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#WhatIf tournament: Chris Beard leads Texas Tech to victory

Editor’s note: Review-Journal sports reporter — and college basketball guru — Adam Hill chronicles the #WhatIf Tournament that he began in Monday’s print edition with his Selection Sunday unveiling of the 68 teams. Friday: the results of the first half of the round of 64

There was a time not so long ago when Chris Beard and Brad Underwood were two of the leading candidates to land the UNLV coaching job after Dave Rice was fired.

Four years later, they met on Friday during the round of 64 in our What If Tournament.

Beard, who was the UNLV coach for one of the strangest three-week stretches in program history, led his 10th-seeded Texas Tech Red Raiders to a 76-75 win over Underwood’s Illinois team, which was seeded No. 7 in the South Region.

It came down to a coaching decision. Beard ordered his team to foul with a 3-point lead and 4.2 seconds remaining on the clock. De’Monte Williams stepped to the line and made both free throws, but the Illini were unable to commit a foul.

Jahmi’us Ramsey dribbled out of traffic and tossed the ball in the air with less than a second remaining to run out the clock.

Underwood, who made a stop at Oklahoma State before moving on to Illinois, brought the Illini back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in his three years on the bench. They made an early exit despite Alan Griffin making 5 of 7 from 3-point range and scoring 21 points.

Ramsey finished with 18 points and five rebounds for the Red Raiders in one of several upsets on the day:

South Region

(1) Baylor 83, (16) Boston University 55 — Davion Mitchell scored a game-high 20 points and made 6 of 7 from the field, including all three of his 3-point attempts. The Bears shot 47 percent from beyond the arc and held the Terriers to 31 percent shooting in the game.

(9) Marquette 82, (8) Saint Mary’s 62 — Markus Howard showed the nation why he’s the most dynamic scorer in college basketball, tossing in 32 points and making 5 of 6 on 3-pointers. Jordan Ford couldn’t match him on the other side. He needed 17 shots to get his 14 points against a Golden Eagles team that struggled mightily down the stretch.

(5) Auburn 72, (12) Stephen F. Austin 71 — Reserve forward Charlie Daniels got the Lumberjacks within one with 16 seconds remaining and Auburn turned the ball over before a foul was committed. But John Comeaux’s runner in the lane hit the rim three times before bouncing out and allowed the Tigers to escape with a win. Samir Doughty led the way with 21 points for Auburn.

(13) North Texas 74, (4) Maryland 68 — The Terrapins led 60-52 before the Mean Green closed the game on a 22-8 run, including 11 points by Umoja Gibson. The sophomore guard made six 3-pointers and scored 26 points to help overcome five early turnovers. Jalen Smith had 18 points and 11 rebounds in a losing effort for Maryland.

(6) BYU 67, (11) Connecticut 62 — Jake Toolson hit a 3-pointer with 1:11 left to break a 62-62 tie and the Huskies missed their final four shots from the field. Tyler Polley led Connecticut with 16 points, but missed a good look at a 3-pointer from the right corner with 37 seconds left that would have tied the game. Yoeli Childs and T.J. Haws each had 15 points for the Cougars.

(3) Villanova 84, (14) Ball State 80 — Collin Gillespie’s long 3-pointer with 12 seconds left gave the Wildcats a six-point lead and sealed a win in a game that got tight late. The Cardinals trailed by 12 with 4:38 left before rallying to with 81-78. Saddiq Bey had 22 points on 8 of 11 shooting in the victory.

(15) Texas State 79, (2) Florida State 76, OT — Nijal Pearson scored eight of his game-high 28 points in the extra session as the Bobcats pulled off the stunner. Reserve center Balsa Koprivica’s putback for Florida State with 1.6 seconds remaining forced overtime after the Seminoles trailed by as many as 14 in the second half. Florida State shot 58 percent from the field, but allowed Texas State 17 offensive rebounds.

West Region

(1) Gonzaga 89, (16) Siena 77 — Killian Tillie scored 17 points to lead five Bulldogs in double figures. Gonzaga led by as many as 26 points early in the second half. Elijah Burns went 10-for-13 from the free-throw line to lead the Saints.

(9) Rutgers 76, (8) LSU 58 — Ron Harper Jr. had 17 points and seven rebounds as the Scarlet Knights took advantage of their first tournament berth since 1991. A 15-0 run in the second half propelled Rutgers to the win as the Tigers went just 3-for-21 from the 3-point line.

(5) Butler 73, (12) East Tennessee State 51 — The Bulldogs put the clamps on Steve Forbes’ high-powered offense, holding the Buccaneers to just 29 percent from the field and a 2 of 15 effort from beyond the arc. Kamar Baldwin had 20 points, five rebounds and four assists in the win.

(4) Oregon 79, (13) New Mexico State 64 — Payton Pritchard’s pedestrian 14-point, 4-assist game was more than enough for the Ducks to advance in a matchup of two teams who had been favored to win conference tournaments in Las Vegas. Trevelin Queen had a game-high 21 points for the Aggies.

(11) Richmond 78, (6) Iowa 69 — The Spiders opened a 38-26 lead at the break and the Hawkeyes never got within seven points in the second half. Blake Francis and Grant Golden each had 14 points to lead Richmond to its first tournament win since 2011.

(3) Duke 72, (14) Northern Colorado 68 — The Bears went on an 11-0 run over 3:31 to cut the Blue Devils lead to two points before Wendell Moore Jr. hit a pair of free throws with 6.8 seconds remaining to seal the win. Tre Jones had 21 points and seven assists in the win.

(10) Oklahoma 81, (7) Penn State 69 — Austin Reaves and Brady Manek each had 20 points as the Sooners cruised to the win. Kristian Doolittle added 14 points and 14 rebounds to help Lon Kruger’s team advance to a matchup with former Mountain West Conference rival San Diego State.

(2) San Diego State 84, (15) UC Irvine 66 — Matt Mitchell scored 20 points and the Aztecs pulled away after the Anteaters got within four points at 60-56 with nine minutes remaining. San Diego State turned the ball over just four times and turned 17 UC Irvine miscues into 26 points.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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