College basketball had its first 4-OT game of season -- and it was astoundingly weird

The gems of every college basketball season: seemingly forgettable matchups that turn into unforgettable games.

A whole heck of a lot went down in Columbia, South Carolina, on Tuesday night. First off, a shoutout to South Carolina legend Devan Downey. I hope you watched this one tonight, Devan. Your alma mater might have lost 90-86, but Sindarius Thornwell put up the best performance of any Gamecock since you were on campus.

Alabama (14-9) and No. 19 South Carolina (19-5) played the season's first four-overtime game. It was weird, poorly played at times, oddly riveting and something of an indictment on the Southeastern Conference, but no matter. It's February, college hoops season is unpredictable, and you just have to embrace it. Alabama won, but the game was so much more than a drawn-out ending between two monotonous SEC teams. Remember, South Carolina was leading the league coming into this game. Losing this one on its home floor to a Bama team that's way off the bubble ... well, it's brutal.

Even more brutal: South Carolina (again -- first place in the SEC, and on its home floor) shot 3 for 30 in the first half. That is so bad, it's mesmerizing. USC had 16 points at the break, and trailed by 16.

But South Carolina came back, and it was tied at 57 at the end of regulation. It only got to 57 because USC had a 13-3 run, out of the dark night, to get this game to a free session.

The victory marks the first time since 2004 that Alabama beat a ranked opponent away from home. It took 21 tries in that span.

Then there's Thornwell. You know a man named Sin has got to be a bad, bad dude. He looked the part on Tuesday night, putting up 44 points and grabbing 21 boards. In doing this, he became only the third player in the past 20 seasons to have at least 40 points and 20 boards in a game, joining Cleveland State's Norris Cole (2011) and Oklahoma's Blake Griffin (2009). An all-time performance goes to waste in a loss.

Not only that, but Thornwell had more made free throws than anyone in SEC history. He sank 25 of 33 attempts, breaking LSU great Pete Maravich's mark of 30 attempts, which he accomplished in 1969. Thirty-three foul shots. For one player. What percentage of all basketball games in a given season don't even have a combined 33 free throws? Ten? Fifteen? Higher?

Or how about this: How many times this season has a team shot more than 33 foul shots in a game? Just a wild game. And this loss will cost South Carolina a seed, no question about it.

For Bama, the coach's son -- Avery Johnson Jr. -- had a career-best 23 points. Alabama's bench had 56 points -- while South Carolina's bench had five. Five!

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning senior writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his ninth season reporting on college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics... Full Bio

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