Fifteen seconds left to play.
Clinging to a two-point lead.
History hanging in the balance.
Anybody who thinks the 12th-seeded Liberty Flames will buckle against fourth-seeded Virginia Tech on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA tournament should watch how Liberty functioned in the final 15 seconds of its upset victory over fourth-seeded Mississippi State on Friday.
The Flames coolly made all six of their free-throw attempts for the school’s first-ever victory in the NCAA tournament while holding off Mississippi State, 80-76.
“I just don’t think they’re overwhelmed by the circumstances or that monster of unbelief that creeps up on some of us,’’ Liberty coach Ritchie McKay said. “I think our guys are just – we’re just about the process, and I think that helps a little bit.’’
Scheduling helped, too.
Though Liberty (29-6) has played the likes of Maine-Fort Kent and Trevecca Nazarene this season, McKay toughened his team with a non-conference schedule that included four teams from the Power 5 conferences. The Flames played Vanderbilt, Georgetown and Alabama — and lost all three games — but shocked UCLA, 73-58, on Dec. 29 in Los Angeles.
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Source: USA Today