With the 2012-13 college basketball season in the books, it’s a great time to reflect on the year’s most unforgettable plays. From buzzer-beating heaves to rim-rocking dunks, there was no shortage of sensational highlights on the way to Louisville’s Monday night championship celebration.
One of the best came from national runner-up Michigan, whose acrobatic guards produced no shortage of terrific dunks on the year. The best of the lot was Tim Hardaway Jr.’s finish of a 40-foot alley-oop against Wisconsin.
Herein, more on Hardaway’s showtime jam and the rest of the 10 most spectacular highlights of the year.
Victor Oladipo’s jam against Michigan almost took the roof off Assembly Hall. Unfortunately, that was because of how high the ball bounced when it clanged off the rim.
If Oladipo had actually finished his skywalking alley-oop against the then-No. 1 Wolverines, it would have been the dunk of the year. Even as a miss, it will go down as one of the season’s most memorable highlights.
There were game-winning layups for higher stakes this year and others that were tougher to make, but none that matched Tyler Griffey’s for implausibility.
The universal response to the Illinois senior’s finish against top-ranked Indiana: “How did he get so open?”
The 6’9” Griffey looked like he was finishing a layup-line drill, thanks to a botched switch by the Hoosiers on Illinois’ inbounds play.
The result was Illinois’ biggest win of a roller-coaster season and the most memorable play of Griffey’s four years in Champaign.
Duke dominated the first half of the 2012-13 season behind an astonishing string of wins over Top Five opponents. One of those high-powered foes, the Ohio State Buckeyes, got walloped by the Blue Devils during the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
The exclamation point on Duke’s convincing win was provided by senior star Mason Plumlee. Set up by a feed from PG Quinn Cook, Plumlee pounded home a sizzling one-handed alley-oop in transition.
Like so many of Arizona’s wins this season, the Wildcats’ clash with San Diego State featured Mark Lyons draining go-ahead free throws in the final seconds. Lyons just needed a little help to keep the ‘Cats ahead.
With one possession to manufacture a game-winning hoop, the Aztecs turned to Chase Tapley, who saw a clear path to the rim with time winding down.
What he didn’t see was Arizona guard Nick Johnson behind him, waiting to lunge for the game-saving block that preserved the Wildcat victory.
Michigan spent large chunks of the season putting on an alley-oop clinic with its athletic wing players. The most impressive of the Wolverines’ high-flying finishes came in a Big Ten tourney clash with Wisconsin.
Trey Burke was just a couple of steps over the half-court line when he launched the long-range feed for backcourt mate Tim Hardaway Jr. Hardaway then beat both gravity and Mike Bruesewitz to the ball and threw down the well-earned dunk.
Both Michigan and Wisconsin were coming off overtime wins when they met in Madison in February. Ben Brust decided that what the two Big Ten foes needed was even more extra basketball.
With just 2.4 seconds left in regulation, Brust caught a long inbounds pass and flung up a half-court shot that tied the game at the buzzer. In the overtime session, the Badgers junior found the range again, nailing the go-ahead trey in a 65-62 Wisconsin victory.
Russ Smith and Luke Hancock got most of the glory for national champion Louisville, but neither of them turned in the Cards’ most spectacular individual play of the year. That honor goes to Chane Behanan for an absurd dunk in Big East action.
Louisville’s trademark pressure set up Behanan for a half-court steal, giving him plenty of time to get up a head of steam. The 6’6”, 250-pound forward then skied like a guard to hammer down an explosive dunk over the Blue Demons' Worrel Clahar.
In a mid-major Battle of the Bulldogs, Gonzaga appeared to have gone into Hinkle Fieldhouse and defeated Butler. All the Zags needed to do was inbound the ball and hit their free throws with 3.5 seconds left.
Roosevelt Jones plucked an errant inbounds pass out of the air, drove to the free-throw line and powered home the game-winner as time expired. The loss proved to be one of only three Gonzaga would suffer on the entire season.
With apologies to Wichita State, the most amazing Cinderella performance of the 2013 Big Dance came from 15th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast. The Eagles opened their historic Sweet 16 run by running circles around No. 2 seed Georgetown.
Late in the romp over the Hoyas, FGCU encapsulated the whole game in one jaw-dropping play.
After the Eagles broke Georgetown’s full-court press, Brett Comer flicked the ball over his shoulder, and Chase Fieler plucked it out of the air for a breathtaking alley-oop finish.
There wasn’t a more memorable regular-season game this year than the five-overtime classic between Notre Dame and Louisville. However, all those extra periods almost didn’t happen until Jerian Grant took over the game.
With 51 seconds left to play in regulation, Notre Dame trailed by eight. Grant then scored the next 12 Irish points by himself, capping the run with a three-point play to tie the game and set up the first of those many overtimes.
If there was any question about Trey Burke winning national Player of the Year honors, he answered it in the Sweet 16 against Kansas.
Facing the No. 1 field-goal defense in the nation, Burke racked up 23 points and 10 assists in leading Michigan to an overtime victory.
The high point of all that work came at the end of regulation, when Kansas appeared to have survived a desperate Wolverines comeback. Down by three, Burke calmly pulled up for a 30-foot jump shot that tied the game and saved Michigan’s season.