Nevada-Las Vegas in the Mountain West championship game. Just as easily as he he shot the Utes into the NCAA Tournament, the team's leading scorer shot them out by making 3-of-18 from the floor.
"We felt he was the glue gun to the team," Smith said. "If he starts hitting shots, he makes their team better. I thought we did a good job of containing him and making him take bad shots."
The Eagles built a 29-20 halftime lead by shutting down Jacobson. Freshman Sean Marshall's 3-pointer opened up the largest lead for Boston College, 36-24, with 16:34 left to go.