NASHVILLE – A frantic final few seconds. A replay overturn that surprised most everybody on the court. And an SEC team back squarely on the bubble.
Vanderbilt’s Wade Baldwin had appeared to make a last-second layup, forcing overtime, but it was overturned on review, sending Tennessee to celebration of a 67-65 win, and Vanderbilt into a tense 72 hours.
Prior to the unexpected loss, Vanderbilt was projected to Dayton — an 11 seed, one of the last four teams in — by Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com. So a loss to Tennessee – the No. 12 seed in the tournament – will put what seemed a safe bid in jeopardy.
“I guess we just got to wait and see what happens on Sunday,” Vanderbilt guard Matthew Fisher-Davis said.
Tennessee, meanwhile, moves on to play a third straight day, and will face fourth-seeded LSU on Friday.
“I’m just happy for my guys,” said Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes. “Happy they get to play another day.”
For a while, it looked like the Vols would only get to play another five minutes.
Tennessee had led most of the game, up by 15 in the first half, only to have Vanderbilt rally to take the lead. But the Volunteers answered again, and led by two and had the ball with under 10 seconds left.
That set up the crazy finish.
Detrick Mostella shot the front end of a one-and-one. He missed, but managed to rebound his own attempt. He was fouled with five seconds left, as Vols fans cheered.
But Mostella again missed the front end. The ball was rebounded by Vanderbilt’s Luke Kornet, who handed the ball to Baldwin.
Baldwin dribbled the length of the court, cutting through the defense and throwing up a shot from the left side. It rolled in.
At that point seemingly everyone assumed it would mean overtime. Barnes came out to argue with referee Karl Hess, but it was about something else. When the pair finished their talk, Hess walked over to the Vanderbilt bench to advise them about overtime, while Barnes went to speak to his team.
It was only at that point that Barnes began to realize the call was being looked at. One of his assistants told him: “That shot’s not good.” Hess was beckoned over to the monitor by his two fellow officials.
The trio watched the replay closely for a couple minutes. Hess finally emerged to cross his arms, waving off the shot. Tennessee fans and players jumped up and cheered. The Commodores, on the other hand, were caught by surprise.
“We were getting ready to go into overtime,” Vanderbilt center Damian Jones said. “We thought the shot was good.”
Tennessee’s Armani Moore admitted he was thinking about having to play another five minutes after also playing the previous night. The final shot being waved off was thus a relief in two ways.
“I was just glad that it didn’t count,” Moore said.