"Be patient. Be patient."
That's what Georgia State head coach Ron Hunter kept telling his team and his son, R.J., during the waning moments of the Panthers' second-round game against Baylor. The Panthers had been tied and then it all went away. The shots stopped falling, the miracles stopped happening. Georgia State's upset bid was circling the drain.
Then R.J. followed his dad's advice—and hit the shot to put his team one win from the Sweet 16.
Down by as many as 12 points with 2 minutes, 39 seconds left to play, 14-seed Georgia State pulled off the comeback of comebacks, beating third-seeded Baylor, 57-56. The game-winning shot? Courtesy of R.J. Hunter, who pulled up from well beyond NBA range and drilled a three-pointer to put the Panthers on top for good with 2.1 seconds left.
Hunter, who led the Panthers with 16 points, scored 12 of his team's last 13 points during the furious comeback.
No. 14 seed Georgia State now becomes the second 14-seed to win today, with the other—Alabamam-Birmingham over Iowa State—coming at the expense of the Big 12 conference, as well.
After being tied with Georgia State with 11 minutes left to play in the game, Baylor seemed to seize the game by the throat. Georgia State, winners of the Sun Belt conference, had gone cold at the absolute worst moment in the game. As Bears forward Taurean Prince began to go off, Georgia State began to wilt.
Prince, who led the Bears with 18 points and 15 rebounds on the afternoon, began exerting his will over the fading Panthers.
Georgia State was mired in a scoring drought, at one point missing 12 of 13 shots from the floor in the final 10 minutes of the game. Couple that with Prince's scoring outburst and it appeared as if Georgia State's hopes for an upset would evaporate inside the Jacksonville arena.
Only, the Panthers weren't done.
With Ron Hunter forced to coach from a wheeling chair because of a torn Achilles suffered during his team's celebration after winning the Sun Belt tournament earlier in the week, he was limited in his ability to direct his team. Another obstacle standing in his team's way? The absence of senior guard Ryan Harrow, out with a hamstring injury.
That mattered little however, as Hunter pushed Georgia State to the comeback. Preaching patience and sticking with the things that got them to this point, the Panthers quickly chipped away at Baylor's lead, until the very end. After Bears guard Kenny Chery missed a free-throw with 15 seconds left, Georgia State had its opening.
Hunter had the ball at the top of the arch—well beyond normal range. He took the shot.
His dad Ron Hunter jumped up and fell down. A celebration never felt so good.