DAYTON – Jarnell Stokes dominated inside as Tennessee finally caught up in the closing minutes of regulation, then opened overtime with a three-point play that got the Volunteers headed to a 78-65 victory over Iowa on Wednesday night in the NCAA’s First Four.
The Volunteers’ late comeback sent them to Raleigh, N.C., where they’ll play sixth-seeded Massachusetts on Friday in the Midwest Regional.
Tennessee (22-12) didn’t lead until Antonio Barton’s 3-pointer put the Vols up 59-57 with 3:05 left regulation. There were five lead changes before the Vols’ Jordan McRae missed a jumper missed at the buzzer, leaving it tied at 64.
Stokes’ three-point play was the key moment in his 18-point, 13-rebound performance.
Iowa (21-13) managed only one free throw in overtime, ending a hectic and stressful day for coach Fran McCaffery. McCaffery started the day in Iowa with his teenage son Patrick, who had surgery to remove a thyroid tumor.
CAL POLY 81, TEXAS SOUTHERN 69: In Dayton, Chris Eversley scored 19 points and Cal Poly avoided its 20th loss of the season and won its first NCAA tournament game.
The Mustangs (14-19) were 0-3 and 4-9 early before losing nine of 11 heading into the Big West Conference tournament – which they won to earn the program’s first NCAA bid.
The team with the worst record in the tournament now moves on to face the one with the best – top-seeded Wichita State (34-0) – in the second round in St. Louis on Friday.
Aaric Murray, the former La Salle and West Virginia player, closed out his career with 38 points for Texas Southern (19-15), champs of the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament.
David Nwaba added 17 points and Brian Bennett – who was a perfect 5 for 5 from the field – had 10 for the Mustangs.
Cal Poly had participated in seven Division II tournaments, finishing third in 1981.
The 81 points were the Mustangs’ second-highest total all season. They shot 57 percent from the field (29 of 51).
Coach Mike Davis, in his second year with Texas Southern after earlier leading Indiana and UAB to the big tournament, was clearly not happy during two timeouts to try to get his team to play better on defense.
Cal Poly dominated most of the first half to build a 12-point lead at the break and never let it go.
Down by as many as 16 points early in the second half, the Tigers fought back with a 9-4 run to get the lead down to single figures.
It stayed there until the Mustangs awakened, and they salted the game away at the line in the final 60 seconds.