The Shot: Breaking down Kris Jenkins buzzer-beater

It is the shot that will define Villanova basketball forever. Kris Jenkins with the long-range three-pointer at the buzzer to win the National Championship — well, shots don't get any bigger than that.

The play that led to Jenkins heroics was brilliantly designed and executed to perfection. And we're going to break it down.

But before we break down the actual play and the shot that made Villanova the National Champions, we have to first look at two other crucial plays and how the Wildcats were even in that situation.

Working backwards here, the Wildcats needed to make a shot because of Marcus Paige's acrobatic three-pointer to tie the game.

Give Paige a ton of credit. That's a remarkable shot made by a player who is going to be a nice pro in the near future. He's NBA-bound for sure next season in some capacity, and shots like that prove that he can be clutch on the big stage.

Villanova actually plays this well. UNC inbounds with 13.5 seconds left and because Mikal Bridges is in the backcourt, the Tar Heels have to control the ball right away, which takes a full 1.5 seconds off the clock by the time UNC reaches the front court.

Joel Berry II has the ball with 12 seconds to go and it is clear right away that he is looking to pass it off. Nearly four more seconds tick off the clock by the time he gets the ball over to Paige, who was guarded well by Daniel Ochefu.

Ochefu's big mistake here was diving for the ball. While the play looked close from the standard broadcast camera scaling the sidelines, other angles show the ball past his outstretched hand before he even leaves his feet. 

With Ochefu out of the play, Paige has a lot of open space in front of him with eight seconds left. But his one dribble actually is slightly bobbled as he tries to make the quick play, which is why when he leaps for what should be an open three, Ryan Arcidiacono and Bridges are coming over to cover. 

Paige is committed to the shot at this point, so he has to fall off-balance just to put up a shot. Paige remains airborne for over a second as he adjusts for the shot. What happened next was stunning. The shot falls with 4.7 seconds to go.

Paige's shot tied the game, but only because of a 15-second sequence at the end of the first half. 

Kennedy Meeks strips Phil Booth as he goes for a driving layup and that sends the Tar Heels charging the other way. A lead pass to Justin Jackson sends him in for a layup that would put UNC up by nine at the half, but Josh Hart blocks the attempt and Arcidiacono grabs the rebound with eight seconds left. 

That sends the Wildcats on a mad dash the other way and Arcidiacono lobs a lead pass up to Phil Booth. Booth moves the ball around trying to gain positioning for a shot and finally is able to pull up from the free-throw line and put up a shot with two seconds left. He connects with under a second to go, and the buzzer sounds. An imminent nine-point game becomes a five-point game thanks to Hart's hustle and Booth's touch.

That four-point swing is why Paige's three with five seconds left only tied the game instead of giving the Tar Heels the lead.

So with 4.7 seconds left, Villanova calls timeout and sets their "4-to-7-second play in motion."

In a flashback moment, Jay Wright was in this exact same spot in 2009 in the Elite Eight. Pittsburgh had tied the game at 76 leaving Villanova with 5.5 seconds to potentially win the game and advance to the Final Four.

There were two key differences to that play: Villanova did not have a timeout to set the play and the inbound player was not the shooter. But Scottie Reynolds lives in Villanova lore for his floater. Reggie Redding inbounded to Dante Cunningham, who dished quickly to Reynolds. Because of a full-court press, Pitt had just two players as Reynolds charged in and threw up the floater that won the game. 

Kris Jenkins heroic play was very different. It starts with the fact that Jenkins was the one to inbound and start the play. He gets the ball into Arcidiacono, who has a lot of time because UNC had just one player, Berry, in the backcourt, and the senior turned on the speed. Arcidiacono crosses up Berry and Ochefu takes him out of the play with a set screen.

At this point, North Carolina has not attacked the perimeter, so with Berry trying to recover from the screen and Isaiah Hicks on Arcidiacono, Jenkins is left open. Arcidiacono shovels a pass to him at the right wing and sets a nice little screen.

Now both Berry and Hicks are behind Arcidiacono as Jenkins gets his look and it was a perfect shot.

Of course, in a moment like that, you have no way of knowing if a shot is going to be good. But Jay Wright seemed to know. "Bang."

The shot heard 'round college basketball and Villanova sent basketball fans into a frenzy. For fans of Villanova and Big 5 basketball, this was a championship for local basketball. For even average basketball fans, fans of the Tournament and college basketball lifers, this may go down as the greatest finish in college basketball history.

Only one other National Championship game in history had been decided by a buzzer-beating shot. Lorenzo Charles on NC State dunked off a Dereck Whittenburg miss on a long three-pointer.

Kris Jenkins not only lives in Villanova history, but college basketball history, as do the 2016 Villanova Wildcats, National Champions on a last-season play that shook the college basketball world.

Kevin Durso is editorial assistant for Sports Talk Philly. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.

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