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- Buzzer beaters and last-second game-winning shots are some of what makes basketball at any level so exciting.
- This year, viewers were treated to a plethora of thrilling, down-to-the-wire finishes in the NCAA tournament, NBA finals, and beyond.
- We used Google Trends to determine the most talked-about game winners and buzzer beaters of 2018.
Buzzer beaters and last-second game winners can elevate a basketball game, team, or player from good to legendary in a matter of seconds.
Just ask Arike Ogunbowale, the Loyola Chicago Ramblers, and Jimmy Butler.
This year, basketball fans were treated to a plethora of thrilling, down-to-the-wire finishes in the NCAA tournament, NBA finals, and beyond.
We used Google Trends to try to widdle down all of this year’s buzzer beaters and game winners to determine which were the most buzzed-about last-second shots of 2018.
Without further ado, here are the 24 best buzzer beaters and game winners of the calendar year.
Gerald Green — Houston Rockets vs Phoenix Suns
From not being in the league a few months ago to drilling game winners. S/o Gerald Green ???? pic.twitter.com/zIsPL33xGx
— NBA Lowdown (@NBALowdown) March 31, 2018
Just months removed from joining his hometown team on a 10-day contract, NBA journeyman Gerald Green knocked down a buzzer-beating corner three to lift the Rockets over the Suns in late March.
Collin Sexton — Alabama Crimson Tide vs Texas A&M Aggies
With an NCAA tournament bid on the line, the Crimson Tide’s star freshman point guard Collin Sexton found his way up the court and sank an underhand floater at the buzzer to take down the Aggies and advance in the SEC tournament.
Al Horford — Boston Celtics vs Portland Trail Blazers
???? AL HORFORD WITH A BUZZER BEATER????
— SB Nation (@SBNation) February 4, 2018
At the beginning of February, Al Horford capped a double-double performance against the Trail Blazers with a turnaround fadeaway jumper to beat the buzzer and win the game for the Celtics.
Julian McGarvey — Ardsley High School vs Tappan Zee High School
In one of the wildest buzzer beaters of the year, Julian McGarvey flung up a one-handed prayer from inside the opposite three-point line to clinch the New York Section 1 basketball championship for Ardsley High School.
Tiffany Hayes — Atlanta Dream vs Connecticut Sun
Shooting guard Tiffany Hayes hoisted a shot from beyond half court to lift Atlanta passed Connecticut in July.
Jimmy Butler — Philadelphia 76ers vs Charlotte Hornets
Jimmy Butler lo esta sintiendo: ¡GAME WINNER ANTE CHARLOTTE HORNETS! pic.twitter.com/mLvx1kxf0k
— Basquet Argentina (@BasketArgentina) November 18, 2018
Less than a week after officially joining the 76ers, four-time All-Star Jimmy Butler connected on a buzzer-beating step-back three to lift Philadelphia past Kemba Walker and the Hornets.
Jimmy Butler (again) — Philadelphia 76ers vs Brooklyn Nets
Jimmy Butler with a dagger in Brooklyn for the game-winner. He finished with 34 points, 12 rebounds, four steals and two assists in the comeback win for the 76ers over the Nets. pic.twitter.com/cn580RpnHB
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) November 26, 2018
Eight days later, Butler once again hit the game-winner for his new team, this time against the Brooklyn Nets.
Jaylen Brown — Boston Celtics vs Utah Jazz
Jaylen Brown fell to the ground as he threw up a last-second trey from the top of the key to take down the Jazz late in the regular season.
Carlik Jones — Radford Highlanders vs Liberty Flames
Radford punches their ticket to the Big Dance on a buzzer-beater! pic.twitter.com/EqxL61zcYe
— ESPN (@espn) March 4, 2018
Radford freshman Carlik Jones sunk a buzzer-beating, game-winning three to win the Big South championship and send the Highlanders dancing for the first time since 2009.
Garry Harris — Denver Nuggets vs Oklahoma City Thunder
Thunder star Paul George tied this early February game by draining an impressive step-back three with 1.4 seconds to go, but it was Denver’s Gary Harris who stole the show with a buzzer-beating corner three to win the game.
Dwayne Wade — Miami Heat vs Philadelphia 76ers
Dwayne Wade scored 15 of the Heat’s final 17 points before draining a jumper just inside the key to give Miami the victory over the 76ers.
Kristi Toliver — Washington Mystics vs Dallas Wings
— Washington Mystics (@WashMystics) August 5, 2018
Mystics great Kristi Toliver drained a turnaround fadeaway with just more than a second on the clock to lift Washington over the Dallas Wings back in April.
— Miami Hurricanes vs North Carolina Tar Heels
MIAMI UPSETS THE HEELS!
The Hurricanes snap No. 9 North Carolina's six-game win streak to get a huge win in Chapel Hill. pic.twitter.com/EJCt1V1XaN
— ESPN (@espn) February 28, 2018
In a finish oddly reminiscent of the Tar Heels’ infamous 2016 national championship loss to Villanova, Joel Berry II sank a clutch three with 4.1 seconds remaining to put North Carolina up by three, but Miami’s Ja’Quan Newton threw up a runner as time expired to snap the Tar Heels’ six-game winning streak and spoil their senior night.
Khris Middleton — Milwaukee Bucks vs Boston Celtics
ARE YOU KIDDING!?
Khris Middleton sends Game 1 in Boston to OT with the ridiculous buzzer beater! pic.twitter.com/XUfMBKipzL
— NBA (@NBA) April 15, 2018
After Boston’s Terry Rozier hit a stunning go-ahead three with 0.5 seconds remaining, Bucks shooting guard Khris Middleton sank a shot from well beyond the arc to tie the game. In the end, the Celtics came away with the 111-107 overtime win in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Trae Young — Atlanta Hawks vs San Antonio Spurs
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) October 11, 2018
Before the NBA regular season even began, Trae Young made his arrival known by sinking a game-winning shot from the logo.
Donte Ingram — Loyola Chicago Ramblers vs Miami Hurricanes
Loyola Chicago’s Donte Ingram sank a buzzer-beating three from the top of the key to upset the Miami Hurricanes and kickstart the Ramblers’ improbable run to the Final Four.
Clayton Custer — Loyola Chicago Ramblers vs Tennessee Volunteers
With 3.6 seconds remaining and his team behind by one, Clayton Custer chucked up the game winner, which bounced off the rim and the glass before falling through the net. The shot sent Loyola Chicago – an 11-seed in the NCAA tournament – to the Sweet 16.
Chennedy Carter — Texas A&M Aggies vs DePaul Blue Demons
CHENNEDY CARTER FOR PRESIDENT
— NCAA WBB (@ncaawbb) March 18, 2018
Chennedy Carter racked up 34 points before draining a clutch stepback three-pointer to lift Texas A&M past DePaul and eliminate the Blue Demons from the NCAA tournament.
JR Smith — Cleveland Cavaliers vs Indiana Pacers
JR Smith connected on a long buzzer-beater to end the first quarter of the Cavaliers’ eventual win over the Pacers in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference First Round matchup.
LeBron James — Cleveland Cavaliers vs Indiana Pacers
One game later, four-time NBA MVP LeBron James hit a buzzer-beating three to put the Cavaliers up one game in the tight series against Indiana. Cleveland would go on to squeeze out a 4-3 series win and advance to the NBA Finals before getting swept by the Golden State Warriors.
LeBron James — Cleveland Cavaliers vs Toronto Raptors
LeBron James kissed a floater off the glass to beat the Raptors at the buzzer in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Cavaliers would go on to sweep the series.
Arike Ogunbowale — Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs UConn Huskies
With one second remaining, Arike Ogunbowale knocked down an unebelievably clutch game-winner from just inside the arc to topple the undefeated Huskies in the Final Four.
Arike Ogunbowale (again) — Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs Mississippi State Bulldogs
ARIKE OGUNBOWALE JUST WON NOTRE DAME THE 2018 NATIONAL TITLE! pic.twitter.com/ZCNhyF1uIf
— ESPN (@espn) April 2, 2018
Arike Ogunbowale sank a game-winning three at the buzzer to win the national championship for Notre Dame. Of course, she earned Final Four MVP honors for her stunning back-to-back game winners.
Jordan Poole — Michigan Wolverines vs Houston Cougars
Freshman Jordan Poole hit what was arguably the buzzer beater of the year to lift the Wolverines past Houston and fuel their run to the national championship game.
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- Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images