BRYCE ALFORD'S final jumper appeared off line when he let it fly from behind the three-point arc, and all the UCLA guard could do was helplessly watch the battle for the rebound.
SMU center Yanick Moreira was in position and seemed to time his leap as he went up to touch it. The officials, however, thought he was a bit too quick and called goaltending and awarded Alford the game-winning basket with 13 seconds left - one that's sure to be this NCAA Tournament's most debated.
Alford had no doubt there was interference.
"I had a pretty good look at it because I shot it," Alford said after the 11th-seeded Bruins' 60-59 South Regional victory over sixth-seeded SMU yesterday in Louisville, Ky. "From my angle, I saw Kevon [Looney] and another player going after it, and I was confused because he went up and grabbed it on its way to the rim.
"I don't know if it would have gone in or not, but he definitely grabbed it on the way."
Officials went to the monitor to determine it was a three and were resolute in their call, telling a pool reporter that it wasn't reviewable. SMU coach Larry Brown couldn't believe it.
"We gave the rule number and the article," official Sean Hull said in citing Rule 9.3a 1 and 2. "Under 2 minutes by rule, we have a directive to do that. At the table it was confirmed that it was a three, and we put the ball back in play."
Said Moreira, "I think I hit the rim first. I hit the net or the rim. That's how it kind of goes."
SMU (27-7) still had two shots to win in the final seconds, but Nic Moore, who scored 24 points, missed a three-pointer and then a two-point attempt that sent the Bruins (21-13) into a wild celebration.
"Give UCLA credit,'' said SMU coach Larry Brown. "Steve's son was tremendous, and they did a lot of good things when it really mattered."
In another game at Louisville:
* William Lee scored the last four points for 14th-seeded UAB, and the Blazers upset third-seeded Iowa State, 60-59.
The Blazers (20-15) came in with the youngest team in the NCAA Tournament and with nobody having played in the tournament before. They wound up winning the program's first NCAA game since 2005 and ran over to celebrate in front of the fans of a school that shut its football program down in December.
"For us, it was just huge," UAB junior Robert Brown said. "We come here, not just to play games, but to actually make some noise and to win some games. To be able to do that and win for Birmingham, win for Coach [Jerod] Haase, it's a great feeling."
And it set off a wild celebration in the Blazers' locker room.
The Blazers, who outscored Iowa State (25-9) 9-4 down the stretch, will play UCLA tomorrow.
Haase estimated maybe four or five of the Blazers didn't even realize a month ago that the Conference USA Tournament champion earned an automatic berth, while another had never watched a selection show before Sunday.
"You're a product of your thoughts," Haase said. "Our thoughts have been, when we play well, we think we can compete with anybody, and those thoughts have been expressed to our team, and our team has made the choice to believe in that. I think that's what you saw today."
At Portland, Ore.
* Jakob Poeltl had 18 points and eight rebounds, and fifth-seeded Utah (25-8) held off Stephen F. Austin for a 57-50 victory.
The Utes' stout defense thwarted the usually high-scoring Lumberjacks, who were held well under their season average of 79.5 points.