Updated Fri, Jan 20, 2012 5:16 pm
It's been nearly two years since the shot against Miami. I have watched the video on YouTube countless times reliving the situation and celebration that ensued. As I have continued playing overseas in England it is still at the top of my list for biggest moments of my playing career. Every time I take the time to watch the clip I reflect on that game, season, and career at OU. Regardless of if it had been me or someone else hitting the shot I would still reflect back upon the gravity of it. The game could not have been bigger. We were playing our arch rival. It was in the final stretch of MAC play leading up to the MAC tournament. The win gave us the confidence to play the way that we did in order to battle our way through the tournament in Cleveland and advance to the big dance.
Coming down the stretch we found ourselves in a tight battle with our arch rival, Miami (OH). We had played in close games all season and had come out on the losing end too many times for our liking. We knew that Miami liked to play their controlled style of basketball and struggled with pressure.
We set up the press against their in bounds press breaker. With 29 seconds left, Devaughn (Washington) guards (Julian) Mavunga attempting to deflect the in bounds pass. I stand on the opposite side of the court at the half court line trying to deny any catch by a Miami player. I see the ball thrown across court to the free throw line and nearly picked off by D.J. (Cooper). Haddix dribbles the ball in the middle of the court and picks up his dribble. Unaware that D.J. is coming back from the baseline to try and back tap his dribble Haddix attempts a pass back to Mavunga. D.J. tips the ball and it deflects right into Devaughn's hands. He races towards the basket and I think he is going to flush it home to ice the game. Three Redhawks emerge on him as he gets to the rim. I am racing towards the basket in case of a miss. I see the ball kiss off the backboard as the referee's whistle blows. The ball rolls off the front iron and I cannot believe that it didn't drop. I run to Devaughn and told him that he was supposed to make that lay-up. I smack Devaughn on the back side and pray that Devaughn sinks these next two shots. I stand on the lane line watching. The first one goes up and drops through. Tie game. One more to give us a one point lead. He fires the second, nothing but net.
I find my man and hustle back to get in position. I watch as Armon (Bassett) attempts to send Hayes to his weak hand. Hayes drives left and shoots a runner off the glass that drops. All I can think is to run down the court. We need to get a shot off we're down one point. I think that was the only time all year I beat anyone down to the other end of the court. D.J. gets the inbounds pass and brings it with his left down the left hand side. I see all the defenders run to him as he arrives to our three point line and crosses it behind his back. I think he is going to take the shot. I stand across the court crouched ready to receive a pass but am not sure if he can see me.
I see the ball coming my way as D.J. finds me. Mavunga is barreling down on me and I do not think. I simply play from instinct. I raise the ball up in the air for a shot fake and quickly put it on the floor and take one dribble to the left. I see KVK cross through my line of vision and raise up to shoot the ball. I load my legs and release the ball. I wait to hear the sound of the buzzer as I watch the ball in flight. It settles in the basket and I raise my hands to my shoulders as I back pedal down the court. I didn't know what to do, I have never hit a game winning shot in my life. My emotions take over and I do probably the worst celebration I have ever seen to this day as I realize what has just happened. I watch Winbush fire the inbounds pass towards the goal and see it hit the back board and bounce away as time expires. I start to run over to the bench and am greeted by a bear hug from Devaughn and KVK while I get a head lock from Tunji. People are storming the court and I am not moving my feet but I am being picked up but I do not know who is carrying me. People are all around and I manage to get my feet and escape the mob. I let out a giant yell as my teammates and I relish the moment and I receive hugs from every single one of them.
That moment brought us together closer than we had been all season. That season was full of ups and downs. We had many things to overcome as we battled through the schedule. Not only had we struggled as a team but just months earlier I had lost my mom. I had struggled throughout the season without her. She was my rock. The person I could always call when something happened in my life. I knew she was watching down on me smiling seeing her boy excel in something that she knew I worked so hard in.