DAYTON, Ohio — With Jarnell Stokes using all of his 280 pounds to get an advantage, Tennessee pulled off the first last-minute comeback of the NCAA Tournament.
Stokes dominated inside as the Volunteers finally caught up in the closing minutes of regulation, then opened overtime with a three-point play that set up a 78-65 victory over Iowa on Wednesday night, finishing off the four-game first round.
The Volunteers (22-12) head to Raleigh, N.C., where they'll play sixth-seeded Massachusetts on Friday in the Midwest Region.
"I told our guys we've been through everything this season, keep your composure down the stretch," said coach Cuonzo Martin, who got his first NCAA win in his third season at Tennessee. "Find ways to win the ball game."
They found an improbable way.
The Vols didn't lead until Antonio Barton's 3-pointer put them up 59-57 with 3:05 left in regulation. There were five lead changes before Tennessee's Jordan McRae missed a jumper at the buzzer, leaving it tied at 64.
Stokes' three-point play was the key moment in his 18-point, 13-rebound performance, putting the Vols ahead to stay. Tennessee's highly ranked defense took it from there, holding Iowa (21-13) to one free throw. The Hawkeyes missed all eight shots from the field in overtime.
It was a tough ending to a long and stressful day for Iowa coach Fran McCaffery. He started the day in Iowa with his teenage son Patrick, who had surgery to remove a thyroid tumor. His assistant coaches led the Hawkeyes through a meeting and their final practice, and McCaffery was back by game time.
19-loss Cal Poly rolls
Now that Cal Poly has gotten its first NCAA victory out of the way, why stop at one?
Chris Eversley scored 19 to help Cal Poly become the first team in 59 years with 19 losses to win an NCAA Tournament game, beating Texas Southern 81-69.
Now the team with the worst record in the tournament (14-19) moves on to face the one with the best — top-seeded Wichita State (34-0) — in the second round in St. Louis on Friday.
It's exactly what Mustangs coach Joe Callero had hoped.
"I'm so weird that I was cheering the last five years that a 16 (seed) never upsets a 1," he said. "Because if we ever got a bid, we'd be a 16 seed and then we'd have a chance to make real history."
They've already done that.
The Mustangs of San Luis Obispo, Calif., were 0-3 and 4-9 early this season. They didn't exactly inspire confidence heading into the Big West tournament, losing nine of 11, but they won the title to earn the program's first NCAA bid.
The only other 19-loss team to win was Bradley (7-19), which won once but lost in the final eight in 1955.
Aaric Murray closed out his career with 38 points for Texas Southern (19-15).