At the 17:53 mark in the second half, Louisville gave up its second consecutive uncontested lay-up and trailed North Carolina by the score of 43-25. The common thought was things were about as bad as they'd been, and they likely weren't going to improve enough to make a difference.
I'm not entirely certain what happened after that, but I'll tell you what I remember.
Montrezl Harrell morphed back into the national Player of the Year front-runner the world believed he was in December. He dominated around the rim, picked up offensive rebound after offensive rebound, and made sure the Tar Heels weren't able to do the same thing on the other end of the court.
He also finished one of the most incredible alley-oops the Yum Center has ever seen.
Chris Jones and Terry Rozier became the backcourt they'd been for the last month away from the Yum Center, making shots, forcing turnovers, bringing energy to everyone around them.
Mangok Mathiang stepped up big in the paint, giving perhaps his best performance of the season. He blocked three shots, fulfilled his role on offense, and was huge in the effort to keep North Carolina from destroying the Cards with second chance points the way they had in the first half.
Everyone will talk about Wayne Blackshear's three-pointer in overtime, but he also did some really big things during the most crucial stretch of the game including grabbing a pair of rebounds and forcing a huge steal. That doesn't totally make up for the fact that he was a ghost for 85 percent of the game, but it's still certainly a major positive.
You never know with these things, but this feels like a season-changer .... if not a season-changer, then maybe a season-saver. "Season-saver" seems a little too grand a description, but look, the fan base was already lower in the middle of this game than it had been at any point before this season, the team looked like it might be on the verge of a "where do we go from here?" meltdown, and the talk of the team not being able to score inside the Yum Center was only going to be ratcheted up.
With those things in mind, it definitely feels like some part of the season, but not all of it, was both changed and saved.
Regardless of how significant or insignificant today winds up being in the grand scheme of things, for now, it's pretty wonderful. Enjoy the rest of the evening appropriately.
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