The conversation that took place after Part 1 of this list was published Tuesday was amazing. It got me thinking about how many special games there are to pick from. I wish I could have been at more of the games mentioned, but I have a great list to pick from.
This is Part 2, the top 13 games I have been to, either as a writer or a reporter.
Remember to share your memories from these games, as well as your favorites that may not be on this list. (I can't have the 1988 NIT or Tate George's shot on here. I was born in 1992.)
Part 1 containing numbers games 14 to 25 and an honorable mention can be found here.
13) No. 2 UConn 77, Rutgers 64 – Gampel Pavilion, Feb. 16, 1999
This one is so high because it was my first ever UConn game. I was six years old. My grandfather called me that night and told me he was coming to pick me up and I should put on a UConn shirt. When he got there, he had two tickets in his hand. I had looked at the likes of Richard Hamilton, Khalid El-Amin, Ricky Moore, Kevin Freeman, etc. as giants. To see them play basketball in person, months before winning the national championship, was incredible.
12) UConn 57, Cincinnati 54 – XL Center, March 13, 2015
Ryan Boatright is the latest to play the role of Savage in the long-running series "Don't Mess With UConn in March."
11) No. 2 Syracuse 71, UConn 69 – Gampel Pavilion, Feb. 25, 2012
Losing to Syracuse sucks. But this game was incredible. Not only was it College GameDay, but UConn—in the midst of a difficult season—nearly picked up a win that could have changed the course of the season. It was loud. It was wild.
Oh, and this. THIS. SO MUCH THIS!
10) No. 8 Notre Dame 70, No. 16 UConn 67 – Gampel Pavilion, March 5, 2011
UConn ended up missing out on a chance at a first-round bye in the Big East Tournament, but this game was all kinds of epic. For as loud as that Dyson-to-Stix alley-oop was against Texas, I think there may have been an even louder Gampel moment in this game.
Ben Hansbrough, the eventual Big East Player of the Year***************, was on the bench in foul trouble midway through the second half. He came back in with Notre Dame up 10, only to foul up with 8:23 left. Gampel erupted. Seriously, the moment when Hansbrough fouled out was one of the loudest reactions I have ever heard at Gampel Pavilion.
UConn overcame the deficit to take a five-point lead. Notre Dame pulled ahead again. How did Donnell Beverley drop that pass from Kemba Walker?
9) No. 22 UConn 72, West Virginia 71 – Gampel Pavilion, Feb. 26, 2000
Senior Night 2000. Khalid El-Amin was a junior, but this ended up being his final game at Gampel Pavilion. How did he go out? He went the length of the floor with UConn down one and hit a running floater for at the buzzer for the win. I can still perfectly picture El-Amin running into the crowd across from where my grandfather and I were sitting.
8) UConn 88, No. 1 Texas 74 – Gampel Pavilion, Jan. 23, 2010
This would have been higher if Texas had not lost earlier in the week. The game was still ridiculous. Getting tickets for it as a Christmas gift and being able to take my cousin to his first game at Gampel made it even better. UConn dominated from start to finish. When Jerome Dyson threw the ball above the rim for Stanley Robinson, I can't remember many moments when I've heard Gampel louder. That was the ballgame only a few minutes in.
7) No. 7 Georgetown 79, UConn 78 (2OT) – Gampel Pavilion, Feb. 27, 2013
Another game from the year of the ban, this one was wild. Yes, UConn lost, but the shenanigans, like DeAndre Daniels inbounding the ball off Nate Lubick's back to himself, were absolutely crazy.
This game produced Omar Calhoun's finest moment, a game-tying 3-pointer with three seconds left. This is another one of those "loudest I've heard Gampel" moments. I couldn't breathe in the front row of the student section. Textbook 2012-13 UConn right there.
6) No. 12 UConn 65, No. 15 Florida 64 – Gampel Pavilion, Dec. 2, 2013
No need to say anything about this one. The video—which I shot (and was seen on Fox Sports Live that whole night)—says it all. Looks like Napier's ankle was just fine.
This is a debatable subject matter, but this might be the loudest moment of all the games I have been to at Gampel Pavilion.
5) No. 8 UConn 61, No. 7 Villanova 59 – Gampel Pavilion, Jan. 17, 2011
Another one of the loudest moments of the many I have heard at Gampel Pavilion. It was great to get back to campus for the start of my second semester at UConn. It was even better to see the student section packed at Gampel Pavilion again. I got there at about 7 a.m. and still ended up halfway up in the lower level.
This game between two longtime rivals and two top-10 teams was as intense as all the other UConn-Villanova games, and it ended in incredible fashion. As this was the 2010-11 season, Kemba Walker got the ball in his hands at the end of the game, and he came up clutch, hitting a floater to beat the Wildcats. Place. Got. Loud.
4) No. 21 UConn 69, No. 14 Louisville 66 – Madison Square Garden, New York, March 12, 2011
My grandfather played quite a role in getting me to some of the most memorable games of my life.
After UConn beat Syracuse in the 2011 Big East semifinals, I was going crazy. Then I get a phone call from my grandfather. He said, "Hey Tim, want to go to the championship game tomorrow?" I almost died.
We got to Manhattan the next day. I almost lost my ticket in a pizza place. I said a prayer at St. Patrick's Cathedral and I watched one of the most epic showdowns I have seen in my life. UConn and Louisville, two of the best, going back and forth. But Kemba Walker took over, as per usual, and the Huskies won their historic fifth game in five days for a record-tying seventh Big East Tournament championship.
But for real, my heart stopped when Preston Knowles put up his 3-pointer at the buzzer.
3) UConn 60, Michigan State 54 – Madison Square Garden, March 30, 2014
This game could easily be No. 1. Maybe it should be, but I couldn't move the top two.
UConn and Michigan State turned in a great battle at Madison Square Garden in the 2014 Elite Eight. It was an elite defensive battle and a crazy game on both sides of the field. The best part of this game was the crowd, the all-UConn crowd. Once again, MSG became the Huskies' house, and once again, the Huskies booked a trip to the Final Four.
This game came up in conversation after Part 1 was released Wednesday. For a lot of people, this is their favorite game without question. I like how our friends at @NoEscalators described it.
It was absolutely spiritual. To be in that building, which was effectively Gampel Pavilion but twice the size (as it always is), with all those UConn fans going freaking wild, I don't think I'll ever experience a better atmosphere in my life. The UConn express trains came in from New Haven, our fanbase took over the city. The "Big Red" moments were thunderous. I'm getting chills just writing about this. I'm going to have to go watch it on UConnHuskyGames.com real soon.
One of my favorite parts of the game was watching the celebration. I was thinking about Jim Calhoun's retirement press conference in September 2013. I interviewed Niels Giffey afterward and asked him about the approach he would take over the next two years with the postseason ban. He looked me in the eyes and said he felt the NCAA had taken away something from him when he had done nothing wrong. He wanted them to know he was not going to let them take away his right to play for another championship.
He joined his brothers at center court, but then he stepped away, pointed his hands to the sky, looked up and let out a yell. When I asked him about the feeling after, you could tell he was getting emotional. How could he not?
And, for your viewing pleasure, ASAP Philly!
2) UConn 66, No. 6 Syracuse 58 – XL Center, Feb. 13, 2013
"They can ban us from the postseason. They can ban us from the Big East tournament. But they can't ban us from getting better. They can't ban us from loving each other. We're the purest team out there, we're not playing for the postseason, we're playing for the love of the game, for the love of UConn and for each other."
Two-and-a-half years later, that quote still hits me in the feels.
UConn and Syracuse could meet in Atlantis on Thanksgiving. That would be freaking awesome. I already told my family they're secondary on that day if it happens. I've spent 22 Thanksgivings with them. UConn-Syracuse doesn't come around too often anymore.
There have been plenty of amazing UConn-Syracuse games—if I had been at the six overtime game, it would be top two on this list—but the last one was special. The game was at night, but if I recall correctly, my roommates and I spent all day in Hartford. We weren't risking not getting our usual spots in the front row for this one.
With everything UConn was dealing with—the ban, the realignment snub, the doubts about the future—the Huskies put it all on the line in this one. Everything was going right. Omar balled out. Boatright flew through the air on alley-oops and drilled clutch threes.
After the game, we celebrated like it was a championship. That was our championship that year. After huddling around Kevin Ollie like a family while he was interviewed by Andy Katz, the players made their way to the student section, where there were hugs all around. This is one of my all-time favorite pictures. It is Boatright hugging my best friend, Kenny, who has this picture framed and hanging on his wall. The whole postgame celebration was special.
I actually had a Syracuse fan try to throw a snowball at me as we left the XL Center in a state of euphoria. When he went to throw the snowball, it turned out to be powder, and it exploded in his face.
I guess he left with a bad taste of UConn in his mouth.
1) UConn 60, Kentucky 54 – AT&T Stadium, Dallas, April 7, 2014
"Down into the hands of Boatright with five seconds, and this most improbable tournament run comes to an end with a UConn championship! The Huskies, once again, are in basketball heaven!"
I did what I had to do as a reporter during this game, but I got to see UConn play in the National Championship Game. I got to see UConn win the national championship. I was on the floor for the trophy presentation and the net cutting. I nearly knocked the trophy over (accidentally) in the locker room after the game. I still have confetti from the celebration.
Everything about that night was truly magical. To be part of that, to be there behind the scenes after the game, it was amazing.
This was UConn's fourth national championship, and after all the adversity it got through to get there, it was the most special of the four. "This is what happens when you ban us!"