The NCAA tournament, that annual sporting event that delivers agony through a flow chart, has produced many darlings over the years. The one who emerged from a thrilling opening day of games Thursday might be the most unlikely yet.

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The NCAA tournament, that annual sporting event that delivers agony through a flow chart, has produced many darlings over the years. The one who emerged from a thrilling opening day of games Thursday might be the most unlikely yet.

Ron Hunter, the coach of the 14th-seeded Georgia State Panthers, worked the sideline from a chair with wheels; he had injured his Achilles tendon Sunday while celebrating his team’s berth in the NCAA tournament. Unable to stand, he rolled left and right, shouting direction at his players.

And then he fell out of his chair. Hunter’s son, R.J., had just made a three-pointer from well behind the arc to earn a 57-56 victory over Baylor, which was seeded third and operates within an athletic department with a nearly billion-dollar budget.

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Comparatively, Georgia State is a minnow among big-time programs that annually make the tournament.

“This group is unbelievable,” Ron Hunter, 50, said. “We never gave up.”

The first day of this year’s tournament left fans exhilarated, even if their brackets were busted, and the face of that madness belonged to a father and son, who have struggled at times to balance the roles of father and coach.

But Thursday’s bittersweet victory surely made the ups and downs along the way worth it as the Panthers advanced to face No. 6 Xavier on Saturday.

About an hour earlier, Alabama-Birmingham, another No. 14 seed, eliminated No. 3 Iowa State 60-59. Iowa State, a trendy pick to win the whole tournament, will be home in Ames before the second round begins Saturday.

Also Thursday, No. 11 seed UCLA knocked off No. 6 seed Southern Methodist 60-59. And while it was not an upset in terms of seeding, 11th-seeded Texas lost to No. 6 seed Butler 56-48 despite being favored to win.

As the closing seconds ticked down for Georgia State, R.J. Hunter eyed the shot clock and dribbled toward the top of the key. Around him, the Panthers looked uncertain and unorganized, but Hunter was undaunted.

He took a couple of calm dribbles and rose up about 30 feet from the basket and launched Georgia State into tournament history. Hunter absolutely drilled his jump shot, a pure swish through the net with 2.6 seconds left that stunned Baylor.

The Bears missed a desperation heave at the horn, and the Panthers’ wild comeback from 12 points down was sealed. Hunter’s teammates swarmed him at midcourt, and the entire team seemed to float around for several surreal seconds.

Hunter scored 12 of Georgia State’s last 13 points and finished with 16.

His dad, Ron Hunter, had coached the game from a rolling stool, his leg in a cast since he injured it celebrating the Panthers’ last-second victory in the Sun Belt Conference title game. He said he decided to put off surgery until after Georgia State made its third NCAA tournament appearance in team history.

Ron Hunter had fallen off his stool after his son sank the game-winner and was helped onto a four-wheel scooter that he wheeled toward his celebrating players, waving a towel and pumping a fist as he pushed across the court.

“We talked about keep believing, don’t worry about the score,” Ron Hunter said. “I felt we had a chance because we were turning them over in the press. I said keep pressing, keep pressing.”

Baylor could not alleviate the pressure and gave up 21 turnovers, 14 of which came in the second half. The Bears squandered a 56-44 lead with 2:54 to play.