COLUMBUS, OHIO – This is a test. One of the following statements is true and one is false. See if you can identify the right answer.
Colgate star guard Jordan Burns missed the team plane to the NCAA tournament and took an Uber from New York to Ohio.
Burns scorched the No. 2-seeded Tennessee Volunteers with a Steph Curry-like shooting display to nearly ignite an upset in the absence of Colgate’s best player and Patriot League Player of the Year Rapolas Ivanauskas, who missed the second half because a bout of pink eye blurred his vision.
Both seem far-fetched, but we’ll let Burns provide a hint.
“An eight-plus hour Uber?” he said. “I don’t know what Uber driver would have taken that trip.”
Remarkably, someone tweeted that misinformation this week and it went viral, causing some people — media outlets included — to reveal their gullibility.
Burns’ name went viral again Friday after turning in a performance that probably made the Vols wish the sophomore guard had actually missed his flight.
Burns scored 32 points and made eight of 13 three-pointers as Colgate put a major scare into Tennessee before falling short 77-70 in the first round.
“I felt like it was going to be a special day,” Burns said.
Down by 12 at halftime and with Ivanauskas on the bench with a towel covering his head, Burns took matters into his own hands. He made six of his first seven three-point attempts. He hit three-pointers from NBA distance and with defenders draped on him.
In a blink, Colgate led by two points midway through the second half, igniting loud roars inside Nationwide Arena.
“It’s an amazing feeling to get the crowd behind you in this big ol’ arena,” Burns said. “Just to show the world how good we are.”
Burns wasn’t just good. He was a one-man show at times. He even made a three-pointer that was tipped by his defender.
“I blocked his shot and it went in,” Vols guard Lamonte Turner said. “It was one of those nights for him. That’s March Madness. He got into a zone. I did my best defensively and he was still throwing them in.”
Turner and Burns shared a laugh on the court after Turner partially deflected a step-back three-pointer that still was on the money.
“He was like, ‘Man, there’s nothing I can do,’ ” Burns said.
Burns’ performance defined the tournament’s appeal. Occasionally, players from smaller conferences who aren’t household names and don’t play on national television become stars in March by doing something special.
“It feels like in March everybody’s percentage goes up 10 percent,” Vols guard Admiral Schofield said. “Not to discredit his work or the type of player he is. He hit some big shots.”
Burns scored 20 of Colgate’s 40 second-half points. It wasn’t enough because the Vols made clutch shots in the final few minutes. Burns made them work hard to advance.
“I’d like to have him on our team tomorrow,” Vols coach Rick Barnes said. “I shouldn’t say that. That might be called — scratch that.”
Don’t worry, Rick. Nobody is going to confuse admiration for tampering.
Colgate needed something extra from Burns because Ivanauskas was unavailable in the second half because of a freak malady.
Colgate coach Matt Langel said the junior forward woke up with pink eye. Ivanauskas wore his glasses in the morning and applied ice and other medications, Langel said. But he started having vision problems when he put his contacts in.
Ivanauskas played nearly 16 minutes in the first half. He was 0-for-4 shooting with two turnovers.
“He couldn’t catch the ball clean, couldn’t see great,” Langel said.
Ivanauskas wore sunglasses in the locker room after the game and declined interviews. That Colgate had a chance to win without him against a team with national championship aspirations is a testament to his teammates’ competitive fight and Burns’ individual brilliance.
Burns wanted to put on a show because his dad, Eroy, was there to see him play in person for the first time since Dec. 2. Burns made his final shot — a three-pointer that banked in with 3 seconds left with the outcome decided — then went and hugged his dad in the stands after the game.
“Just being able to see his face and give him a hug and tell him I love him was amazing,” Burns said.
Chip Scoggins firstname.lastname@example.org