JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- R.J. Hunter kept firing away, eventually lifting 14th-seeded Georgia State over third-seeded Baylor and knocking his father right off his seat with the biggest shot of his life.
Hunter's three-pointer with 2.7 seconds left capped a comeback from a 12-point deficit and gave the Panthers a 57-56 victory over the Bears in an NCAA Tournament West Regional second-round game yesterday.
Georgia State won shortly after 14th-seeded UAB knocked out third-seeded Iowa State.
With Ron Hunter working the sideline on a rolling chair less than a week after tearing his left Achilles tendon while celebrating a victory in the Sun Belt Conference championship game, R.J. shrugged off a poor shooting performance and came through when his team needed him most.
"It was a great game, but I'm not going to coach, I'm going to be Dad right now," said Hunter, who fell off his seat and had to be helped up after R.J. made the second of two long three-pointers that helped the Panthers advance. "This is my son. Proud of him . . . I haven't been able to do that for three years."
Baylor (24-10), which got 18 points and 15 rebounds from reserve Taurean Prince, did not score after going up 56-44 on two free throws with 2:54 left.
Georgia State's full-court trapping defense forced three critical turnovers and Hunter (16 points) scored nine straight points, including a three that brought chants of "R.J. 3, R.J. 3, R.J. 3."
The junior guard's steal and layup trimmed Baylor's lead to 56-53, and he drained another NBA-range three for the win after the Bears' Kenny Chery missed the front end of a one-and-one that could have put the game away for the Bears. "He just made a contested three. There was nothing we could do about it," Chery said. "We did our job and he just made it."
Baylor coach Scott Drew felt the first long three got Hunter going and that the Georgia State star "showed his versatility in different ways" the rest of the way. He was disappointed with how the Bears handled the Panthers' press at the end. Baylor finished with 21 turnovers. "All year we've executed down the stretch," Drew said. "We've been a tough team, and I feel bad the way the last five minutes went."
When Prince's desperation heave from beyond midcourt bounced off the backboard at the buzzer, Ron Hunter sat on his stool holding his head while R.J. and teammates mobbed one another in the middle of the court.
"I saw him cannonball off his chair," R.J. said. "I told him, they've got to get him a chair with a back or something because that wasn't going to work."
Ryann Green scored 11 points for Georgia State, which will play No. 6 Xavier tomorrow.
Hunter vowed to stand as much as possible on the sideline, and that turned out to be not very much at all. Instead, he scooted about on a blue rolling chair, his bare toes extending out of the cast on his left foot.
"These kids are so resilient. It's been like this all year," he said. "We kind of laugh because nothing's been given to us . . . This group is just unbelievable. We never gave up."
Ron and R.J. Hunter aren't the only feel-good story lines for the Panthers. The game marked Kevin Ware's return to the NCAA Tournament two years after breaking his leg in gruesome fashion while playing for eventual national champion Louisville in the Elite Eight. Ware started and scored four points.