It was dull for 39 minutes, 13 seconds. A real yawner. The kind of game that challenges even tireless ESPN analyst Dick Vitale to manufacture some energy.
Then something magical got into Notre Dame's Jerian Grant.
With 47 seconds remaining and No. 11 Louisville comfortably leading the Fighting Irish by eight, Grant pumped in his first 3-pointer from deep outside the arc. A few seconds later he charged up the floor and hit another, causing Vitale to ask no one in particular where Grant had been all night. The third 3-pointer came with 26 seconds left to bring the Irish within three.
Louisville center Gorgui Dieng missed two free throws on the other end and Grant brought the ball up the floor but elected to drive to the basket instead of launching another three. He was fouled making a layup and drained the and-one free throw with 16 seconds left, tying the game at 60.
Notre Dame won 104-101 more than an hour later.
Grant scored 12 of his 19 points in 31 seconds, and it was only just beginning to get interesting.
After Louisville botched the last possession, the game saw its first overtime. And then it went to a second overtime when Louisville failed to get off a quality shot at the end of the first extra session. We should mention here that failing to execute late in games had already cost the Cardinals several wins this season, and coach Rick Pitino seemed powerless to stop it Saturday as junior guard Russ Smith led the way in making boneheaded plays in crunch time.
A third and a fourth and a fifth overtime followed with more and more of the usual suspects fouling out and more and more end-of-the-bench types suddenly playing crucial minutes in a game that finally captured the nation's attention late on a Saturday night. Vitale missed the start of the fourth overtime taking a much-needed bathroom break.
“We got to 100 because we played an extra game,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said during his postgame interview with ESPN amid a sea of Notre Dame fans who rushed the court.
It was the first regular-season, five-overtime game since Baylor and Texas A&M played five extra periods on Jan. 23, 2008. It was the sixth time these teams have played into overtime in the last eight meetings, and it was the longest regular season game in Big East history.
Nine players fouled out, five from Louisville, four from Notre Dame.
Six players played at least 50 minutes and Notre Dame point guard Eric Adkins was on the floor for 60.
Ten players scored in double figures, led by Louisville forward Chance Behanan who finished with 30.
The teams combined for 158 field goal attempts and 50 3-point attempts. They shot 97 free throws.
Louisville outrebounded Notre Dame 51-50.
Official John Gaffney was called in to work the game as a last-minute replacement after working the Marquette game earlier in the day. He officiated 105 minutes of college basketball.
Notre Dame senior stalwart Jack Cooley watched the final 7 minutes of regulation and all five overtimes from the bench after fouling out. Grant's heroics got the Irish to overtime but he managed to play just 3:03 of extra time before fouling out himself.
Notre Dame won the game with three of its five starters watching from the bench throughout most of the overtimes.
The outcome left the teams with nearly identical records and side-by-side in the Big East standings. Louisville is 19-5, 8-4 and Notre Dame is 19-5, 7-4 with a rematch scheduled in Louisville on the last Saturday (March 9) of the regular season.
Follow Kyle on Twitter @KyleRingo
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