A border war to kick off today’s Final Four games as Bob Knight leads his Perfect 1976 Indiana Hoosiers into battle against the “Untouchables” of Rick Pitino. Let’s take a look at the starting lineups.
1976 Indiana Hoosiers
G – Quinn Buckner
G – Bobby Wilkerson
F – Scott May
F – Tom Abernathy
C – Kent Benson
1996 Kentucky Wildcats
Guard – Tony Delk
Guard – Derek Anderson
Forward – Antoine Walker
Forward – Walter McCarty
Forward – Ron Mercer
Neither team is afraid to play at a fast pace, but I think that it will be important for the Wildcats to speed the game up even more than usual to try and tire out Benson and May. The tempo is controlled by Buckner and Wilkerson, however, who suffocate the Wildcats defensively. Tom Abernathy hits the first two shots of the game for Indiana and a Wilkerson steal and layup puts the Hoosiers up 6-0 early in the game, forcing Rick Pitino to use a quick timeout.
The rest of the first half is the Hoosiers slowly extending their lead as Wilkerson and Buckner dominate the guard play and Benson and May are overpowering for the Hoosiers inside.
Tony Delk does get loose in the last minute of the first half to hit a couple of three-point shots but the Hoosiers go to the half with a comfortable 42-26 lead over Kentucky.
The big problem for the Cats is they really don’t hold an advantage at any position on the floor against the Hoosiers and the defense of Indiana’s guards is unlike any they have ever seen. Throw in the dominance under the basket of Kent Benson and Scott May and the Wildcats will need to play a perfect second half to get back into this. For the first ten minutes of the second half the Cats cut into the Indiana lead as Antoine Walker and Tony Delk start to get on-track. Now the Hoosiers’ lead is down to single-digits at 56-49.
After the television timeout though Bobby Wilkerson and Tom Abernathy come into their own, with Wilkerson driving to the hole and Abernathy banging in a couple of shots from the wing. The rest of the game was a track meet won by Indiana as the last 5 minutes belonged to Scott May, who would finish the game with 27 points.
The Hoosiers will advance to the Ultimate National Championship game with a 78-64 win over the Untouchables.