I could jump straight to the end, tell you about all of the hilariously ridiculous stats, the momentum swings, the Good Clarence, and the Bad Clarence. But this game is not meant to be summarized. It was too much. The only way to do it justice is to relive it. Feel free to follow along in the play-by-play. This is going to take a while.
Kareem Rush makes his first two 3-point attempts of the afternoon, Brian Grawer picks Martin Rancik's pocket, and after a layup by Clarence Gilbert, Mizzou goes up 10-5, and Larry Eustachy calls timeout.
Mizzou completely falls asleep on defense after the timeout. Paul Shirley makes a jumper, Jamaal Tinsley scores off of a Grawer turnover, ISU quickly scores two more layups after missed shots by Gilbert and Rush, and Mizzou calls a timeout, down 13-10, with 14:41 left in the half. In the game's first five minutes, we've already had runs of 10-3 and 8-0.
The offenses cool off for a bit. ISU's Jake Sullivan converts an and-one, and Gilbert misses a couple more shots, but freshmen Arthur Johnson and Travon Bryant each make short jumpers to keep Mizzou close. Bryant scores on a put-back dunk with 8:39 left, and it's 22-18, Iowa State. The teams trade turnovers, and ISU stays up four at the under-8 timeout.
Things get sloppy for a bit. Tyray Pearson and Grawer trade turnovers, then Iowa State commits two more; Mizzou is unable to capitalize, however -- Gilbert is still ice cold -- and a dunk by Shane Power gives ISU a 27-20 lead with 5:51 left. ISU has outscored the Tigers, 22-10, in the last 10 minutes.
Back comes Missouri. Grawer nails a 3-pointer, Rush and Wesley Stokes make jumpers, and another two ISU turnovers give Mizzou a chance to take the lead. But Horton blocks a Rush shot, Sullivan scores a layup on the other end, Stokes misses a 3-pointer, Tinsley makes a jumper, and with 2:58 left, Mizzou calls timeout, once again down 31-27. Following the timeout, Bryant and Shirley exchange turnovers, but Rush and Gilbert each miss jumpers on the following possession. Shirley makes two free throws and a jumper, but Rush responds with a jumper and a 3-pointer with two seconds left in the half. Iowa State controlled most of the last 15 minutes of the half but leads by only a 35-32 margin.
In the first half, ISU dominated near the rim, outscoring Mizzou, 20-12, in the paint. With its fast, fantastic backcourt, ISU won the fast-break points battle, 8-0. But turnovers held ISU back, and second-chance points (Mizzou 4, ISU 0) kept the Tigers in the game.
The sloppiness continues as the second half begins, but Gilbert finally gets on the board from long-range with 16:43 left. His first 3-pointer cuts Mizzou's deficit to 40-37, and following another exchange of turnovers and a pair of blocks by Bryant and Johnson, it's Gilbert time. 3-pointer with 15:21 left. 43-40. 3-pointer with 14:43 left. 45-43. Gilbert's getting hot, but so is ISU. The Cyclones score on their third straight possession to stay ahead, but an and-one opportunity for Bryant, playing the best game of his career at that point, keeps it at 47-45, ISU, with 14:03 left.
It's 47-46 when Rancik makes a 3-pointer to extend the Cyclones' lead once again. Stokes makes a jumper, but Rancik converts an and-one, and it's 53-48. T.J. Soyoye is called for a technical foul in a mix-up with Jake Sullivan (I have no recollection of this -- anybody remember what happened?), and things go cold again. ISU keeps turning the ball over, and Gilbert cools off, but when Johnson scores on a put-back of a Gilbert miss, it's a 53-51 game. Johnson gets a chance to tie the game a possession later, but he misses the front end of a one-and-one, and Horton makes a 3-pointer. It's 56-51 with 9:25 left.
Hello again, Clarence. He bombs in a 3-pointer with 8:58 left to cut the ISU lead back to two points, and when Tinsley misses two free throws, Gilbert makes another 3-ball, his fifth of the half, to give Mizzou its first lead since the first five minutes of the game. ISU calls a 30-second timeout with 8:01 left, down one.
And then it gets physical again. Tinsley makes two free throws, Gilbert makes two, Grawer makes two to give Mizzou a 61-58 lead, Rush misses a jumper that could have extended the lead, and Tinsley nails a 3-ball to tie the game at 61-61 with 6:34 left. Pearson scores on a transition dunk 30 seconds later, and Mizzou is down again. No worries! Rush makes his first 3-pointer of the half with five minutes left, and after two more free throws by Tinsley, we head into the home stretch tied up.
The teams fed off of each other all game. When one offense heated up, the other responded in kind. When one team started getting to the line, the other did, too. And when one team fell apart offensively, the other obliged then, too. Bryant misses two free throws on one end, and after two missed jumpers and two offensive rebounds, Rancik is only able to make one of two free throws. With 2:30 left, it's only 68-67, but a Pearson dunk extends the ISU lead once again. And both teams begin to tighten up. Soyoye makes one of two free throws on one end, and Tinsley makes one of two on the other. A jumper by Rush gives Mizzou a 72-71 lead with 31 seconds left, but Bryant fouls Shirley on the other end with just 12 ticks left. No worries! He makes the first freebie but misses the second. Tinsley blocks a 3-point attempt by Gilbert at the buzzer, and we are going to overtime. Or, as it will become, the third half.
From the outset of the (first) overtime period, Mizzou shows no interest in letting this game go any further. Rush makes a jumper, then following another one-for-two performance by Shirley at the line, Rush makes a 3-pointer to put Mizzou up by four. Bryant blocks a Tinsley shot, Gilbert makes two free throws, and Mizzou's up, 79-73, just 54 seconds into overtime. But they'll score only three points in the next four minutes.
- Bryant grabs an offensive rebounds and makes one of two free throws.
- Rush misses a jumper.
- Gilbert misses a jumper.
- Johnson makes a short jumper with 2:36 left. Mizzou still up by five, 82-77.
- Gilbert misses a 3-pointer with 18 seconds left on the shot clock.
- Gilbert misses a jumper.
- Rush misses a 3-pointer.
Live by Rush and Gilbert, die by Rush and Gilbert. ISU's offense never really gets on track, but Shirley's jumper with 15 seconds left is enough to send the game to a second overtime following Rush's miss at the buzzer.
Now it's ISU's turn to take control, mostly because Mizzou's offense has completely fallen apart. Bryant misses two free throws, Gilbert misses a layup, Johnson commits a turnover, and two Power free throws give ISU an 86-82 lead. Rush makes a layup, but Tinsley responds with a 3-pointer, and it's 89-84 with 2:35 left. Mizzou has scored five points on its last 11 possessions. But Grawer responds with a 3-pointer, and Tinsley fouls out. Following a jumper by Rancik, Gilbert finds his range again. His 3-pointer makes it 91-90 with 1:20 left. Mizzou gets the ball back 30 seconds later, still down one. Gilbert misses a jumper, but Johnson pulls down the rebound. He misses the put-back, but Grawer grabs the rebound and dishes to Gilbert, who's fouled. As is the trend for the game, Gilbert makes one of two to tie the game with 32 seconds left, and Iowa State holds for the last shot.
Now, I cannot express how close we came to the greatest ending of all-time. Grawer didn't miss by much. Since it's been so long since I saw this game, maybe it's closer in my head than it was in real-life (kind of like Al Sterling's "interception" in the final minute of the 1997 Mizzou-Nebraska game). (Oh, screw that. I will always maintain that Sterling picked that ball off, dammit.)
So ISU holds for the last shot. With five seconds left, Shirley misses a jumper. Grawer pulls down the rebound at the free throw line, turns, and fires the ball about 75 feet, dead online with the basket, which is about 76 feet away. I may not remember how close he really came, but I remember the sound in the Hearnes Center. ooooooAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHoohhhhhhh. We watch the ball just in case, never expecting it to actually go in. And then, my God, it almost goes in.
The buzz continues throughout the ensuing commercial break. It is something I've never really felt/heard before, the combination of a "Can you believe this game???" rumble and "MY GOD, WE ALMOST WON ON A 75-FOOTER AT THE BUZZER. DAMMIT, WHY COULDN'T WE HAVE WON ON A 75-FOOTER AT THE BUZZER." But there's more basketball to be played, and both offenses are once again finding their rhythm.
Grawer, on the heels of the near miss, makes a jumper 14 seconds into the period, but Power responds 20 seconds later. Shirley makes two free throws, and Soyoye makes a jumper, his only field goal of the afternoon. (That's right. Soyoye played 39 minutes and barely existed -- three points on 1-for-3 shooting. But his eight rebounds were huge, and he didn't foul out.) Only Clarence Gilbert isn't hot, which is a problem, because he keeps shooting. He misses a 3-pointer with 4:01 left, misses another with 2:49 left, and misses another with 42 seconds left. He's fouled while shooting another with 1:51 left but makes only one of three freebies. The teams trade jumpers, but Horton makes two free throws to give ISU a 101-98 lead with just 31 seconds left. Just seven seconds later, Power blocks a jumper by Rush, and it begins to look dire.
Naturally, Gilbert grabs the ball. Naturally, he immediately fires a 3-pointer. Naturally, it goes in. Horton misses a jumper at the buzzer. Fourth overtime.
This was the Clarence Gilbert game. Only Clarence could kill and save his team repeatedly. Only Clarence could score 43 points on 36 shots -- THIRTY-SIX -- and 17 free throws. Only Clarence could score 43 points at all while the crowd yelled at Quin Snyder to take him out of the game for about 50 of the 56 minutes he was on the court. He was … Clarence. He was one of a kind, I miss him, and I'm not sure I want to live through him playing for my team again. I talk sometimes about players who "take up all the oxygen in the room." Clarence took up all the oxygen and replaced it with something both toxic and intoxicating, deadly and addictive.
MORE FREE BASKETBALL. Shirley makes two free throws to start things off, but Bryant, incredibly, makes two of his own. (The freshman version of Travon Bryant was one of the worst free throw shooters I've ever seen. He was Monte Hardge on a bad day. He made these two free throws and missed 23 of the other 30 that he took last year. That he made 72 percent as a senior was absolutely miraculous improvement.)
Rush scores on an and-one with 3:59 left, and Mizzou's up by three. Gilbert makes two free throws a minute later, and following a turnover by Zach Fortune, playing for the first time all game because Tinsley, Power and Pearson have fouled out, Gilbert scores on a fast break to put Mizzou up, 110-105. Sullivan misses a 3-pointer, but Rancik grabs the rebound and makes two free throws. And then Rush misses a damned 3-pointer. Shirley scores, and then Gilbert misses a damned 3-pointer. When that's all you can do, you keep doing it even when you're ahead. Mizzou has dropped the dagger and leads by only one, 110-109, with 47 seconds left. But the Tiger defense responds. ISU cannot find a shot. With one second left on the shot clock, Sullivan misses, and Grawer (of all people) grabs the rebound. He makes two free throws, and naturally, Gilbert blocks Jake Sullivan's shot at the buzzer. Mizzou 112, Iowa State 109.
When you play a 60-minute game, there will be a legion of statistical oddities. Here are some of the more absurd stat lines:
- Clarence Gilbert: 56 minutes, 43 points (5-for-18 2PT, 7-for-18 3PT, 12-for-17 FT), 4 rebounds (two offensive), NINE assists, two steals. He shot 28 percent on 2-pointers and scored 43 points. He took 36 shots AND dished nine assists. Clarence, man.
- Kareem Rush: 55 minutes, 32 points (8-for-21 2PT, 5-for-10 3PT, 1-for-1 FT), four rebounds (two offensive).
- Brian Grawer: 47 minutes, no missed shots. 1-for-1 on 2-pointers, 2-for-2 on 3-pointers (the 75-footers at the buzzer only count if they go in), 4-for-4 from the line. He also grabbed six rebounds, three on offense.
- Arthur Johnson: 40 minutes, eight points (4-for-8 2PT, 0-for-2 FT), 12 rebounds (FIVE offensive), two blocks.
- Travon Bryant: 31 minutes, nine points (3-for-3 2PT, 3-for-9 FT), six rebounds (two offensive), three blocks.
- Kentrail Horton: 53 minutes, 14 points (3-for-5 2PT, 2-for-4 3PT, 2-for-2 FT), nine rebounds, four assists, three steals, five fouls.
- ISU: seven players with at least eight points, three with at least 20.
- 59 fouls, 75 free throw attempts. Four Cyclones fouled out, and four Tigers reached four, but the difference in the game was probably that Rush, Soyoye, Bryant, and Justin Gabe (in 10 minutes, naturally) all stopped at four.
- Mizzou: 24-for-58 on 2-pointers (41%), 14-for-32 on 3-pointers (44%).
This was not a game. It was an experience. It had become a classic about 15 minutes before it ended, it featured 15 ties and countless momentum swings. Mizzou lost the game 16 times and won it 17 times (and then lost three straight games following the win). ISU survived for 10 minutes without Tinsley and almost won despite 23 turnovers.
Mizzou-Iowa State 2001 brought you to insanity, then kept going. And there's no way this list was being created without this game.