A thing of beauty.
No, not coach Bruce Pearl’s game-long impersonation of a soaker hose. Definitely not that.
And no, not Noah’s multiple blood-seeping facial lacerations. Well, maybe that.
And no, not the over-contrasted Jefferson-Pilot telecast of the game, rendering all things orange the color, saturation, and hue of a solar flare instead. Somebody please tell me it’s not my t.v.
No, the thing of beauty was Dane Bradshaw’s game-sealing play of the game.
With the game tied at 72 with 18.8 seconds remaining and the Gators’ Corey Brewer inbounding the ball at half court, the Gators just need to hold the ball for the last shot. If it goes in, they win. If not, they go to overtime.
When the whistle blows, Brewer’s fake pass to his left is tracked inch-for-inch by the long arms and big body of Tennessee’s Major Wingate. Brewer shakes Wingate to the right before attempting a bounce pass back to the left, but Bradshaw explodes out of Wingate’s shadow to get a hand on the ball at the top of the key.
Several things then happen all at once.
Four players — Bradshaw, still looking for a handle on the ball, two Gators, and Vol guard C.J. Watson all converge on the ball. One Gator sprawls to the floor after bumping into Watson. Meanwhile, Bradshaw gets traction on the ball and does a sweet, sweet, sweet 360 spin move away from the remaining defender, covers the distance to the basket in a single step, and finger-rolls the ball into the goal.
Brewer stands slack-jawed at the top of the key, and coach Pearl wets the sole remaining dry spot on his two-thousand dollar suit.
On the other end, Brewer misses a three-point attempt, and the Gators foul Chris Lofton, who clinches it with two free throws. Vols win 76-72, sweep the hated Florida Gators, hit the 20-win mark, and clinch the SEC East Championship. They are well on their way to a No. 2 seed in the Big Dance.
All after beginning the season unranked.
Somebody say sweet!