Tyler Brown made two free throws with 6.4 seconds left and finished with 25 points as the Redbirds upset the 15th-ranked Shockers 65-64 in the semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament on Saturday.
"We shocked the world!" Brown said in a fired-up locker room. "Shocked the Shockers!"
Jackie Carmichael added 12 points and 11 rebounds for the fourth-seeded Redbirds (20-12), who rallied from 13 points down early in the second half. Illinois State, which lost at home to the Shockers by 13 points on Feb. 22, snapped a 24-game losing streak against ranked teams, dating to 1987. A victory in the championship game Sunday would give the school its first NCAA tournament berth since 1998.
"I'm sure a lot of people didn't think we were going to win this game," Brown said. "All we have is us -- our team, our fans."
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Joe Ragland had 17 points for Wichita State (27-5), which had won nine in a row and 17 of 18. Now the Shockers must wait to learn if they will receive an at-large bid and get into the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006. The case appears strong for the Valley to end its string of four straight years with only one team in the field.
Only the tournament champion is assured of a bid, but Wichita State entered the day an impressive No. 10 ranking in the RPI. Coach Gregg Marshall's biggest concern is a lower seed.
"I don't think we're going to do too much fixing. We're 27-5. We're going to play in the NCAA tournament," Marshall said. "I'm not worried. Are you worried? You shouldn't be. Sleep well tonight."
Wichita State was scoreless after Toure' Murry made a free throw for a 64-63 lead with 2:51 to go, including a pair of misses in the final seconds.
"The first time we played them they had a couple of shots in the air to tie it," Marshall said. "They certainly have our respect, and you can see why."
Ben Smith had 14 points and 13 rebounds, and Murry had 15 points for Wichita State, which won the NIT last season. Leading scorer Garrett Stutz, who averages 13.8 points, was in foul trouble throughout and was held to six points and five rebounds.
Murry missed from the key with about 3 seconds to go. Stutz misfired from the wing at the buzzer.
"I thought it was a pretty good shot," Murry said. "I didn't put enough lift on it."
"They got real good shots at the end," Brown said. "Luckily, they missed them."
Illinois State has been in the NIT three of the last four seasons, but had won just two of five games before this tournament.
Carmichael had a big finish after getting just two points and three rebounds in eight minutes of the first half. Smith had 11 points and nine rebounds after the break. Illinois State was 5 for 13 from 3-point range in the second half.
"It's such a mountain and it's such a competition," coach Tim Jankovich said. "When you see your group go to a level that maybe they didn't know they have and become different, it makes you a little emotional. It's probably one of the most gratifying things."
Neither team shot well: Illinois State finished at 33.9 percent, and Wichita State at 34.9 percent.
Brown, who totaled 21 points in the two regular-season meetings against Wichita State, missed his career high by a point. He has made 36 of 39 at the free throw line in the last 10 games. Carmichael has a pair of double-doubles in the tournament.
Stutz drew a personal foul and a technical with 11:59 left, giving him four fouls. Illinois State's John Wilkins was whistled for his second technical after jostling underneath the Wichita State basket.
Illinois State went 12:12 between baskets in the first half and shot just 29 percent, but stayed in range by going 12 for 14 at the line.
Murry had 10 points in the half, six in a 14-0 run that put Wichita State up by 10 with 6 1/2 minutes to go. The Shockers led by as many as 13 before Nic Moore made a 3-pointer with 2:42 left to end Illinois State's drought.