Hampton coach Edward Joyner Jr. had joked he'd need a lot of help if his team advanced to play No. 1 Kentucky.
“Jesus on speed dial,” he kidded.
So after Hampton extended its unlikely run, beating Manhattan, 74-64, on Tuesday night in the First Four to dial up a date with the mighty Wildcats, Joyner grabbed a cell phone and pretended to make a really, really long-distance call.
“Hello? Hello?” he said at a postgame news conference.
Then he put down the phone, laughed, and said, “I guess he'll get back to me.”
Reginald Johnson scored 15 points and made two critical defensive plays down the stretch and Quinton Chievous added 15 points and 13 rebounds before leaving with a sprained ankle in the final minutes.
The Pirates (17-17) scored the first seven points, led by as many as 12 in the opening half and then, after Manhattan had rallied within a point, pulled away at the finish.
Johnson sealed the game with two huge steals, the second leading to his floor-length assist pass to Emmanuel Okoroba for a layup. Okoroba then hit a scoop shot on a drive and the lead was 67-58 with 90 seconds remaining. Manhattan (19-14) never threatened again.
The 68th team in a 68-team field, Hampton won as an underdog yet again.
“We love that. We take that head on,” said Brian Darden, who scored 13 points including clinching free throws at the end. “That's our image.”