It might sound crazy, it might sound like hyperbole, it might sound like a serious case of prisoner-of-the-moment syndrome. But it’s not.
Texas A&M’s back-from-the-dead win over Northern Iowa in the Round of 32 on Sunday was the greatest comeback in NCAA Tournament history.
Don’t think so? Well, when’s the last time you saw a team overcome a 12-point deficit in the final 44 seconds to win?
Answer: You haven’t.
“That’s the greatest comeback that I’ve ever been a part of and that I’ve ever seen,” Texas A&M head coach Billy Kennedy told Damon Amendolara, who was filling in as host of CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “That’s about all I can say.”
Texas A&M beat Northern Iowa, 92-88, in double overtime Sunday night. The Aggies (28-8) will face Oklahoma (27-7) in the Sweet 16 on Thursday at 7:37 p.m. ET.
While the loss will haunt Northern Iowa and its fans for years to come, the Panthers hit big shots in the first overtime – and in the second – to stay in the game. Most teams would have mentally collapsed after coughing up a seemingly insurmountable lead.
Northern Iowa didn’t.
“I hoped they were broke, but man, they continued to hit big shots,” Kennedy said. “They continued to play well. But they were wearing down and I could tell our athleticism was an advantage and our quickness and aggressiveness was an advantage. Fortunately, we were able to string it out to a second overtime and I thought we were just a little more athletic than them and made enough plays to allow us to win the game.”
Danuel House keyed the comeback, scoring 22 points – all in the final six minutes of regulation and overtime – to go with eight rebounds. Alex Caruso scored a team-high 25 points, helping to offset Jeremy Morgan’s 36-point outburst for Northern Iowa.
“Man, it was a blur,” Kennedy said. “I’ve watched it a couple times, the last couple of minutes of the game, and it was a miracle. A little divine providence. I really believe we were just totally blessed in winning the game.”
The Aggies’ reward is Buddy Hield and Oklahoma. If victorious, A&M would play the winner of Oregon versus Duke with a trip to the Final Four on the line.
But let’s not get ahead ourselves. Kennedy sure isn’t. He’s just enjoying the moment, the magic of March.
“No question – and we need to continue to ride it,” said Kennedy, the SEC Coach of the Year. “When you’re hot, it doesn’t happen very often, so you got to take advantage of it.”