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MARCH MADNESS / NCAA TOURNAMENT | UP NEXT FOR UCLA
/ UTAH STATE

Brown's Late-Game Heroics Set Stage for Overtime Win

March 16, 2001|SAM FARMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The move was a fake. The results were real.

Utah State guard Tony Brown used a timely triple-pump move Thursday to get the best of Ohio State's Ken Johnson--the nation's best shot-blocker--and set the stage for a 77-68 overtime victory by the No. 12-seeded Aggies.

"I told our kids that somebody was going to win a 5-12 game today and it might as well be us," said Utah State Coach Stew Morrill, whose team will play UCLA on Saturday in the second round.

With the Aggies trailing the fifth-seeded Buckeyes by two points and 8.8 seconds to play in regulation, Brown took a sideline inbounds pass at the wing, looked off a teammate in the low post, curled into the key and was cut off by Johnson, who has blocked more than 100 shots each of the last three seasons.

Instead of passing, Brown threw a series of head fakes, got Johnson to leave his feet, then buried a 12-foot jumper over his outstretched arms with 1.8 seconds remaining.

"I figured once I got into the lane, if I pump faked enough, I could shoot it over him," said Brown, nicknamed Jerry West by his teammates. "If I was open [from three-point range], I was going to pull it and try to end it. But then I took it to the key."

The Aggies outscored Ohio State in overtime, 17-8, for their first tournament victory since 1970 and the first by a Big West Conference team since 1993, when New Mexico State defeated Nebraska in the first round.

Four Utah State starters scored in double figures, led by point guard Bernard Rock (18) and shooting guard Brown (17). The only Aggie starter not to score in double digits was forward Shawn Daniels, their leading scorer this season.

"This is huge for our school and huge for our league," Morrill said. "We were carrying the whole league to get something special done here."

Johnson, a 6-foot-11 senior, paced Ohio State with 14 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks. Still, he didn't get the ball in his hands as much as his coach wanted.

"They kept the ball away from Ken," Coach Jim O'Brien said. "We tried every time down the court to find him in the low post. It was a case of him setting up there and us finding him. But we didn't do a good just of finding him, and he didn't get a lot of space."

Tough defense is the hallmark of Utah State, which limited its opponents to 58.2 points a game and 39.3% shooting.

Ohio State made 48.1% of its shots, but only two of eight in overtime.

"I don't think we really surprised them," said Rock, who had two of Utah State's 12 steals. "They knew what we were capable of on the defensive end. We weren't playing our best in the first half--they shot 50%, they outrebounded us--and we were still in the game. It was just a matter of going out in the second half and doing it."

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