Sully Says: Qualls to the Rescue
We needed it. We all needed it.
It wasn't just the Florida loss. Go back to that football season. There were at least three 4th quarter meltdowns - Rutgers, Mississippi St. and LSU. We were becoming a fan base that was conditioned to almost expect the worst at the most critical times.
And... this was Kentucky, and Calipari's young Cats looked like they might have nine lives.
Let's go back to the final seconds of regulation. It's tied at 71, just over 10 seconds to go; the shot clock is running down and Alandis Harris did what he does best: he attacks the hoop and crashes into Kentucky's 7 footer, Willie Cauley-Stein. The shot fell, and the call went the Hogs' way. Harris hits the free throw and the Hogs lead by 3.
What happened 7 seconds later didn't seem fair. Kentucky freshman Andrew Harrison who was a big 0 for 7 from the floor, on the night, drilled a clutch three to force overtime. I'm thinking, here we go again.
We jump ahead, 27 seconds to go in overtime, Michael Qualls steps to the line and knocks down two pressure three throws. It was advantage Hogs 85-82. Kentucky's best shooter, James Young, would launch two threes in the next 15 seconds. His first shot clanked off the rim. He didn't go 0 for 2. It was tied at 85.
It looked like it would be up to the Hogs best player, Ky Madden , to win it. It didn't look good.With 5 seconds to go, Madden launched a low percentage three point attempt. It bounced off the rim, and before we could even think about double overtime, Michael Qualls arrived, and it was over. Wow !!! Did that just happen ?
While everyone In Bud Walton was watching Madden's shot bounce off the rim, Qualls was acting. It was vintage Qualls !! The springboard leap, the extension, the two hand throw down, and the reaction. In an instant, he killed the Cats. All John Calipari could do was fight for .2 seconds.
It was a great night to be a Hog fan.