During the TBS NCAA Tournament post-game show Sunday night, Seth Davis did not hold back in his description of the University of Arizona’s wild 85-80 win over Texas Christian University.
“THAT WAS AN UNBELIEVABLE GAME!” Davis screamed — and I mean screamed.
He wasn’t subtle. He also wasn’t wrong. He could have screamed louder and not been wrong.
“I don’t know how many Red Bulls you’ve had,” studio host Nabil Karim said, “but it was a great game.”
It really was. It ended with Arizona headed for the Sweet Sixteen and TCU headed home, narrowly missing a huge upset — Arizona is seeded No. 1 in the South Region, TCU No. 9.
The game play was thrilling. The commentating ... wasn't
It was also fantastic TV, at least in terms of what we were seeing on screen. What we were hearing from the TBS broadcast team of Lisa Byington, Avery Johnson and Steve Smith, on the other hand, was not quite so fantastic (though Byington is quite good). If you like cliches, this was the game for you.
But the game itself had everything — drama, disappointment, joy, tears, a star turn, even copious amounts of blood spilled on the floor (an errant elbow meeting a nose).
It also had what seemed like what you’d think of as the crucial scene in a movie, Elliott and E.T. flying past the moon on a bike, Michael Corleone grabbing the gun in the bathroom, that kind of thing.
And it wasn’t even the most important play.
When Arizona's Bennedict Mathurin, who scored 30 points, slammed home a monster dunk in the second half, it looked like the Wildcats were finally going to shake the dogged Horned Frogs. When they play the dippy “One Shining Moment” song for the compilation of highlights after the finals — I know I’m in the minority, but I really hate that — this will definitely make the cut.
But TCU wouldn’t go away. And by the end of the game no one was talking about Mathurin’s dunk anymore, because they were talking about everything else that was going on.
So maybe the movie analogy doesn’t hold completely, but you get the idea. Other stuff happened after they rode the bike past the moon, after all.
The end of regulation was particularly hectic — hair-pulling if you had a rooting interest in either team. TCU had the ball, the clock was ticking down, Arizona seemed to commit a foul but nothing was called and suddenly there was Arizona’s Dalen Terry coming up with the ball, streaking toward the basket, going up for a game-winning dunk. …
And no. He was a split-second too late. ESPN tweeted a great shot of the play, with the red lights indicating time had expired ringing the basket as Terry dunked. On to overtime.
Which meant more Byington, Johnson and Smith, alas. Byington is solid, nothing flashy. But Johnson and Smith went back and forth from uttering the most banal observations — “Unbelievable, amazing, both teams played their hearts out,” Smith said after the game — to musing about what plays they might have called if they had been coaching. Not exactly thrilling stuff.
Happily the game spoke for itself. And afterwards, Terry did a little speaking, too. As TBS was lining up Mathurin for a post-game interview, Terry crashed it — to praise his teammate.
“He’s the best player in the country right now!” Terry yelled. “He’s the best player! We’re the best team in the country!”
He might be right.
“We’ll see,” Johnson said of the Wildcats afterwards. “They’ll celebrate tonight, but we’ll see what happens against Houston,” their next opponent.
We will. But it’s going to be hard to top this, as basketball or TV.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: March Madness: Arizona's OT win over TCU was better on mute