SAN JOSE -- He wasn't going to get off the shot, was he?
"Before we left the huddle, coach said we had enough time to put at least two dribbles on the floor," Thomas said.
So Thomas did as he was told, nonchalanting it like it was no big deal. And then he pulled up for a jumper, released the ball, the buzzer sounded, the ball swished in.
And Murray State had pulled the monumental upset.
"I saw that one going in," Thomas said with a smile, after he emerged from the dogpile on the floor at HP Pavilion.
Sure he did. Murray State isn't used to losing. The Racers came into the game having won 22 of their last 23 games. They were hot and everyone knew it -- including
And if it hadn't been Thomas to take the game-winner, it might easily have been one of his teammates. The Racers have incredibly balanced scoring: Five players average 10 points per game and another --
"I wanted him to put it on the floor, and he made a great play," Kennedy said.
Miles was motivated. In a back-and-forth game, in which Miles was the high scorer with 17 points, he had made a critical turnover in the final minute.
Murray State at one moment in the second half had an eight-point lead. But Vanderbilt kept coming back. Murray State was clinging to a one-point lead with 28 seconds left when Miles turned over the ball. Vanderbilt's
When Murray State's
There was still a chance to change hoops history. The last time Murray State had won a NCAA game was in 1988 when the Racers beat
Vanderbilt was a No. 4 seed for the second time in school history. That was not a good omen: The Commodores were a No. 4 seed in 2008 when they lost in the first round in 2008 to Siena. And unlike their neighbors (Murray, Ky. is just 120 miles away from Nashville), the Commodores were not riding a hot streak: Vandy had lost five of its last 13 games, including the SEC semifinals.
"I think that things that plagued our team all season long showed up today," said coach
But it wasn't over. With 4.2 seconds to play, Kennedy drew up his brand new play and made sure to tell his team to put the ball on the floor not once, but twice.
McClain got the ball to Miles. Miles dribbled it and swung it around to Thomas.
Who dribbled it, pulled back for the jumper, and changed the history of Murray State with one motion. He got the shot off.