The fact that the game was scheduled to tip off at 9 p.m. ET with the ESPN GameDay crew on hand already made for a long day and night.
A few hours later, the definition of a long night at the gym took on new meaning.
Forty minutes and then another 25 minutes of overtime were needed for Notre Dame to claim a 104-101 victory over No. 11 Louisville on Feb. 9, 2013 – five days after the Irish absorbed a 16-point defeat (63-47) at Syracuse.
A prescient Mike Brey felt the five-overtime vibes heading into the weekend. He had compiled a series of boxing knockout clips, equating the old boxing format of 15 rounds to his players in preparation of a knock-down, drag-out battle.
It was a theme that would resonate throughout the evening as the game approached three-and-a-half hours in length.
“At the fourth or fifth overtime, I said, ‘Has there ever been a 20-rounder?’” Brey said.
The record-setting evening wouldn’t have happened, of course, were in not for a once-in-a-lifetime scoring binge by Jerian Grant at the end of regulation. Irish standout Jack Cooley had fouled out in the second half. Notre Dame was just about out of options as fans streamed out of Purcell Pavilion with its fate seemingly sealed.
With 50 seconds remaining, Louisville’s Chane Behanan made one of two free throws to give the Cardinals a 56-48 lead. Grant hit a three-pointer six seconds later.
Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng made two free throws with 42 seconds left to make it 58-51. Grant hit another three-pointer with 36 seconds remaining.
Russ Smith made two free throws for the Cardinals with 33 seconds left. Louisville still led, 60-54. Grant’s three-pointer with 28 seconds on the clock made it 60-57.
“The shots just kept going in,” Grant said.
With 27 seconds left, Dieng missed two free-throw attempts. Grant’s layup with 21 seconds remaining made it 60-59, and he tied it when he converted the three-point play following Wayne Blackshear’s foul.
Grant would foul out in the first overtime, and now Brey had to dip even deeper into his bench. Garrick Sherman, who had lost his spot in the rotation with a poor performance at Syracuse, was called into action, tossing in 17 points.
“I don’t know, I don’t remember,” laughed Sherman after the game when asked about specific details. “I didn’t even know I scored 17. I sat there for two halves, so I didn’t really expect to go in.”
The since-transferred Cam Biedscheid tossed in 14 points, and a gangly freshman by the name of Zach Auguste scored eight points in 36 minutes during a rookie season in which he would not log more than 21 minutes in any other game.
“I was tired at first, but then I just got used to it,” Auguste recalled. “Then you’re energized by the crowd.”
At a certain point, Auguste turned to look at the Notre Dame bench and saw a whole bunch of familiar faces. By the fifth overtime, it had become a complete role reversal.
“Usually we split the squads up in practice into white and blue, and when I looked to the bench, I realized the blue squad was on the court and had to finish the game,” Auguste recalled.
Pat Connaughton, who scored 16 points with 14 rebounds in 56 minutes of action, entered into a surreal moment or two along the way.
“I probably made eye contact with everyone in the stands at some point,” Connaughton said.
Irish point guard Eric Atkins played a game-high 60 minutes.
“I remember saying to myself, ‘I’m dead. I’m dead out here.’”
The only other current player who was part of the five-overtime game was senior A.J. Burgett, who logged one minute in the second overtime.
“The atmosphere is the one thing I remember,” Burgett said. “It was a crazy atmosphere in this building. Everything leading up to that day, the shootaround…it just felt like there was a different vibe.
“Every time we got to another overtime, Coach Brey would say, ‘Let’s just keep having a good time.’”
Two other current Irish players – Steve Vasturia and V.J. Beachem – were locked into coming to Notre Dame the following season and were watching from home.
“I was a senior and it was like the day before my birthday,” said Vasturia, who celebrated his 21st birthday earlier this week. “It was late. I remember watching it with a couple of my buddies and it wouldn’t end. But it was a lot of fun knowing I was already committed to a place where they were playing such a big game.”
Beachem remembers the GameDay atmosphere from afar, an experience he and his teammates welcomed last Saturday against North Carolina.
“I remembering thinking, ‘Hopefully, we get a GameDay game while I’m here,’” Beachem recalled. “It was a lot of fun to watch, and it was great last weekend to play in a game with that same type of atmosphere.”
Current Irish junior Demetrius Jackson was occupying a seat in Purcell Pavilion that night as a local product already committed to playing for the Irish the following season. So, too, was another local product – junior Austin Torres.
Only Jackson made it to the end.
“I remember Austin Torres said, ‘I think I’m going to leave,’” Jackson recalled. “I was like, ‘All right, I’m going to stay so I can talk to the guys after the game.’ Then it went into five overtimes and he kept texting me from the car.”
The game capped an incredible run of extra-session games between Notre Dame and Louisville. From Jan. 12, 2009 through the five-overtime game three years ago, the Irish and Cardinals squared off eight times, six of which required more than 40 minutes to decide a winner, including four in a row and five of six.
The two teams combined for 158 field-goal attempts, 50 three-point attempts, 97 free throws, 43 assists and 66 personal fouls on Feb. 9, 2013.
And one surreal memory.
“I’ve never been a part of anything where you could say, ‘We pretty much lost the game yesterday and won it today,’” Connaughton said.