GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP)—Wichita State stuck it to the critics of the Missouri Valley Conference with an easy win to open the NCAA tournament.
Now the Shockers are savoring an even bigger victory.
Karon Bradley hit a go-ahead stepback jumper with about 2 minutes left while P.J. Couisnard followed with a big 3-pointer to help Wichita State beat Tennessee 80-73 Saturday in the second round of the Washington Regional.
The victory over the second-seeded Volunteers (22-8) marks Wichita State’s first trip to the round of 16 since reaching a regional final 25 years ago.
Couisnard finished with 20 points on 6-for-7 shooting to lead the seventh-seeded Shockers (26-8), who used a late 7-0 spurt to break a 65-all tie. Wichita State next faces the winner of Sunday’s George Mason-North Carolina game.
Wichita State opened the tournament with an 86-66 win over Seton Hall, silencing those who wondered why the MVC got four tournament bids. But beating the Southeastern Conference East division champions means so much more.
Kyle Wilson added 17 points to help make up for an off day by first-round leaders Paul Miller and Sean Ogirri. Miller, the MVC’s player of the year, managed 10 points on 1-for-9 shooting. Ogirri scored 12 points after finishing with 23 in the first round.
But the Shockers found a way to survive Tennessee’s up-tempo attack and pressure defense with a strong late-game effort. Once Ryan Martin threw down a slam with 5.2 seconds left to seal it, the celebration began in the rowdy section of fans seated across from the Shockers bench.
When the horn finally sounded, coach Mark Turgeon pumped his right fist in the air while fans began chanting “MVC!” and “Sweet 16!”
Chris Lofton—who hit a last-second shot to beat Winthrop 63-61 in the first round—and C.J. Watson each scored 20 points to lead the Volunteers. Major Wingate finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and five blocks.