The Aggies trailed Northern Iowa by a dozen points before they closed out regulation with a stunning 14-2 run that sent the game into overtime, then won it 92-88 in double OT Sunday night to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2007. It was, per the NCAA, the largest last-minute comeback in college basketball history. The previous record was set in 2005, when UNLV rallied from 11 points down with 59 seconds left to beat San Diego State in overtime.
“We weren’t ready to be done,” Caruso said. “We kept just trying to make a play.”
At the moment when most teams might empty the bench or commit a series of half-hearted fouls, the Aggies kept trying to make a play. Instead of launching low-percentage jumpers, the Aggies drove into the lane for quick baskets. Instead of fouling, they pressured Northern Iowa into mistake after mistake.
“We played the game the right way, even at the end,” said Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy, who admitted afterward he would need time to wrap his head around what had transpired. “We didn’t have guys just coming down jacking up 3s. We tried to drive the ball.”
I’ve seen them play since way back when,
And they’ve always had the grit;
I’ve seen ‘em lose and I’ve seen ‘em win,
But I’ve never seen ‘em quit.
This is my favorite summary:
The Panthers’ failure broke math.
First of all, we need to credit the Aggies. Facing such preposterous odds, nobody would’ve blamed them if they just eased up and let UNI run the clock out with 30 seconds to go.
Instead, they played some of the most vicious, airtight full-court defense imaginable. They executed in every way they needed to execute. They suffocated the Panthers until they made bad decisions. They made every shot they needed to make, some dunks, some layups, some threes. They even managed to draw contact on a play where contact wasn’t really necessary to get a free throw. They played perfectly for 40 seconds.