The 2015 NCAA basketball season is in the books. Many games came down to a last second shot while a few big games were decided by some key moments. I’m going to give you my top 10 game-changing shots of the 2015 season.
A fair warning, this doesn’t include a lot of the regular season — mainly tournament shots or in one case, a tournament birth. Without further ado, let’s get this ball rolling.
10. Sam Dekker locks it in against the Wildcats
Everyone talks about Frank Kaminsky but who do you need to call when you want to push the game out of reach and secure an Elite 8 birth? That’s right, Sam Dekker. He absolutely went off in that second half and when the game was looking like it could be a struggle to find a winner, Dekker had no qualms putting the ball in his hands and shutting it down. You can ask Aaron Rodgers, he seems to agree it was a hell of a shot.
9. Tarik Phillip seals the deal versus Buffalo
West Virginia leads 64-62 with less than a minute to play. Who you gonna call? No, it’s not the Ghost Busters. It wasn’t even Tarik Phillip. It just so happens that the shot clock was winding down and Tarik found the ball in his hands. So what does a 20 percent 3-point shooter do in that situation? Throw one up, of course! We all see how that worked out. They landed in the round of 32 thanks to his shot.
8. BeeJay Anya gets the bounce
Yet another round of 32 birth goes to the Wolfpack. What makes this shot so awesome? Not only was it so close to the game’s ending … but it was only BeeJay Anya’s second shot of the game. The only two shots he took, he made towards the end of regulation to send his team deeper into the tournament. It’s not every day you get to go 100 percent shooting and hit the game winning shot. Props to the big forward.
7. Peter Hooley, the champion
I may catch flak for this not being higher but it is only No. 7 because it wasn’t a tournament shot. A great play nonetheless. So all of you Albany lovers out there, don’t get mad at me. Peter Hooley made a 2015 iconic shot that sent shockwaves across the NCAA. For the moment, a champion was found for the Albany Great Danes.
6. Nigel Hayes barely beats the clock
Nobody had a more pivotal shot on the Wisconsin Badgers team than Nigel Hayes did in the Final Four of the NCAA tournament. Down two and with the shot clock expiring, he drove in, got blocked, and then the put back fell as time expired. Tying it up, Wisconsin didn’t let up and eventually overcame the colossal Kentucky Wildcats. If this ball didn’t land, the NCAA Championship could have been singing a different tune.
5. Aaron Harrison hits the deep one
By all accounts, Kentucky had the best season in NCAA basketball history. This shot helped them. Why is it at five? Well it coincides with four on this list as a two-parter. This shot that was dropped in by Aaron Harrison put Kentucky in the lead over Notre Dame. They didn’t lose that lead for the remainder of the game. This is a game-changing shot that a lot of kids wouldn’t take. Not Aaron Harrison.
4. Jerian Grant misses the game winner
Yes, I understand this is a missed shot. It is still game altering. If Jerian Grant hits this shot, Notre Dame beats Kentucky and advances to the Final Four. So much rides on six seconds and it was one of the shots that didn’t fall in the favor of the underdog. What if Grant would have dumped it off to Pat Connaughton for a layup? Tie games give more chances than lost ones do.
3. RJ Hunter drops the dagger
One of the biggest upsets this past year came when Georgia State beat Baylor in the tournament. That wouldn’t have happened without a sweet long range shot from RJ Hunter. Shots like these are why they are at the top of most people’s list. The clutch shot from the son sends the father/coach (Ron Hunter) onto the floor. It can’t get much better than this.
2. Tyus Jones brings home the championship
Not many players can make Wisconsin look bad. That’s exactly what Tyus Jones did. This comes in as my second pick because it was the championship against two mammoth teams. After many lead swaps with four minutes left, Jones did something that caught everyone off guard. He pulled a jumper and drilled it for the lead. They carried that momentum for the win. A shot like that hoists trophies in this business.
1. UCLA with the call
Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, what a doozy. Coming in first place is UCLA. The team many people thought didn’t deserve to be there in the first place. Bryce Alford puts up a Hail Mary and what ensued will probably be talked about for a long time as one of the most controversial calls. History tends to do that. Sorry SMU, the call just wasn’t on your side.