Louisville, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - William Lee's jumper with 24 seconds left gave Alabama-Birmingham the lead for good, as the 14th-seeded Blazers upset third-seeded Iowa State, 60-59, in second-round action of the NCAA Tournament.
Lee ended with 14 points and 12 rebounds and Robert Brown scored a game-high 21 points to lead UAB (20-15), which moved on to the third round to face 11th-seeded UCLA, which beat SMU later Thursday on a controversial goaltending call.
"I'm awfully proud of our guys," said UAB head coach Jerod Haase. "I thought we played a very good basketball game. We did not play a perfect basketball game, but I thought we competed throughout."
Monte Morris scored 15 points to lead Iowa State (25-9), which got off to a quick start but failed to hold on to a lead and saw its recent run of good luck come to an end.
The Cyclones entered the NCAA Tournament having won five straight games, including three in a row to capture the Big 12 Conference Tournament, where they trailed by double-digits in every game.
Down 51-49 after Brown tipped in a rebound with 5:14 left, the Cyclones scored the next six points to finally build a lead at 55-51. Georges Niang's two free throws with 3:13 on the clock ended the run, giving Iowa State the largest lead of the half by either team.
During the spurt, the Blazers struggled from the field, hitting just 1-of-7 field goal attempts dating back to the 7:12 mark.
However, strong defense down the stretch gave UAB a chance. Lee's basket with 1:36 left drew the Blazers within 55-53. Then, after forcing Iowa State into a shot clock violation with exactly one minute left, Brown came out of a timeout and drained a 3-pointer with 51 seconds left for a slim 56-55 edge.
The trey ended an 0-for-9 drought from beyond the arc for UAB.
Morris answered with a jumper with 39 seconds left to give Iowa State the lead, but Lee got it back with jumper 15 seconds later.
Niang then had a shot blocked with 13 seconds left and fouled Lee, who hit both free throws with 12 seconds to play for a 60-57 edge.
The Cyclones had a chance to tie the game, but Naz Long's 3-pointer with four seconds left rimmed out and Morris' tip in with 7/10ths of a second remaining wasn't enough as UAB escaped with the upset.
"Offensively, we made enough plays to get it done," said Haase. "It wasn't always pretty. It wasn't always perfect. But the guys' ability to take what we said in the time-outs and apply it on the court after each time-out, I thought, was as good as we've done all year."
"William Lee, I thought he was really good all night," said Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg. "He and Brown, I thought, were the two guys that would play through, and they did. They stepped up and delivered, and that's what big time players do."
The Blazers, winners of the Conference USA Tournament to earn the automatic bid, dominated the Cyclones on the glass, grabbing 52 rebounds, including 19 on the offensive end. Iowa State ended with 37 boards, with just nine coming on offense.
"That was our big emphasis coming into this game," said Hoiberg of the boards. "We just didn't put bodies on those guys, that's the bottom line. We just went in and turned and looked, and they got the ball. You can't do that against an athletic team like UAB."
Iowa State jumped out to a 14-2 lead after Hakeem Baxter's layup nearly 5 1/2 minutes into the contest, but UAB mounted a comeback. The Blazers answered with a 14-2 surge to tie the game at 16-16 following Brown's jumper at the 9:44 mark.
Then, down 26-23, the Blazers scored eight of the final 10 points of the half to go into the locker room with a 31-28 edge. Denzell Watts scored four points during the run.
The Blazers have won four straight games.
Niang ended with 11 points and seven rebounds, while Jameel McKay contributed 10 points, 12 boards and six blocks in defeat ... This is the Cyclones' fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance, a school record... Iowa State is 16-17 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, including 5-4 under Hoiberg ... UAB is now 10-14 all-time in NCAA Tournament games. Its last win prior to this game came in 2005 against LSU, 82-68, in the Chicago Regional ... This was just the third meeting all-time between these two schools. They split the previous two.