An eerily quiet standing-room-only crowd. Students clad in Santa caps, purple body paint and pajamas. Enough confetti-filled mayhem to rival any New Year's party.
Yes, it could only be Taylor University's "Silent Night," college basketball's most fun annual holiday tradition.
Each year on the Friday before fall semester finals week begins, costume-clad Taylor students pack their cramped 2,500-seat gym to watch a home basketball game but remain deathly silent for the opening minutes. Only after Taylor scores its 10th point of the game do they erupt with cheers and applause as though the tiny Indiana NAIA school has just captured a national championship.
The player who delivered the 10th point this year was senior guard Casey Coons, the same guy who has scored the all-important basket each of the previous two years. Coons' free throw with just over 16 minutes left in the first half touched off this year's celebration and sparked Taylor to a 71-47 victory over Ohio Mid-Western College, keeping the Trojans' undefeated record intact in more than two decades of "Silent Night" games.
Perhaps the best part of the tradition comes in the final minutes of the game once fans are confident Taylor has wrapped up another victory. The entire Taylor crowd stands arm in arm and sings the Christmas song "Silent Night" in unison.
Whether it's dotting the "i" at Ohio State, the Rock Chalk Jayhawk chant at Kansas or "rolling" the Toomer's Corner trees at Auburn, college sports has some amazing traditions. "Silent Night" at Taylor University is right up there with any of them.