Cal Poly 81, Texas Southern 69
So much for first-time jitters.
Chris Eversley scored 19 points to help Cal Poly avoid its 20th loss of the season and capture its first NCAA Tournament game, a victory over Texas Southern on Wednesday night in Dayton in the First Four.
The Mustangs (14-19) were 0-3 and 4-9 early before losing nine out 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 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 5-for-5 from the field — had 10 for the Mustangs.
The 81 points were the Mustangs’ second-highest total all season. They shot 57 percent from the field (29-of-51).
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.
Murray had a jam and two foul shots to narrow it to 70-62 with 4:42 left before the teams traded points.
Cal Poly took time off the clock until Kyle Odister missed a long 3, but Nwaba was fouled on the rebound and hit the second shot with 1:42 left.
Tennessee 78, Iowa 65
Forward Jarnell Stokes converted a three-point play 31 seconds into overtime to spark Tennessee (22-12) over Iowa (20-13).
The Vols scored the first five points in overtime. Guard Jordan McRae scored a game-high 20 points and Stokes added 18 to pace the Vols.