Even though his Missouri State team trailed the frustratingly meticulous Evansville Aces from the opening tip, you had the sense Kyle Weems would not lose this game.
As the second half wore on and he began to face his own mortality, the senior began to heat up. He launched threes from NBA range. He took the ball strong to the hoop.
And you started to get that sense that Kyle Weems just wasn't going to let this be his last collegiate game.
But as The Mid-Majority often reminds us, this game will hurt you. It hurt Kyle Weems on this night, as his illustrious career at Missouri State ended with a loss to third-seeded Evansville. There would be no NCAA Tournament for him, just a lifetime of memories and regret.
As the seconds ticked away on the Scottrade Center clock, my eyes turned to Weems. There were no tears yet or signs of distraught. Just a blank look as though he knew he had failed to accomplish one of his goals. There is no shame in what he did accomplish, however. They will talk about Kyle Weems for years in Springfield, about how he led his team to a Missouri Valley regular season title in 2011 as the league's Player of the Year. They will talk about his leadership, his upbeat attitude, the fact that he always gave an insightful quote even after tough losses. They will talk about how he is one of the best players in Missouri State men's basketball history.
Every year, there are seniors like Weems who play their last games at Arch Madness. But this man is different. This is a man who played an entire senior season with a whole team on his back. He was the only returning starter from that MVC title team, and not even his coach came back -- Cuonzo Martin left for a job with Tennessee. The school hired Paul Lusk, but several teams from the Big 12 and Pac-12 called Weems about transferring.
Except he stayed in Our Game, and stayed with a team that needed him dearly. In the end, it was just too much. He walked off the floor after this quarterfinal loss without ever playing in the NCAA Tournament. If anybody deserves a shot at the limelight, it's Weems. People like Kyle Weems don't just go away, though. He'll find a way to play professional basketball and make something of his life.
There are some college players who have their time of their lives at the age of 22 and never reach stardom ever again. But mark my words, this won't be the height of Kyle Weems' life. He's just too damn good to let Our Game define him as a person.