N.C. State got a career night from Dennis Horner - and a little help from the South Florida clock operator - and pulled out a 58-57 victory over the Bulls in the first round of the NIT on Tuesday night.
Down one with 11 seconds to play and six on the shot clock, N.C. State's inbounds pass sailed into the backcourt, but Scott Wood tracked it down and made a quick pass under the basket to Richard Howell, who got the easy layup. The only problem? The clock never started.
Officials gave N.C. State the go-ahead basket and put eight seconds on the clock, and USF's last-second shot was blocked by Howell, giving the Wolfpack (20-15) a wild win in its first postseason appearance in three years.
Horner bounced back from a rough ACC tournament with a career-high 25 points, and Tracy Smith came up big late with 14 points. Guard Dominique Jones led the Bulls (20-13) with 24 points.
It was a wild finish.
With the Pack up two with the ball, State's Smith fouled out on a charge with 1:28 to play, and USF countered with two free throws to tie the score with 1:09 left.
Howell hit one of two free throws for the lead, but USF's Dominique Jones hit a runner for a 57-56 lead with 40 seconds to play.
Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe called two timeouts on the last possession, and after the ball went out of bounds with six seconds on the shot clock and 11.2 to play, USF called a timeout to set up its last defense.
The inbounds pass sailed into the backcourt, and Wood made a quick pass to Howell in the post for the go-ahead basket.
The Wolfpack moves on to the NIT's second round, traveling to face Alabama-Birmingham, a winner against Coastal Carolina on Tuesday night.