Murray State Stuns Vanderbilt 66-65 in NCAA Tournament Opener

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SAN JOSE, Calif. — The president called
this one, all right.

Danero 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.

Perhaps President Barack Obama was onto
something picking these revved-up Racers (31-4) to get past 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, which came in with a 1-13
all-time NCAA tournament record, will play again Saturday at HP Pavilion
against the winner of UTEP-Butler.

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 the winner 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 fell to the
floor in defeat, while his teammates crouched near their bench in utter
disbelief.

Thomas was the third option on the play — Isacc
Miles
was supposed to take the last shot — and wound up with 11 points,
six rebounds, three steals and three blocked shots.

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. They held a 39-33 rebounding
advantage — 15 of those offensive boards.

The Commodores were set on repeating their
special March run in California from 2007, when they reached the
regional with a 78-74, double-overtime win over Washington State in the
second round two hours northeast in Sacramento.

Vanderbilt used a 7-0 burst to build a 60-56
lead with 3:46 left this time, getting five straight points from John
Jenkins
. Isaiah Canaan and B.J. Jenkins then hit consecutive 3s for
Murray State to regain the lead.

Vandy's Festus Ezeli missed a pair of free
throws off the front of the rim with 2:28 remaining — and the misses
proved costly.

No Vanderbilt player reached double digits
until Beal ha 10 points with 17:21 left. He didn't score again until
making the late free throws, finishing with 12. John Jenkins scored 13
and Ogilvy had 12 points and six rebounds.

Miles, the one-time Creighton player who
played for that school in the 2007 NCAAs as a freshman, has given Murray
State a big lift — not to mention a place on the national map.

Many joined President Obama in choosing Murray
State in their brackets.

B.J. Jenkins, who banged his right elbow on
the floor early in the game, showed no effects from slicing the index
finger on his non-shooting hand while cutting down the net from the Ohio
Valley Conference tournament. He shot 6-for-14 and made two 3s.

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