EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It was a 17-foot turnaround jumper from the corner in front of the UConn bench, a desperate airborne prayer with no time left, the kind of shot you make only in dreams.
And in dream seasons.
UConn Huskies went to the outer edge of your wildest dreams. Just when things looked blacker than outer space, they danced on distant stars. They took their 1989-90 season from fantastic to beyond incredible.
To do that, they had to do something they hadn't done in a long time:
Boy, did they. Completely out of character, the team that had never lost a game it led at halftime blew a 19-point second half lead and was one second from being booted out of the NCAA Tournament by Clemson.
Then along came Tate.
Before this season, if basketball were a 20-man game, Tate George might have been your 19th choice to shoot an outside shot for all the marbles. He was such a poor outside shooter that guys like Providence's Carlton Screen gave him acres of open space at nitty-gritty time, daring him to shoot.
Not any more. After a disappointing junior season in which he was becoming somewhat irrelevant to UConn's success, George got his act together. He spent all summer shooting 300 jump shots a day in hopes of becoming an outside-shooting threat. So, how's he doing?
With four seconds left in UConn's season, George wasn't doing too well. With the Huskies trailing, 70-69, George found himself open for a jumper at the free-throw line.
"I was the most surprised person in the building when he missed that shot," UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. "He always makes that shot."
"I was really upset," George said. "For the first time, I realized my career was coming to an end."
Clemson's Sean Tyson grabbed the rebound. Scott Burrell fouled him. Tyson missed the free throw and the Huskies rebounded and called time out with one second left.
But so what? They had 94 feet, 6 inches to go. It seemed like 94 miles.
"That first one was my best shot," George said. "and I missed it."
But he wanted the ball again. Nadav Henefeld and Chris Smith are better outside shooters, the Huskies' high scorers. Smith was the hottest shooter on the Meadowlands floor Thursday night.
But Tate George, the senior, wanted the ball one more time. On this, the most unselfish of teams, he wanted one more shot.
"After missing the first time, you just want the ball again," he said. "I didn't feel anything [nerves]. You just want a chance to win."