The first 38 minutes of Saturday’s primetime, Top 25 showdown between Notre Dame and Louisville gave no indication of what was to come over the next 27. Or that there would even be another 27.
A game seemingly destined for the recycle bin — rife with inflated foul counts, exaggerated contact and dismal perimeter shooting across the board — sprouted into another instant classic for the archives between two teams who have crafted quite a few over the last several years. Five of the last six and six of the last eight meetings pitting the Fighting Irish against the Cardinals have been decided in extra sessions. Their first and only confrontation in 2013 stayed true to the script.
No individual matchup in all of college basketball has provided better theater than the pair of Big East lame ducks, which will waddle over to the ACC as one after next season. What both programs offered for an encore on Saturday even a frenzied court storming — college basketball’s rendition of a curtain call — couldn’t do justice.
If you didn’t catch the game and can’t commit three-and-a-half hours to watching a rerun, here’s what you missed:
- 205 total points; Notre Dame – 104, Louisville – 101
- 65 exhausting minutes of game action lasting 3 hours and 32 minutes in real time
- The second longest game in the history of the Big East conference (Syracuse-Connecticut went 6OT in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament in 2009)
- The fifth-every D1 game to go 5OT
- 66 total fouls
- 38 combined missed 3-point shots
- Peyton Siva scoring just two points in 41 minutes
- Wayne Blackshear scoring zero in 20
- Louisville fumbling opportunities to win the game at the end of regulation and each of the first four overtimes
- Louisville failing on its final possession again at the end of the fifth overtime with a chance to tie
- Chane Behanan scoring 30 points on 13-of-20 shooting in 56 minutes of playing time
- Jerian Grant, who scored seven non-descript points in the first 39 minutes, erupting for 12 points in a span of 23 seconds
- Notre Dame erasing an eight-point deficit with 50 seconds to play in regulation thanks to the heroic efforts of the aforesaid Grant
- Six players — Behanan, Gorgui Dieng and Russ Smith for Louisville; Eric Atkins, Pat Connaughton and Cameron Biedscheid for Notre Dame — logging at least 50 minutes
- One player (Atkins) playing 60 minutes
- Atkins committing just three turnovers in those 60 minutes
- Grant, Jack Cooley and Tom Knight all fouling out — three players who, along with the injured Scott Martin, account for 54-percent of Notre Dame’s scoring this season
- Reserve pivot Garrick Sherman, who had fallen out of favor in recent games, breaking out for 17 points in 21 minutes, all occurring after the end of regulation
- A Biedscheid game-tying triple forcing a third overtime
- A wacky Sherman tip-in forcing a fifth
- One official — John Gaffney — working double-duty. Gaffney first officiated the DePaul-Marquette game in Milwaukee at 2 p.m. ET, then moonlighted in South Bend in place of the scheduled official who was snowed in and couldn’t make it to the game.
- Notre Dame sweeping the Bluegrass State, first knocking off Kentucky in December before finishing off fellow in-state occupant Louisville two months later
In short, it was 38 minutes of pure tedium followed by the most filling 27 minutes of game action — stretched out into nearly 90 minutes of real time what with timeouts, coach lashings and Russ being Russ — in a college basketball season overflowing with drama.
The best-played game of the year? Probably not. The most eventful? You’d be hard-pressed to find another that tops it.
Then again, it’s Notre Dame vs. Louisville, a pairing so fulfilling the two teams plan to jump conferences in unison. What else did you expect?