From now until the end of the season, the Beadlemaniacs will be dishing out our end of decade awards. I have no idea what they will all be, but hopefully they will be entertaining. Today’s post is the top 10 games of the decade. In reverse order, of course…
10. Hampton 58, Iowa State 57 – 2001 NCAA Tournament 1st Round
Iowa State was coming into the NCAA Tournament as champions of the Big 12. They had Marcus Fizer, who would be a top 5 pick, and Jamaal Tinsley, who is still in the NBA. Hampton, meanwhile, had two players who took over half of their shots (when they were in the game, of course). Iowa State was up 57-48 with 7 minutes left, but didn’t score the rest of the way as Tarvis Williams scored with 5 seconds left, prompting one of the most famous celebrations of the decade. Too bad I can’t find it on YouTube.
9. Maryland 75, UNC-Wilmington 73 – 2003 NCAA Tournament 1st Round
Maryland was the defending national champions. Wilmington had staged an upset the year before. Wilmington’s best player, Brett Blizzard, struggled for most of the day, but previously unknown Frosh John Goldsberry didn’t mind. He was a tournament record 8-8 from three. Down by one with just seconds remaining, Drew Nicholas took the ball the length of the court, and drilled a fallaway three to give Maryland the win.
Oddly enough, even though they were the higher seed, Maryland wore their road red jerseys because three of their home ones had been stolen earlier in the week.
8. Gonzaga 109, Michigan State 106 (3OT) – 2005 Maui Invitational Semifinals
In the last 7 and a half minutes of regulation, there were 13 lead changes. Gonzaga missed 3 shots in 9 seconds at the end. Adam Morrison had a Maui record 43 points, while Derek Raivio had 26, and JP Batista had 22 and 13.
For Michigan State, Maurice Ager had 36, even though he ended up playing over half the game with 4 fouls. Gonzaga missed their first free throw of the game, and then rattled off 27 in a row.
7. Arizona 96, Gonzaga 95 (2OT) – 2003 NCAA Tournament 2nd Round
Top seeded Arizona was led by Luke Walton, Channing Frye and Jason Gardner. They also had future star Andre Iguodala contributing off the bench. Gonzaga had Blake Stepp and Rony Turiaf.
Salim Stoudamire scored with 2:03 left, which also happened to be the final points of the game. Gonzaga’s Tony Skinner had a career high in the game, but missed an open three that would have won it at the end.
Blake Stepp led all scorers in the game with 25.
It should also be noted that Gonzaga most assuredly would have won with the services of Turiaf, who fouled out after playing just 29 minutes. He still managed to go 7-12 with 16 points and 5 boards.
6. Duke v. Maryland, and Duke v. Maryland, 2001 and 2002
Two games tie for this honor, one regular season, and one postseason. In the first, Maryland enjoyed a 90-80 lead with just over a minute to go. But Jason Williams nearly singlehandedly led the Devils back to force overtime. Duke then pounded Maryland in OT in what is called the Miracle Minute.
It was different story, same ending for Maryland, who had matched up with Duke in the 2001 Final Four. Maryland jumped out to a 22 point lead against Duke. But Shane Battier, who had 25 points and was the national player of the year that year, turned it on and Duke ended up winning 95-84. Duke trailed by 11 at the half, and it was the biggest 2nd half comeback in Final Four history.
5. Syracuse 127, Connecticut 117 (6OT) – 2009 Big East Tournament Quarterfinal
Eric Devenforf almost put everyone out of their misery right away, nailing a 28 footer at the end of regulation. However, it was just after the buzzer, and to overtime we went. Six OT’s later, and it was finally over.
Jonny Flynn had 34 points and 11 assists, all while playing 67 minutes. Near the end of the game he looked like he was about to fall over.
In all, four players from each team fouled out. The teams attempted 103 field goal attempts just in the overtimes, and Syracuse somehow won the game despite not leading in an overtime period until the 6th one.
Words can’t really do this one justice, so just watch.
4. UCLA 73, Gonzaga 71 – 2006 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16
This game will forever be known as the Adam Morrison crying game. Gonzaga had a 17 point lead in the first half, and a 9 point lead with just 3 minutes to go, and yet UCLA scored the final 11 points of the game to stun the Zags.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute scored 6 of UCLA’ final 11 points, and also had a steal in the final flurry. Gonzaga had one final chance, as a full length pass found its way to JP Batista, or as I prefer: Batista with the CAAAAAAAAAAAAATCH!
After the game, Morrison slumped at mid-court in tears. Two UCLA Bruins went to help him up in an impressive display of sportsmanship.
Morrison finished his final game 10-17 for 24 points.
3. Illinois 90, Arizona 89 (OT) – 2005 Elite 8
Illinois had a brand new coach in Bruce Weber. They had also lost only one game that season. But they found themselves down 15 to Arizona with time running out. Deron Williams and Luther Head went on a 20-5 run basically by themselves, capped off by a Williams 3.
Illinois shot 16-35 from three. Williams was 5-8 and Head was 5-12.
Channing Frye went 11-14 from the field to finish with 24 and 12.
2. George Mason 86, Connecticut 84 (OT) – 2006 NCAA Tournament Elite 8
George Mason was smaller than UConn, less talented than UConn, and was the most controversial at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament that year. None of that mattered.
Playing just 20 miles from their campus, George Mason had the crowd and all of America on their side as they pulled off a stunning upset. Mason trailed by 12 late in the first half, and between 7 and 9 for part of the second. But they hit 6 straight threes to narrow the margin.
All five George Mason starters scored at least 10 points. Connecticut had the tallest three players on the court, but it didn’t stop George Mason from outrebounding them 42.8% to 38.8%. The game featured a stunning lack of turnovers given how important the game was.
Jai Lewis and Rudy Gay each had 20 points, as Mason shocked the hoops world.
1. Kansas 75, Memphis 68 (OT) – 2008 National Championship Game
I’m going to do this all from memory (besides the percentages) so bear with me.
Memphis led by 9 with 2 minutes left. After Russell Robinson and Sherron Collins had stymied him in the first half, Derrick Rose turned it on and showed why he was the number 1 overall pick, finishing with 18-6-8.
Memphis had been haunted by free throws all year (they were 329th in the country), and it haunted them down the stretch. They still almost won anyways as Chris Douglas Roberts missed a freethrow, but Robert Dozier tipped it to himself to give the Tigers another chance.
But Rose and CDR made only 1 of 5 over the last couple minutes.
Sherron Collins made a huge three in the corner for Kansas, which was only their 2nd of the game.
With just 10 seconds left, Derrick Rose made his 2nd free-throw to give Memphis a 3 point lead.
Sherron Collins hustled the ball up the floor, and then handed it off to Mario Chalmers who drilled a three pointer with just over 2 seconds left.
Kansas scored the first 6 points of overtime, and never looked back. In hindsight, the game was over when Chalmers’s shot went in.
Darrell Arthur finished with 20 and 10 in his final college game, Brandon Rush had 12 in his, and Chalmers had 18 in his, including going 6-6 from the free throw line.
In truth, I could write a whole book about this game, so I’ll stop here and leave you with the video that to this day I can’t watch without getting misty.
Feel free to leave your picks in the comments.