Ryan McMahon off the bench, carries Louisville past Syracuse in overtime

Ryan McMahon the guy who usually leads the cheers on the bench was leading the University of Louisville on the court at Syracuse in overtime on Big Monday. (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

One of the most unpredictable games ever, no one ever really in command or playing under control, last one with the basketball wins … unless someone turns the ball over or dribbles it out of bounds.

Keystone cops near the end of regulation, balls bouncing off of heads, toes, butts and elbows. Or maybe a pinball game, balls ricocheting off the flappers, winding up with the weirdest angles, sometimes even in the basket.

The comedy on the court upstaged only by Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim roaming around with his mouth wide open, unable to believe any call could go against his Syracuse team. University of Louisville Coach Rick Pitino trying hard to stifle a smile or a smirk (who knows?) with the game on the line in the closing seconds of regulation. 

Anything seemed possible but winning the least likely after Donovan Mitchell fouled out at the 1:18 mark, with UofL clinging to a fragile five-point lead. No surprise Syracuse coming back to tie it up after one of those Keystone cop plays on a three-pointer by John Gillon. Deng Adel missing the front end of two bonus situations.  This one was destined for overtime.

With Mitchell out, Adel missing everything and Snider all but exhausted, the question was where UofL’s points were going to come from in this overtime.

Wait, is that Ryan McMahon out there? Was that Ryan McMahon with that 3-point jumper? Was that Ryan McMahon with an offensive rebound, cleaning up the garbage?

Syracuse fans had to be wondering, thinking, “Who is this guy?” They hadn’t seen him the entire game.

Yes, indeed, it was, Pitino confirming it. “Ryan never met a shot he didn’t like,” said the coach. “He has nerves of steel.”

Entirely appropriate that Ryan McMahon would be the UofL player at the line with one second on the clock, all but sealing the 76-72 win by swishing two of two free throws. Should have been over but that was only assured in the final split second when a Syracuse player stepped out of bounds. 

Louisville had outlasted Syracuse, but this time Ryan McMahon, usually leading cheers on the bench, was leading the charge on the floor when the final horn sounded.

The man:

Louisville gets a shooter in Ryan McMahon

He’s small by today’s standards for college guards at 6-foot-1, but he shoots the lights out.

Ryan McMahon
Ryan McMahon

Rick Pitino is looking for shooters and he may have got a good one in Ryan McMahon, who is averaging 27 points per game and hitting 55 percent of his shots. McMahon, who weighs only 170 pounds, plays for Cardinal Mooney High School in Sarasota.

McMahon committed Friday to play for the University of Louisville basketball team. He will be a member of the 2015 class.

The night Pitino flew in to watch him play, McMahon exploded with 22 points in the second half and overtime against St. Peterburg Shorecrest, finishing with 32, to advance the Cougars with a 64-62 overtime victory.

McMahon was 13 of 14 from the free throw line, including 3 of 4 in overtime and 5 of 6 in the fourth quarter.

Can he withstand the physical pressure at the next level? His coach, Stefan Gates, believes so. “I’ll tell you what, the kid gets bumped, grabbed, pushed. It’s been happening all year. He’s found a way to fight through that and it’s made him a better player.”

Oh, and he reportedly has a 39-inch vertical leap.