NASHVILLE, Tenn. - - To honor Belmont University Athletics' vast achievements over its 20 years as an NCAA Division I member institution, BelmontBruins.com continues its list of the Top 20 moments and accomplishments over the last two decades.
Today, we unveil moment No. 7 - the 2013 and 2015 OVC Men's Basketball Championship games.
By any measure, those two games rank among the most compelling, heart-stopping, emotionally-draining games in college basketball.
Lead broadcaster Rich Hollenberg, who has worked thousands of games for ESPN, Fox Sports and the NFL Network, ranks the two games as perhaps the greatest he has ever called.
CBS Nashville sports anchor Steve Layman said the two games are a major reason why the OVC Tournament has become appointment viewing and is arguably the best conference tournament of Championship Week.
National commentators like Dick Vitale, Seth Davis, Clark Kellogg, and Pete Thamel live tweeted about the drama and quality of play.
But to appreciate the scope of what Belmont accomplished on those two evenings in March, one must fully understand how historically good those Murray State teams were.
In 2013, the Racers were on the heels of a 31-2 campaign, one that saw them ranked in the Top 25 for the last three months of the season and finish 15th in total defensive efficiency.
Then in 2015, Murray State rattled off an NCAA-best 25 consecutive victories heading into the OVC Championship game.
Both incarnations featured future NBA point guards in Isaiah Canaan and Cameron Payne, and active big men in Ed Daniel and Jarvis Williams.
So much like Coach Byrd said after the Bruins' victory at North Carolina - the signficance of these two wins were as much about the quality of the opponent - as the stage and on-court theatre.
From 2013, Bruin fans will always remember Kerron Johnson's game-tying and game-winning shots - not to mention his bloody chin - but often lost is how Belmont rallied from a seven-point deficit with under two minutes remaining.
J.J. Mann drilled a clutch three-pointer to start the comeback cause, and Ian Clark made his trademark floater with 36 seconds left.
And subtle plays like Spencer Turner's emergency free throw and timeout pursuing a loose ball, and Blake Jenkins' defensive play on Murray State's final possession.
Every small detail paved the way for Kerron to etch his place in championship week history.
From 2015, many Bruin fans know the backstory for how the final sequence developed; where an initial play drawn for Craig Bradshaw was scrapped and exchanged for a misdirection three-point opportunity for Taylor Barnette.
But what some fans forget is that Taylor went the first 31 minutes of the game scoreless, and drilled the biggest shot of his life going against the grain, fading to his right.
Amazingly, neither team led by more than one possession (three points) the final 15 minutes of the game.
Certain moments are frozen in time, and for Belmont fans, the shots by Kerron Johnson and Taylor Barnette qualify.