Photo courtesy of Auburn University Athletics.
By David Cordova
The power of the sneaker wars is in full swing these days. Especially, when it comes to Under Armour. The Baltimore-based apparel company, which was mainly known for football, has made its splash on the the basketball scene in recent years.
Its most notable basketball representative is none other than NBA All-Star guard Stephen Curry, of the Golden State Warriors. They’ve also made their mark on the high school level with their UA Association events, Stephen Curry Select Camp and the Under Armour Elite 24 annual event, in which twenty-four of the finest high school players showcase their talent in front of a national spotlight.
But they’ve also made their mark on the college game, as many programs that were once affiliated with Nike or Adidas, have switched their allegiances and have helped make Under Armour one of the most elite sports apparel companies in the world.
Because of its success, they brought on the first annual Under Armour Reunion, featuring four of their flagship programs in Seton Hall (Big East), South Carolina (SEC), Auburn (SEC) and Boston College (ACC), to do battle on the hallowed grounds of the World’s Most Famous Arena, Madison Square Garden. Under the bright lights of New York City, these four programs put on a show for their respective crowds and represented their sneaker brand in the best way possible by putting on great performances.
Boston College 72, Auburn 71
From the opening tip, Boston College was in attack mode, moving the ball well and rebounding efficiently, which led to them leading 19-2, with 16:28 left in the first half.
Then Auburn got on track behind freshman guard T.J. Lang and cut the deficit to 15-12 with 13:46 to go in the half. But the Eagles would stretch their, due to the play of freshman guard Ky Bowman as they went up ten, 24-14, with 10:49 to go.
Throughout most of the first half, both teams kept trading baskets, but the Tigers kept their intensity, cutting the deficit to 31-30, with 4:50 to go in the half. Then freshman guard Danjel Purifoy hit a three to tie the game at 38-38 with 1:32 left. But the Eagles would not give up the lead as they went into the half, leading by four, 39-33.
As the second half got underway, the Eagles still maintained a close lead, but Aubur kept knocking on the door. Due to the terrific play of freshman guard Mustapha Heron, the Tigers contiued to pressure the Eagles, getting to within 54-51, with 12:11 left in the game. Auburn finally got their lead, after a tip in by freshman forward Anfernee McLemore, at 6:46 to bring them up, 61-60.
Purifoy’s shooting from long range continued to help the Tigers as they then went up two, 67-65, with 2:39 left in the game. But even though the Tigers had their momentum, the Eagles would not go down so easily, tyring the score at 69-69, with 57 seconds left, off of a layip by freshman forward Nik Popovic.
A foul called on Auburn sophomore Horace Turner with 19 seconds left brought Boston College sophomore forward A.J. Turner to the line in which he made one of two free throws to bring the Eagles up one, 70-69.
But with 7.5 seconds left, Purifoy drained two free throws at the line, bringing Auburn’s lead to 71-70. But Popovic drained a last-second tip-in with 0.2 seconds left to bring Boston College up, 72-71, which would eventually be the game winner.
The Eagles were led by sophomore guard Jerome Robinson who had 23 points and 11 rebounds and Bowman added 15 points. For the Tigers, Purifoy led with 27 points and five rebounds and Heron added 15 points and seven rebounds in the loss.
Seton Hall 67, South Carolina 64
In the first couple of minutes, the Gamecocks were in attack mode, running to a quick 6-2 lead. But then Pirates junior forward Angel Delgado had three straight baskets that put the Pirates up 8-7 with 15:18 to go in the first half.
Throighout most of the game, there were plenty of foul calls made against both teams, as there was plenty of physicality amongst both teams. But South Carolina, led by sophomore guard P.J. Dozier, took over later, leading 21-17, with 7:33 left in the first.
The Gamecocks’ defense helped suffocate the Pirates as they kept them to under 30% on field goals and 25% from three-point range at one point. Their tough play brought them up by seven at the half, 34-27.
In the first couple of minutes of the second half, Seton Hall picked up its play, cutting thier deficit to four a couple of times, but South Carolina maintained their toughness throughout.
Juniors Desi Rodriguez and Khadeen Carrington got the Pirates within two, 42-40, with 14:36 left in the game. Carrington then tied the game at 42-42, with two free throws with 14:37 left. But then two jumpers by Dozier and sophomore guard Hassani Gravett brought the Gamecocks up five, 48-43, with over 13 minutes left.
But just a short time later, they would unravel, allowing the Pirates to take over at 49-48, after a three-point play by Myles Powell with 12:23 to go. The Pirates got tougher with their rebounding and managed to have their momentum, due to their free throw shooting, which kept them in the game.
The Gamecocks would not go down without a fight as senior guard Justin McKie made a three-pointer with 3:53 left to bring them up one, 60-59. Moments later, Carrington hit a clutch floater with 2:08 left to bring Seton Hall up three, 63-60.
After a couple of baskets and two free throws by McKie, the Gamecocks tied the game at 64-64, with 34.3 seconds to go. Then Rodriguez made a layup with 11.6 seconds to go in the game. Dozier tried to make a three with 7 seconds left, but missed. Powell made one free throw to bring the Pirates up threem 67-64. Dozier tried another last-minute three, but it rimmed out giving Seton Hall the victory.
Carrington led the Pirates with 21 points, Rodriguez added 16 points and Delgado added 13 points and 11 rebounds. For the Gamecocks, Dozier led with 20 points and five rebounds and sophomore forward Chris Silva aded 11 points and nine rebounds in the loss.