Consider your brackets busted.
A deep three-pointer from Georgia State guard R.J. Hunter with 2.6 seconds remaining in the game lifted the Panthers to a stunning 57-56 win over Baylor on Thursday in the round of 64.
NCAA March Madness noted head coach Ron Hunter—on a modified chair due to an Achilles injury—couldn't stay upright after his son's amazing game-winner:
Thousands of people watching at home likely did the same upon witnessing the incredible shot, as Georgia State had plenty of time on that final possession to go for the tying, rather than winning, score.
Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports shared a comment from the coach after the game:
The trey capped off a brilliant 13-0 run from the Panthers to close out the game, with Hunter providing 12 of his team-high 16 points during that span.
Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears noted that plenty of scouts were in attendance to watch Hunter play:
The Panthers became the second No. 14 seed pull off a win on Thursday. The University of Alabama-Birmingham upset the Iowa State Cyclones 60-59 earlier in the day. NCAA March Madness noted that few people predicted this wild start to the tournament:
Baylor received a huge boost from forward Taurean Prince, who came off the bench to put up 18 points and 15 rebounds. However, the Bears committed a staggering 21 turnovers in the game, a development that certainly closed the talent gap between the two squads.
ABC 25's Tim O'Donnell provided Baylor head coach Scott Drew's assessment of the gut-punch loss:
The Panthers deserve plenty of credit for their effort, as they put up an impressive fight without one of their best players on the court.
Star guard Ryan Harrow, second on the team with 18.7 points per game heading into the tournament, was unable to suit up for this contest due to a hamstring injury.
O'Donnell noted Harrow's importance to the team:
Of course, Harrow wasn't going to offer much help on the glass, which is where the Bears killed their opponents early on with superior size and strength.
Baylor quickly jumped out to a 16-6 lead by the first official TV timeout at the 14:10 mark of the first half. Wide-bodied Rico Gathers was a force early on for the Bears with four quick points and four rebounds.
But Baylor's offense dried up for a long stretch after that point, as the Panthers counteracted their opponent's size with speed, guile and a pesky defense.
Coach Hunter called for his guards to occasionally harass the Baylor ball-handlers on their way up the court and disrupt the team's rhythm and timing. Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com noted the effectiveness of the strategy:
The Panthers tied the game at 19 with 7:45 left in the first half on a Ryann Green three-pointer. The big shot must've been quite the confidence booster for Green, as he was an unlikely source of early inspiration for his team, per Shehan Jeyarajah of The Dallas Morning News:
Georgia State managed to take its first lead of the game at 26-24 on a Kevin Ware jumper with just over four minutes remaining in the first half.
Both teams would trade buckets as the half dwindled to a close, but Baylor received a boost from a Prince three-pointer at the buzzer to take a 33-30 lead into the locker room.
Considering Harrow's absence and the fact that Hunter—the team's leading scorer—only had two points at the half, things could have been a lot worse for the Panthers.
At the beginning of the second half, a flurry of Baylor turnovers whipped the crowd into a frenzy, as the fans took a liking to the scrappy underdogs. Palm noted the Bears' early struggles:
However, Baylor shot the ball very efficiently and refused to let the game get out of hand.
Prince and Kenny Chery helped Baylor maintain their halftime lead for the first few minutes of the second half, but the Panthers would go on a mini-run sparked by the fiesty Markus Crider to take a 41-40 lead with 13:20 remaining. Coach Hunter couldn't contain his enthusiasm despite his Achilles injury, per SB Nation:
CBS Sports' Seth Davis questioned just how the Panthers were playing so well without much help from their star player:
Baylor would soon render that question irrelevant, as the Bears went on a 10-0 run to take a 52-42 lead with 6:36 left in the game. Prince reasserted the Bears' dominance down low, scooping up several rebounds and pouring in four of the team's 10 points during that run.
After a solid shooting effort from the floor in the first half, Georgia State couldn't buy a basket in the second. Palm credited Baylor's defense for stepping up:
Two Gathers free throws gave Baylor a 12-point lead with just under three minutes remaining. It appeared they would head into the round of 32 on cruise control, but Hunter caught them asleep at the wheel.
Hunter ripped off nine straight points to pull his team within three with just over a minute left in the game.
A steal and ensuing free throw from Georgia State's Isaiah Dennis brought the score to 56-54 with 20 seconds remaining.
Chery would miss a one-and-one free throw on Baylor's next possession, setting up Hunter's heroic game-winner.
The Panthers will play the winner of Xavier-Ole Miss on Saturday. If Harrow is able to suit up for that contest, this team could be extremely dangerous. The Georgia State players kept their wits about them despite Hunter being a non-factor for essentially all but the final three minutes of the game. They certainly have the makings of a Cinderella team with their all-in performance on Thursday.