Memphis led only once in its CUSA Tournament championship game with UTEP Saturday. But it was for the last 7.8 seconds, giving the Tigers the tournament championship, 67-66, and an automatic bid to the NCAA's Big Dance.
It was an improbable win for Memphis, which fell behind 9-0 at the game's beginning and could never seem to close the gap. The Miners led by that same nine points at half-time, though the Tigers closed to a 21-21 tie midway through the half.
During the second half, UTEP got to several double-digit leads, but Memphis kept the game to about a nine- or ten-point deficit until they went on a 9-0 run that pulled them to within three at 59-62 at the four-minute mark. Then Joe Jackson got an old-fashioned three-point play, and that was followed by a long three-pointer by Chris Crawford that tied the game at 65 at the 1:40 mark.
UTEP made a free throw to take a one-point lead. Tarik Black was fouled and missed both free throws, giving the Miners the ball and that one-point lead with a minute to go. The Tigers got a stop and the ball back with 20 seconds left. After a timeout, Jackson drove to the basket and was fouled with 7.8 seconds left. Jackson made both free throws, giving the Tigers their first lead of the game. A last-second shot by UTEP fell short and the Tigers were on their way to the Big Dance.
Jackson led the Tigers with 17 points and seven assists. Chris Crawford had five threes for 15 points; Will Barton had 11 points; and Tarik Black had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Christian Polk was the only Miner in double figures, with 27 points.
Stats and timeline at CBSsports.com.