Monday, December 16, 2013

Not The Best Comeback Ever But Pretty Close

TigerBlog is sick of winter, and it's still fall.

This may or may not be a good sign.

Just because it's been cold with snow and ice pretty much every day for the last week doesn't mean it's going to be an entire winter like this. Once winter gets here, that is.

Still, the greater Princeton metropolitan area has gotten more snow so far this season than it did all of last winter.

It wasn't a huge downfall Saturday. Just a few inches. This was followed by a slight warming period, which changed everything to rain and then ice overnight.

TigerBlog was watching the news Saturday night and saw that the temperature in Wildwood had reached into the 50s. This was while snow was still falling around here, and it left TB wondering if people were on the rides on the boardwalk.

The forecast had been enough to turn what figured to be a busy day into one with a whole bunch of postponements and cancellations. The only event that went on as scheduled was Miss TigerBlog's winter league lacrosse game, which was mercifully indoors.

The game started at 2:15, which meant TB would have to miss most of the men's basketball game at Penn State, which started at 2 and was being shown on the Big Ten Network.

By the way, this has nothing to do with anything, but how in the world did Tennessee not go for two at the end of regulation to win the game, and how did the Titans not go for two after the Cardinals were offsides on the extra point that tied it, meaning Tennessee only had to get one yard for the win. Tennessee deserved to lose, which is exactly what happened.

Anyway, TB actually forgot all about the men's basketball game against Penn State was going on until after MTB's game ended. The first time he checked the score, the Tigers were down by double figures.

Because the basketball game was an apparent rout, TB let MTB listen to her awful music on the way home, instead of listening to Derek Jones and Noah Savage on WPRB.

By the time TB got in front of the TV, Princeton was still down by 16 or so, and TB didn't even bother watching. Instead, he had to get MTB to the movies for her friend's birthday, and then he put the game on the radio.

And he found that Princeton was down by 12.

By the time he got to the supermarket, it was a six-point game. And all he heard from Jones and Savage was how Will Barrett kept drilling threes.

He sat in his car outside the supermarket waiting for the end of the game, to see if Princeton could pull it off. And as it turned out, the Tigers did.

Princeton trailed by 20 at 56-36 with 8:29 to play before rallying to pull it out 81-79 in overtime. In other words, Princeton scored 36 points in the first 31:31 of the game and then scored 45 points in the final 13:29, connecting on 12 of its final 17 field goal attempts.

The extraordinary comeback gave Princeton its first win over a Big Ten team since 1985 and first at a Big Ten school since a 1955 win at Northwestern. It came at Rec Hall, which was packed, as opposed to the Bryce Jordan Arena, which would have been about a third full.

It came against a team that came into the game at 8-3, so it was used to winning, It improved Princeton to 8-1 on the year with its seventh straight win.

Barrett went off in the second half, knocking down three after three on his way to tying his career high with 24 and during one stretch scoring 16 of Princeton's 25 points. T.J. Bray had a school-record 13 assists, breaking a nearly 30-year-old record held by Bill Ryan.

To make a comeback like this one, a team needs to catch fire and get on a massive run, needs some help from the opponent and needs to make some plays that ordinarily don't get made. Princeton got the first to get back in the game and then the last two on one play to tie it.

The biggest one came with the Tigers down 66-63 with 16 seconds left and Bray on the line. Bray made the first and missed the second, and PSU's Ross Travis grabbed the rebound. Just before stepping on the end line, Travis tried to save possession for his team, but he ended up throwing it right to Princeton freshman Spencer Weisz, who was fouled and went to the line with 13 seconds left with a chance to tie it.

And that's exactly what he did, calmly dropping in both foul shots to make it a 66-66 game. Penn State missed a shot, and off to OT the game went.

Princeton built a 71-66 lead and seemed in total control, but Penn State tried to have its own rally. The Nittany Lions came really close, but a great length-of-the-court pass at the end of the OT ended up in a missed layup, and Princeton had an epic victory.

Of course it's not the greatest comeback TB has seen for a Princeton basketball team. Nope.

Anyone who was in the Palestra that night in 1999 (Feb. 9, 1999, to be exact) will always yawn and roll his or her eyes at the idea that any other comeback could match that one. That night, Princeton was down by 27 at 40-13 with 15 minutes left and rallied to win 50-49.

This one?

Not even close.

Well, actually it was pretty close. Really close.

It's going to be awhile until anyone forgets Princeton-Penn State 2013. It was an amazing performance by Princeton.

As comebacks go, this one was second, to be sure, but a very, very close second.

1 comment:

George Clark said...

Charles Klauder (1872-1938) was a Philadelphia architect remembered primarily for his great work on many American college campuses, including Princeton (Holder, Walker and Joline among other residential and dining facilities). But Tiger fans should honor him for his contribution in designing the sites of the two greatest comebacks in basketball program history: Penn's fabulous Palestra and Penn State's Recreation Building. Thank you, Mr. Klauder.