Rob Loe's double-double saves Saint Louis
Kiwi Rob Loe stared down what could have been his final game in college hoops to come up huge for the Saint Louis Billikens in Orlando today.
The 2.10m North Shore native emerged as the hero for Saint Louis as they scrambled an 83-80 overtime victory over North Carolina State in the second round of basketball's NCAA tournament, popularly known as March Madness.
Loe, a Tall Black regular when he's been available in recent seasons, played a major role in digging the Billikens out of a serious hole as they faced an exit in the round of 64 in Orlando today.
Saint Louis trailed the Wolfpack by four (26-30) at halftime, but fell behind by 14 (39-53) with 9:05 remaining and still trailed by 11 (49-60) with a little over three minutes left.
But a rollicking finish by the Billikens saw them scramble overtime as they levelled the game at 70-70 behind clutch drives from Loe and dreadlocked guard Jordair Jett.
Loe was then clutch in the extra period, making a dunk, a layup and a pair of free-throws to lead Saint Louis to a third-round matchup against defending champion and fourth-seeded Louisville, who survived against Manhattan 71-64.
Loe, a senior, finished with a big-time double-double of 22 points and 15 rebounds to produce one of the defining performances in his four years at the university. Defeat would have marked the end of his career.
He was also brutally efficient, going eight-of-11 from the floor and four-of-six from deep, and adding three assists.
The NZ Breakers have Loe in their sights, hoping to entice the big man back to the Shore for his first professional experience.
But a performance like this could also have him showing up on the radar of European scouts, with the Kiwi also holding a UK passport.
Twitter was abuzz with Rob Loe mentions, with even Parks & Recreation actor Rob Lowe getting in on the act.
We Rob Loe's know how to ball! But can he get the W?? #MarchMadness
Rob Loe of Saint Louis made good use of the corner 3 and the paint tonight pic.twitter.com/YfRlFOdYht
Earlier this week, the USA Today jokingly pointed out the differences between Loe and Lowe.
Meanwhile New Zealand's Steven Adams contributed four points (2/3 FG) and six rebounds for the Oklahoma City Thunder today as they pipped the undermanned Cavaliers 102-95 in Cleveland.
The Thunder were paced by 35 points from star forward Kevin Durant who extended his streak of 25 points or more to 33 games as he closes in on Michael Jordan's record of 40 (1986-87).
With their 50th win, the Thunder moved to within a game and a-half of the San Antonio Spurs for the best record in the West.