Senior guard Glenn Marcus hit 12 of 15 foul shots in the last five minutes today to lead Alabama-Birmingham, in only it third year of basketball competition, to a stunning 69-62 victory over eighth-ranked Kentucky in a second-round NCAA Mideast regional game.
After Kentucky became the sixth top 20 team to be eliminated from the NCCA tournament in two days, Boston College made Wake Forest the seventh, with a 67-64 victory behind guard John Bagley's 35 points. He scored four of those in the final minute.
And by the end of the day, eight of the tournament's 16 seeded teams that received first-round byes had lost, leaving only one seeded team in the Mideast regional and one in the Midwest regional. Regional semifinals are scheduled Thursday and Friday.
"It may be the biggest win in Gene Bartow history," said Bartow, the Alabama-Birmingham coach. He will become the first coach in history to carry teams from three different schools to the NCCA final four, if the Blazers can spring two more upsets this week at Bloomington, Ind. They will meet the host Hoosiers, the only seeded team remaining in the regional, and Boston College will play St. Joseph's Friday.
Bartow's teams reached the final four when he was coaching at Memphis State and later at UCLA. "The win today that put us in the top 16 in the country has to be a big one," Bartow said.
"We couldn't get the ball inside and we couldn't hit from outside," said Kentucky Coach Joe B. Hall. "That's a tough spot to be in. They played a tough, inspired game. They're a good ball club."
Trailing at intermission, 30-29, Birmingham took the lead, 35-33, at 17:11 in the second half on a six-foot jumper by Donnie Speer. Kentucky regained the lead three minutes later, 39-37, then the Blazers took control and jumped to a 47-40 lead at 10:10.
All-Southeastern Conference center Sam Bowie, 7 feet 1, who fouled out with less than four minutes left in the game, put the Wildcats within 50-48 when he hit two free throws at 6:10.
Kentucky tied three more times but the 5-10 Marcus, who finishing with 14 points, began making foul shots.
Besides Marcus, other Birmingham players in double figures were Oliver Robinson, who scored a game-high 18 points, Speer with 13 and Chris Giles with 10.
In the second game, Bagley, a 5-foot-11 sophomore, gave Boston College (23-6) the lead for good, 63-62, when he made a 15-footer from the left base line with 54 seconds remaining.
Bagely came back 34 seconds later with two free throws that built the margin to 65-62. Then he stole the ball to set up two free throws by Chris Foy with four seconds left. Wake Forest hit a basket at the buzzer to provide the final minute.
Boston College trailed by six points several times in the second half, the last at 49-43 with 12 minutes to play.
Twice Bagley cut the margin to a point, hitting from the top of the key and later on a nice move in the lane.
The Eagles for even at 58 on a 15-footer by Bagley with 5:04 to play and led, 61-60, when freshman Martin Clark made a foul shot.
Frank Johnson, who led Wake Forest with 20 points, gave the Deacons (22-7) their last lead when he hit two free throws to make it 62-61 with 1:33 to play.
Then Bagley took charge.