WKYT | Lexington, Kentucky | Sports

WKU players trying to focus on San Diego

By MARK LONG
AP Sports Writer
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Ty Rogers had 172 text messages waiting for
him Friday after his 26-foot buzzer-beater gave Western Kentucky a
dramatic overtime win against Drake in the NCAA tournament.
His cell phone was still blowing up a day later.
De'Jon Jackson had a similar experience. Jackson got more
congratulatory calls and messages than he could possibly handle
after his jumper in the waning seconds OT helped San Diego oust
college basketball powerhouse Connecticut.
"It was a little crazy," Jackson said Saturday. "I'm not sure
if I had 172, but I had a lot of text messages. It was kind of
exciting for me."
Rogers and Jackson hit the biggest shots of their lives,
producing two huge upsets and sealing their spots in school history
and tournament lore.
Now, they're trying to put all the accolades and extra attention
aside and get ready for the next game - against each other no less
- when 12th-seeded Western Kentucky (28-6) faces No. 13 seed San
Diego (22-13) in the West Region on Sunday.
"I really don't think it will truly sink in until at least this
season's over, and maybe months after that," Rogers said. "It was
a big thing for our program."
Indeed.
The Hilltoppers, despite a resume that includes 19 previous
trips to the NCAA tournament, hadn't won a game there since 1995.
The Toreros picked up their first tournament victory in four
tries and put the small, independent Catholic school known mostly
for its picturesque views overlooking Mission Bay, San Diego Harbor
and the Pacific Ocean on the college basketball map.
"Certainly it can do nothing but positive things for the
program," San Diego coach Bill Grier said. "To get this kind of
exposure on a national stage speaks volumes. ... All this exposure
helps."
The attention was well deserved.
Rogers hit a desperation 3-pointer - 26 feet was the best
estimate - with three defenders in his face and no time on the
clock to give Western Kentucky a 101-99 victory over No. 5 seed
Drake.
The Hilltoppers trailed 99-98 with 5.7 seconds remaining in the
extra frame. Tyrone Brazelton got the inbound pass, raced across
midcourt and kicked it to Rogers, who drained the deep shot from
the wing.
Brazelton, Rogers and all their teammates watched countless
replays of the final possession, smiling and laughing every time.
They have broken down every nuance of the play - the drive, the
dish, the determination, the seemingly endless reactions.
"You'd have to be emotionless not to have that tug on you a
little bit," coach Darrin Horn said. "A kid that's that great of
a kid, from a small town, really been a role player his whole
career for us, to hit that kind of shot and, you know, enjoy that
kind of moment, I think that's what this tournament is all about.
We're glad we're on the good side of it."
None of the players seemed to have a firm grasp on how that kind
of game-winning shot on college basketball's premier stage would
affect their lives and legacies.
It probably won't go down in history with Christian Laettner's
game-winning turnaround jumper that beat Kentucky 104-103 in the
1992 East Region final. And it may never compare to Tyus Edny's
coast-to-coast layup that allowed UCLA to edge Missouri 75-74 in
1995.
Both shots propelled those teams to national championships.
But it's surely right up there with Bryce Drew's winning
3-pointer that gave 13th-seeded Valparaiso a 70-69 victory over No.
4 Mississippi in the first round of the 1998 NCAA tournament.
"It's going to be history for the school," Brazelton said.
"It's just one game. It really hasn't sunk in yet because we're
not done doing damage in the tournament. But I think we pretty much
made our school proud. We just know ... we're going to have a
long-lasting effect on the community."
If not for Rogers' buzzer-beater, Jackson might have the
highlight of this year's tournament.
His jumper with 1.2 seconds left in overtime gave San Diego a
70-69 win over the Huskies.
With the team's best two players on the bench with five fouls,
Jackson took over. He drove right on Jerome Dyson, stopped a step
inside the 3-point line and calmly sank the game-winner.
He wasn't done, either. Jackson intercepted the inbound pass to
seal the victory.
His phone hasn't stopped ringing since.
"I never had that many text messages in one day, so it was kind
of fun," Jackson said.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


WKYT

2851 Winchester Rd. Lexington, Ky 40509 859-299-0411 - switchboard 859-299-2727 - newsroom
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 16926971