ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- About 30 minutes before Thursday night's Atlantic 10 quarterfinal game between Charlotte and Massachusetts, 49ers forward Lamont Mack came over to where I was sitting on press row.
He said hello. He always calls me "Mr. Utter," which of course makes me feel old. He said he just wanted to let me know that he was going to make sure I had something good to write about after Thursday's game.
"I didn't have a very good game last night," he said, "so I owe you one."
Little did I know.
Mack had struggled in Wednesday's win over Rhode Island and finished with a single point. He had, however, played well defensively. I think in some way he still felt he let the team down and was looking forward to making up for it.
UMass ran out to a 36-19 lead at halftime. Charlotte was getting good looks at the basket but shot just 22.9 percent in the half. Mack had four points.
Of course, there is a reason they play the second half.
UMass quickly went out to an 18-point lead before Mack began his attack. He hit two free throws. After a UMass miss, he drained a long 3-pointer. He scored 13 of Charlotte's first 17 points after halftime, part of a 31-9 run the 49ers used to turn a 17-point deficit to a three point lead.
Mack was just one of several Charlotte players to play an important role in a memorable win. Leemire Goldwire took over in the end, hitting three 3-pointers in the final 3:19 of the game.
In any case, Mack more than made up for his performance on Wednesday. And win or lose, Charlotte and Mack's effort to come back -- their unwillingness to give up -- produced one of best college basketball performances I have ever seen.