With their postseason fate still a week away, now's as good a time as any to revisit Penn State's upset of Ohio State on Friday night. It's still shocking that the Nittany Lions actually beat a ranked Buckeye team for the third time without Mike Watkins. OSU went 15-1 against the rest of the Big Ten, and had both the Coach and Player of the Year in the league! This was not some trash team like 2009 Indiana or 2006 Northwestern, the only other opponents in Penn State's Big Ten history to suffer the same humiliation.
Tony Carr shocked the basketball world when he dumped off an easy pass to a cutting Josh Reaves for the game-winning dunk with 3.1 seconds left. My Twitter timeline blew up immediately after the play, a sign that most of the media had tuned into the Big Ten tournament quarterfinal. Maybe Jim Delaney's Madison Square Garden experiment wasn't completely short-sighted, since the conference did get to take the center stage this past weekend alongside Duke and Carolina.
Lost in the tweet frenzy that followed Reaves' thrilling dunk, Mike Schmitz of ESPN tweeted a perfect angle of the play from the opposite baseline. If you missed it, you can check it out above. Here are my seven highlights from that special clip of Carr's unforgettable assist.
1. "Get the Ball Out of his Hands! Why Don't You Send Somebody At Him?"
Schmitz is a draft analyst for ESPN, formerly of DraftExpress.com. Their operation maintains the best reputation for NBA draft analysis. I don't think it's Schmitz who can be overheard prior to Carr's pass in the clip, but it could have been another analyst or possibly even an NBA scout. Whoever it was, he hilariously laments Ohio State's apparent defensive strategy to switch Andrew Dakich onto Carr. The voice sounds perplexed that OSU isn't attempting to double the Lions' point guard and prevent him from taking the last shot that everyone is waiting for him to shoot. As it turns out, the Buckeyes did actually force the ball out of Carr's hands when they were...
2. Buckeyes Caught Ballwatching
In fairness to C.J. Jackson and Keita Bates-Diop, Penn State's final possession didn't come out of a timeout because of Shep Garner's huge steal moments prior. As Reaves begins to make his cut, you'll see that both Jackson and Bates-Diop are caught with their pants down. They were lulled into a hypnotic trance by Carr's dribbling as the clock wound down. You can at least understand Jackson's daze, because he had to be concerned that Dakich would need help on Carr. But what's the excuse for Bates-Diop? Is Julian Moore 15-feet along the baseline that much of a threat for an offensive rebound?
3. Pandemonium in the Garden
The arena was packed for the final play as Purdue and Rutgers fans had already arrived for their game afterwards. With most of the crowd standing behind the basket, you can see the reaction as the play unfolds, but it's the back-to-back screams that's so dang cool. The pass was so unexpected yet so obvious that when Reaves sprung free it caused a collective "OOOOH!" from the crowd that saw what was about to happen. A more thunderous applause immediately followed the go-ahead dunk. I wish I could've been there in the flesh to hear it.
4. ...Reaves Almost Missed That
I promise we will not mention this again, but how close was Josh Reaves to blowing that dunk? The junior did not have his best shooting night, and he was 0-5 on layups at this point in the game, so you can understand why he wanted make sure this one went in. However, the southpaw cut too far to the left side of the basket that he was forced to twist awkwardly in midair just to find the rim after receiving the pass. At least he got his fingers over the rim but not enough to grab and hang onto it after the slam. If he jumped just an inch shorter, we'd be comparing the devastation to Sam Lickliter's blown call in Rec Hall back in 1993.
5. Garner Lost His Mind
After Ohio State calls timeout, you can see Shep Garner absolutely lose his shit if you want to put a smile on your face. The senior's body language was inspiring all week as he left everything he had on the floor. Don't overlook the fact that his celebration unintentionally occurred right in front of Kam Williams. When I talked about individual matchups in our game preview, Williams against Garner was one I had in mind. The seniors fill similar roles for their teams as perimeter shooters, but Garner ended up outscoring Williams 13-10 in the contest. This would not be a big deal, except it's always satisfying to get the final laugh over a competitor who was just as emotional during the game.
6. Some Love for Pat Chambers?
No one has taken more criticism this season than the Nittany Lions head coach. In fact, his critics are still loud since his team isn't expected to make it into the NCAA tournament in his seventh year. However, on the grand stage that is the Big Ten Tournament, Chambers once again got the better of the Big Ten's Coach of the Year, Chris Holtmann. Chambers' late-game decisions have been criticized with hindsight bias so often now that it was great to see one finally go his way. Not taking a timeout to set up a play there was proven to be the correct decision. You'd just never think Chambers was capable of that if you follow twitter accounts like PSUBarstool.
7. Tony Carr Flexes on His Doubters
You didn't get the chance to see Carr's reaction on the tube, but here you can see him release his emotion with a strong flex at center court. Here's a point guard that's had plenty of ups and downs this season, but he's ultimately judged by his team's record. For the first time in a Penn State uniform, Carr won a game with an easy assist rather than a tough shot, something sportswriters claimed he couldn't do. Of course no one's saying that now, because they're now wondering if he's good enough to come out for the NBA draft.