SPECTRUM: The greatest game ever played
Published: Thursday, January 17, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 17, 2013 13:01
Utah State has maintained an elite basketball tradition over an extended period of time. Though they have been victorious playing in venues across the nation, players and coaches alike have always been quick to credit the fan support received at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum for their success.
“A lot of college basketball players don’t have the kind of support we have,” said head coach Stew Morrill. “I tell my players all the time you better appreciate what you have. We are very appreciative.”
Through strong and weak years alike, the Aggies have always achieved remarkable success at home. The following are six of the most famous crowd-aided games that were made possible due to student section interaction.
Colorado State, 1976 - The Scoreboard Malfunction
In a game that came down to the wire, the hometown scorekeepers may have proved to be vital.
“We were playing Colorado State and we were notorious for cheating on the clock in a close game,” said Dr. Ross Peterson, a longtime USU history professor and fan. “That was before the referees had the clock.”
Colorado State held a one point lead at the end of the game with one second remaining. With a little help from scoreboard operator and Aggie football player Jay Van Noy, however, the home team had the time they needed for one last shot.
“We took it out, made a pass,” Peterson said. “Rawley Perkins dribbled a couple times, threw up like a 35, 40-footer and it went in and then the buzzer went.”
According to Peterson, Ram head coach Jim Williams, a former Aggie, then dived over the scorer’s table in an attempt to tackle Van Noy. Though no charges were ever filed over the time-keeping, Peterson has his beliefs on how Perkins’s shot made it in time.
“It was the longest second,” he said.
UNLV, 1991 - The Blue Bomb
The only loss on the list, this game still resides as one of the great Spectrum classics due to its unusual firepower.
“When Jerry Tarkanian was coaching UNLV, every year the students would do something different,” Peterson said. “One of the most memorable things always is the balloon, the one that exploded under UNLV’s bench.”
Due to recent physical brawls and word-jabs between the two schools in previous years, plenty of bad blood existed between the Rebels and the Aggies. Jeff Leishman and Gavin Washburn, student body officers and engineering students at the time, concealed a carbon-dioxide time-bomb, loaded with balloons filled with blue water, beneath the floor grate under the Rebel bench.
“The second half was about to start and they were huddled at the bench,” Peterson said. “Tarkanian jumped.”
The game was delayed five minutes to clean up the blue spray that covered the UNLV team and bench. The Aggies were assessed two technical free throws and eventually lost to the No. 2 Rebels 84-82, but blasted their way into Spectrum lore nonetheless.
Utah, 1998 - The Underdog Brother Upset
Morrill named this game, played during his first season at Utah State, as his favorite Spectrum memory.
“Utah came in at No. 9 in the country,” he said. “We had a team that barely played .500. We were just a very average team my first year.”
The Utes had reached the Final Four the previous year and returned future NBA guard Andre Miller. Though sizeable underdogs, the Aggies upset their rivals 62-54 due in large part to the Spectrum crowd, Morrill said.
“We were able to get the game at a speed where we had a chance to win,” Morrill said. “The crowd was definitely the reason we were able to have a chance to win. For that team to beat the ninth-ranked team in the country was all about the Spectrum.”
Nevada, 2007 - Coining “Spectrum Magic”
Nevada also came into the Spectrum ranked No. 9 and boasting 3 future NBA players before the undermanned Aggies sent the Wolfpack packing.
“The odds were stacked pretty heavily against us,” said Matt Sonnenberg, writer of “The Refraction.” “We hung with them the entire game off of countless gritty plays, eventually forcing overtime.”
Stephen DuCharme, rarely an outside shooter, hit a gutsy 3-point shot for the Aggies in the overtime, and Chaz Spicer hit two free throws with seconds remaining to give the Aggies the 79-77 overtime victory, giving birth to the phrase “Spectrum Magic.”