NCAA Tournament: All-Time Buzzer-Beaters
Buzzer beaters bring upon one thing. Flesh piles. Everyone storms the court and jumps on one another almost to the point where I wouldn’t want to be the guy to hit the game winning shot. Kids practice fade-aways, leaners, and shots they adjust in mid-air all while counting down in their heads an imaginary game clock. 3…2…1. Anyone who has played basketball has done this. I still do it to this day. College basketball fans have not just watched these moments, but lived them…
Tyus Edney (UCLA) over Mizzou
UCLA went on to win the 1995 National Championship, but not before some heroics by Tyus Edney. Edney’s heroics took place in a second round matchup between No. 1 UCLA and No. 8 Missouri. The Bruins found themselves trailing 74-73 with 4.8 seconds left. Coach Jim Harrick called a timeout and turned to Edney rather than star player Ed O’Bannon. One of the best names in college basketball history, Cameron Dollar, was set to inbound the basketball. Sidenote: How good was this 1995 team? The O’Bannon brothers, Edney, Dollar, Toby Bailey, JR Henderson; they lost one game all season, going 32-1. So…Edney catches the inbounds pass, races up the left sideline, avoids a defender with a behind-the-back dribble. This move may be more memorable than the actual shot; it’s an instinct move. It was done perfectly. He rises up, adjusts his shot and mid air and banks home the winner. UCLA 75 Missouri 74.
Richard Hamilton (Connecticut) over Washington
You ever hear the phrase “third time’s a charm?” Well for some Huskies it was. In this case, Connecticut. Connecticut and Washington faced off in the Sweet Sixteen of the 1998 tournament. Washington’s Donald Watts hit a trey to put Washington up 74-73 with about 33 seconds left. Khalid, a freshman at the time, drove the lane and dumped the ball down low to Jake Voskuhl. 15 seconds. He missed a jumper. Hamilton grabbed the board and failed an attempt. The ball was tapped up again in the air by Kevin Freeman before it hit the hands of Hamilton again. Perfect time to insert this. Now why do players wait until about 5 seconds left before they make a move? I understand if the game is tied, you must, must, take the last shot. However, I have seen on numerous occasions when a team is down they still wait until about 5-6 seconds before gearing it up. Why? Please learn from this. Okay. Hamilton finds the ball and seems to lose his balance sending a fadeaway up that finds the bottom of the net. UConn prevails over Washington.
Bryce Drew (Valparaiso) over Ole Miss
It’s all in the family. Bryce Drew was named Indiana’s Mr. Basketball in 1994 before playing for Homer Drew, his father, at Valparaiso. Bryce Drew is currently an associate coach at Valpo and will most likely take over the head coaching position once his father calls it quits. Meanwhile, Bryce’s uncle, Scott, is the head coach at Baylor. Got all that? Bryce is mostly known for this play. This infamous shot took place in a first round matchup in the 1998 tourney between No. 4 Ole Miss and No. 13 Valparaiso. With Valpo trailing by two, and 4.1 seconds left, Mississippi’s Ansu Sesay went to the charity stripe for two. He bricked both. Valpo ball with 2.5 seconds remaining. Coach Drew called out a play known as Pacer. Jamie Sykes heaved a pass to Bill Jenkins who then shoveled it off to Bryce Drew. Bryce got the 23 footer off in time. Flesh pile on Bryce…Valparaiso 70 Ole Miss 69. Valparaiso would win their next game against Florida State in overtime behind Drew’s 22 points. They were eliminated in the Sweet Sixteen by Rhode Island.
Christian Laettner (Duke) over Kentucky
This shot may own the record for most commercial appearances of all time. Many people don’t realize Laettner was almost ejected earlier in this game. It all happened in the 1992 East regional final game. Laettner stepped on the chest of Kentucky’s Aminu Timberlake while tying to find his balance. He was hit with a technical, but not ejected. Fast forwarding now to 2.1 seconds to play and Grant Hill is ready to play quarterback. Why is no one guarding the inbounder? How is no one fronting Duke’s go-to-guy? There are tons and tons of questions that can be asked here. Coaches everywhere have learned from Pitino’s decisions, but honestly, who knew? Score check: Kentucky 103 Duke 102 (in OT). Grant launches a pass to the foul line where Laettner catches the pass and has the presence of mind to put the ball on the floor, make a move, and create space. Splash, 104-103. Then we see my favorite part of the clip, Thomas Hill putting his hands on his head in disbelief. He’s a smart man avoiding the chaos on the court. Stay on the sidelines where it’s safe. Laettner had 31 points, was 10-10 from the field, and 10-10 from the line. A perfect night.
Lorenzo Charles (NC State) over Houston
Houston seemed unbeatable. Let’s face it, Jim Valvano and the “Cardiac Pack” were going against Akeem Olajuwon (that’s right, before the “H” slid in there) and Clyde Drexler. Houston was beating teams by an average of 18 points. No team had ever won a National Championship with as many losses as N.C. State had, 10. N.C. State truly defined what a Cinderella team was. With 1:08 remaining, and the game tied at 52, Houston freshman guard Alvin Franklin approached the line for a 1 and 1. He clanked the first, N.C. State ball. The Wolfpack then called a timeout with 44 seconds left to play. N.C. State made 17 passes in all during this final possession, before Whittenburg threw up a prayer that fell short. Lorenzo Charles meanwhile slipped into the lane, unguarded, grabs the ball, which was clearly short and slams it home right before time expires. We all know the story. Now watch this clip. Why does no one jump on Charles? He just won the game. Jimmy V doesn’t know who to celebrate with. Everyone just rushes the court. It almost seems as if everyone is running after Whittenburg. How can you not jump on Charles??? Ahhhhh the Cardiac Pack.
These are just a few of my favorites. Do you prefer Mike Miller’s over Butler? Drew Nicholas over UNC Wilmington?
Post yours below.