SALT LAKE CITY - One of the things that has made the NCAA Tournament such a must-see event over the years has been the early-round games. Often times, a game that happened in the first four rounds lives on in the memory far longer than the Final Four or championship games. Sometimes, they live on even if the Final Four ends up being as memorable as possible.
Such might be the case with the Sweet 16 game between Xavier and Kansas State in 2010. Granted, it's only been a year, so the memories of that game might not live on forever, but they deserve to. Any game with that much at stake, with that many great clutch shots at the end, deserves to go down in the record books.
And it all could have ended so simply. Fouled while taking a 3-point attempt, Xavier's Terrell Holloway found himself needing to make all three free-throws to tie the game with 5 seconds left in overtime. For many college kids - heck, even for many pros - needing to make three free throws for a tie would be far too much to ask. The pressure would be too great. But not for Holloway. He calmly and easily drained all three free throws, keeping Xavier's season alive. Jacob Pullen got a good look for Kansas State at the other end, but missed his 3-pointer, and the game went to overtime, where it belonged all along.
In overtime, what had been a relatively low-scoring game turned into an up-and-down affair, with Kansas State and Xavier playing a game of one-upmanship the entire five minutes. Once again, Kansas State was up three with five seconds left, and once again, Xavier needed a hero. This time, it was Jordan Crawford who came through, nailing a jaw-dropping 30-foot 3-pointer. When Denis Clemente couldn't answer for Kansas State, the game went to a second overtime.
There, the plot changed courses. Where in the previous two periods it was Xavier making the must-make shots, this time it was Kansas State delivering. Pullen's 3 from the top of the key made it 97-94, and for once, Xavier didn't have an answer. Where before it seemed like their shots would miraculously find the bottom of the net when they needed them the most, now they were rattling out. Kansas State held on, 101-96, to win a game that nobody who watched it would ever forget.