Friday, December 4, 2009

A Shootout and the Buzzer Beater that Wasn't

I'm not sure exactly how many people out there watched the Texas Tech-Washington game, but I did. With the Flyers on the lower TV and the basketball game on the top one, I was getting ready to flip over from ESPN2 to ESPN on the above television to take in the Oregon-Oregon State game. But with the Red Raiders keeping pace with No. 10 Washington in what seemed to be a one-point game almost the entire way, I couldn't turn it off until it was over. And boy am I glad I didn't, because then I would have missed this.

After Elston Turner missed both free throws and Mike Singletary grabbed the board, raced down the court and fired up a three that made its way in, I was going bonkers, but immediately, I asked, "Did he get that off?" Singletary almost double clutched to be able to get it off, and I thought on my first view that perhaps he hadn't released it in time. The announcers seemed to disagree, confidently stating that Singletary got it off. Either way, it was insanely close and a ridiculously awesome shot, so I sent out a text to a bunch of friends, "Tell me someone else saw that." None of my lame-ass friends did.

Because the shot was so close to the buzzer, the officials went to the monitors to review it, and I gotta say, despite my initial reaction, after watching the replay five or six times, I honestly thought he got it off. The more I see it, the more I think it was off his fingertips before time ran out. The officials disagreed and said the bucket was no good, the ball was still in Singletary's hands (fingertips) as time expired. The announcers, who had so very confidently stated that Singletary had gotten the shot off in time initially, didn't question it at all. In fact, just as I did, they changed their minds and said the officials got it right. I think they're crazy. Maybe I just have bad eyes.

It was a huge buzz kill to say the shot was no good and that the game was going to overtime. The Tech students had rushed the court and were celebrating a big victory over the 10th-ranked team. The shot was amazing and the ending perfect. Plus, I still think it was good. Now that Washington got a second life, I was deflated because I thought the Huskies would find their composure and end up winning in OT, which bummed me out a bit because I really think Tech earned a victory. Luckily, the Red Raiders didn't lower their heads and sulk after the victory they thought they had was wiped off the board. Instead, they went out and outscored Washington 19-12 in the overtime period to complete the upset, 99-92, and it was quite an exciting game for such an early-season, out-of-conference game. This is why I love college basketball.

That was a great appetizer to the heavyweight bout, the civil war between Oregon and Oregon State for all the marbles. PAC-10 title on the line, trip to the Rose Bowl on the line, state pride on the line. If you consider yourself a football fan and you didn't watch this game, you should be completely and utterly ashamed of yourself. I was dead tired, more than ready to go to sleep, but this game was so damn entertaining, so damn exciting, the quintessential shootout, that I couldn't possibly turn it off and head to bed. I mean, the entire game was one big Sportscenter highlight (back when they used to show highlights).

In the first quarter alone, there were three touchdowns and a field goal, making it abundantly clear that defense was not going to be a factor in this one. Before you could blink, bam, Jacquizz Rodgers was in the end zone. Then boom, LaMichael James answers. Oregon State gets a field goal, and bam, Jeremiah Masoli hits Jeff Maehl right in stride for a 73-yard touchdown strike. And damn, Maehl is fast for a white boy. He blew right by the Oregon State corner like he was standing still, and he had no prayer to catch him. Just 15 minutes in and we had a 14-13 game.

It was a classic rivalry game, everything such a heated matchup with the moniker the civil war should be. With a trip to the Rose Bowl to take on Ohio State on the line, both teams came out firing on all cylinders, especially the stars. Jacquizz Rodgers was held relatively in check with just 64 yards rushing, but he did find the end zone and added 7 catches for 73 yards. I'd say 137 yards from scrimmage is still pretty good. His brother James had an outstanding game, hauling in 10 catches for 139 yards and score, one an insane catch on which he was interfered with, dove and scooped the ball up before it hit the turf. And for good measure, he added 29 yards rushing. And LaMichael James was simply the most unstoppable force on the field. He had 166 yards on 25 carries and three touchdowns, and late in the game, after watching the formerly suspended LeGarrette Blount get in there and get a touchdown in his first game back, James really exploded, putting the game away for good with a 52-yard blazing touchdown run.

That game was insanely fun to watch. Having said that, I think Ohio State will handily beat Oregon and would have handily beaten Oregon State in the Rose Bowl, because the Buckeyes have a ridiculously awesome defense, something these two schools haven't been accustomed to facing in an overall weak PAC-10 this season.

BallHype: hype it up!

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