Knight vs. Coach K, this is the ultimate championship game between to loaded teams that were as dominant for a two-year period as anybody. Let’s take a look at the starting lineups.
G – Quinn Buckner
G – Bobby Wilkerson
F – Scott May
F – Tom Abernathy
C – Kent Benson
G – Bobby Hurley
G – Thomas Hill
Forward – Grant Hill
Forward – Brian Davis
Center – Christian Laettner
The first 10 minutes of the first half is a tight battle but the back-court of Buckner and Wilkerson do a great job of controlling Hurley and Thomas Hill, making it difficult for the Blue Devils to get any offensive flow to the game. The biggest issue seems to be the Blue Devils trying to guard the underrated Wilkerson, who is a brilliant athlete on both sides of the floor. He takes charge on the offensive side for Indiana, scoring 8 points. Duke hangs with IU behind the play of Grant Hill, and after 10 minutes the Hoosiers lead 17-15.
The last 10 minutes of the first half sees the Devils make a run as Christian Laettner decides to play away from the basket, turning his matchup with Kent Benson into a mismatch. Duke surges into the lead at 25-24 with 5 minutes left in the half. The rest of the half sees the emergence of Scott May, who hits a couple of quick baskets and Benson evens things up on the offensive end of the floor against Laettner by getting the ball in the low post.
At the end of the half, Indiana leads, 32-31.
Both teams are known as being second-half teams and they both come out firing on all cylinders. Hurley hits a couple 3-point shots, while Wilkerson continues to drive and dish, first to Abernathey and then to Benson. It shows the Hoosiers’ inside game is troubling the Devils and on the other end, the Devils’ overall athleticism is causing the Hoosiers issues. With 10 minutes left in the game, the Hoosiers hold a slim 46-45 lead.
The last 10 minutes Laettner and May begin to put on a show as both players seem intent on leading their team to the title. Hurley and Buckner are battling to a stalemate because both guards’ tenacious defense is causing the other issues. Tom Abernathy hits a huge shot from the right baseline, giving Indiana a 60-58 lead with just under 3 minutes left in the contest.
Bobby Hurley on the next trip down drives and sends an alley op pass towards Grant Hill who slams the ball through the hoop, tying the score with 2:33 left in the game. Neither team scored on their next two possessions and with a little under a minute left in the game, Bobby Wilkerson drives to the basket and is fouled. He hits one out of two free-throw attempts, giving the Hoosiers a one-point lead with 52 seconds left.
Hurley brings the ball down the floor and finds an open Christian Laettner on the left-wing and Laettner drills a 3-point shot, moving the Blue Devils up 2 points with 28 seconds left. The Hoosiers quickly bring the ball up the floor. Buckner drives to the basket he hits Scott May on the baseline with a perfect bounce pass and May dunks it to tie the score with 14 seconds left.
Hurley once again dribbles it in and tries to throw a pass into the post that is picked off by Scott May. May outlets the ball to Bucker who races up the right side of the court, drives to the basket and finds Wilkerson driving down the left side and hits him with a seemingly impossible pass in traffic. Wilkerson goes up and is fouled hard by the Devils’ Christian Laettner with one second left. Wilkerson will be shooting two shots in a tie game. Wilkerson’s first shot goes up and in, giving the Hoosiers the lead. Wilkerson’s shot looks to be missed intentionally as it clangs off the front of the rim. Grant Hill quickly grabs the ball and flings it down the court, hoping for a miracle that will never come as the Hoosiers are the Ultimate National Champions, beating Duke 64-63.
If you enjoy hearing from the legends of pro sports, then be sure to tune into “The Grueling Truth” sports shows, “Where the legends speak”
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