USA TODAY Sports
John Caleb Sanders saw his layup rim out and the hopes of the Liberty Flames extinguished in the opening game of the NCAA Tournament in Dayton.
There was a time when North Carolina A&T led this game by 10 points. Remember that: in the NCAA Tournament, no lead is safe.
We have learned that when teams got Pittsnogled. We learned that when teams like BYU came back on Iona last season. We have learned.
And so when the Aggies got up on Liberty by 10, you knew that the run had to be coming, especially in the First Four game.
But John Caleb Sanders, he who had one of the best games we have recorded in the Game Score this season, led the Flames back with layups, free throws and 3-pointers. He made 4 of 6 on the night and finished with 21 points and nine assists.
It was the shot he didn't make though that crushed Liberty's hopes. A layup with the clock running out just rimmed and didn't fall. That would have had the 20-loss the Flames into the next round.
Instead it is the Aggies, who hadn't won an NCAA Tournament game in nine trips, who walk away with a 73-72 win.
Jeremey Underwood scored 19 points off the bench, and missed just a single free throw all night, to help lead North Carolina A&T. Bruce Beckford had 16 points and nine boards, and Lamont Middleton added 14 in the win.
North Carolina A&T moves on to face Louisville in the second round Thursday night.