Missouri's Clarence Gilbert, right, hits the winning shot over Georgia's Rashad Wright (3) with .09 seconds left in the NCAA East Regional first round.
March 15, 2001
By JENNA FRYER
AP Sports Writer
GREENSBORO, N.C. - No matter how many shots Clarence Gilbert missed, he only needed to make one to keep Missouri's season alive.
Gilbert hit a 15-foot jumper with 0.9 seconds to play as the ninth-seeded Tigers held off a furious Georgia rally for a 70-68 victory Thursday night in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
"It was a big shot, but it was just a shot," Gilbert said, shrugging off the feat. "I'm supposed to make those."
Known as much for his confidence as he is for his game, Gilbert overcame a 4-for-11 shooting night that included two missed free throws in the final minutes.
His off night didn't make him shy away from attempting the final shot of the game. He took a pass from Kareem Rush in the right corner and fired it up to give Missouri (20-12) its first tournament win since 1997.
"When he released it, I knew it was in," Missouri guard Brian Grawer said. "As a shooter and a clutch player, he's got nerves of steel and we knew he was going to knock it in."
The win sends the Tigers into the second round to play top-seeded Duke, a game that pits Missouri coach Quin Snyder against Mike Krzyzewski, his former coach and boss.
Snyder, in his second-year with Missouri, downplayed the looming reunion, instead focusing on his first tournament win as a head coach.
"To be honest with you, I'm still really excited about this game," he said. "Duke's another day."
Georgia, the team with the most losses in the field, trailed by 11 with just over two minutes to play in the game when the eighth-seeded Bulldogs staged a frantic comeback.
Robb Dryden and Adrian Jones hit consecutive jumpers to cut the score to
68-61. Gilbert missed a pair of free throws and D.A. Layne answered for Georgia
with a driving layup that made it 68-63 with 1:46 to play.
Missouri missed at the other end, Georgia got the rebound and Anthony Evans was fouled. He hit both shots to make it 68-65.
Georgia (16-15) then tied it on Rashad Wright's 3-pointer from the top of the key with 22 seconds left.
Missouri took a timeout to set up the final play, which was designed for Rush but went to Gilbert when Georgia double-teamed Rush.
"We did a good job of defense on Rush, but you pick your poison," Georgia coach Jim Harrick said. "Gilbert made a great shot and to Rush's credit he found him. That's the way it goes."
Arthur Johnson led the Tigers with 15 points. Rush, playing with a brace on his shooting hand as he recovers from torn ligaments in his thumb, had 12 points on 5-of-17 shooting.
Gilbert, Missouri's other offensive threat, had just 10 points.
Dryden, a senior reserve who averages 6.4 points, led Georgia with a season-high 18 points. Evans finished with 16.
Layne, who leads Georgia in scoring at 17.1 points a game, was held to seven on 3-for-10 shooting.
Georgia, which made the tournament based on its strength of schedule, was the first team with 14 losses to make the field since 1991.
The Bulldogs' inclusion was controversial, but Georgia promised to answer its critics with a strong showing against Missouri.
"we've played with great teams all year and Missouri just got a lucky break," Layne said. "We didn't come here in and embarrass ourselves. We came in here like we belonged and they just hit a big shot at the end to beat us."
It looked early like the critics were right about Georgia - the Bulldogs missed their first eight shots of the game to fall into an early 15-0 hole.
But they rallied for a 33-32 halftime lead, only to falter midway through the second half as Missouri built a 68-57 lead with 2:25 to play.
"It's a tough way to go out," Layne said. "When everything wasn't going our way, we fought back, and for them to come up and hit a lucky shot like that, it's unbelievable."
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