In the middle of scoring 17 straight, there was this little pearl, a crafty no-look over-the-shoulder pass from Florida Gulf Coast point guard Brett Comer to a cutting teammate.

The real beauty of it: The whistle had already blown. Florida Gulf Coast's point guard knew it, throwing it with only one purpose, to entertain the masses at the Wells Fargo Center.

They were entertained. Oh, they were entertained. Even Duke's band got up to go crazy at one point for Florida Gulf Coast, a university that ran a fastbreak dunkathon from obscurity at the Wells Fargo Center, knocking San Diego State aside, 81-71, just as they had Georgetown.

"We've been told, this is what college basketball is all about,'' said Gulf Coast star Sherwood Brown.

College basketball wishes.

This building hasn't been this entertained by this sport since the high point of the Allen Iverson era more than a decade back.

As it happens, Gulf Coast guard Christophe Varidel cupped his hand to his ear as he ran downcourt after making a jump shot.

"I was a big fan of Allen Iverson,'' Varidel said.

To show how the world works now, Varidel grew up in Versoix, Switzerland, a little city outside of Geneva. He used to ski competitively, until a friend grabbed him in seventh grade and said they were going to basketball class.

What was he thinking during that 17-0 run that put away the San Diego State Aztecs and put Florida Gulf Coast, the first No. 15 seed to make it, in the Sweet 16?

"Seventeen-0? . . . Wow. Was I on the floor?'' Varidel said.

After it was all over, he raced into the crowd, became engulfed by Gulf Coast students, and was lost among them until he emerged about 15 rows up. He grabbed his brother Yannick by the legs.

"He was standing on his seat. He didn't know it was me,'' said Varidel, who returned to the floor with a Swiss flag, joining his teammates, who didn't want to leave the place.

It was a fairy-tale night, right down to the replay of La Salle's last play on the big screen during the Duke-Creighton game.

The television cameras kept cutting to the Gulf Coast coach's wife, the former supermodel. Inside the place, that would have been an unnecessary diversion. The players took care of the ticket-buyers.

Just a minute before that no-look pass that didn't count, an Eagles player saved a ball out of bounds past the baseline by throwing the ball up in the air behind him with no intended target. Comer couldn't get a full hand on it, and knew it, so he switched into volleyball mode, tapping the ball over to an open teammate, starting a fastbreak.

Eddie Murray started another fastbreak by slamming an Aztecs shot to the floor. A teammate picked it up on one bounce and took off for another Gulf Coast fastbreak.

A 15 seed as Phi Slamma Jamma.

"Crazy,'' someone texted from a luxury box. "Bring this coach to Philly!''

Even when it was close, this game worked on so many levels. Lively hoops, against the backdrop of real X-and-O acumen and defensive intensity.

The whole tale is too perfect. A campus carved out of the woods over the last 20 years. A program just in its second season of eligibility for the NCAA tournament. A coach who cashed out from Wall Street, married the former model, and apprenticed under Rick Pitino and Mike Dunleavy in the NBA.

The Florida Gators are next, in the Sweet 16. Heaven help them.

Contact Mike Jensen at mjensen@phillynews.com. Follow @jensenoffcampus on Twitter.