The team — those players wearing strange-looking green jerseys, miles away from a place to call home — were indiscernible in the first half.
Who were they? Where had they been hiding all year? More importantly, how did it happen?
Incomprehensible, to say the least.
The Bulls — that men’s basketball — with their barely improved season and conference records, did that unthinkable thing that can scarcely be said without a stutter in March.
They donned a white dress, pulled the glass slippers out of the closet and let Brian Swift cry to his Warrensville Fairy Godmother.
And with one player on the second — the second? — All-Conference USA team, those rag-tag backyard players were even more outlandish, just a little more preposterous.
There is not and probably never will be an explanation as to why anything happened the way it did on Wednesday night.
In a town full of country music, hilltoppers and gallon-sized hats that actually match silk and purple-colored shirts, in a land that seems foreign to even European Marius Prekevicious, the men’s basketball team did what no one thought could ever happen.
Just five days ago it seemed impossible, but it happened.
In the second half, Marlyn Bryant looked like a ringer — a player stolen from Louisville or even Illinois.
Terrence Leather — with his 11th double-double of the season, and how he only had nine his entire career before this season, and with all his extremely heavy heart — was player of the game.
The always-emotional Swift held back those tears he’s had since last August, but lost his grip on them with 7.3 seconds left.
He didn’t care.
He let them fly, like a bullet pass to Bryant.
The Bulls — with their own air of confidence, with their strut that deserves to be gawked at, with their players that every analysist from every ESPNPlus from here to Big Sky, Montana wouldn’t recognize — did what fans only hoped; what all of you at The Clubhouse Sports CafÃ© have yearned for all year.
Now, they’ve done it twice.
Keep gold digging.
You’re still the one with the problem.
Illogical, to say the very, most miniscule least.
Is it that unbelievable?
Can the fathoms of desperate people in Temple Terrace and St. Petersburg, New and South and West and North and East Tampa actually rise to the surface where many want them to be?
Were the Bulls just saving the best for last?
Houston — which already exceeded its expectations when the Cougars were picked to be the 13th seed, not even warranting a conference tournament invitation, just like USF — already beat the Bulls twice.
By more than 10 points.
USF had a 13-point lead in the first, then the team went down, lost it like throwing their sweat-soaked jerseys into the laundry bin.
Those green jerseys — a curse on the road with their 2-9 away record — propelled Swift, with his emotions and tears; Bryant, with his bloody nose suffered from an inadvertent elbow; and Leather, with that extra heavy heart — towards the hoop.
Toward its second upset in less than a week, in less than 150.
It happened again.
Quarterfinal versus No. 20 Cincinnati tonight?