Texas A&M had one of the most unlikely comebacks in NCAA tournament history as the Aggies rallied to force overtime and eventually outlasted No. 11 seed Northern Iowa, 92-88, on Sunday night in a double-overtime thriller in the West Regional.
The end of regulation featured one of the wildest comebacks in all of sports as Texas A&M went on a 14-2 run in the game’s final 44 seconds to force overtime as the game was tied 71-all. Northern Iowa was given a 99.99% chance to win at the end of regulation and still blew the 12-point lead thanks for four turnovers in that span that led to quick Aggie buckets.
[RELATED: Watch the entire collapse]
Once the overtimes got going, seniors Danuel House and Jalen Jones came alive. The duo of athletic wings weren’t producing much until the final minutes of regulation, but they turned it up another notch in the overtimes. House finished with 22 points on the night, including the game-sealing free throws in the second overtime, while Jones had 16 points. House started the game 0-for-9 from the field but finished 6-for-17 for the game.
With House and Jones struggling for Texas A&M early, the Aggies turned to senior guard Alex Caruso for offense. Caruso paced the Aggies with 25 points while freshmen Admon Gilder (11 points) and big man Tyler Davis (10 points) also had solid outings.
Junior Jeremy Morgan was outstanding on the offensive end for Northern Iowa, as he scored 36 points and added 12 rebounds. Sophomore forward Klint Carlson also continued his recent strong stretch of play by scoring 17 points. Paul Jesperson also added 11 points for the Panthers.
Northern Iowa had a poor-shooting night from senior guard Wes Washpun before he fouled out in the first overtime. The point guard finished 2-for-11 from the field but still finished with nine points, 10 assists and six rebounds.
Although they lost a heart-breaking game and blew a huge lead, the Panthers still made a heck of a run to reach the round of 32. Northern Iowa looked dead in the water on Jan. 23 when they were 10-11 and 2-6 in the Missouri Valley Conference. Northern Iowa had lost six of seven games and didn’t look like it was going to make any kind of postseason. But the Panthers rallied and won the MVC tournament and won 13 of their final 15 games as they’ve now won at least one NCAA tournament game in their last three appearances.
And for Texas A&M, you have to give this team an immense amount of credit for never giving up and a lot of that falls on seniors like House and Jones shaking off poor starts. This is the type of comeback that should have the Aggies playing with a lot of confidence for the rest of the tournament.
We’ll also have to see if the cold perimeter shooting continues for Texas A&M. The Aggies were in deep trouble against Northern Iowa, in part, because they settled for so many shots as Texas A&M was 7-for-32 from 3-point range in the win.
Texas A&M will now face No. 2 seed Oklahoma and star senior Buddy Hield on Thursday in the West Regional. The Panthers are heading to their first Sweet 16 since 2010, when the Panthers shocked No. 1 seed Kansas in the second round to make it.
This is Texas A&M’s first Sweet 16 appearance since 2007.