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NCAA BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT : Arizona Is Ousted by UTEP : Surprising Miners Win in Overtime at Tucson, 98-91

March 14, 1987|From Times Wire Services

TUCSON — Don Haskins wasn't sure he wanted to look as Texas El Paso took Arizona into overtime Friday in a first-round game of the NCAA West Regional.

"I saw three of my starters sitting there with me and I thought it was going to be a long five minutes," the UTEP coach said.

But with three of his teammates having fouled out, Hernell (Jeep) Jackson drove the Miners to a 98-91 victory, scoring 9 of his 23 points in the extra five minutes.

"Our whole team has heart, so when you lose one player, you don't lose any heart," said Jackson, a senior guard from Gardena High School who made a three-point shot and a layup off a steal during a 12-4 spurt that sent UTEP into a second-round matchup Sunday against sixth-ranked Iowa.

Iowa (28-4) overwhelmed Santa Clara, 99-76, earlier Friday.

UTEP trailed, 78-73, with 50 seconds left in regulation on its opponent's home floor but rallied to force the overtime on a jumper from the top of the key by Chris Blocker with one second remaining.

Blocker's shot originally was ruled to be a three-pointer, but the officials consulted and ruled that Blocker's left foot was in front of the three-point line and changed the shot to a two-pointer.

That made it 79-79.

The Western Athletic Conference champions opened a 92-87 lead in overtime. Arizona (18-12) closed to within 92-89, but UTEP (25-6) made six straight free throws down the stretch.

"I don't see mental toughness on the stat sheet," an obviously delighted Haskins said afterward. "There's just no quit on this team."

Said Arizona Coach Lute Olson: "It's been the story of the year for us. It's been could've and should've and would've, but we couldn't get the job done."

Quintan Gates led UTEP with 26 points, including four three-point shots, before fouling out with 2:05 left in regulation. Teammate Mike Richmond added 18 and Blocker scored 12.

Six Arizona players scored in double figures, including Sean Elliott, who led the Wildcats with 26 points. Craig McMillan and Tom Tolbert each scored 15, Anthony Cook scored 13, Ken Lofton had 12 and Joe Turner scored 10.

UTEP outscored Arizona, 13-2, midway through the first half en route to a 41-39 halftime advantage.

Arizona's scoring spurts of 7-0 and 7-2 in the second half enabled the Pac-10 runner-up Wildcats to open a 78-73 lead with 50 seconds left in regulation.

Blocker made a free throw and Jackson connected on a three-point shot to make it 78-77 with 25 seconds left.

Lofton then made one of two free throws with six seconds remaining before Blocker's shot at the buzzer sent the game into overtime.

"It was really a courageous performance by UTEP," Olson said. "In the overtime, with some key players fouled out, I think it's all the more credit to the guys that were left that they could do the job that they did."

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