EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Temple guard Mark Macon settled in overtime what he came so close to accomplishing in regulation.
After missing a short jump hook shot just before the buzzer thawould have won the game, Macon scored eight of his team's first 10 points in overtime as No. 10 seed Temple defeated No. 3 seed Oklahoma State, 72-63, to advance to tomorrow's East Regional final against No. 1 seed North Carolina.
"I still don't believe it," said Temple coach John Chaney of hiteam's first regional final berth since 1988. Temple improved to 24-9, and Oklahoma State ended its season at 24-8.
In 1988, Macon had perhaps his worst game, in the same arenahitting six of 29 shots from the field in his top-ranked team's upset loss to Duke. But Macon took one step further toward redemption last night, hitting 11 of 21 from the field, including the big shots when it counted in a game pitting two strong defensive teams.
"Eighty-eight is gone; it's '91 now," Macon said when askeabout the Duke game. "It's a good win whether its the Meadowlands or anywhere."
For a fleeting moment near the end of regulation, it seemed thgood win was going to be Oklahoma State's. With his team trailing, 53-51, guard Corey Williams (17 points) hit what appeared to be a game-winning three-pointer with two seconds left. But an official ruled that his right foot was on the line -- a ruling backed up by television replays -- and the game was tied.
"I thought it was a three, but I didn't have time to look at thline," Williams said. "I was caught up with getting the shot off instead of just trying to win the game. I was just looking to make a basket."
Macon, who was defending Williams, said of the basket, "It was close, but the referee was right on the call. He made a great judgment."
On the ensuing inbounds pass, Macon was able to catch the baljust inside the foul line, but his short jump hook was long, and the game went into overtime, during which Macon took charge before fouling out with 1:19 left and his team leading, 64-56.
Temple scored just six field goals in the second half, scoring jusone in the final six minutes when the team stopped attacking the basket and blew a 51-45 lead with 4:45 left.
"I saw us failing, and it looked bad," Chaney said of his team'second-half shortcomings. "We were getting broken down by big, great, strong defensive players. We were just standing around and not running our sets properly."
But the Owls hung on to win, mainly thanks to a defense that mixed a man-to-man and a match-up zone that frustrated Oklahoma State all night. The biggest victim was the Cowboys' bruising forward Byron Houston, a 23-point-a-game scorer who was held to 14 in 44 minutes.
"No one in the Big Eight played it, and we had not faced that type of defense all year," said Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton. "Their defense was outstanding. In the first half, we weren't aggressive enough -- we were just content with passing the ball around the perimeter."
Temple's improbable season will continue against a North Carolina team that ended the regular season ranked fourth in the country. Chaney says his team is the most talented he has coached but concedes that it is up for a huge challenge.
"They're the only team in the country with 15 All-Americans on the bench," Chaney said of the Tar Heels. "Dean has an All-American in every area and has all the elements to beat anybody in the country."