After a teammate passed up an open layup that could have tied the game, New Mexico State’s Terrell Brown was fouled behind the arc and missed two of three free throws as the Aggies dropped a 78-77 heartbreaker Thursday to fifth-seeded Auburn in the NCAA tournament.
The Aggies were trailing 78-76 in the opening round of the Midwest Region when guard A.J. Harris had his defender beat and looked to be headed to the glass for the tying bucket. He instead lobbed out to Brown, who was spotted up at the elbow for a possible game-winner.
Brown missed but was fouled with 1.1 seconds left.
With Auburn’s J’von McCormick grabbing his throat as Harris toed the line, Brown missed the first, made the second, then watched the third one rim out.
Auburn (27-9) knocked the ball out of bounds on the rebound and New Mexico State had one more good look, but Trevelin Queen’s three-point attempt at the buzzer was an air ball.
McCormick’s three-point play gave the Tigers a 73-65 lead with 2:13 left, and this one looked like it was over.
But the Aggies (30-5), helped by their own good shooting and Auburn’s sloppiness, kept chipping away and drew within 77-76 with 6.8 seconds left.
Auburn’s Samir Doughty made one of two from the line to set up the last-second drama, and this one will be second-guessed down in Las Cruces for a long time. Harris clearly had a step on the defender and was heading to the glass. But he passed on the tie and gave Brown, who was 0 for 4 from three-point range, the chance for the win.
Auburn had attempted 1,052 three-pointers this season — third most in the country — before the game and kept it going. All but two of Auburn’s six field goals over the final 11 minutes were from three-point range and one of those resulted in McCormick’s three-point play. The Tigers went 12 for 31 from behind the arc. Jared Harper made all four of his in the second half and led Auburn with 17 points.
The Tigers play the winner of Thursday’s game between No. 4 Kansas and No. 13 Northeastern.
Kentucky 79, Abilene Christian 44: With PJ Washington watching from the bench in a cast, second-seeded Kentucky romped to a 79-44 victory over NCAA Tournament newcomer Abilene Christian on Thursday night.
Keldon Johnson scored 25 points in a huge mismatch that was over by halftime. The Wildcats shot 60 percent in the opening period, held Abilene Christian to 5 of 26 from the field and went to the locker room with a 39-13 lead.
Even without Washington, who sprained his left foot in the Southeastern Conference Tournament, the Wildcats had far too many weapons for the Southland Conference representative, a No. 15 seed. Reid Travis added 18 points and Tyler Herro 14.
Kentucky advanced to the second round of the Midwest Regional on Saturday to face either Wofford or Seton Hall, who were playing in the final game of a long day in Jacksonville.
Kansas 87, Northeastern 53: Dedric Lawson had 25 points and 11 rebounds, and Kansas dominated inside for an 87-53 rout over Northeastern on Thursday in the opening round of the Midwest Region.
The fourth-seeded Jayhawks (26-9) had a notable size advantage inside and used it, outscoring the Huskies 50-16 in the paint while grabbing 17 more rebounds.
Kansas shot 56 percent and advanced to Saturday’s second round against fifth-seeded Auburn.
The best shot for the 13th-seeded Huskies (23-11) was to make their 3-point tries.
The Colonial Athletic Association champions went 6 for 28 from the arc after finishing the regular season 17th in Division I at 38.6 percent. Sharpshooter Vasa Pusica had a hard time getting separation from the Jayhawks’ athletic guards, finishing with seven points on 2-of-11 shooting.
Jordan Roland had 12 points to lead the Huskies, who shot 28 percent overall.
Wofford 84, Seton Hall 68: Fletcher Magee set the Division I career record for 3-pointers, poured in 24 points and led seventh-seeded Wofford to an 84-68 victory over Seton Hall in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night.
Magee hit seven treys against the No. 10 seed Pirates to help the Terriers to their first tournament win in five tries. Wofford also won its 21st consecutive game overall.
Magee now has 509 3-pointers in four seasons, breaking the career mark set by Oakland’s Travis Bader in 2014. Duke’s J.J. Redick (457), Tennessee’s Chris Lofton (431) and Davidson’s Stephen Curry (414) also rank in the top 10.
Extending his record might not be easy against second-seeded Kentucky in the Midwest Region on Saturday. The long, lanky Wildcats tend to give opponents fits, especially from behind the arc.
Then again, Magee is no ordinary shooter.
The 6-foot-4 guard was 7 of 12 behind the arc, none bigger than his 3 from the corner in front of his bench in the second half. The first two were wide-open looks that caused Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard some angst, and the third a contested shot that brought the Wofford faithful to their feet and put the Terriers up 76-66 with three minutes to play.
It was quite a show about two hours north of Magee’s hometown of Orlando.
Nathan Hoover added 18 points for the Terriers (30-4), who finished 13 of 28 from 3-point range. Cameron Jackson chipped in 14 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
Myles Powell led the Pirates (20-14) with 27 points on 10-of-25 shooting.
Powell helped Seton Hall overcome a 12-point deficit in the second half, and he even put his team ahead 54-53 with about 10 minutes to go. But it was all Wofford late, going on a 17-0 run in the closing minutes before Seton Hall managed a meaningless dunk at the end.
All times Pacific, with TV (*approximate time; game will start 30 minutes after the completion of the previous one):
at Columbus, Ohio
8 Utah State (28-6) vs. 9 Washington (26-8), TNT, 3:45 p.m.
1 North Carolina (27-6) vs. 16 Iona (17-15), TNT*, 6:15 p.m.
at Tulsa, Okla.
3 Houston (31-3) vs. 14 Georgia State (24-9), TBS, 4:15 p.m.
6 Iowa State (23-11) vs. 11 Ohio State (19-14), TBS*, 6:45 p.m.