Arch: Familiar script, but with a twist


It was déjà vu … with a different ending.

“As soon as I started coming down that big ramp to the court it all came back to me vividly,” said North Carolina A&T assistant coach Darren Corbett. “I remembered the first time I was here in Dayton for an NCAA tournament game. It was 1984, my dad was the head coach and I was 7 or 8.

“We led Morehead State the whole game and then one of their guys comes down and hits a jumper at the buzzer. They beat us 70-69 and I remember being really sad … I was crying.”

Tuesday night the memory of that play-in game heartbreaker quickly gave way to a smile in the postgame dressing room: “Who woulda’ thought almost 30 years later it comes down to a final shot again?”

Only this time Liberty’s John Caleb Sanders — who already had 21 points — came driving down the lane for a layup to win the First Four game at the buzzer and A&T’s 6-foot-8 Austin Witter got an arm up and partially deflected the shot. The ball fell into an Aggie teammate’s hands and the longest losing streak in NCAA tournament history was over.

North Carolina A&T had won, 73-72.

The Aggies, who at 20-16 are having their first winning season in 15 years, had lost all nine of their previous NCAA tournament games.

Now they play No. 1 seed Louisville on Thursday in Lexington, but that daunting task seems no bigger than the one they handled in front of 12,027 at UD Arena.

“You don’t realize what this means to the school and all those guys from A&T who played in the tournament before them,” Corbett said. “They made history tonight.”

And no one was more instrumental in that quest than backup guard Jeremy Underwood, who scored 19 points, making all six of his field goal attempts — two of them 3-pointers — and five of six free throws.

“I’m a guy who feeds off the crowd and when I saw all those people tonight, I knew it was going to be a good night,” Underwood said. “And then I saw my mother sitting right behind the scorer’s table with my girlfriend. I’m a momma’s boy. I love my mother. She came all the way from Washington D.C., so I had to make her proud.”

He made a lot of folks proud, said Corbett , whose legendary father, 70-year-old Don Corbett, coached the Aggies for 14 years, took them to seven NCAA tournaments and has the school’s basketball arena named after him.

“Soon as the game ended I called my dad down in Greensboro,” Corbett said. “This really made him feel good.”

Same for Underwood: “After the game my mom blew me kisses and I blew ‘em back. … I’ll remember this night forever. It’ll always be special in my heart.”

That’s what happens when déjà vu gets a different ending.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Former Arkansas TE Jeremy Sprinkle scores first NFL TD, celebrates accordingly
Former Arkansas TE Jeremy Sprinkle scores first NFL TD, celebrates accordingly

Former Arkansas TE Jeremy Sprinkle knocked out a pair of milestones on Sunday, scoring on his first career NFL catch. Here’s a clip of the play: It was only Sprinkle’s fifth appearance since being drafted by Washington in the 5th round of the 2017 NFL Draft. After the score, he celebrated the only way someone with his last name can: Sprinkle...
Big 12 wrap-up: Baker Mayfield remains football’s biggest heel
Big 12 wrap-up: Baker Mayfield remains football’s biggest heel

Oklahoma beat Kansas 41-3 on Saturday, just like the Sooners were supposed to. However, quarterback Baker Mayfield earned plenty of attention anyway. Mayfield appeared to taunt the Kansas sideline with an inappropriate gesture, and also was caught on camera jawing with Jayhawk fans. Many wrung their hands after the game and...
President Trump on LaVar Ball downplaying his help: ‘I should have left them in jail’
President Trump on LaVar Ball downplaying his help: ‘I should have left them in jail’

When will it end? Two days after  LaVar Ball downplayed President Donald Trump’s role in helping bring his son LiAngelo, and two other UCLA teammates home from China after their arrest on shoplifting charges, Trump has responded in a way that is of no surprise to anyone, Tweeting that he should have left the teenagers...
How LSU’s commitments fared in Week 13
How LSU’s commitments fared in Week 13

LSU’s commitments took the field this weekend as Friday night under the lights continued. The Tigers hold 18 commitments in their 2018 recruiting class and seven in their 2019 group. Members of both classes enjoyed memorable performances. SEC Country will provide weekly updates on each LSU commitment, including statistics and highlights...
How Arkansas’ commits fared: Sean Michael Flanagan scores 5 TDs in playoff win
How Arkansas’ commits fared: Sean Michael Flanagan scores 5 TDs in playoff win

Several of Arkansas’ commitments in the 2018 class were in action this weekend. Some had big statistical performances while others made crucial plays to help lift their respective teams to victory. Throughout the 2017 season, SEC Country will provide weekly updates on the performances of as many Arkansas commits as possible. Here&rsquo...
More Stories