DENVER -- Here we have a rare case where the shot that went in is going to be remembered as much the one that got blocked.
Morehead State senior Demonte Harper hit the 3-pointer that put the 13th-seeded Eagles up 62-61 on No. 4 Louisville. Fellow four-year teammate Kenneth Faried made sure the game ended that way. Faried got pure palm on the ball as Louisville's Mike Marra never got to release his would-be winner in Thursday's second-round upset.
You think those highlights won't be squished against each other -- like Faried's hand on the ball -- during the 2011 iteration of One Shining Moment?
"What's funny is, as we were walking to the interview, I was telling them in [the huddle] how you have the ball, and as a kid, you'd be like '5, 4, 3, 2,'" Harper said. "I was actually thinking about that before the shot."
Harper, with 4.2 remaining in the game, hit the shot that sent the Eagles to Saturday's Round of 32. Just a stare-you-down 3. It was, as Gus Johnson surely was proclaiming from his couch, cold-blooded. It gave Morehead State its first win against its in-state competitor since 1957.
"During the media timeout, coach said, look, hey, I dreamed about this last night. This exact situation," Harper said. "I know exactly where I'm going to put it -- right in your hands. Demonte, I don't want you to drive it to the hole. I want you to pull up and win the game off a 3-pointer."
Louisville had to be thinking Terrance Hill was going to get the final shot. Had to be thinking that. Hill finished with a team- and career-high 23 points and was 5 for 6 from 3-point range. Harper's game-winner was his first, and only, make from beyond the arc in six tries. In the timeout, Morehead State coach Donnie Tyndall made no bones about who was getting the shot that would determine a win or loss. The 3-pointer was do-or-die, as the Eagles trailed by two going into their last possession.
"I told them in the huddle, 'Do not drive it. I want you to just hard-stutter and pull up and make the 3 and let's win the game,'" Tyndall said. "Demonte's our best guard, and he's the best creator off the dribble. Terrance is more of a spot-up shooter, catch-and-shoot type guy."
So Harper let the clock bleed. He then got Peyton Siva to back off just enough to allow him space for a 3 from the top of the key. Boom. In. Building pops in a frenzy.
And, immediately, another timeout. The final one, as Louisville has to set up its play. And Morehead State needs to rely on the guy who got it this far -- Faried. Harper got the lead; Faried needed to secure the upset.
"We went to our 2-2-1 press and were going to try to deny Siva the ball," Tyndall said. "And we said, 'Look, if he catches, trap him. They're only going to have time to make one pass ahead. Kenneth, whatever side it gets pitched ahead to, you take the ball and make them score over you,' and that's exactly what happened."
Faried's play will go down as one of the biggest defensive stops of this tournament.
"It's the NCAA tournament. You go big or you go home," Faried said. One of the greatest rebounders in the history of the game earned his 85th career double-double Thursday afternoon, putting him in second place all-time.
There was some chatter that Faried might have fouled Marra. Let it be known: it was clean, like a hawk wrapping its talons around its prey. And Marra didn't dispute the no-call, either.
"You can't really expect the ref to make a call," Marra said when asked if he thought he was fouled. "Faried balled up, played good defense. I'm not mad about the call."
What Tyndall was happy about in the locker room was his team winning, admittedly under somewhat wobbly circumstances. It turned the ball over 18 times. It blew an early lead and dealt with Faried shooting 4 of 17 from the field. Tyndall admitted Hill got hot on a good day, and that's why his team was in the position to win with a minute remaining.
"He's a streaky shooter, and tonight he happened to be on," he said. Hill gave the Eagles a 52-50 lead with a 3 that came with just under seven remaining. "Terrance Hill is one of those guys, when he walks in the gym, he thinks he's open."
Morehead State also benefitted from Louisville's best player, Preston Knowles, leaving the game in the second half with a sprained foot.
But those details don't matter to Morehead State or the majority of the country, which gleefully got caught up in a 13-over-4. Upsets of this variety always stir the soul in a good way.
And so we're off. After last year's incredibly thrilling opening day of games, when it was considered the greatest first-day initiation in the history of the NCAAs, Morehead State gave the tournament just one of a handful of memorable moments from what was shaping up to be an even bigger, more dramatic day in the history of the tournament's opening weekend.