Buzzer-beater lifts Murray State to dramatic win

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SAN JOSE, Calif. --- Murray State coach Billy Kennedy went with his gut and drew up a play his team had never run before, with Isacc Miles the go-to guy at the end.

Murray State forward Danero Thomas gets off the game-winning shot over Vanderbilt guard Lance Goulbourneas as the clock winds down. No. 13 seed Murray State beat fourth-seeded Vanderbilt 66-65 on Thursday in a first-round game of the NCAA Tournament's West Regional in San Jose, Calif.   Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
Murray State forward Danero Thomas gets off the game-winning shot over Vanderbilt guard Lance Goulbourneas as the clock winds down. No. 13 seed Murray State beat fourth-seeded Vanderbilt 66-65 on Thursday in a first-round game of the NCAA Tournament's West Regional in San Jose, Calif.

Third option Danero Thomas became the hero instead.

Thomas hit a 15-footer as the buzzer sounded and 13th-seeded Murray State stunned No. 4 seed Vanderbilt 66-65 on Thursday in an NCAA Tournament opener in the West Regional.

"That shot was bigger than he could imagine," Murray State's B.J. Jenkins said. "It wasn't just a game-winning shot. We'll remember this for the rest of our lives."

President Obama picked these revved-up Racers (31-4) to get past the Commodores in the first round. It was the school's first victory in the NCAA Tournament since a 78-75 win over North Carolina State in 1988.

For the second time in as many appearances, Vanderbilt (24-9) bowed out early as the higher seed. The Commodores were also a first-round upset victim by Siena in 2008 when seeded fourth.

Murray State, the midmajor that came in with a dismal 1-13 all-time NCAA Tournament record, will play again Saturday against Butler after it beat UTEP 77-59.

Jermaine Beal made two free throws with 12.7 seconds left to give Vandy the lead. B.J. Jenkins missed a rushed 3-pointer on the other end, but the ball went out of bounds off a Vanderbilt player with 4.2 seconds left to give Murray State the final shot.

When it went down, Murray State's players sprinted to the other end of the floor and fell into a celebratory pile beneath the basket. Vandy star A.J. Ogilvy slumped to the floor in defeat, while his teammates crouched near their bench in utter disbelief.

"This is probably the biggest shot I've ever hit in my life," said Thomas, who wound up with 11 points, six rebounds, three steals and three blocked shots. "It felt so good, I knew it was going in."

Vandy knew it could happen. The Commodores have been in this tough position before.

"This is what happens in March Madness," freshman guard John Jenkins said. "I didn't think it was going to happen and I had no doubt we were going to win that game. We had a hand in his face, and it was a tough shot."

B.J. Jenkins hit a key 3-pointer with 2:51 to play and finished with 14 points and five assists, and Miles scored 17 for the Racers, who shot 7 for 15 from long range and crashed the offensive glass to create second chances.


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