8-seed Aggies escape 9-seed Florida in OT thriller
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Hassan Diarra drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 0.4 seconds left in overtime to give Texas A&M an 83-80 win over Florida in the second round of the Southeastern Conference tournament on Thursday.
After finding his driving lane cut off, Tyrece Radford passed the ball out to Diarra, who took one dribble to his left before his shot rattled through the rim. Diarra was a 17.9% 3-pointer shooter during the SEC season.
''Coach called a play, he drew up a play and he told `Boots' they were going to tag off me and I would be open,'' Diarra said. ''I was thinking if I shoot the ball I know it was going to go in. I got the ball, took one dribble and shot it. It went in. Thank God for it.''
That capped a wild finish that saw ninth-seeded Florida lead a total of 39 seconds, all in overtime, after closing regulation with a 21-8 run over the last five minutes.
Henry Coleman III had 22 points and eight rebounds to lead the Aggies (21-11) to their fifth-straight win. Diarra and Quenton Jackson added 14 points each, Radford had 13 and Wade Taylor IV 10.
The eighth-seeded Aggies advance to play top-seeded and fourth-ranked Auburn in the quarterfinals on Friday.
Kowacie Reeves scored 21 points and Niels Lane 16, career highs for both reserves, to spark the Gators (19-13). Phlandrous Fleming Jr., added 17 points and Colin Castleton 15.
Diarra's long 3-pointer at the shot clock buzzer with 5:41 to play gave the Aggies a 62-49 lead but they wouldn't make another basket, missing just twice because they had four turnovers and went 8 of 9 from the line. Diarra, who was 3 of 4 from distance, was 7 of 39 in 18 SEC games this season.
Reeves was f ouled on a 3-pointer from the right wing with 36.6 seconds to go, and his four-point play made it 68-67. After two free throws by Taylor, Reeves hit a c ontested 3 from the left corner with 17.5 to tie it at 70.
Radford's contested floater in the lane bounced off the rim as time expired in regulation.
Reeves opened the scoring in overtime with a three-point play but Radford quickly responded with a 3. It wasn't until Fleming had a three-point play, f ollowed by a difficult stepback jumper from the foul line with 48.6 seconds to go, that the Gators led again 80-78.
Florida forced a miss on the Aggies' possession but deflected the rebound out of bounds. On the inbounds pass, Fleming and Radford collided with the ball going out of bounds to the Gators. On review, Fleming was called for a foul and Radford tied the game with 38.4 to go.
Fleming tried a step-back 3 from the top of the key but the ball stuck on the rim and the Aggies had possession with 17.7 to play.