Texas A&M provided a teaching moment Sunday night for all basketball teams regardless of age or playing level.
Never say die. Keep your white towels to yourself. Fight… kick… scratch…win.
The Aggies spent nearly an entire game frustrated by poor shooting while watching Northern Iowa outperform them to within an eyelash of elimination. Northern Iowa was up 69-57 with less than 40 seconds remaining, but the Aggies put on a full-court press and forced mistake after mistake from the Panthers, eventually leading to overtime as a nation full of college hoops fans screamed at their televisions and howled on social media in disbelief.
Texas A&M used a 14-2 run in the final 34 seconds to buy itself an extra five minutes. It turned out, the Aggies would need another five when both teams missed long heaves at the basket in the final seconds of the first overtime.
The Aggies finally outlasted the Panthers, who saw two senior starters foul out in overtime, and won 92-88 in double-overtime, capping what might be the greatest comeback in college basketball history. It’s certainly the best ever authored in the NCAA tournament and it put the SEC regular season champion in the Sweet 16.
Here it is. 99.99%. This is an all-time sports collapse. Bar none. pic.twitter.com/A3f1iUlkXW— numberFire (@numberFire) March 21, 2016
Via Twitter, an NCAA statistician put the comeback in further context:
ICYMI, Texas A&M's rally from 12 down w/less than 1:00 to play is the largest last-minute deficit overcome to win in college hoops history.— David Worlock (@DavidWorlock) March 21, 2016
Old record was set in February 2005. UNLV was down 11 to San Diego St. with 59 seconds left. Also won in OT.— David Worlock (@DavidWorlock) March 21, 2016
It was a painful way to end the season for a Northern Iowa team that won the Missouri Valley Conference tournament and its first-round NCAA tournament game on buzzer-beating shots.
Freshman guard Admon Gilder played as big a part in the historic rally as anyone for Texas A&M. He produced two steals, two layups and an assist in those final, frantic seconds. He scored 11 points off the bench Sunday night.
With six minutes remaining in the game, Texas A&M standout Danuel House still hadn’t scored and was 0-for-6 from the field. He finished as the Aggies' second-leading scorer with 22 points. Alex Caruso led the team with 25.
The Panthers previously beat a pair of top-five teams in the regular season, including then-No. 1 North Carolina. So a victory over the Aggies would not have been a shocker, but it certainly wasn’t expected considering how well Texas A&M has played this year.
No one would have seen this being even a close game back in late January. On Jan. 23, the Panthers were just 10-11 overall, having lost all the momentum from those earlier notable victories. The same day, the Aggies were 17-2 overall, ranked No. 10 in the nation and on their way to as high as No. 5 in the polls.
Next up for the Aggies is a matchup with national player of the year candidate Buddy Hield and No. 2 seed Oklahoma.
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