Here it was, in all its glory. What was certain to be the Global Sports Hoops Showcase's most entertaining game, between Prairie View A&M and North Carolina-Central.
And there were 30 fans in the arena when the game tipped off. Hey, it was a marked improvement over the first two days of the tournament, when the first games had 18 and 25 people respectively. It nearly doubled in two days!
Even the most seasoned sports fans missed the significance of this game. Sports Illustrated columnist George Schroeder, who also writes for the Register-Guard newspaper, was sitting right in front of me, and he made a tweet about a college football game. So I replied.
"@GeorgeSchroeder Shouldn't you be watching this barnburner of a basketball game in front of you?"
He turned to me and incredulously said, "No."
Little did he know, he was missing the tournament's best game.
Mercifully, after four games that were terrible style clashes marred by inconsistent offenses, Our Game looked like a beautiful one (at least if you discount Prairie View's myriad traveling calls). The teams were both pressing, running up and down the floor, and playing with enough athleticism to make their combined 45 percent field goal shooting a non-issue. (Before this, only one team had shot better than 45 percent in the four previous games in the tournament.)
The game was close well into the second half, though Prairie View never led by more than two points throughout the game, and the Panthers last held the lead with 11:56 to go. After that, the Eagles went on a 12-2 run punctuated by a Jeremy Ingram #superhoop and never let the Panthers within five points for the rest of the game. Still, the game remained entertaining, mainly thanks to the athletic exploits of North Carolina-Central's Dominique Sutton, who finished with 19 points and six rebounds. Sutton stood out on the court -- he was simply bigger, stronger and faster than anyone else on the court. No play embodied that more than his #OMGSTEALDUNX in the first half. Sutton, a former Kansas State player, clearly belongs at a level of basketball much higher than the MEAC, and it was more evident today than it had been in either of the first two games.
It's really a shame that the grand majority of the 5,500 fans with tickets missed a game with a few #omgdunx and 11 #superhoops, because it was actually a game worth watching, at least in the context of this lousy tournament. I thought it was cool how both team's benches were so involved with their team, and how crystal-clear everything came up to my seat. If fewer than 40 people can make that kind of noise for this kind of game, thousands of miles from home, I want to see these teams' home environments at least once. #IWill go to an HBCU home game, hopefully sooner rather than later.