Valentine’s Day 2007.
Ya boi OMTB was there on the front row with his date who is now his wife of many years - yeah, I wasn’t wining and dining her at Pearl Street Pasta or City Grocery. She was willing to be there, partially because she thinks Valentine’s Day is silly and ridiculous, but also because she hates the corn dog stink of LSU and the atrocious purple and gold color scheme with a passion.
We should all be so lucky to have one like her tbh.
We were there together for a magical moment that only college basketball can produce: the buzzer beating shot that propels an unlikely team to a victory in front of a packed home crowd.
It all started with a player who was known more for his father’s name than his play on the court.
Brian Smith, son of legendary national champion coach Tubby, reacted to a lobbed pass in a full court press defense. The less than reliable Tad Smith Coliseum lights shook from the initial reaction from the crowd.
Could this really happen?
There was a chance the improbable season and an upset win was still in play. The scrappy Ole Miss Rebels, led by first year coach Andy Kennedy, had fought the LSU Tigers and future first round draft pick Glen Davis to a one-point deficit with just 13.9 seconds left.
A full court press and incoming quick foul was what I and most everyone expected. When the ball hit Davis’ hands, fans screamed “Foul!” hoping the big man would go to the line with less than spectacular results.
But Davis instead lobbed a pass that allowed Smith plenty of time to swat it and the chance for an upset immediately skyrocketed into the stratosphere.
Smith, now with only seven seconds left after the steal, quickly brought the ball up the court, weaving through defenders and handed it off to sure-handed senior point guard Todd Abernethy.
Abernethy started to look for a drive to the basket, but the massive Davis of LSU hung near the basket. Defenders begin to close in on Abernethy, so he kicks it to the wing to the streakiest shooter in Ole Miss history - Clarence Sanders.
Sanders, with a leaping Davis attempting to block the shot, executes his classic fade away release over the big man with the Rebels’ hope for a win hanging in the balance.
You can’t hear it on the audio of the Lincoln Financial broadcast, but I distinctly remember that ever so sweet sound of a basketball hitting nothing but net in the gasping silence of a collective 8,800 fans hoping and praying for a win. That ripping, perfect, pure swoosh as a ball hits nothing but the seamed nylon netting.
The euphoria is immediately unbelievable and evident. Ole Miss basketball, after years of mediocre play, felt like it was officially on its way back to relevance.
This was a team coming off a losing season in Rod Barnes’ last year, and a win against the vaunted LSU squad would put them first in the SEC Western Division, you know back when we had divisions in basketball. There has been a lot of big shots made in Ole Miss basketball history, and I can say this is absolutely one of them.
If you haven’t seen it before, grab a small snack and a beverage and soak in this grainy footage.
The Rebels went on to be co-champions of the SEC West that season, moving on to the NIT and going to the second round losing to Clemson.
But none of it would’ve been possible without the clutch af Clay Sanders knocking down a shot from the wing on V-Day 2007 - a memory indelible in the minds of those who were there.
So were you in attendance for the Valentine’s Day Miracle of 2007? Comment or tweet @redcuprebellion with your memory of this game or any other classic Rebel win from V-day.