The occasion of Jacksonville State's 85-67 rout of Tennessee State was more than an Ohio Valley Conference victory. It was a rare intersection of JSU's hopes for its most high-profile sports.
For men's hoops, it was that night that comes about once per season. TV cables snaked into The Pete, and the outfit carrying the game had the letters E-S-P-N in its name.
There was a "U" on the end, but hey, it's part of the ESPN family, and we're talking OVC basketball.
JSU's football program, meanwhile, also factored into this big night for JSU's biggest sports.
No, this was not the night to recognize JSU's best-in-the-OVC football team of 2009.
It was "Dollar to Holler" night, with $1 general admission tickets. It was also the night to tout all 200-or-so JSU athletes with a 3.0 GPAs or higher.
Impressively, they nearly rounded the court at halftime.
But the football drama played out in the lobby, behind a banner-draped table and under a tailgating tent. That's where the public sale of 2010 season tickets opened for the new stadium club seats.
Those are the new sweet seats in front of the new suites in the expanded Paul Snow Stadium — the 1,026 seats that cost $500 apiece.
Hey, not to do JSU's pitching here, but those seats come with access to the climate-controlled stadium club, a pre-game meal, free fountain drinks and snacks and closed-circuit TV coverage.
There's a $50 reservation fee, but progress has its price, and Thursday was all about progress.
It was the night to show progress in basketball and begin a measure of it in football.
How did JSU come out?
Ticket manager Doug Phillips said people stopped by the table to inquire, but no tickets were sold as of halftime.
David Farrar, associate athletics director for external affairs and point man for the campaign, said he hopes to have about 200 of the seats sold in the first 24 hours.
JSU season-ticket holders typically buy late. They know there's little danger of sellouts.
Farrar said he's confident all club-level seats will sell by the start of the 2010 season, and that the stadium expansion will justify itself — much as the investment by another school in Alabama paid off, just on a slightly smaller scale.
"The University of Alabama invested some seed money in a coach (Nick Saban) and in a program that, at the time, seemed rather grand and grandiose," Farrar said, referring to Saban's initial 8-year, $32 million contract.
"That seed money has multiplied, I don't know, 500 times," he said. "Everything from admissions to the sale of any and everything Alabama has gone up as a result of it."
As for how the men's basketball team came out on this night of dreams for JSU's biggest sports, glad you asked.
JSU erupted after falling behind 35-32 at halftime. They put on a nice show for the TV audience they had on The U.
As for the home audience, the crowd of 3,816 was JSU's second-largest this season and the largest outside of an early game against UAB.
It was a nice place for JSU to be after Christmas break and Alabama football put JSU in its place. Holiday crowds of less than 1,000 included 527 — the night of Alabama's SEC Championship game rout of Florida — and 738 — the night of Alabama's BCS Championship game victory against Texas.
JSU's team, hoping to finish among the eight to qualify for the OVC tournament for the first time since 2006, came into the night in sixth place and left tied for fourth.
The Gamecocks are 4-4 in league play and have won two league games in a row for the first time since early February of last year.
Tennessee State is a 4-16 team and 1-7 in the OVC, but it just meant a chance for JSU to showcase its game. On this night, the Gamecocks did it.
"It was good," second-year JSU coach James Green said. "Any time you play on television, you feel a lot better when the game ends the way that it ended, where you get everybody into the game and the crowd gets into it."