Buzzer beater, zone defense highlight 20-point comeback for Barbee's first win
Webb, a 6-foot-4 freshman walk-on from Leawood, Kansas, has played his way into the Chippewas' rotation with hard work and hustle. He scored the first points of his Chippewa career with a banked-in 3-pointer in the first half of T game.
With a Lantz Arena crowd jumping with joy after Eastern Illinois' CJ Lane drilled a corner 3-pointer, just 2.4 seconds separated Central Michigan from a third straight defeat to open the Tony Barbee era.
Facing an uphill battle, the Chippewas had to go the length of the court, Barbee asked Taylor if he was capable of making the full-court pass to forward Harrison Henderson.
"No," Taylor said. "Go to Jack (Webb)."
"That's being a good teammate," Barbee said of Taylor's decision. "Jack's one of our best passers in that situation."
Webb, a 6-foot-4 freshman walk-on from Leawood, Kansas, has played his way into the Chippewas' rotation with hard work and hustle. He scored the first points of his Chippewa career with a banked-in 3-pointer in the first half of Tuesday's game.
With the game on the line, he was asked to check into the game and throw a pass that traveled nearly 79 feet. His pass reached 6-foot-11 senior Harrison Henderson, who couldn't corral it amidst two Panther defenders.
The loose ball was snatched by CMU's Jermaine Jackson Jr., a scrappy, undersized guard who has been the Chippewas' top scorer in two of their three games. He took two dribbles, raced past scrambling defenders, and laid the ball off the glass.
"(Jackson) did his job, he didn't stop and watch," Barbee said. "He was at the right place at the right time. He needed a little luck, but he also executed that moment."
The basketball found net as the backboard illuminated in red.
Barbee pumped his fist. Assistant coach Chris McMillian ran in a circle. The Chippewa players sprinted up the sideline opposite their bench, hugging each other and jubilantly hushing a crowd that could not be silenced 10 seconds earlier.
For the first time under Barbee, the Chippewas were victorious.
It was an unlikely play that capped off an unlikely comeback. The game-winning play was the same one CMU tried at the end of the first half, with the first attempt resulting in a turnover.
Confidently, Barbee went back to the play and saw it work the way it needed to when the Chippewas were on the ropes. Yet, they wouldn't have gotten to that point if not for a surplus of heart and an expert coaching decision.
Down 20 in the first half, Barbee and his staff made the decision to play zone defense. It's the same decision the Chippewas made down big in the opener against Missouri. Once again, the decision worked and CMU clawed back on offense while its defense worked wonders.
"We couldn't guard them man-to-man," Barbee said. "They were driving us, they were throwing the ball inside. It was a tale of two halves."
After trailing 42-29 at the end of the first half, CMU held the Panthers to a mere 19 points in the final 20 minutes. EIU shot 25 percent on 27 attempts in the final stanza. The Chippewas picked it up offensively, shooting 45 percent in the second half.
Though it was indeed a tale of two halves, Jackson wrote the happy ending. For a team still finding itself together, this ending could be the start to an even bigger story.