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1986 College Basketball Season

March 28, 2014

big apple NIT

The teams that participated in the first Pre-Season NIT (or as it was known in 1985, the Big Apple NIT) *photo courtesy of Ebay

The pre-season polls going into the 1985-86 season was ACC dominated (in fact it was ACC teams that would be ranked number 1 all year).  But the ACC team that would make the most impact wasn’t in the top 5.

Georgia Tech was ranked #1 after winning the 1985 ACC championship and had all of their key players returning, and added some more.  North Carolina was #2.  They were returning most of their key players.  Duke was #6 and they had their key players returning too.  Georgia Tech losing Scott Petway, North Carolina losing Buzz Peterson and Duke losing Dan Meagher were the only starting quality players each team lost.  Hardly any NBA talent.

Ranked #3 was Michigan.  They were returning all of their players from their 1985 team that had won 17 games in a row.  They would win the Big Ten on the last day of the season (highlights shown here) but, as a #2 seed in the Midwest, they were upset in the 2nd round for the 2nd straight year.  This time Jeff Grayer, Jeff Hornacek, and former coach Johnny Orr and the Iowa State Cyclones took them down 72-69.  Then star Roy Tarpley became the 7th pick in the NBA draft by the Dallas Mavericks.

Ranked #4 was Syracuse.  Rafael Addison, Pearl Washington, Rony Seikaly, Jim Boeheim and company went through the Big East season at 14-2.  But they would finish 2nd as a surprising team that had lost a superstar finished 1st in the Big East.  And no it wasn’t Georgetown a year after losing Patrick Ewing.  The Hoyas would finish 3rd at 11-5 and challenge Syracuse in the Big East semis later in this post.

Nope it was a team that was asked along with #5 Kansas, #6 Duke and #9 Louisville to participate in the first of its kind, a pre-season tournament.  The Pre-Season NIT (or as it was called for its first tournament, the Big Apple NIT) featured 16 teams in 4 different regions and eventually produced a team from each power conference.  The final four of these 16 teams would meet at Madison Square Garden.  The four teams that emerged in the first final four of the pre-season NIT was #5 Kansas, #6 Duke, #9 Louisville, and #18 St. John’s (after the Redmen were unranked in the pre-season poll).

November 29, 1985 – Pre-Season NIT Semifinals, (#18)St. John’s Red Men 70, (#6)Duke Blue Devils 71

St. John’s wasn’t expected to do much in 1986 after losing superstar Chris Mullin (as well as Bill Wennington and Mike Moses).  But they won their first two games led by their next superstar, Walter Berry.  Berry was the junior college player of the year before catching on at St. John’s in 1985.  Other than the Naismith award, that went to Berry’s opponent on this day Johnny Dawkins, Berry won each honor in his senior season of 1986.  And it started with a great performance here on the Garden floor.

Berry returned along with Mark Jackson, who would come into his own after backing up Mike Moses at the point in 1985.  Along with them were athletic swingmen Shelton Jones and Willie Glass and sharp-shooting guard Ron Rowan.  St. John’s only bench strength though was bruisers, which meant Jackson and Rowan didn’t get much rest.

Duke had returned superstars Dawkins and Mark Alarie, along with swingman David Henderson and point guard Tommy Amaker.  The 4th senior of the group, center Jay Bilas, was out for the early season with tendinitis in his knee.  In the starting lineup, he was replaced by prized freshman Danny Ferry.  Ferry would play like a nervous freshman in this early season but he would make a big impact in the rotation later in the season.

Off the bench, Duke had young specialists Billy King, Kevin Strickland and Quin Snyder.  Each would eventually start for the Blue Devils once its great senior class of Dawkins, Alarie, Henderson and Bilas left (and in Snyder’s case, once Amaker left in 1987).

The game was even for the first 10 minutes or so.  Dawkins, Henderson and Alarie led the way for Duke.  Meanwhile, Ron Rowan and Shelton Jones, along with Walter Berry, kept St. John’s with them.  Berry got most of the looks as he got inside against the Duke defense.  Berry got two quick easy baskets in the lane after great driving spin moves.  But getting the ball to Berry proved to be a challenge as St. John’s, at times, had bad trouble with the Duke press.

Berry scored 10 of St. John’s’ first 20 points and also had a few blocked shots to go with it.  But an alley-oop from Amaker to Billy King tied it at 20 for Duke.  Then Mark Jackson hit two driving shots, one counted while Jackson got called for an offensive foul.  Berry tipped in a Jones miss and St. John’s was up 26-20.  Two more Berry free throws made the margin 28-21.

Duke went on a 6-0 run as Dawkins, Henderson and Alarie got baskets.  Berry scored another jumper in the post for 16 first half points and 4 points from reserve and transfer John Hempel put St. John’s up 35-32.  The last few minutes of the first half only featured a field goal and two free throws from David Henderson as Duke regained a 36-35 lead at the half.

Henderson then scored the first 6 Blue Devil points of the 2nd half as Duke gained a 42-37 lead.  Berry’s baseline jumper cut the lead back to one and then Berry and Alarie exchanged a few baskets.  St. John’s had a certain two points taken away when Willie Glass was called for an offensive goaltending.  It was a bad call as the ball was clearly out of the cylinder but I think the ref that called it was at half court.  Those two points ended up being the difference.

A Berry three-point play against a triple-team inside put the Redmen up 50-48.  A wing jumper by Hempel gave the Johnnies a 4-point lead.  But then Dawkins took over as he made two free throws and then a jumper after David Henderson stole the ball in the back court.  Dawkins then went coast-to-coast after a hesitation move to give the Devils a 54-52 lead.

Jackson later led Berry on a breakaway for a three-point play on NBA-like continuation.  However, an Amaker follow-up and a foul to boot on a Dawkins missed reverse on the break gave Duke a 59-56 lead.  But a Glass put back and a foul tied the game at 61.  Then Berry hit a free throw after Alarie’s 4th foul and Glass two more for a 64-61 St. John’s lead.

Billy King then tipped in a miss to cut it to one.  Berry missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and Alarie’s baseline jumper put Duke up 65-64.  Rowan then got an offensive foul on a drive and Dawkins made two free throws after Duke got 4 shots on the next possession.  Later a King hook put the Blue Devils up 69-64.

Then over the last few minutes of the game, Mike Krzyzewski decided to take some air out of the ball and slow the game down (they couldn’t freeze it though as the shot clock was now here to stay).  This strategy almost cost the Blue Devils, and ended up costing them later in the year in a much bigger game.  Berry blocked an Alarie shot and Mark Jackson got two steals.

Jackson also was big on the offensive end as he hit two runners to cut the lead to 69-68.  A possession after Berry missed another front end of a 1-and-1, Walter scored his 35th point on another spin and jumper in the lane.  St. John’s took a 70-69 lead and Duke called timeout with 34 seconds left.

Amaker had the ball for Duke and Dawkins popped out to the top.  Johnny penetrated to the free throw line area and nailed a pull-up with 21 seconds left to give Duke a lead.  Jackson’s pull-up in the lane went off the back rim after a St. John’s tiemout.  Henderson got the rebound and ran out the clock.

Kansas beat Louisville 83-78 in the 2nd semifinal that day and Duke took care of Kansas two days later in the Championship Game 92-86.  The Pre-Season NIT was here to stay and would make way for other pre-season tournaments like the Great Alaskan Shootout and the Maui Invitational.

Meanwhile, college basketball would hear a lot more from Duke, Kansas, Louisville and, yes, St. John’s without Mullin for the rest of the 1986 season.

St. John’s starters (points scored)

Shelton Jones (11) – Small Forward

Willie Glass (5) – Power Forward

Walter Berry (35) – Center

Mark Jackson (9) – Point Guard

Ron Rowan (4) – Shooting Guard

St. John’s bench (points scored)

John Hempel (6)

Terry Bross (0)

Steve Shurina (0)

Marco Baldi (0)

St. John’s Coach: Lou Carnesecca

Duke starters (points scored)

David Henderson (16) – Small Forward

Mark Alarie (15) – Power Forward

Danny Ferry (2) – Center

Tommy Amaker (9) – Point Guard

Johnny Dawkins (20) – Shooting Guard

Duke bench (points scored)

Billy King (9)

Kevin Strickland (0)

Martin Nessley (0)

Quin Snyder (0)

Duke Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

January 7, 1986 – (#10)St. John’s Red Men 77 @Boston College Eagles 79 (OT)

St. John’s had not lost since the Duke game and were now 14-1 on the season and had climbed to #10 in the polls.  The Redmen’s last two victories were overtime games to open their Big East season.  Mark Jackson had played all 45 minutes in both games.  And he was to play 45 more minutes against BC.

Boston College came into the game at 9-3 and 1-1 in Big East play.  The Eagles had lost Michael Adams to graduation and the NBA, as well as Stu Primus and Terrence Talley to just graduation.  Adams was their only NBA talent from a 1985 team that reached the Sweet 16.  He would be replaced by the only NBA talent on the 1986 team, freshman Dana Barros.  Barros teamed with holdovers from 1985, Roger McCready, Dominic Pressley, Skip Barry, Troy Bowers and Trevor Gordon.  Gary Williams was also in his last season coaching BC before moving on to Ohio State.

St. John’s opened the game hot as Mark Jackson hit from the elbow.  Walter Berry connected in the lane, got a breakaway slam and then a breakaway layup after St. John’s broke the press.  Willie Glass put back a miss and got a reverse breakaway slam.  Ron Rowan hit an elbow jumper.  St. John’s led 16-10 after two Glass free throws. Boston College stayed in it with Barros hitting perimeter shots and McCready scoring inside.

Boston College was putting on the press and playing a box & 1 against Walter Berry.  While there were times the press was broken easily for 3-on-2 breaks, the Eagles did do a good job of shutting off Berry’s drives and post ups.  Eventually the Eagles got even with the Redmen with Barros hitting more outside shots and Bowers and Pressley getting involved.  St. John’s still led 35-34 at the half as Jackson had 11 points and Berry 10.

The back-and-forth action continued as Shelton Jones, who was scoreless in the 1st half, got involved with two quick buckets.  St. John’s eventually took a 3-point lead when reserve Terry Bross got a block and Jackson led Glass for a breakaway slam.  But McCready, the senior leader, came alive and kept BC in the game.  His three-point play on a put back tied the game at 57 and gave Roger 20 points.

Bross gave the Johnnies a spark with back-to-back baskets but a driving runner by McCready and then a steal and jumper by Barros tied the game again.  Jones scored on a layup.  McCready answered with a follow shot.  Jackson hit two free throws and then Barry found Barros with a skip pass for a baseline jumper to tie the game at 65 with under 3:00 left.

Then the teams traded misses until BC got a steal with 23 seconds left.  After a timeout, they looked to go to McCready inside but couldn’t get him the ball.  Barros eventually missed a driving jumper and the game was headed to overtime.

Pressley immediately broke the scoring drought by stealing the ball from Rowan right after the tip went to him and finishing with a layup.  Berry and Rowan responded with jumpers but another three-point play by McCready on a follow-up gave BC the lead for good.  McCready’s runner on the next possession gave him 29 points and gave BC a 72-69 lead.

Boston College went up by as many as four a few times but St. John’s started scoring a little too late.  After the Redmen cut it to 77-75 with 6 seconds left and called their last timeout, Berry got a technical for knocking the ball away from a player while he was still inbounding the ball.  Barros hit two technical free throws and St. John’s stole the subsequent inbounds pass and scored at the buzzer to cut their defeat margin to two points.

Both teams went in opposite directions after this game.  St. John’s lost only one other Big East game during the season.  Meanwhile, BC would only win 2 more as they finished with a 4-12 Big East record, good for 7th.  Jim O’Brien would come in and coach next season but the Eagles were far away from their next NCAA tournament appearance.

St. John’s starters (points scored)

Shelton Jones (10) – Small Forward

Willie Glass (18) – Power Forward

Walter Berry (18) – Center

Mark Jackson (15) – Point Guard

Ron Rowan (10) – Shooting Guard

St. John’s bench (points scored)

John Hempel (0)

Terry Bross (6)

Steve Shurina (0)

St. John’s Coach: Lou Carnesecca

Boston College starters (points scored)

Skip Barry (1) – Small Forward

Roger McCready (29) – Power Forward

Troy Bowers (14) – Center

Dana Barros (18) – Point Guard

Dominic Pressley (13) – Shooting Guard

Boston College bench (points scored)

Russ Doherty (2)

Trevor Gordon (2)

Jamie Benton (0)

Boston College Coach: Gary Williams


Senior Roger McCready led BC to a win against St. John’s with 29 points *photo courtesy of BC Eagles

January 9, 1986 – (#17)Louisville Cardinals 71 @(#6)Memphis State Tigers 73

The Louisville Cardinals were coming off a 19-18 season, but Milt Wagner was back.  The high-scoring guard was red-shirted for the 1985 season but now was back for his senior year along with upper-classmen forward Billy Thompson and shooting guard Jeff Hall.  Sophomore Herbert Crook had worked his way into the starting lineup after missing two big free throws in a loss to Memphis State as a freshman.

Louisville had also grabbed freshmen center Pervis Ellison and swingmen Kenny Payne and Tony Kimbro.  This class made an impact immediately.  Louisville came into the game at 8-3 as they played a tough schedule.  They lost twice in the Big Apple NIT to Kansas and then to St. John’s in the consolation game.  They had also lost to Kentucky at the end of December.

Their Metro Conference rivals, the Memphis State Tigers were 12-0 after beating Louisville three times in 1985.  They lost All-American Keith Lee but returned everybody else.  William Bedford was still in the middle.  Vincent Askew and Baskerville Holmes filled the forward spots.  Senior point guard Andre Turner was joined by sophomore Dwight Boyd in the back court.  The Memphis State Tigers had not lost on their home court since Louisville beat them in 1984, a streak of 29 games.

Turner got a basket off the opening tip but Louisville took the early advantage.  Crook hit six early points and a Wagner steal and short turnaround put the Cardinals up 12-7.  But then Boyd penetrated and found Baskerville Holmes, who slammed it over Ellison and drew the freshman center’s 3rd foul.  Although Kimbro, who came in for Ellison, was a factor, Louisville now had nobody who could check Bedford, who made two straight jumpers from the post.

Bedford and Holmes led the Tigers to a three-point lead.  Then reserve John Wilfong got a fast break layup off an Askew feed to put Memphis State up 26-21.  But the Cardinals freshmen sparked them as Kimbro and Payne scored 6 of the next 8 points on a Louisville 8-0 run.

Those two kept Louisville slightly ahead for the rest of the half.  But a Turner fallaway from the wing with 3 seconds left cut the Cardinals halftime lead to 37-36.

Ellison came back in and nailed the first shot of the 2nd half.  Wagner followed that with a high-archer in the lane.  But the Memphis State press finally forced a few Louisville turnovers and a 5-0 Tiger run tied the game at 43.  First, Askew stole a pass and Holmes got a breakaway three-point play.  Then Turner hit a pull-up after another turnover.

An Askew floater in transition gave Memphis State a 46-45 lead with 14:25 left.  But Louisville responded when Ellison found Crook for a jumper in the lane and then Crook found senior Billy Thompson for a hook shot.  After a Bedford slam on a Turner lob, Ellison’s back-to-back baskets gave Louisville a 5-point lead.

Louisville still held a 59-55 lead after a Wagner jumper.  But Turner’s pull-up in transition got the roll and he was fouled.  The lead was cut to one.  Then Bedford committed his 4th foul and Ellison gave the Cardinals a 60-58 lead with a free throw.  But Memphis State was sparked when Bedford went out.  Freshman big man Marvin Alexander found Boyd for a layup.  Then Alexander finished in transition to give Memphis State a 62-60 lead.

Kimbro tied it with an elbow jumper but Turner’s pull-up from the top of the key with 6:18 left gave Memphis State the lead for good.  Billy Thompson didn’t help by missing 3 of his next 4 free throws.  Free throws, in fact, ended up killing Louisville in this one.

Another Turner jumper from the top gave the Tigers a 68-63 lead.  But then Wagner alley-ooped to Thompson to cut it to three.  Wagner missed a pair of free throws but Crook rebounded the second miss, scored and was fouled.  Naturally, he missed the free throw.  I wasn’t lying in the last sentence of the above paragraph.

Crook eventually fouled out and Memphis State made 3 of their next 4 free throws to take a 71-67 lead.  Then Wagner committed an offensive foul with 2:32 left.  The Tigers ran down the shot clock but Turner missed at the buzzer.  Holmes fouled Ellison on the rebound and Pervis made two free throws with 1:48 left.

Again, Memphis State ran down the shot clock and Askew drew a foul from the freshman Kimbro after up-faking him.  After Askew made two free throws, Kimbro came back with a jumper in the lane with 54 seconds left.  Louisville was down 73-71.  Turner again ran down the 45-second shot clock and missed.  Louisville rebounded and got a timeout after getting the ball across half-court with 5 seconds left.

The inbounds pass went to Wagner at half-court.  Milt quickly found his senior partner, Jeff Hall, at the wing.  But Hall’s contested shot was short and Memphis State survived.  But these teams would see each other again on the last day of the regular season, this time in Louisville.

Louisville starters (points scored)

Herbert Crook (14) – Small Forward

Billy Thompson (5) – Power Forward

Pervis Ellison (11) – Center

Milt Wagner (12) – Point Guard

Jeff Hall (8) – Shooting Guard

Louisville bench (points scored)

Tony Kimbro (13)

Kenny Payne (8)

Mike Abram (0)

Louisville Coach: Denny Crum

Memphis State starters (points scored)

Vincent Askew (14) – Small Forward

Baskerville Holmes (14) – Power Forward

William Bedford (20) – Center

Andre Turner (15) – Point Guard

Dwight Boyd (5) – Shooting Guard

Memphis State bench (points scored)

John Wilfong (2)

Kenneth Moody (0)

Dewayne Bailey (0)

Marvin Alexander (3)

Memphis State Coach: Dana Kirk


William Bedford reverse slams while Vincent Askew looks on *photo courtesy of Commercial Appeal

January 18, 1986 – (#3)Duke Blue Devils 92 @(#1)North Carolina Tarheels 95

It was the perfect setting for the first game at the new Dean Dome (officially named the Dean Smith Student Activities Center).  Not only was it a rivalry game but it was two of the top teams in the nation.  Carolina played their last game at Carmichael Auditorium two weeks earlier in a win against NC State.

UNC was 17-0 coming into this game while Duke was 16-0.  North Carolina had stars such as Brad Daugherty and Kenny Smith.  Steve Hale provided experience in the back court while Joe Wolf, Dave Popson and Warren Martin were upper-classmen in the frontcourt.  The Tarheels also had freshmen Jeff Lebo and Kevin Madden on board.

One thing I’m sure Carolina would like back is that Duke’s Mark Alarie got the first basket in the Smith Center instead of a Carolina player.  Kenny Smith fed Warren Martin for a slam and Carolina’s first basket.  But Duke grabbed an early advantage led by Johnny Dawkins.  Dawkins’ steal and breakaway slam put Duke up 24-18

After a Hale three-point play, Tommy Amaker found Alarie for a dunk and a 26-21 Duke lead.  But then Danny Ferry committed his 3rd foul and Martin hit two free throws.  Then Amaker committed his 3rd foul and Coach K got a technical.  This led to Carolina grabbing the lead as Hale made both ends of the 1-and-1 and both technical shots (coach’s technicals at the time were worth two shots).  UNC also got the ball back and Kevin Madden hit a pull-up from the baseline for 6 points on one possession.

Hale then hit a bank shot in transition while Billy King fouled him.  Hale missed the free throw but Daugherty rebounded and scored.  UNC led 33-26 and were on a 12-0 run.  Eventually, the Tarheels led by as many as 8.

Back-to-back jumpers by Dawkins cut the lead in half but Hale came back with back-to-back field goals of his own.  Undeterred, David Henderson and Alarie helped cut the lead back down.  A banker by King in the lane cut the Carolina lead to 42-41.  Daugherty then hit a jumper in the lane and, later, Madden tip-dunked a Daugherty miss.  After Duke sophomore Kevin Strickland hit a wing jumper, Kenny Smith followed up his own miss at the buzzer and UNC led 48-43 at the half.

Hale started the 2nd half with a steal and layup.  Henderson responded by beating Hale backdoor and scoring on a Ferry assist.  That was Duke’s least field goal for awhile.  Hale did the same trick to Henderson twice in a row, beating him backdoor for back-to-back layups.  Later, Smith hit two free throws and then Daugherty followed up a miss to give Carolina a 58-45 lead.

An Alarie field goal was countered when Hale went backdoor again for a layup.  Hale was having the game of his career.  And then after an Amaker free throw, Daugherty found Madden for a short bank shot.  Then on the next possession, Madden penetrated and found Daugherty for a banker in the lane.  Carolina led 64-48 and Duke got a timeout as the largest crowd to view a basketball game in the state of North Carolina to that point was madly cheering.

Duke responded as Amaker alley-ooped to the 6’2″ Johnny Dawkins for a slam.  Then King got a steal and Amaker followed up his miss.  Amaker scored the next two baskets as well after Joe Wolf committed his 4th foul.  After a 9-0 Duke run, Hale broke it with a bucket and a foul on a baseline drive.  But an Amaker steal and short pull-up cut the lead to 69-63.

Ferry had a chance to cut it further but missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and UNC regained a nine-point lead.  Alarie then found Henderson for a layup and Amaker found Dawkins for another alley-oop.  The Carolina lead was now 74-69.  But then Daugherty fed Smith on a cut for a layup.  Hale hit two free throws after King fouled out.  Then Hale got a breakaway for his 28th point, a career high, and Duke called timeout down 80-69.

For most of the rest of the game, a Duke basket or run was answered by Carolina.  The Blue Devils could never really recover from their 16-point deficit.  Henderson hit two straight jumpers from the baseline (one of them turned into a three-point play which fouled out Hale) to cut the lead to 82-76.  But Wolf fed Smith on a cut for a three-point play.

Henderson came back with a driving banker and a foul.  But David missed the free throw and Alarie split a pair.  Duke just couldn’t get the big shot when they really needed it or stop Carolina when they really needed it.  Smith penetrated and found Daugherty for a layup with 1:39 left to give UNC an 87-79 lead.  This was after Carolina got an offensive rebound after running out the shot clock.

Converted 1-and-1’s by the freshmen, Madden and Lebo kept Carolina ahead by eight and then Smith made both ends of another 1-and-1 to put Carolina up 93-83.  Lebo then answered an Alarie basket by making two more free throws.  Carolina led 95-85 with 20 seconds left.  And it was at this time (when the game was over) that Duke made its best, yet futile, push.

Henderson made a free throw after Wolf committed his 5th foul.  Then Madden fouled Ferry after a steal on the inbounds pass.  With 15 seconds left, Ferry got his only two points of the game at the line.  Carolina committed a 5-second inbounds violation and Amaker hit a double-pump banker to cut it to 95-90.

Carolina finally got it inbounds and Henderson fouled Smith with 6 seconds left.  Kenny this time missed the front end and Dawkins came down for a layup.  Unfortunately for Duke, they were out of timeouts and the clock ran out with them still down 95-92.

This game turned into one of the best games of the college basketball season as both teams’ ball movement and player movement was exquisite and beautiful to watch.  It was also a game of momentum and ups and downs.  But in the end, Carolina’s 16-5 run to open the 2nd half proved to be the difference.

Because it was such a well-played game, the Blue Devils actually climbed to #2 in the polls despite this loss.  But Duke would have another tough road game at Georgia Tech three days later.

Duke starters (points scored)

David Henderson (24) – Small Forward

Mark Alarie (15) – Power Forward

Danny Ferry (2) – Center

Tommy Amaker (15) – Point Guard

Johnny Dawkins (22) – Shooting Guard

Duke bench (points scored)

Billy King (6)

Jay Bilas (6)

Kevin Strickland (2)

Weldon Williams (0)

Duke Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

North Carolina starters (points scored)

Warren Martin (8) – Small Forward

Joe Wolf (4) – Power Forward

Brad Daugherty (23) – Center

Kenny Smith (11) – Point Guard

Steve Hale (28) – Shooting Guard

North Carolina bench (points scored)

Jeff Lebo (11)

Dave Popson (2)

Curtis Hunter (2)

Kevin Madden (8)

Ranzino Smith (0)

North Carolina Coach: Dean Smith

alarie 1st basket mark-alarie

Mark Alarie got the first basket at the new Dean Smith Student Activities Center *photos courtesy of ebay and The Draft Review

January 21, 1986 – (#2)Duke Blue Devils 80 @(#3)Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 87

The lights were dimmed at Alexander Memorial Coliseum in Atlanta as Georgia Tech was trying to gain a psychological advantage.  Tech had won 14 in a row after losing to Michigan in their 2nd game of the season.  While Tech had lost Scott Petway, they were gaining two gems at forward.  Sophomore Duane Ferrell was out for the 1985 ACC tournament and most of the NCAA tournament and the Yellow Jackets sorely missed him.  But he was back along with freshman Tom Hammonds to go with seniors John Salley and Mark Price and junior Bruce Dalrymple.

But now Georgia Tech was getting into the meat of their schedule as 4 of their next 5 ACC games came against Duke and North Carolina.  First, they were to host Duke at the dimly lit Thriller Dome just three days after the Devils lost at UNC.

Early on, both teams seemed affected by either the dim or the other teams’ defense.  It took about 2:00 for Dalrymple to put back a miss and get the first points of the game.  David Henderson came right back with a pull-up after Duke broke the press.  But Ferrell found Dalrymple on a 3-on-1 break for a layup and a foul.

The Blue Devils’ slow start continued as the only player that didn’t seem tentative was the freshman Danny Ferry (it may have been the first time all year that Ferry wasn’t tentative).  Ferry made two straight wing jumpers and later, his outlet to a streaking Johnny Dawkins put Duke up 14-12.  Another steal and layup by Dawkins gave the Devils a 4-point lead.

But back-to-back layups by Dalrymple tied the game and then reserve guard Craig Neal alley-ooped to Salley for a Tech lead.  A Hammonds jumper from the post put the Jackets up 20-16.  Then after a Mark Alarie jumper cut the lead to two, Coach K got a technical.  Mark Price, uncharacteristically, missed the first free throw.  But he made the second and he was off the snide with his first points.  Price was battling a sprained ankle but he got his first field goal when he hit a baseline jumper to put Tech up 23-18.

Georgia Tech later took a 7-point lead when Dalrymple got his 13th point of the half with a layup.  But Duke was able to cut it to 41-37 at the half despite Dawkins and Tommy Amaker combining for 6 points and the Devils not really finding their game at that point.

Alarie got two quick field goals and a Dawkins jumper from the wing tied it at 43.  But a Price breakaway layup on a Salley push gave the Jackets a lead.  Then Price penetrated and found Salley for a slam.  Alarie, however, kept Duke in the game and his banker from the post tied the game at 51.

But then Price hit two free throws and a wing jumper in transition.  Later, Craig Neal hit a bank shot from the wing and then found Dalrymple for a reverse layup in transition.  Duke called a timeout as Tech was on an 8-2 run.  Tech held a steady lead for the next several minutes.  It increased to 68-59 when Dalrymple drove baseline and found Hammonds, who slammed over Bilas and drew a foul.

An Alarie layup cut the lead back to seven and Duke got the ball back.  But Price stole it and hit a pull-up in the lane.  Then after another steal, Ferrell outletted to Neal who flew in for a finger roll.  The Thriller Dome was going crazy as Duke called timeout down 72-61 with about 3:30 left.

But Duke wasn’t about to give in.  An Alarie steal and outlet to Dawkins for a layup and a foul cut the lead to 74-68 with 2:37 left.  But after Tech committed their second straight turnover, Dawkins missed a big wing jumper.  Price hit a pull-up in the lane with 1:46 left to put the Jackets back up 76-68.

Dawkins came back with four consecutive points but the Blue Devils were down to fouling Price, who didn’t miss a free throw after his first one.  Price, Neal, and Dalrymple did not miss a free throw down the stretch as Tech was able to hold off Duke.

Duke had lost two in a row but they would go the rest of the regular season without losing and claim the ACC regular season title.  This run included getting some revenge against Tech 75-59 at Cameron Indoor Stadium a few weeks later.

Georgia Tech lost its next game at the Dean Dome to Carolina 85-77.  But they would play UNC again a week and a half later at the Omni.

Duke starters (points scored)

David Henderson (8) – Small Forward

Mark Alarie (26) – Power Forward

Danny Ferry (10) – Center

Tommy Amaker (8) – Point Guard

Johnny Dawkins (17) – Shooting Guard

Duke bench (points scored)

Jay Bilas (7)

Billy King (4)

Duke Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

Georgia Tech starters (points scored)

Duane Ferrell (7) – Small Forward

Tom Hammonds (9) – Power Forward

John Salley (13) – Center

Mark Price (25) – Point Guard

Bruce Dalrymple (21) – Shooting Guard

Georgia Tech bench (points scored)

Craig Neal (10)

Antoine Ford (2)

Georgia Tech Coach: Bobby Cremins


Bruce Dalrymple had 21 big points in the Yellow Jackets win over Duke *photo courtesy of Ramblin Wreck

January 29, 1986 – (#8)Kentucky Wildcats 54 @(#17)LSU Tigers 52

It looked like a mismatch as Dale Brown’s LSU Tigers came in woefully undermanned.  The Tigers had lost players prior to the season like Tito Horford (Al Horford’s father) to academics.  Before this game, they lost another star, Nikita Wilson, for the season for academic reasons.  Both would go on to play some in the NBA.

Furthermore, the chicken pox epidemic had hit the team.  So leading scorer John Williams as well as guard Bernard Woodside was out.  Without Williams and Wilson, the only scorers the Tigers had were seniors Don Redden and Derrick Taylor.  The rest of the lineup was unproven or bench talent; Ricky Blanton, Oliver Brown, Anthony Wilson and Jose Vargas.

Meanwhile, Kentucky had only lost twice so far that season.  They boasted senior All-American Kenny Walker as well as junior Winston Bennett.  Senior Roger Harden was the point man and the outside shooter.  Guards Ed Davender and James Blackmon tried to get the ball inside to Walker and Bennett, or stuck outside shots to open the middle.  Eddie Sutton had also come over from Arkansas to replace Joe B. Hall as head coach.

To win, Dale Brown had to play some gimmicks.  First, he went to a 2-3 zone that boxed in on Walker.  Occasionally, he switched to a box & 1 against Walker.  Furthermore, LSU had to slow the tempo considerably and use the whole shot clock.  Redden and Taylor also had to have big games.  Each strategy worked until the final buzzer.

Redden got going early with 8 of LSU’s first 10 points.  But Walker matched him as he got two shots in the lane and one on the baseline as Kentucky was very patient in getting him the ball.  However, this fed into LSU’s tempo as Walker had a lot of trouble getting the ball against the Tigers’ switching defenses.

Bennett helped out with back-to-back buckets to give Kentucky a 14-12 lead.  Derrick Taylor responded with two straight field goals.  Later, Taylor found Redden at the foul line for a jumper and an 18-16 LSU lead.  But despite Davender getting his 3rd foul on a charge, Ed hit a wing jumper for his 8th point of the first half.  Then Harden hit back-to-back buckets as LSU went cold.

Walker’s turnaround in the lane gave Kentucky a 24-18 lead with 5:55 left in the 1st half.  Later, Blackmon hit a wing jumper to increase the lead to eight.  But then LSU got a lift from someone who may not have been playing had everyone been healthy and eligible.

Sophomore Jose Vargas hit a layup on a lob pass from Taylor.  Then Jose hit a hook from down low.  The 6-0 run was capped when Redden hit a pull-up banker after an LSU steal.  Bennett responded with a turnaround in the lane but Blanton hit a bank shot in the lane and then Taylor got a steal and Oliver Brown finished on the break.  The Thunderdome (the building formerly known as the LSU assembly center) was alive as the game was now tied.

But Bennett finished off the half with two field goals for Kentucky.  First, he hit a layup after a drop step.  Then he hit a pull-up from the baseline with 5 seconds left in the half to put the Wildcats up 32-28 at the break.

Taylor and Redden quickly got the game tied and then the pair kept LSU in it as Kentucky could not pull away.  Walker hit two wing jumpers in the 2nd half as Eddie Sutton had gotten Walker out of the lane where it was less physical.  But those would be Walker’s only two field goals as the All-American was held down.

Bennett, Harden and Davender helped Kentucky to a 45-40 lead.  Oliver Brown then got a driving slam after Vargas had missed a big slam attempt.  But Davender got a 2-on-1 layup to increase the lead back to five.  Redden found Vargas, who made this slam but Bennett responded with a putback.

However, once again back-to-back field goals from Redden and Taylor cut Kentucky’s lead to 49-48.  Then after Harden hit a jumper, Taylor’s runner got the bounce.  LSU wasn’t going away with a few minutes left.  But the Tigers never could grab the lead.  Walker missed the front end of a 1-and-1 but Taylor missed a jumper and later Redden had his shot blocked from inside.

Kentucky finally scored when LSU fouled Bennett with 18 seconds left before the ball was inbounded.  This meant Winston had two shots, but he only made one to give Kentucky a 52-50 lead.  Without a timeout, Taylor found Redden at the wing cutting off a screen.

Don wasn’t open so he kicked it back to Taylor.  Derrick pulled up just inside the top of the key and nailed a jumper with 7 seconds left to tie the game.  Kentucky didn’t call a timeout and the clock kept running.  They got it inbounds to Harden, who dribbled up court and launched from beyond a figurative college three-point line (this was the last year that they didn’t have it) at the top of the key just before the buzzer.  The shot was good and Kentucky ran off the court happy.

LSU finished the regular season 4-6 (including another loss to Kentucky) and were the 5th seed in the SEC tournament.  But their first round win against 4-seeded Florida may have helped LSU as they lost to Kentucky for a third time in the SEC tournament semifinals.  The Tigers made the tournament as an 11-seed while Florida didn’t.

LSU would end up getting a 4th shot against Kentucky in the NCAA tournament.

Kentucky starters (points scored)

James Blackmon (2) – Small Forward

Winston Bennett (17) – Power Forward

Kenny Walker (12) – Center

Roger Harden (10) – Point Guard

Ed Davender (12) – Shooting Guard

Kentucky bench (points scored)

Leroy Byrd (0)

Richard Madison (1)

Cedric Jenkins (0)

Paul Andrews (0)

Kentucky Coach: Eddie Sutton

LSU starters (points scored)

Don Redden (18) – Small Forward

Oliver Brown (4) – Power Forward

Ricky Blanton (2) – Center

Derrick Taylor (20) – Point Guard

Anthony Wilson (0) – Shooting Guard

LSU bench (points scored)

Jose Vargas (8)

Neboisha Bukumirovich (0)

LSU Coach: Dale Brown

kenny_walker5 roger_harden4

All-American Kenny Walker (#34) was shut down against LSU, but Kentucky still won after Roger Harden’s (#23) buzzer-beater *photos courtesy of Big Blue Sports (2x)

February 4, 1986 – (#1)North Carolina Tarheels 78 @(#2)Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 77 (OT)

These teams had matched up 10 days earlier in Chapel Hill less than a week after each defeated Duke.  North Carolina took an early advantage and held on 85-77 to go 20-0 on the season.  However, in their next ACC game, the Tarheels lost at Virginia 86-73.  But they retained their #1 ranking after beating Clemson.

Georgia Tech climbed to #2, despite the loss to the Tarheels, after defeating NC State a week earlier.  Now Tech had a chance to regain their pre-season #1 ranking if they could beat UNC at The Omni.

The Jackets got off to an early lead as Tom Hammonds started them off well, but UNC came back to lead 13-12.  Then Tech started rolling again.  Bruce Dalrymple hit two free throws and then John Salley found Duane Ferrell for a reverse and a foul.  A Salley hook that was counted on a UNC goaltending completed the 7-0 run and Tech led 19-13.

Salley was particularly effective early against Brad Daugherty.  On one play, Hammonds fed him for a slam in Daugherty’s face plus the foul.  On another, Salley got a second three-point play with a turnaround in the lane.  That three-point play gave Tech a 28-17 lead.

Daugherty kept Carolina in range with a few field goals but Salley’s 11 first half points was the major difference.  While Salley got off, Mark Price was saddled with three first half fouls.  But every other Jacket got into the act as Georgia Tech ran to a 42-32 halftime lead.  They were, however, cheated of two points when an obvious goaltending on Carolina was not called on the last shot of the half.  There would be another one later that may have changed the tide.

Tech maintained its lead through the first 8 minutes of the 2nd half.  The highlight was Bruce Dalrymple getting a breakaway layup after fooling a Carolina defender with a behind-the-back pass fake.  With 11:56 to go, two free throws from Price gave the Yellow Jackets a 59-46 lead.

Then Joe Wolf followed up a Daugherty miss for Carolina.  At the other end, Tech worked the ball like they had throughout the game and found a good shot as Dalrymple was free inside.  However, at the last second Wolf went up and got the ball.  It looked like an obvious goaltending to me but the announcers thought nothing of it and didn’t show a replay.

At the other end, Wolf put back another Daugherty miss and Tech had to call timeout to kind of calm themselves after perhaps they weren’t happy about the missed call.  But the timeout didn’t help Tech on the boards as Carolina got three shots on their next possession before Steve Hale put it in and was fouled.  That three-point play plus a Kenny Smith steal and layup cut the lead to 59-55 and forced another Tech timeout.

Price and Ferrell hit jumpers to put Tech back up by eight.  But then Salley committed his 4th foul and Jeff Lebo scored 6 of Carolina’s next 8 points as the Tarheels went on an 8-2 run to cut the Jackets lead to 65-63.  Salley found Dalrymple for a jumper from the foul line to stem the tide but then Salley fouled Joe Wolf on an entry pass at the other end and was gone with 3:45 left.

Wolf split the free throws and Price hit an elbow jumper for a 69-64 Tech lead.  Georgia Tech them seemed to get off the hook after Price committed his 4th foul.  Lebo missed two free throws and the Jackets got the ball back with 2:30 left.  But with the shot clock in effect the entire game now, Tech couldn’t go to the four corners and Price missed a tough shot.  Kenny Smith got the ball and hit a pull-up from the foul line and Carolina got a timeout with 1:50 left, down 69-66.

30 seconds later, Lebo got a steal and was fouled.  This time he made the two shots to cut the lead to one.  Salley’s backup, Antoine Ford, hit a free throw for a 70-68 Tech lead but then Daugherty tied it with a turnaround from the post with 55 seconds left.  Tech ran the clock down, got a timeout, but Price missed with 7 seconds left.  Carolina called timeout, but Smith was long on a pull-up and Lebo’s follow shot prayer at the buzzer was short.  The game between the top two ranked teams in the country was headed to overtime.

Georgia Tech, perhaps disgruntled from giving up a big lead, couldn’t score in overtime.  In fact, the only two points in the first 3 minutes happened when Lebo hit Daugherty for a foul-line jumper.  But then with 1:58 left, Hale got a steal and Smith a breakaway for a 74-70 UNC lead.

Ferrell followed up a Price miss but then Ferrell committed a non-needed foul with 46 seconds left.  Joe Wolf made both ends of the 1-and-1.  Dalrymple put back a Price miss with 29 seconds left to cut the Tarheels lead to 76-74 and Carolina used a timeout with 20 seconds left.

Trying to inbound to Smith at half court, Price came up with a big steal.  Smith fouled him in transition and Price went ahead for the layup.  Analyst Billy Cunningham noted that in the NBA that would be continuation and a possible three-point play but for college the official ruled that Price was fouled before the shot.  He would still get two shots and a chance to tie it but Tech felt cheated once again that they didn’t get a chance for a three-point play.

It was further exasperated when after Price made the first, the 90% foul shooter missed the second and then had to commit his 5th foul on Wolf.  Joe’s two free throws put Carolina up 78-75 with 11 seconds left.  Hammonds made a jumper but Tech couldn’t stop the clock and it ran out.  The crowd booed for awhile after the final buzzer, feeling as many did at the time that Carolina got the breaks from the refs (an accusation that eventually switched to Duke).

Carolina had defeated Georgia Tech twice in a week and a half.  But that was as good as 1986 life got for Carolina.  They would host Len Bias and Maryland 16 days later with a 25-1 record.

North Carolina starters (points scored)

Dave Popson (0) – Small Forward

Joe Wolf (14) – Power Forward

Brad Daugherty (22) – Center

Kenny Smith (14) – Point Guard

Steve Hale (12) – Shooting Guard

North Carolina bench (points scored)

Jeff Lebo (12)

Curtis Hunter (0)

Kevin Madden (2)

Warren Martin (2)

North Carolina Coach: Dean Smith

Georgia Tech starters (points scored)

Duane Ferrell (9) – Small Forward

Tom Hammonds (16) – Power Forward

John Salley (13) – Center

Mark Price (15) – Point Guard

Bruce Dalrymple (12) – Shooting Guard

Georgia Tech bench (points scored)

Craig Neal (9)

Antoine Ford (3)

Georgia Tech Coach: Bobby Cremins


Brad Daugherty led the Tarheels in 1986 and ended up being the top pick in the NBA draft *photo courtesy of Spokeo

February 20, 1986 – Maryland Terrapins 77 @(#1)North Carolina Tarheels 72 (OT)

In a battle between the top two picks in the 1986 NBA draft, Maryland and North Carolina were in opposite directions heading into this late season ACC battle.

The Maryland Terrapins had started the season at 10-2 with their two losses coming against good teams in Ohio State and UNLV.  But then the ACC season started and Maryland lost their first 6 conference games.  Granted, four of those six matchups came against powerhouses in UNC, Georgia Tech and Duke but the Terps didn’t get a conference win until taking down bottom feeder Wake Forest (who finished the ACC season at 0-14).

Maryland was 11-10 at one point until winning three of their next four games (including two ACC wins) headed into Chapel Hill.  Despite its less-than-par record, Maryland boasted All-American senior Len Bias.  Bias averaged 23.2 points per game during the season but only one other player joined him in double figures.  That was junior point guard Keith Gatlin, who came into the UNC game needing one assist to set Maryland’s all-time career assist record.

Senior guard Jeff Baxter and sophomore shot-blocker Derrick Lewis were factors for Maryland along with reserve Tom ‘Speedy’ Jones and freshmen Tony Massenburg and John Johnson.  Of Maryland’s roster, Massenburg was the only one who played an NBA game.

North Carolina came in at 25-1 and were ranked #1 for the 13th consecutive week.  They were also 5-0 at home since opening the new Dean Dome.  It would take an unbelievable performance for somebody to take those records down.  Maryland got it from its star.

Len Bias scored 6 of the Terps first 8 points to stay with Carolina.  Then he drove baseline past Warren Martin and scored while meeting Brad Daugherty at the rim as Daugherty fouled him.  That three-point play tied the game at 13.  Bias’ baseline jumper gave Maryland a 19-17 lead and gave Lenny 11 points.  But then Carolina made their customary run.

Joe Wolf hit two field goals and then Martin recovered a deflected pass for a layup.  UNC’s run continued despite Steve Hale committing his 3rd foul.  Jeff Lebo penetrated twice and found Daugherty for two layups.  The Tarheels led 27-19 after a 10-0 run.  They eventually increased their lead to 37-26 after Lebo got two more assists, one to Daugherty for his 13th point and the other to Kevin Madden.

But then Gatlin got his record-breaking assist in spectacular fashion, on an alley-oop to Len Bias.  Bias scored four more points in the 1st half to finish with 17 as Maryland cut UNC’s lead to 37-32 at the half.

Kenny Smith and Daugherty led the Tarheels back to a 43-34 lead early in the 2nd half.  But Maryland was able to hang around by getting to the free throw line much more often then Carolina and the Terps hit their first 20 free throw attempts.

There was also Lenny Bias who made a very spectacular shot.  On a baseline drive, Bias was caught under the basket.  But Bias got into the air and with only the right hand threw in a reverse layup while still completely behind the backboard.  This basket cut UNC’s lead to 52-48 and then Maryland tied it with four straight free throws (to get to 20-for-20).

But then the Tarheels went on another customary run that usually would have put the game away.  Kenny Smith hit back-to-back jumpers and Hale went baseline for a tough double-pump shot.  While Bias tried to keep Maryland alive, Carolina went up 68-59 on two Daugherty free throws with about 2:00 left.

But Lenny Bias wasn’t done.  After Gatlin found him for a deep wing jumper, Bias stole the inbounds pass and went in for a reverse slam.  Just like that, the lead was down to 68-63 but the Terps weren’t done.  Speedy Jones got a steal and Jeff Baxter hit on a breakaway and, as announcer Mike Patrick said, it seemed like Maryland scored 6 points in 12 seconds.

Bias then got a blocked shot on Carolina’s next possession, but the Tarheels got the rebound and ran off more time before missing.  Bias, this time, got the defensive rebound and wanted the ball at the other end.  However, Lenny drove and was called for a charge against Lebo.  Lebo got a 1-and-1 at the other end.  He made the front end but missed the back end.  Carolina had a 69-65 lead with 1:00 left.

But Bias got the ball again and hit a jumper from the top of the key with 48 seconds left.  Carolina had the ball with the shot clock ahead of the game clock by three seconds (the shot clock was 45 seconds in college basketball before being changed to 35 in 1993).  The Tarheels naturally ran the clock down but then what looked like a Maryland mistake turned into a blessing.  Freshman John Johnson committed a foul on Kenny Smith with 10 seconds left.  This sent Smith to the line for a 1-and-1.

The blessing came when Smith missed the front end and Maryland got the ball with plenty of time left to try and tie it.  They went in transition without a timeout.  Gatlin threw long to Baxter, who was wide open and nailed a pull-up jumper with three seconds left.

Carolina got a timeout with 2 seconds and then another with 1 second after throwing the ball to halfcourt from the back court.  But the Tarheels couldn’t get off a shot as Lebo mis-handled Joe Wolf’s inbounds pass.  The game was headed to overtime.

Bias committed his 4th foul early on and Wolf made a free throw for a 70-69 Carolina lead.  Then Jones and Wolf traded baskets before Bias got his 35th point on a running hook shot in the lane after initially having the ball knocked away from him.  This gave Maryland a 73-72 lead with under 2:00 left.

Both teams traded turnovers before Carolina had a chance to lead with under 30 seconds left.  Kenny Smith drove the lane, but Len Bias (who else?) was right there to block his shot.  Gatlin got the ball, was fouled, and made both free throws for a 75-72 Terps lead.  Then the icing was added after a UNC turnover.  Gatlin from under UNC’s basket, threw the inbounds pass off the back of Smith, got the ball, scored, and then pointed a finger and laughed at Smith as Carolina ran out the clock.

Maryland celebrated its upset win over Carolina and Len Bias had perhaps the performance of the year.  It was a bitter-sweet sight to see Bias smiling and celebrating with his teammates after what happened to him a day after being drafted number 2 by the Boston Celtics (which will be explained later).

As for Carolina, this loss started a tailspin that didn’t end that season.  The Tarheels lost their next game at NC State and finished the regular season losing at Duke in a game that ultimately decided the ACC regular season championship.

Carolina went into the ACC tournament as the third seed after finishing at 10-4 (Duke was 12-2, Georgia Tech 11-3).  Maryland finished as the 6th seed.  You know what that meant.  These two teams got to match up again in the ACC quarterfinals.  The Terps got one final upset of the Heels, defeating them 85-75 and moving on to play Georgia Tech in a classic.

North Carolina would be a 3-seed in the West Regional.  They lost to 2-seeded Louisville 94-79 in the Regional Semifinals.  After a 25-1 start, UNC lost 5 of their final 8 games in 1986, starting with their first loss at the Dean Dome to Maryland.

Maryland starters (points scored)

Len Bias (35) – Small Forward

Derrick Lewis (10) – Power Forward

Terry Long (2) – Center

Keith Gatlin (10) – Point Guard

Jeff Baxter (10) – Shooting Guard

Maryland bench (points scored)

Tony Massenburg (2)

Speedy Jones (6)

John Johnson (2)

Dave Dickerson (0)

Maryland Coach: Lefty Driesell

North Carolina starters (points scored)

Steve Hale (9) – Small Forward

Joe Wolf (15) – Power Forward

Brad Daugherty (23) – Center

Kenny Smith (12) – Point Guard

Jeff Lebo (7) – Shooting Guard

North Carolina bench (points scored)

Warren Martin (2)

Steve Bucknall (2)

Curtis Hunter (0)

Dave Popson (0)

Kevin Madden (2)

North Carolina Coach: Dean Smith


Len Bias had perhaps the performance of the year against North Carolina to hand the Tarheels their first ever loss at the Dean Dome *photo courtesy of CNN Sports Illustrated

March 1, 1986 – (#8)Memphis State Tigers 69 @(#13)Louisville Cardinals 70

These were clearly the two best teams in the Metro Conference, so it was only natural that they both came into the regular season finale at 9-2.  Memphis State had won the earlier matchup and had won their first 20 games of the season until going down in back-to-back road games at UNLV and at Virginia Tech (the only other team in the Metro to go to the 1986 NCAA tournament).  The Tigers then won 4 of their next 5.

Louisville had gotten off to an 11-6 start but were a scalding hot team having won 13 of their last 14 since that start.  Milt Wagner was pretty much all the way back after missing the ’85 season with an injury and starting slowly in ’86.  Plus, freshman Pervis Ellison had come on along with senior Billy Thompson.

Each team’s rotations shortened considerably for at least this game.  Memphis used only freshman Marvin Alexander off the bench, while Louisville for a while only used freshman Tony Kimbro but brought in Mark McSwain (who had missed much of the season with a knee injury) late in the game.  Other than that, the 10 starters went all the way.

Louisville’s crowd was pumped as this was senior day and also the Cardinals had lost their last 4 games to the Tigers.  But Memphis State got off to a better start as their seniors, Baskerville Holmes and Andre Turner each got two early field goals.  Then Holmes and Dwight Boyd hit back-to-back field goals for Memphis State to put them up 14-6.

Ellison got a three-point play on a tip-in and Billy Thompson (who had struggled against Memphis State during the Cardinals’ 4-game losing streak versus the Tigers) hit back-to-back field goals to cut into the lead.  Jumpers by Jeff Hall and Wagner cut the Tigers lead to 19-17.  Then a Billy Thompson defensive rebound, push, and dish to Ellison for an elbow jumper tied the game.

The teams battled even for awhile as Turner and Holmes continued to lead the way for Memphis while Herbert Crook and Thompson matched them.  After a Thompson pull-up in the lane gave Louisville a 35-33 lead, Turner hit back-to-back baskets.  Later he finished the half with a pull-up jumper from the top of the key to give Memphis State a 41-37 halftime lead.

The Tigers kept that lead through the first part of the 2nd half, increasing it to as much as 49-41 on two Boyd free throws.  But then Crook alley-ooped to Ellison for a slam and later, Ellison found Thompson with a bounce pass from the high post for a layup to cut the lead to 49-46.

Field goals by Holmes and William Bedford put the lead back at 7, but Louisville responded as Thompson put back a Hall miss, Ellison spun and hit on a runner in the lane and then Wagner hit from the top of the key.  The Tigers lead was down to 53-52.  Turner then lobbed to Bedford to break the run but Louisville responded with another 6-0 run on field goals by Ellison, Thompson and Wagner to go up 58-55.

Memphis State eventually was able to tie it at 62.  Louisville regained the lead when Kimbro drove baseline, scored and was called for an offensive foul (but the bucket counted).  After that, the tension and intensity of the game came into play as there was no scoring for about 3 minutes.

Because Tulane dropped their basketball program before the season, the Metro conference was down to 7 teams.  So the top seed would automatically qualify for the Semifinals of the Conference tournament while the 2-seed had to play an extra day.  With both teams at 9-2, the winner was not only playing for a top seed but an extra day off.

Finally, Vincent Askew lobbed to Baskerville Holmes for a layup and the game was tied at 64.  Wagner responded with a wing jumper and then Holmes split a pair of free throws after Kimbro committed his 5th foul.  Ellison’s turnaround jumper in the lane put the Cardinals up 68-65 with 2:24 left.

Holmes responded after a Memphis State timeout with a jumper from the top of the key.  Louisville ran down its shot clock but at the end Askew got a deflection and Turner a steal.  Memphis State then took a 69-68 lead when Turner found Askew wide open under the basket and Askew got a field goal on a Billy Thompson goaltend.  Memphis State got a timeout after the basket with 52 seconds left.

Louisville again ran down the time but Wagner missed a jumper from the wing.  Ellison got a rebound but his shot was blocked and Memphis State recovered.  Louisville was able to deflect a ball out of bounds and then almost stole the inbounds pass but ultimately, the Cardinals had to foul Andre Turner with 8 seconds left.

Turner was an 85% foul shooter but, wouldn’t you know it, he missed the front end of the 1-and-1.  Louisville got the ball and Wagner pushed it without a timeout.  Milt pulled up at the baseline for a jumper and Turner went to block it.  But Andre contacted Wagner on the wrist as he went up for the jumper and Milt got two free throws with 1 second left.

Unlike a few foul calls (or non-calls) in the last second, this was a foul (evidenced by Memphis State not arguing it too much).  Wagner coolly knocked it two free throws and Memphis State could only throw in a long pass and didn’t get a shot off.  Louisville had won the emotionally charged regular season finale on coach Denny Crum’s 49th birthday no less.  The crowd long celebrated as each senior gave an abbreviated speech.

Louisville went on to beat Memphis State again in the Metro Conference championship game a week later by a final of 88-79 to leap-frog Memphis State and grab a 2-seed in the West Regional.  Memphis State had to settle for a 3-seed in the Southeast and got an unfair disadvantage that will be explained later.

Memphis State starters (points scored)

Vincent Askew (4) – Small Forward

Baskerville Holmes (19) – Power Forward

William Bedford (15) – Center

Andre Turner (18) – Point Guard

Dwight Boyd (12) – Shooting Guard

Memphis State bench (points scored)

Marvin Alexander (1)

Memphis State Coach: Dana Kirk

Louisville starters (points scored)

Herbert Crook (10) – Small Forward

Billy Thompson (16) – Power Forward

Pervis Ellison (18) – Center

Milt Wagner (18) – Point Guard

Jeff Hall (4) – Shooting Guard

Louisville bench (points scored)

Tony Kimbro (4)

Mark McSwain (0)

Louisville Coach: Denny Crum

milt wagner

Milt Wagner hit the clutch free throws with 1 second left to give Louisville a 70-69 win over Memphis State in the regular season finale and give the Cardinals the Metro Conference regular season championship *photo courtesy of Cardinal Chronicle

March 7, 1986 – Big East Semifinals: (#14)Georgetown Hoyas 73, (#8)Syracuse Orangemen 75 (OT)

The two Big East rivals had played two more good games in 1986.  Syracuse, who finished tied for 1st in the Big East at 14-2, beat the Hoyas 64-63 at the Carrier Dome while Georgetown, who finished 3rd at 11-5, won 73-70 in Landover.

Syracuse had won their first 13 games and, in fact, the Georgetown loss at Landover was their first.  The Orangemen’s only other losses came vs Louisville, Notre Dame (who wasn’t in the Big East yet), and St. John’s.

Junior Pearl Washington was improving his draft stock while seniors Rafael Addison and Wendell Alexis averaged 15 points per game.  Sophomore center Rony Seikaly was emerging along with junior Howard Triche, who had played sparingly in his 1st 2 seasons at Syracuse and is the uncle of Brandon Triche, who played for the Orange from 2009-2013.  The Orangemen also had freshman Sherman Douglas who was injured and didn’t play in the Big East tournament.  He would make his impact after Washington left.

Georgetown with Patrick Ewing was a scrappy defensive team with a shot-blocker.  Georgetown without Patrick Ewing was a scrappy defensive team who had to play perhaps a little scrappier without a shot-blocker.  They came into the Big East Semis with a 23-6 record (not bad, but remember they had lost 5 regular season games the last two seasons), and had surived an improving Pitt team 57-56 in the Big East quarterfinals.

Seniors David Wingate and Michael Jackson, along with junior Reggie Williams, were the scorers from the perimeter.  Inside there was senior Ralph Dalton.  There were a bunch of freshmen and sophomores too like Ronnie Highsmith, Perry McDonald, Johnathan Edwards, Jaren Jackson and Charles Smith.  Their 4th senior Horace Broadnax was out with a strained back.

Georgetown ran off to a 10-4 lead but Syracuse got back into it and tied it at 14 when Pearl found junior guard Greg Monroe for back-to-back jumpers.  Then Georgetown ran off again to a 27-18 lead but Syracuse cut it back to 29-28 when Pearl found Seikaly for a slam.  Pearl then found Triche for a breakaway with a bounce pass from half court to give Syracuse the lead.  Georgetown led 35-34 at the half though after Michael Jackson hit a wing jumper.

Fouls became a factor early in the 2nd half for Syracuse as Addison, Pearl and Seikaly each got their 3rd.  And Georgetown was hustling all over the place as Reggie Williams twice scored on third shots.  But Howard Triche was also a factor with his hustle and he kept Syracuse in a 47-all tie.

But then Addison committed his 4th foul on a charge and Georgetown took a lead on a fallaway bank shot from Wingate.  Syracuse managed to tie it and went for the lead on the break.  Wendell Alexis was grabbed hard by freshman Charles Smith but nothing seemed to come of it initially as Smith was going to help Alexis up off the ground.  But then on the back end of the play, Reggie Williams bumped into Pearl Washington which set off a little scuffle but nothing too serious.  However, the crowd and announcers didn’t hide their frustration for Georgetown’s borderline dirty play, which was usually led by Reggie Williams.

The incident seemed to spark Syracuse as Addison rebounded a Pearl miss and hit a wing jumper.  Then Pearl lobbed to him on the break for a 55-51 Orange lead.  After a Georgetown timeout, Addison found Triche for a slam and a foul.  Syracuse had their biggest lead at 7.

Georgetown scrambled back and cut it to 63-61 with 1:58 left after Wingate penetrated and hit Jackson for a baseline jumper.  Syracuse ran down the shot clock and Pearl scored after the ball was almost deflected away from him.  Wingate missed the front end of a 1-and-1 but Williams knocked the ball off of Triche out of bounds.  The Hoyas found Jackson on the inbounds for another baseline jumper and Syracuse led 65-63.

Then Pearl got his 4th foul on an offensive foul but Wingate missed a bank shot with 32 seconds left.  Seikaly got the rebound and was fouled.  Although Rony missed the front end of a 1-and-1, he did block a Ralph Dalton attempt to tie it.  But Wingate recovered and hit a banker in the lane with 9 seconds left.

Pearl came right back down without a timeout but missed a long pull-up jumper with 4 seconds left and the game was headed to overtime.  Pearl made two mistakes on that last attempt as Syracuse had a 3-on-2 after breaking the press.  Pearl could have gotten a closer shot and he also missed an open Addison at the wing.

However, all was well in Western New York in the overtime as Williams and Dalton each committed their 4th foul and Addison and Seikaly hit two free throws after each to put the Orange up 69-65.  Georgetown came back to tie it but Williams fouled out with 1:20 left and Addison hit two free throws for a 71-69 lead.

After a Hoya miss and a Syracuse turnover, Seikaly blocked a Wingate shot and Pearl was fouled with 24 seconds left.  Pearl had missed his last two front ends but made this one and had a sigh of relief.  Addison got a steal and hit two more free throws to put the game away as not even an illegal timeout called by Georgetown in the last second could save them.

Syracuse would move on to play St. John’s in the Big East championship game.  While Georgetown earned a #4 seed in the Midwest Regional.  They lost in the 2nd round to 5-seeded Michigan State, led by Scott Skiles, 80-68.

Georgetown starters (points scored)

Reggie Williams (18) – Small Forward

Ronnie Highsmith (2) – Power Forward

Ralph Dalton (8) – Center

Michael Jackson (14) – Point Guard

David Wingate (18) – Shooting Guard

Georgetown bench (points scored)

Perry McDonald (0)

Johnathan Edwards (5)

Charles Smith (4)

Jaren Jackson (4)

Georgetown Coach: John Thompson

Syracuse starters (points scored)

Wendell Alexis (11) – Small Forward

Howard Triche (13) – Power Forward

Rony Seikaly (11) – Center

Pearl Washington (21) – Point Guard

Rafael Addison (15) – Shooting Guard

Syracuse bench (points scored)

Greg Monroe (4)

Rodney Walker (0)

Syracuse Coach: Jim Boeheim

March 8, 1986 – ACC Semifinal: Maryland Terrapins 62, (#6)Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 64

In the ACC Semifinals, Len Bias put on another classic performance after his Maryland Terrapins had upset UNC in the Quarterfinals, all but assuring them an NCAA tournament berth.

After Georgia Tech took an 8-4 lead.  Bias hit his patented turnaround in the post.  This kicked off a 9-0 Terps run that included another Bias turnaround from inside.  Maryland kept its lead for a bit as they slowed the pace against the run-and-gun Yellow Jackets.

But Georgia Tech came back to take a 21-19 lead after Mark Price found Duane Ferrell for an up-and-under layup against Bias.  Bias responded with a flying slam on an alley-oop pass from Keith Gatlin for his 9th point.  But Georgia Tech came back to take a 25-22 lead.

But Maryland came back with an 8-0 run as Tom ‘Speedy’ Jones scored the last two field goals.  But Georgia Tech was able to cut it to three many times, the last of which happened when Price found John Salley with an over-the-shoulder pass for a layup.  This cut the Maryland lead to 34-31, which was the halftime score.

The teams went back-and-forth some more in the first few minutes of the 2nd half as Georgia Tech cut the lead to one three times.  But a wing jumper from Bias kicked off another run.  Gatlin hit a floater after a driving spin move in the lane.  Then Bias found center Terry Long inside.  Long spun, faked, laid the ball in and drew the foul.  This three-point play gave Maryland a 45-37 lead.

But Georgia Tech was able to cut the lead back to 47-45 helped by a key 2nd half defensive switch.  The long and rangy John Salley was given the assignment of Len Bias.  And Salley, setting the stage for great defensive work with the Detroit Pistons, slowed down Bias in the 2nd half.

Georgia Tech finally took a 53-51 lead after two Ferrell free throws.  Then Bias committed his 3rd foul and Salley hit a hook in the lane for a 55-51 lead.  Bias hit two free throws.  Price hit from the top of the key.  Then Jeff Baxter hit a wing jumper to break a 9-minute Maryland field goal drought.

But Bias committed his 4th foul and Salley split a pair of free throws.  Lefty Driesell had no choice but to leave Bias in.  Bias rewarded him by hitting a wing jumper with 2:05 left that cut the Jackets lead to 60-59.  After killing some time, Bruce Dalrymple hit his only field goal with a pull-up in the lane.

Bias split a pair of free throws and Maryland was down 62-60.  Georgia Tech ran some time off again but Tom Hammonds missed an elbow jumper with 40 seconds left.  Maryland didn’t use a timeout, they knew where they were going with the ball.

Bias got the ball at the left wing and drove to the lane against Salley.  Bias spun to his left and went up in the air with a running floater.  The ball rolled around the rim and went in to tie the game.  Georgia Tech got a timeout with 10 seconds left and got the ball to Price in the back court.

Price tried to dribble through a double team of Baxter and Long in the back court.  But Long reached in, deflected and stole the ball.  He called timeout with 5 seconds left and Maryland got it at half court.

Keith Gatlin, Maryland’s all-time assist leader, seemed the logical choice to inbound the ball.  But Gatlin panicked and threw a cross-court pass to Bias that was intercepted by Ferrell.  Duane raced down the court and slammed one home as a Gatlin fouled him with 1 second left.  Although Gatlin looked like the goat on that play, perhaps Bias should have done a better job coming to the ball.

The game ended when Ferrell missed a free throw and Maryland wasn’t granted a timeout.  Georgia Tech would go on to play Duke in the ACC title game.

Meanwhile for Maryland, the season ended in the 2nd round of the West Regional as the 5th-seeded Terps lost to 4th-seeded UNLV 70-64.  Len Bias would score 31 points in his last college game.  However, the sad story was that that game would be Len Bias’ last game overall.

A day after being drafted #2 overall in the NBA draft by the Boston Celtics and signing a 5-year deal with Reebok, Bias and a few teammates and friends had dinner at the University of Maryland before going to an off-campus gathering.  After attending for an hour or so, Bias (along with teammates Terry Long and David Gregg and friend Brian Tribble) went back to his dorm and used cocaine.  In the wee hours of the morning, collapsed and seemed to be having a seizure.  But when Tribble called 911 at approximately 6:32 AM, he said Bias was unconscious and not breathing.  Attempts by emergency personnel to resuscitate Bias were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead at 8:55 AM on June 19, 1986.

Tribble eventually had 4 indictments against him (one for possession of cocaine and the other three relating to obstruction) in the Bias case while Long and Gregg had indictments for possession and obstruction.  The cases against Long and Gregg were eventually dropped but they were suspended from the team, never to play for Maryland again.  Tribble was eventually acquitted but would later serve a 10-year sentence for drug dealing.  Congress passed an anti-drug act in 1988 that was known as “The Len Bias Law.”

Meanwhile for the University of Maryland, an investigation revealed that Bias was 21 credits short of graduating in the spring of 1986.  This led to Bias’ father suing the school for neglecting the academic status of its athletes.  It was also stated by a Maryland attorney that Lefty Driesell told players to remove drugs from Bias’ dorm room hours after his death.  These controversies led to Maryland’s Athletic Director resigning and Lefty following suit after 17 years as coach.

It would take years for the University of Maryland to recover.  And Len Bias forever became a tragic figure and a face of the drug crisis in the 1980’s.

Maryland starters (points scored)

Len Bias (20) – Small Forward

Derrick Lewis (6) – Power Forward

Terry Long (8) – Center

Keith Gatlin (10) – Point Guard

Jeff Baxter (8) – Shooting Guard

Maryland bench (points scored)

Speedy Jones (10)

John Johnson (0)

Maryland Coach: Lefty Driesell

Georgia Tech starters (points scored)

Duane Ferrell (15) – Small Forward

Tom Hammonds (16) – Power Forward

John Salley (15) – Center

Mark Price (10) – Point Guard

Bruce Dalrymple (2) – Shooting Guard

Georgia Tech bench (points scored)

Craig Neal (6)

Antoine Ford (0)

Georgia Tech Coach: Bobby Cremins

bias celtics lenbias3_850

Two days after being drafted #2 overall by the Boston Celtics in the NBA draft, Len Bias was gone *photos courtesy of Sporting News and ESPN

March 8, 1986 – Big East Championship Game: (#8)Syracuse Orangemen 69, (#5)St. John’s Red Men 70

In the Championship Game at the Garden, the two best teams in the Big East were set to play a classic.  It was the tale of two halves as Syracuse shot over 70% in the 1st half and St. John’s over 70% in the 2nd half.  There was also no substitution in the game for the first 17 minutes.

Pearl Washington found Rafael Addison for a baseline jumper for the first two points but St. John’s matched Syracuse’s shooting early.  Willie Glass hit a jumper from the foul line.  Rony Seikaly and Walter Berry matched baskets.  Then Pearl and Glass did the same.  Syracuse didn’t gain a four-point lead until Pearl led Howard Triche for a breakaway that put the Orange up 12-8.

Then Pearl found Addison with a look-away bounce pass on a 3-on-1 break for a slam.  St. John’s stayed with the Orange but were held off by Howard Triche, who was a surprising factor for the 2nd straight game.  Triche scored 8 early points but Glass and Berry kept the Redmen within 27-22.

Then Pearl found Addison for a wing jumper and on the following possession, Pearl got a steal and fed Addison for a layup.  This was the Pearl’s 9th assist in the 1st half.  Addison then lobbed to Wendell Alexis to give Syracuse their biggest lead at 33-22.  Later, Addison’s runner from the baseline put the Orange up 37-24.

Glass hit two free throws.  Pearl connected on a banker with 29 seconds left in the half after going 1-on-1.  But St. John’s got the last point as Ron Rowan penetrated and kicked to Mark Jackson for a foul-line jumper at the buzzer and his first two points.  Syracuse led 39-28 going into the locker room.

Although Addison found Alexis for another layup and another 13-point lead, St. John’s got back into it pretty quickly.  Shelton Jones found Jackson for a layup and then Jones found Glass for a layup and a foul.  The three-point play cut the lead to 41-33.  Seikaly committed his 3rd foul and the teams matched baskets until Jackson’s driving layup in transition cut the lead to 45-39.

Berry hit two free throws and Glass scored on a baseline drive to cut the Oraneg lead to 45-43.  St. John’s even had a chance to tie it, but Pearl got a steal and went in-between two guys for a layup.  Syracuse fended off St. John’s and their momentum for awhile as Triche and Seikaly each scored half of their next 8 points.  Then two free throws from Pearl put them up 57-50.

Rowan hit a wing jumper.  Seikaly banked one in from the post but then committed his 4th foul.  Free throws from the Redmen managed to cut it to 59-55 before Seikaly rebounded an Alexis miss and slammed one home.  Berry then committed his 4th foul and the All-American had to go to the bench.  So Lou Carnesecca brought in little-used Marco Baldi, and he ended up getting his career high of 6 points in this game.

First, Marco stepped into the lane and hit a little hook shot.  Then after an Alexis field goal, the 57% foul shooter nailed two.  Then at the other end, Seikaly went over Baldi’s back and committed his 5th foul.  Marco hit two more for good measure and Syracuse’s lead was cut to 63-61 with 4:00 left.

Addison found Pearl for a jumper in the lane.  Jackson lobbed to Berry on an inbounds pass and Walter finished plus he was fouled.  The three-point play cut it to 65-64.  Pearl again hit a jumper in the lane.  Jackson again found the open man, this time it was Rowan for a wing jumper.  Syracuse called their last timeout with 1:39 to go up 67-66.

With 1:11 left, Glass committed a foul and Pearl hit both ends of a 1-and-1 to put the Orange up 69-66.  The Orangemen would have been in great position if they could have grabbed a defensive rebound, but instead St. John’s got three chances before Alexis fouled Glass with 32 seconds left.  Willie made both to cut the lead back to one.

Jackson then fouled the Pearl, who had been inconsistent from the line the last two days.  True to form, Pearl missed the front end and St. John’s got the ball and a timeout with 19 seconds left, down 69-68.  They worked it around before swinging it to Rowan at the wing.  Rowan drove baseline and pulled up from about 10 feet away.  He nailed the shot with 8 seconds left and St. John’s had their first lead of the game.

Without any timeouts, Pearl pushed the ball and tried to go coast-to-coast.  His layup attempt would have to come in between three guys and Walter Berry ended up blocking the shot to preserve the victory.  St. John’s had their 2nd Big East Championship in 4 years and now would move up to claim one of the four #1 seeds.

It didn’t help much as the Redmen got the 1-seed in the West Regional.  But they went out in the 2nd round to 8-seeded Auburn 81-65 as Chuck Person scored 27 points.  Syracuse was a #2 seed in the East Regional but their exit may have been more bitter.  They lost to 7-seeded Navy in the 2nd round, at the Carrier Dome no less, as David Robinson scored 35 points.

There were two 1986 1st round draft picks in this game, Walter Berry and Pearl Washington.  But their NBA careers didn’t last too long.  Each lasted three seasons.  Berry couldn’t get along with coaches and spent three seasons with 4 teams before playing in Europe for a decade.  Pearl wasn’t the big fish in s small pond like he was in high school or at Syracuse and he never fit in with his teams or worked hard enough to get better.  His basketball career was over by 1991.

Syracuse starters (points scored)

Wendell Alexis (8) – Small Forward

Howard Triche (13) – Power Forward

Rony Seikaly (16) – Center

Pearl Washington (20) – Point Guard

Rafael Addison (12) – Shooting Guard

Syracuse bench (points scored)

Greg Monroe (0)

Rodney Walker (0)

Syracuse Coach: Jim Boeheim

St. John’s starters (points scored)

Shelton Jones (6) – Small Forward

Willie Glass (19) – Power Forward

Walter Berry (16) – Center

Mark Jackson (10) – Point Guard

Ron Rowan (13) – Shooting Guard

St. John’s bench (points scored)

Marco Baldi (6)

John Hempel (0)

Terry Bross (0)

St. John’s Coach: Lou Carnesecca

stjohns1986 willieglass

At top, Willie Glass, Mark Jackson and Walter Berry celebrate the Big East championship while Glass (at bottom) takes his celebration on top of the basket *photos courtesy of MSG and Sports Grid

March 9, 1986 – ACC Championship Game: (#6)Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 67, (#1)Duke Blue Devils 68

Both teams had survived a close ACC Semifinal Game.  Georgia Tech was covered earlier against Maryland while Duke trailed most of the game against Olden Polynice and Virginia.  But two three-point plays by David Henderson sealed it for Duke.

The Blue Devils hadn’t lost since their earlier defeat at Georgia Tech (also covered earlier) and had been #1 in the nation since North Carolina lost at home to Maryland.  Their winning streak was now at 15 and one win away from matching their winning streak to begin the season.  They were also looking for their first ACC title under Mike Krzyzewski against the defending ACC champs.

They got off to an early lead.  Mark Price committed 2 fouls.  And the Blue Devils lead increased to 8-4 after a Tommy Amaker steal and 2-on-1 dish to Johnny Dawkins for a reverse.  Tom Hammonds and Duane Ferrell (the two guys who didn’t play in Georgia Tech’s 1985 ACC tournament win) led the Jackets on a 7-0 run to take an 11-8 lead.

But Price’s start was startling.  He missed an early free throw and then another on a two shot technical on Krzyzewski.  Hammonds’ 8th point put Georgia Tech up 17-14.  But then Danny Ferry (who wasn’t starting anymore but wasn’t playing as tentatively as earlier in the season) hit on an up-and-under after a driving spin move.  This was followed by Amaker hitting a pull-up from the foul line and Ferry finding Mark Alarie for a hook shot in the lane.  Duke led 20-17 and Tech called timeout.

Duke increased their lead to as much as 27-21 after Dawkins hit a runner.  A Dawkins pull-up from the top put Duke up 32-27 and gave Dawkins 8 points.  But Ferrell hit a jumper in the lane against defensive ace Billy King and drew a foul on King.  Then John Salley got a block and Bruce Dalrymple hit a pull-up jumper to tie the game at 32.

Ferry and Ferrell exchanged baskets before a mini-meltdown by Tech perhaps cost them momentum going into the break.  Amaker drove and got credit for a basket after a Salley goaltend with 7 seconds left.  And then King got a steal and drew the 3rd foul on Hammonds.  He hit a free throw for a 37-34 Duke halftime lead.

Salley committed his 3rd foul early in the 2nd half but then Duke’s Jay Bilas did the same.  But, obviously, foul trouble on Salley and Hammonds meant more and Duke took advantage as Dawkins hit a wing jumper and then two free throws.  Then Henderson found Alarie for a baseline jumper and Duke was up 43-34.

After a Tech timeout and a Hammonds basket, Tom committed his 4th foul and Duke regained a nine-point lead.  But Tech’s two senior stars started to get going as Price drove and scored off a Salley screen.  Then Salley put together two good post moves for baskets and the lead was down to 45-42.

Tech eventually took the lead after Craig Neal found Price for a layup on a 2-on-1 break.  This was a possession after Neal missed a breakaway slam after almost getting undercut by Amaker.  Price then penetrated and found Salley for a banker to give the Jackets a 49-46 lead and force a Duke timeout.

In the next minute momentum switched but it didn’t look like it initially.  Bilas committed his 4th foul but Salley missed the front end of a 1-and-1.  Then Salley committed his 4th foul and Alarie hit both free throws.  Then Dawkins hit a jumper from the foul line and Bilas got a slam after Hammonds saved the ball under his own basket.

Duke eventually took a 58-53 lead when Henderson hit a pull-up in the lane to force a Tech timeout.  But Ferrell tipped in a Price miss and then Price found Dalrymple on the break for a layup.  But Dalrymple fouled out with 3:45 left with his team down 60-59.  Amaker hit two free throws for a three-point lead.

But baskets by Price and Ferrell gave the Yellow Jackets a 63-62 lead.  Dawkins came through with 1:35 left by hitting in the lane.  Neal responded 30 seconds later by driving and scoring on a layup.  Duke came right back as Henderson found Alarie in the post.  Mark turned and hit a baseline jumper for a 66-65 Duke lead.

Georgia Tech got a timeout with 35 seconds left.  Price had the ball up top.  He penetrated and kicked out to Neal, the red-shirt sophomore reverse, deep at the wing.  Neal’s jumper hit the front rim and Dawkins rebounded and was fouled with 7 seconds left.  Dawkins hit two free throws to put the game away and Coach K had the first of many ACC Championships (but hey, there’s nothing like the first).

Georgia Tech starters (points scored)

Duane Ferrell (16) – Small Forward

Tom Hammonds (14) – Power Forward

John Salley (13) – Center

Mark Price (16) – Point Guard

Bruce Dalrymple (6) – Shooting Guard

Georgia Tech bench (points scored)

Craig Neal (2)

Antoine Ford (0)

Anthony Sherrod (0)

Georgia Tech Coach: Bobby Cremins

Duke starters (points scored)

David Henderson (10) – Small Forward

Mark Alarie (17) – Power Forward

Jay Bilas (2) – Center

Tommy Amaker (8) – Point Guard

Johnny Dawkins (20) – Shooting Guard

Duke bench (points scored)

Danny Ferry (6)

Billy King (5)

Quin Snyder (0)

Duke Coach: Mike Krzyzewski


A young Coach K hugs Johnny Dawkins after Duke wins the 1986 ACC Championship *photo courtesy of Coach K Website

March 13, 1986 – Southeast Regional 1st round: (#11)LSU Tigers 94, (#6)Purdue Boilermakers 87 (2OT)

There was an advantage to being the lower seed in this particular regional.  This was played at the LSU Assembly Center in Baton Rouge.  Purdue coach Gene Keady wasn’t happy with the pairings and Memphis State coach Dana Kirk (Memphis State was to play the winner of this game in the 2nd round) wanted Purdue even though they were probably a better team than LSU.  All because the Tigers were on their home court.

Purdue had finished 4th in the Big Ten with under-classmen leading the way.  Sophomores Todd Mitchell and Troy Lewis led them in scoring and freshman center Melvin McCants was the only other player in double figures.  Junior transfer Doug Lee was the shooting ace while senior Mack Gadis ran the point.  Gadis and Herb Robinson off the bench were the only two seniors.  Neither ended up getting a lot of playing time in this game.

For LSU, John Williams had recovered from his chicken pox bout but was still recovering from the virus that had inflicted him during the week (do you think John Williams got his booster shots? Was it mandatory for college students back then? Probably not).  While Williams didn’t play terribly, he wasn’t himself and just like against Kentucky, Don Redden and Derrick Taylor had to carry the offense.

Redden had 13 in the first half and Taylor 8 to lead LSU to a 39-35 halftime lead.  Mitchell was a mismatch inside against a short LSU team and scored 15 1st half points.  But the Boilermakers other big man Melvin McCants severely injured an ankle and was out for the game.

But Purdue got off to a good 2nd half start as Lewis and Lee paced the Boilermakers to a 41-39 lead.  The score went back-and-forth for a while from there as Mitchell, Redden and Taylor led the way.  Mitchell’s two free throws tied the game at 49 and gave him 21 points.  Then Lee tipped in an Everette Stephens miss, Lewis hit a wing jumper and Mitchell hit a layup over LSU’s 6’6″ ‘center’ Ricky Blanton.  Purdue led 55-49.

It seemed to get worse for the home team as Taylor committed his 4th foul.  Purdue had a chance to go up by eight, but Lewis badly missed a wide-open baseline jumper.  Taylor then drove in towards the basket.  Mitchell set up in position and it looked like a charge.  But the refs called a block and Taylor hit two free throws.  Taylor not fouling out on that play changed the momentum.  Derrick hit a pull-up banker to cut the lead to 55-53.

Then another hero started to emerge for LSU.  Anthony Wilson, who probably wouldn’t be playing much if Nikita Wilson was academically eligible (covered earlier), hit a baseline jumper to tie the game.  Wilson’s shooting over a long stretch of the 2nd half kept LSU with Purdue.  He scored 10 of their 12 points and the game was tied at 65.

Finally, LSU took a lead at 67-65 when Taylor found Ricky Blanton for a layup.  Then a Williams pull-up in the lane put the Tigers up by four with a few minutes left.  Backup point guard Everette Stephens responded with a long jumper that was thought to be out of his range.

Then on the next Purdue possession, Stephens took the same shot and it did prove to be out of his range as he airballed it badly.  But Todd Mitchell made a fantastic save to set up Jeff Arnold (who was playing in McCants’ spot) for the game-tying layup.  LSU called timeout with 1:05 left.

But they couldn’t get a clean shot off as both Taylor and Blanton had their shots blocked.  Purdue called timeout with 29 seconds left but Troy Lewis airballed a wing jumper after popping out.  The best chance for either team proved to be Don Redden’s attempt from just in front of half court at the buzzer.  That at least hit the backboard.

There wasn’t much scoring in the 1st OT as each team played conservatively.  After each team scored two field goals, LSU had a great chance to win after Don Redden stole a pass.  But the physically hampered Williams missed a seemingly easy runner in the lane and the game went into a 2nd overtime.

LSU dominated the first part of the 2nd OT as Purdue completely lost their poise and turned the ball over as well as took bad shots.  At the Tigers end, Blanton tipped in a Redden miss.  Wilson hit a wing jumper and then got a breakaway after a Williams outlet.  The Redden hit two free throws and Wilson found Williams for a slam after LSU broke the press.  The Tigers led 83-73, the crowd was whooping it up and the game looked over.

Because it looked over, it seemed inconsequential that Williams missed a breakaway slam.  That’s because LSU led 87-78 with 58 seconds left and had the ball.  But Taylor, who had just made two free throws, missed the front end.  At Purdue’s end, Mitchell rebounded a wild miss from Lewis, scored and was fouled by Williams, his 5th.  The three-point play cut it back to 87-81 with 44 seconds left.

Then Stephens got a steal and Lewis was fouled by Taylor, his 5th.  Lewis’ two free throws with 38 seconds left cut the lead to four.  With two of their best players fouled out, LSU had to get the ball to Bernard Woodside.  Woodside had battled chicken pox too and was a 50% foul shooter.  He did miss the front end but got his own rebound.  However, Herb Robinson stole an errant pass and Lee put back a driving miss from Stephens.  LSU’s lead was down to 87-85 and Purdue called their last timeout with 19 seconds left.

But Anthony Wilson calmed things by making two free throws.  Wilson was fouled again with 4 seconds left after a Lewis basket cut the lead back to 89-87.  This was incomprehensibly called a two-shot intentional foul on Purdue (as if every foul down the stretch when you’re behind isn’t ‘intentional’).  Keady didn’t take too kindly to that call and got whistled for a technical, effectively ending the game.  Wilson hit 5-of-6 free throws in the final 4 seconds to set the margin.

LSU was now a big underdog against Memphis State, but they did have the home-court advantage again.

LSU starters (points scored)

Don Redden (21) – Small Forward

John Williams (16) – Power Forward

Ricky Blanton (10) – Center

Derrick Taylor (20) – Point Guard

Anthony Wilson (25) – Shooting Guard

LSU bench (points scored)

Bernard Woodside (0)

Jose Vargas (0)

Oliver Brown (2)

Neboisha Bukumirovich (0)

LSU Coach: Dale Brown

Purdue starters (points scored)

Doug Lee (20) – Small Forward

Todd Mitchell (31) – Power Forward

Melvin McCants (2) – Center

Mack Gadis (0) – Point Guard

Troy Lewis (20) – Shooting Guard

Purdue bench (points scored)

Everette Stephens (4)

Herb Robinson (2)

Jeff Arnold (8)

Kip Jones (0)

Purdue Coach: Gene Keady

March 14, 1986 – East Regional 1st round: (#14)Cleveland State Vikings 83, (#3)Indiana Hoosiers 79

When the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, seeds 13-16 were now allowed in the NCAA tournament and the top 4 seeds in each region didn’t get the 1st round off.

The lowest seed to advance beyond the 1st round in 1985 was 13-seeded Navy, who upset 4th seeded LSU.  It didn’t seem like anybody was going to call for a lower seeded team to advance in 1986 because one had not seen an upset that big.

But the Cleveland State Vikings came in at 27-3.  They had beaten DePaul and had lost by only 4 to Ohio State.  The Vikings had won the Mid-Continent regular season and tournament championship, losing only 1 game in conference.  Their talent were forwards Clinton Smith and Clinton Ransey as well as guard Ken ‘Mouse’ McFadden.  Smith would be the only player on the Vikings roster to play an NBA game.  Ransey’s brother, Kelvin, played in the NBA.  And McFadden was an NYC playground legend who didn’t play high school basketball but got a chance at Cleveland State as a 21-year-old freshman.

Coach Kevin Mackey’s style also fit the rest of the roster.  Eric Mudd, Ed Bryant, Bob Crawford, Paul Stewart, Ray Salters, Shawn Hood and Steve Corbin all got playing time.  Mackey’s style was a run-and-gun playground style.  Cleveland State averaged just under 89 points per game.

Indiana finished 2nd in the Big Ten (losing out on the final day to Michigan 80-52) and came in at 21-7.  Bob Knight’s team was still led by Steve Alford and had senior guards Winston Morgan and Stew Robinson contributing.  6’7″ Junior Daryl Thomas started in the middle.  He was flanked by freshman Rick Calloway and junior college transfer Andre Harris.  Harris was one of the first JC transfers Knight took on (he took two more in 1987 who made a big impact) but Harris transferred to Austin Peay after the season.

Alford found Winston Morgan for the first jumper of the game from the foul line.  It turned out to be one of the few Indiana leads on the day.  Cleveland State pressed all over the court and pushed the ball at every opportunity.  They successfully made this game a fast-paced game.

Clinton Ransey started the scoring with 4 free throws and then a steal off the press and layup to give the Vikings a 6-2 lead.  Indiana managed to come back and take the lead but lost out on opportunities to increase it when both Calloway and Harris missed chances to complete three-point plays.

A McFadden three-point play after he pushed the ball following an Indiana basket gave Cleveland State a 25-24 lead.  Alford then found Thomas for a layup and Indiana’s last lead.  Ed Bryant hit a pull-up in the lane.  Then he got a steal and Ransey hit the first of two consecutive baskets.  Cleveland State took a 37-28 lead before the Hoosiers went on a 6-0 run.  But the Vikings were able to hold to a 45-41 halftime lead.  Their last basket came when Clinton Smith put back his own miss with 10 seconds left.

Cleveland State ran off the first 6 points of the 2nd half as Daryl Thomas committed his 3rd foul.  The highlight came when Smith, from the post, hit Ransey with a behind-the-back bounce pass for a layup.  Cleveland State eventually took its biggest lead at 64-53.  Calloway and Thomas each hit two free throws before Thomas committed his 4th foul.

But then Smith committed his 4th foul for the Vikings and a Stew Robinson drive cut the lead to 64-59.  Eventually two Alford free throws sliced the Vikings lead to 67-63.  It was the closest Indiana got until the final buzzer.  The Hoosiers were scoring okay on the fast pace but they could not stop the Vikings when they needed to.

McFadden found Eric Mudd for a layup and then Mudd got another basket on a Harris goaltend.  Then back-to-back floaters by Ransey gave him 23 points and gave his team a 75-65 lead as the crowd at the Carrier Dome was starting to sense that this monumental upset could happen and they were getting behind the Vikings.

Indiana scrambled to stay in the game but couldn’t get a run going until it was too little too late.  Harris and sophomore Steve Eyl finally put together back-to-back baskets to cut the lead to 81-75 with 40 seconds left.  And after Mudd missed the front end of a 1-and-1, Alford banked one in with 30 seconds left to cut the lead to four.  But Indiana was out of timeouts and Clinton Smith hit two free throws to put it away.

Cleveland State wouldn’t become the only 14 seed to win on this Friday as Arkansas-Little Rock upset Notre Dame 90-83 later.  But Cleveland State would become the first under 12 seed to advance to the Sweet 16 after they beat 6-seeded St. Joseph’s in the 2nd round.  There the Vikings would take on David Robinson and Navy after the Midshipmen upset Syracuse at the Carrier Dome.

Cleveland State starters (points scored)

Clinton Smith (12) – Small Forward

Clinton Ransey (27) – Power Forward

Eric Mudd (16) – Center

Ed Bryant (2) – Point Guard

Ken McFadden (9) – Shooting Guard

Cleveland State bench (points scored)

Bob Crawford (4)

Paul Stewart (6)

Ray Salters (1)

Shawn Hood (2)

Steve Corbin (4)

Cleveland State Coach: Kevin Mackey

Indiana starters (points scored)

Rick Calloway (10) – Small Forward

Andre Harris (16) – Power Forward

Daryl Thomas (11) – Center

Steve Alford (24) – Point Guard

Winston Morgan (2) – Shooting Guard

Indiana bench (points scored)

Stew Robinson (10)

Todd Meier (2)

Todd Jadlow (2)

Steve Eyl (2)

Indiana Coach: Bobby Knight


Cleveland State celebrates its upset win over Indiana *photo courtesy of The Summit League

March 15, 1986 – Southeast Regional 2nd round: (#11)LSU Tigers 83, (#3)Memphis State Tigers 81

As much of a hero as Anthony Wilson was against Purdue and as much as he struggled much more mightily against Memphis State, nothing will top the end of this game for Anthony Wilson.

Memphis State had easily defeated Ball State in the 1st round but senior Andre Turner was in a big shooting slump.  He was 1-for-9 against Ball State.  But he started the 2nd round game on LSU’s home court with a pull-up jumper after a William Bedford defensive rebound and outlet.

LSU with 6’6″ center Ricky Blanton seemed to have no match for Bedford and they didn’t as they had to go to the zone when William was in the game.  But once again, LSU hung around early as their home crowd was a factor.  Wilson hit two early jumpers but quickly lost confidence once he started missing.

But two straight jumpers from Derrick Taylor gave LSU a 25-23 lead.  Turner then found Bedford for an easy banker down low.  Turner got a steal and alley-ooped to Bedford on the break to give Memphis State the lead.  Don Redden then got a basket on a 4-on-2 break.  Memphis State’s Vincent Askew then got his 3rd foul.

But the game continued back-and-forth as Bedford scored 13 points inside while Redden kept LSU alive with 15 first half points.  His last two came on a wing jumper that cut Memphis State’s lead to 43-41.  Backup point guard John Wilfong hit two free throws (Wilfong got 7 minutes of playing time in Turner’s spot in the first half.. Turner’s opening basket was his only 2 points of the 1st half).

Then Baskerville Holmes banked in a prayer from way beyond the non-existent three-point line at the buzzer to put Memphis State up 47-41 at the half.  Then Dana Kirk came out with some mis-direction for the inbounds play to start the 2nd half and got Turner a layup.

Turner then found Dwight Boyd for a layup and Memphis State had a 51-41 lead.  They went up by 11 a few minutes later after Holmes scored from the post and drew John Williams’ 3rd foul.

Then for the 2nd straight game, LSU got a big break.  Williams went up against Bedford at the other end.  Williams hit a tough shot and drew Bedford’s 3rd foul, but Billy Packer adamantly (in a way that only Billy Packer can) stated that Williams used the off arm to push off and was lucky he didn’t get his 4th foul.  In Packer’s defense, he did stick out the chicken wing a little bit.  In John Williams’ defense, Bedford is a 7-foot shot-blocker.

But back-to-back baskets by Askew and Turner gave Memphis State a 60-48 lead.  They kept that lead until Bedford goaltended a Ricky Blanton shot and fouled Ricky for his 4th foul.  Then after a Holmes free throw, LSU scored 6 consecutive points to cut the lead to 65-61 with Bedford on the bench.

Memphis State was able to hold them off for the moment as Holmes drove baseline and scored his 18th point.  Later, an Askew wing jumper put them up 73-65.  But then Taylor hit from the top of the key.  Taylor scored again after Oliver Brown got a steal.  Two free throws from Blanton cut the lead to 73-71.

Holmes again staved off a run as he hit from the baseline.  But eventually back-to-back buckets by Williams tied the game at 77.  The crowd was definitely a factor down the stretch as Memphis State freshman Marvin Alexander missed two free throws amid the din.

With 2:20 left, Redden’s wing jumper put LSU up 79-77.  It was their first lead since the 1st half.  Turner tied it less than a minute later with a pull-up from the foul line (where he had nailed two game-winners in the 1985 NCAA tournament).  Redden responded with a left-handed up-and-under in the lane with 58 seconds left.  Bedford tied it with a turnaround banker at 32 seconds.

Those last two baskets came after timeouts but following Bedford’s basket, LSU decided to run the clock down and take their chances.  They got it to Redden who missed a jumper in the lane at 5 seconds.

The last 5 seconds were stunning, to say the least.  Bedford went up for the rebound and had it for a second but lost it as he came in contact with Redden.  Redden and Turner were scrambling on the floor as the clock looked like it was going to run out.  But in the last second, the loose ball went to Anthony Wilson who picked it up and banked in a prayer just in the nick of time as everybody in the gym (including LSU coach Dale Brown) went crazy.

LSU had won in incredible fashion but now it seemed karma was about to strike them.  After playing the first two games on their home court, they were now getting ready to travel to Atlanta and Take on 2-seeded Georgia Tech.

For Memphis State, things would get worse.  Dana Kirk was forced out after major recruiting violations were discovered and the basketball program went on probation for 2 years.  Furthermore, Kirk would serve jail time when he was indicted on 11 counts that included tax evasion, filing false income tax returns, mail fraud and obstruction of justice.  Kirk would never hold another coaching position and died in February, 2010.

William Bedford would declare for the NBA draft after this season, his junior season.  Vincent Askew would do the same after the 1987 season.

LSU starters (points scored)

Don Redden (23) – Small Forward

John Williams (19) – Power Forward

Ricky Blanton (11) – Center

Derrick Taylor (18) – Point Guard

Anthony Wilson (6) – Shooting Guard

LSU bench (points scored)

Oliver Brown (4)

Jose Vargas (0)

Neboisha Bukumirovich (2)

Bernard Woodside (0)

LSU Coach: Dale Brown

Memphis State starters (points scored)

Vincent Askew (10) – Small Forward

Baskerville Holmes (20) – Power Forward

William Bedford (15) – Center

Andre Turner (12) – Point Guard

Dwight Boyd (12) – Shooting Guard

Memphis State bench (points scored)

Dewayne Bailey (4)

Marvin Alexander (2)

John Wilfong (6)

Memphis State Coach: Dana Kirk


Anthony Wilson’s game-winner sent LSU to the Regionals *photo courtesy of Tiger Den Basketball Archive

March 20, 1986 – Southeast Regional Semifinal: (#11)LSU Tigers 70, (#2)Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 64

Although the game was played at The Omni in Atlanta, that hadn’t quite been a home-court advantage for Georgia Tech in the past.  They had won 12 of their previous 23 games played there.  Furthermore, it became more obvious as the game played out that Georgia Tech was feeling the pressure as a top seed.

It didn’t start that way as Bruce Dalrymple and Duane Ferrell found John Salley for slams on the first two possessions.  But LSU came back with 8 straight points as Don Redden got off to another good start.  His pull-up from the baseline gave the Tigers a 10-6 lead and gave him 6 points.

Redden and Derrick Taylor would end up being the offense for LSU as John Williams struggled mightily.  But that was enough as Mark Price didn’t get on the board until halfway through the 1st half.  Georgia Tech took a slim 25-22 lead when Ferrell lobbed to Tom Hammonds for a layup.

But Redden came right back with his 10th point on an elbow jumper.  Then Taylor set up Oliver Brown on a 2-on-1 break for a layup and a foul.  LSU kept that lead and eventually increased it to 36-30 when Taylor hit a pull-up from the wing with 10 seconds left in the 1st half.  That score held into the break.

Georgia Tech quickly got going with 6 unanswered points.  But, like the 1st half, they tailed off after a hot start.  The hero of the 2nd round game, Anthony Wilson, hit a baseline jumper to give LSU a 38-36 lead.  Ricky Blanton then got a steal and Taylor finished to put the Tigers up four.

Georgia Tech came back to take a 44-43 lead on Price’s wing jumper.  Redden and Wilson responded with jumpers and Georgia Tech had to call a timeout.  They came back to regain the lead on field goals from Salley and Price.  And although Dalrymple committed his 4th foul, the Jackets took a 56-52 lead after Craig Neal, Dalrymple’s backup, got a steal and breakaway layup.

But LSU, once again, refused to die.  Taylor hit back-to-back field goals to tie it.  Then after Hammonds hit a jumper in the lane, Taylor responded from the top of the key.  Redden hit two wing jumpers to put LSU up 62-58 before Price cut it back to two with another wing jumper.

The main reason that LSU had been able to not only stay in the game but control it to a large degree was that they were winning all of the hustle plays.  This was never more evident then when Redden dove on the floor to recover a Taylor miss with 1:38 left.  Then Redden was fouled away from the ball and hit two free throws.

On the next possession for Tech, Dalrymple drove baseline and charged into Blanton for his 5th foul.  LSU then broke the Jackets press and Williams found Blanton for a layup and a 66-60 lead with under 1:00 to go.  LSU was able to finish it off from there.

The Tigers would take on top-seeded Kentucky in the next round after the Wildcats had beaten LSU three times that season, including the heartbreaker at Baton Rouge.

LSU starters (points scored)

Don Redden (27) – Small Forward

John Williams (5) – Power Forward

Ricky Blanton (4) – Center

Derrick Taylor (23) – Point Guard

Anthony Wilson (8) – Shooting Guard

LSU bench (points scored)

Oliver Brown (3)

Jose Vargas (0)

Bernard Woodside (0)

LSU Coach: Dale Brown

Georgia Tech starters (points scored)

Duane Ferrell (6) – Small Forward

Tom Hammonds (16) – Power Forward

John Salley (11) – Center

Mark Price (20) – Point Guard

Bruce Dalrymple (6) – Shooting Guard

Georgia Tech bench (points scored)

Craig Neal (4)

Antoine Ford (1)

Jack Mansell (0)

Willie Reese (0)

John Martinson (0)

Georgia Tech Coach: Bobby Cremins

March 21, 1986 – East Regional Semifinals: (#14)Cleveland State Vikings 70, (#7)Navy Midshipmen 71

While this Navy basketball team is primarily known for having David Robinson aboard, there were two seniors who stepped forward in this particular game while Robinson was struggling or in foul trouble.  Forward Vernon Butler and guard Kylor Whitaker were the x-factors.

Navy was not as quick as Cleveland State so they had to play zone.  It did help that the Middies got off to a great start, or perhaps to put it more accurately Cleveland State got off to a bad start.  Butler and Whitaker scored the first 6 points as Navy took a 6-0 lead before Eric Mudd’s tip-in got the Vikings on the board.  It didn’t help Cleveland State’s field goal percentage that Navy had David Robinson standing in the middle.

Robinson’s first two field goals were on lobs.  One he finished with just the left hand while being bodied by Mudd.  But Cleveland State’s strategy was to body up Robinson and make the others beat them.  This didn’t particularly work in the first half as Navy was aggressive against the Cleveland State press and got good shots, Butler and Whitaker were mostly the beneficiary.

It also didn’t help that Cleveland State’s three stars (Clinton Smith, Clinton Ransey and Ken ‘Mouse’ McFadden) weren’t particularly aggressive against the Navy zone and the Vikings fast pace was considerably slowed.  A corner jumper from Whitaker gave Navy their biggest lead at 27-16.

Mudd was the man who kept Cleveland State in it with 9 first half points.  He scored 5 in a row to cut the lead to 31-23.  Then reserve Paul Stewart drew Robinson’s 3rd foul.  David went to the bench for the rest of the half but Cleveland State could not take advantage.

They could only cut the lead down to 37-30 late in the half.  But with 5 seconds to go, Whitaker spun and hit a jumper for his 14th point and a 39-30 Midshipmen halftime lead.

Cleveland State coach Kevin Mackey must have orated something to his team as they came out running at the start of the 2nd half.  Ransey hit a layup over Robinson.  McFadden hit a pull-up from the elbow.  Mudd followed up a miss.  And point guard Ed Bryant, from halfcourt, alley-ooped to Clinton Smith.  The lead was down to 41-38.

Robinson and Whitaker held off the Vikings for the moment, but Navy had to call a timeout after a Ransey drive cut the lead back to 45-42.  At this point, the physicality against Robinson was almost getting out of hand.  Cleveland State’s chiseled Ray Salters (nicknamed ‘The Hitman’ …hmmm) and Robinson almost got into a scuffle.  Robinson did respond by finishing an alley-oop but it was mentioned several times that this did not look like the same Robinson who had dominated Syracuse at the Carrier Dome.

Whitaker and Butler kept Navy ahead but the Vikings kept coming.  Finally, a McFadden pull-up from the baseline gave Cleveland State a 56-55 lead.  Then after a Navy turnover, McFadden hit in the lane.  Following a Smith steal from Robinson, Bryant got a layup.  Cleveland State was on an 8-0 run and led 60-55 with just under 7:00 left.

At this point, David Robinson stepped out of his shell and aggressively went after the ball and after his shots.  First, Midshipmen reserve Cliff Rees hit a wing jumper.  Then Robinson caught a lob in the post and drew a foul.  At this point, David was 2-for-4 from the line but on this trip, he made them both to cut the lead to 60-59.

Then after a McFadden basket, Robinson drew Mudd’s 4th foul and made two more free throws.  Smith responded for the Vikings with a baseline jumper.  But then Robinson drew Clinton Ransey’s 4th foul and made two more free throws.  McFadden hit from the baseline.  Robinson stepped through a double team and had a huge slam.  Smith hit on a baseline drive.  Robinson hit a turnaround banker in the post.

David was keeping his team alive but Navy still trailed 68-67.  But with 1:30 left, Robinson rebounded a McFadden miss and outletted to point guard Doug Wojcik.  Wojcik found Butler for a layup on a 3-on-1 break and Navy finally had the lead.  It looked even better for the Middies when Ransey drove baseline and committed an offensive foul for his 5th with 57 seconds left.

But about 25 seconds later, Clinton Smith got a steal.  He spun and hit a driving layup that bounced three times on the back rim before falling in.  Navy called a timeout with 24 seconds left.  They were going to go to the strategy that had worked in the last 6 minutes.  Lob the ball into David Robinson and let him go to work.

But on this possession, Robinson was being bodied out of bounds by the Cleveland State defense.  They still tried to lob to him but David couldn’t jump straight and Cleveland State got a steal (many could probably hear the Cadets in Naval attire in the crowd screaming FOUL.. to be frank, they weren’t wrong).

Butler was able to hustle and tie the ball up.  The possession arrow was pointing Navy’s way with 8 seconds left.  Cleveland State claimed after the game that they were fouled on that exchange, but compared to the way they bodied Robinson and took his legs out when he tried to jump for the lob?  Not so much.

After a timeout, Whitaker inbounded from under Cleveland State’s basket.  He lobbed to Robinson in the middle of the lane.  David caught it, came down, and went right back up for the layup with 5 seconds left.  After a Cleveland State timeout, Smith took the ball the full length of the court but missed from beyond the NBA three-point line at the buzzer.

Navy moved on to the Regional Finals but got killed by Duke, 71-50.  Johnny Dawkins led the Devils with 28 points.  Robinson had 23 but only one other Middie was in double figures (Whitaker with 10).  The Navy basketball team would get David Robinson for one more year and the Naval Academy would get him for 3 more years.

For Cleveland State, they would crack the polls for the only time in school history when they were ranked 20th in the pre-season.  But they would not make another NCAA tournament appearance until 2009.  Head coach Kevin Mackey had a fall from grace in the summer of 1990 when he was arrested for DUI and having an open container.  A later urine sample revealed traces of cocaine.  Mackey was fired by Cleveland State and was ordered to be confined in a rehab facility for 60 days.

Cleveland State starters (points scored)

Clinton Smith (16) – Small Forward

Clinton Ransey (8) – Power Forward

Eric Mudd (11) – Center

Ed Bryant (6) – Point Guard

Ken McFadden (16) – Shooting Guard

Cleveland State bench (points scored)

Bob Crawford (1)

Shawn Hood (3)

Ray Salters (2)

Paul Stewart (7)

Steve Corbin (0)

Cleveland State Coach: Kevin Mackey

Navy starters (points scored)

Carl Liebert (0) – Small Forward

Vernon Butler (16) – Power Forward

David Robinson (22) – Center

Doug Wojcik (4) – Point Guard

Kylor Whitaker (23) – Shooting Guard

Navy bench (points scored)

Nathan Bailey (2)

Derric Turner (0)

Cliff Rees (4)

Navy Coach: Paul Evans


David Robinson had a physical battle against Cleveland State in the Regional Semis, but the Admiral got the last laugh *photo courtesy of Real Cavs fans

March 21, 1986 – Midwest Regional Semifinals: (#5)Michigan State Spartans 86, (#1)Kansas Jayhawks 96 (OT)

If there was a concept of instant replay back in 1986, this was a game that could have used it.  If this game was 25 years later, it would have helped Michigan State, even if the refs would have taken 25 minutes to figure out what went wrong.

Michigan State had beaten 4th seeded Georgetown in the 2nd round and were advancing this far in the tournament for the first time since winning it all in 1979.  Like ’79, the Spartans had a special point guard that led the way.  Senior Scott Skiles was the do-everything player, averaging 27.4 points per game and 6.5 assists per game.

Skiles had to be do-everything because there wasn’t much around him.  Swingmen juniors Darryl Johnson and Vernon Carr were nice players who averaged double-figures.  Senior Larry Polec and junior Barry Fordham did the dirty work inside.  I suppose if the Spartans did have an advantage, it was that they had upper-classmen.  Michigan State had finished 3rd in the Big Ten during the season, but were the last Big Ten team left.

Kansas had five returning starters from 1985 and were 33-3 coming into this game.  Larry Brown’s team had climbed to a #2 ranking by the end of the season.  Sophomore Danny Manning led the way along with senior swingmen Ron Kellogg and Calvin Thompson and senior big man Greg Dreiling.  Junior Cedric Hunter led the team from up-top.  Kansas’ bench strength was JC transfer and leaper Archie Marshall and gutty Mark Turgeon, who ran the team well when Hunter was on the bench.

Kansas got off to a great start in front of a partisan crowd in Kansas City.  Kellogg put back a Dreiling miss.  Hunter alley-ooped to Thompson and Manning hit a jumper from the post.  Kansas led 6-2.  The lead stayed at around that margin until Manning hit back-to-back baskets to put the Jayhawks up 25-18.  A Marshall basket put KU up nine.

But Manning got three fouls and Michigan State got back into it.  But Skiles and Johnson got three fouls for Michigan State and had to sit out to finish the half.  With that, Calvin Thompson’s 12 first half points led the Jayhawks to a 46-37 halftime lead.

Michigan State got back into it in the 2nd half with the biggest of x-factors.  Center Barry Fordham averaged 2.8 points per game during the season.  His career high was 8 points and he had taken 8 shots in the first two tournament games.  But Fordham hit two jumpers from the foul line to help Michigan State cut the lead to three.

Manning held off the Spartans initially with an elbow jumper and then a three-point play on a putback.  But Ron Kellogg committed his 4th foul with Kansas up six.  Vernon Carr then scored on a putback, Darryl Johnson got a steal and Skiles hit a pull-up to cut the lead to 59-57.  Marshall tipped in a Dreiling miss to increase the lead but then Manning committed his 4th foul.

The Spartans went on a 5-0 run to take the lead.  The last two of those points came when Skiles threw a no-look over-the-shoulder pass to Mr. Fordham for a wing jumper for his 11th point.  Later, a Fordham baseline jumper put the Spartans up 68-66.  A Carr slam on a baseline drive gave Michigan State a 71-68 lead.

The teams traded two baskets until Manning fouled Carr with 2:21 left to foul out.  Carr missed the first but then made the second shot and Michigan State led 76-72.  Then something bizarre happened.  A second ticked off the clock and then it stopped at 2:20 for my unofficial count of 15 seconds.  While the clock was stopped, Kellogg put back a Hunter miss.

Then eventually the clock started running but the lost 15 seconds were not made up.  This would become a huge factor later.  But in the meanwhile, Kellogg committed his 5th foul on a cheap call and Larry Brown got a technical.  One of the other things I don’t understand about what happened next is that Skiles took three shots with nobody on the line.  Remember at the time that a coaches technical (or a bench technical) was worth two free throws.  Perhaps they let Skiles shoot the 1-and-1 first because he missed that before making the two subsequent shots.

Fordham then nailed another baseline jumper to put Michigan State up 80-74 with 1:07 left.  With that lead with that little time left, one would think Michigan State would be able to hold off Kansas and the clock stoppage wouldn’t be an issue (but, hey, they would have had a better chance to hold them off with that lead and 52 seconds left).

Hunter hit a pull-up in the lane and the Jayhawks fouled Larry Polec with 27 seconds left.  Polec was a senior who was an 86% foul shooter.  Put, wouldn’t you know it, he missed the front end of a 1-and-1.  Thompson’s pull-up from the baseline got the bounce and Kansas called a timeout with 20 seconds left, down 80-78.

There was only one Spartan player who was a better foul shooter than Polec.  It was Skiles.  But for some reason, Scott was inbounding the ball.  And also for some reason, he gave it to freshman reserve Mark Brown (probably because he was open).  Brown back-rimmed the front end of the 1-and-1 and Kansas rebounded and pushed.

With 10 seconds left, Marshall put back a Thompson miss to tie the game.  The Spartans didn’t call a timeout but didn’t look organized as they seemed intent on getting Skiles the ball.  It took Scott 7 seconds to get across half-court and, as a result, he attempted and missed a running jumper from just inside the NBA three-point line.

The game was headed to overtime but I’m sure several Spartans were shouting that Marshall wouldn’t have had a chance at the tying tip-in with 10 seconds left had the clock not stopped for 15 seconds.  While that is true and the clock operator and refs shouldn’t feel reprieved, Michigan State had several chances to close the game out and made some inexplicable decisions (the biggest of which in my view was Skiles inbounding the ball instead of looking to receive it).

The Spartans did take a two-point lead in overtime but Thompson scored 7 straight KU points to put them ahead.  The Spartans didn’t score for the last two minutes and Kansas was able to put the game away and move on.

They beat NC State in the Regional Finals, which gave them a chance to play Duke at the Final Four in Dallas.  The Blue Devils had given Kansas one of their three losses on the season.

Michigan State would next make the NCAA tournament in 1990, with nobody from the 1986 roster left on the team.

Michigan State starters (points scored)

Vernon Carr (17) – Small Forward

Larry Polec (16) – Power Forward

Barry Fordham (15) – Center

Scott Skiles (20) – Point Guard

Darryl Johnson (10) – Shooting Guard

Michigan State bench (points scored)

Ralph Walker (2)

Carlton Valentine (4)

Mark Brown (2)

Michigan State Coach: Jud Heathcote

Kansas starters (points scored)

Ron Kellogg (14) – Small Forward

Danny Manning (17) – Power Forward

Greg Dreiling (10) – Center

Cedric Hunter (11) – Point Guard

Calvin Thompson (26) – Shooting Guard

Kansas bench (points scored)

Archie Marshall (16)

Chris Piper (2)

Mark Turgeon (0)

Kansas Coach: Larry Brown


Greg Dreiling went on to play 10 seasons in the NBA, the only Jayhawk from 1986 to play more was Manning *photo courtesy of Fanbase

March 22, 1986 – West Regional Finals: (#8)Auburn Tigers 76, (#2)Louisville Cardinals 84

The Auburn Tigers made tournament runs as a low seed in 1985 and 1986.  In 1985, they kept coach Sonny Smith from retiring by reaching the Sweet 16 as an 11-seed.  In 1986, they were an 8-seed after finishing tied for 2nd in the SEC and bombing out in round 1 of the SEC tournament.  They put it together again in the NCAA tournament by beating three conference champions (#9 Arizona, #1 St. John’s, #4 UNLV) to reach the Elite 8.

In the Elite 8 in Houston; Chuck Person, Chris Morris and company took on another conference champion.  2nd seeded Louisville had just beaten North Carolina in the Regional Semis.  The first half was a fast paced game, the second half was almost the complete opposite.

Along with future NBA stars Person and Morris, Auburn sported a pair of junior guards in Gerald White and Frank Ford.  Their center was rugged Jeff Moore.  The underdog Tigers got off to a good start as Ford hit a pull-up after a Moore steal.  Then Person hit from the top of the key.  Louisville’s Herbert Crook tied the game at 4 with two field goals.

The game went back and forth from there as each team was shooting well in the fast pace.  Auburn held a slight lead for most of the way as Person and Moore led the way.  Crook led Louisville with 14 first half points and the other starters contributed as well.  But Louisville didn’t quite have the urgency that they had against UNC and that allowed the Tigers to hang around.

Louisville finally went on an 8-0 run to grab a 40-36 lead and had the advantage at the half by a score of 44-43.  The 2nd half went the same as Person and Pervis Ellison exchanged baskets.  But Auburn grabbed a slight lead again.  It was as big as 54-50 after Louisville senior leader Billy Thompson committed his 4th foul and Person scored his 19th point from the line.  Although Person was playing a great game, the number of minutes were up and Chuck was starting to look a little fatigued.

Thompson’s replacement Mark McSwain put back a miss and then Jeff Hall hit a corner jumper to tie the game at 54.  Chris Morris kept Auburn ahead with 7 consecutive Tigers points but Louisville finally took a 66-65 lead when their other senior leader Milt Wagner hit a jumper from the top of the key.  Ford answered with a wing jumper for the Tigers.  But then Wagner found Ellison in the post for a banker and a foul.  The three-point play gave Louisville a 69-67 lead.

Auburn’s fatigue was clearly taking hold now as they went into a drought but Louisville couldn’t take advantage.  The Tigers drought was signified on one possession.  Person missed a jumper but Ford ran down the rebound.  Person missed another jumper but Ford ran it down again.  Person missed again but Jeff Moore gave them a fourth chance.  Finally, Person hit from the wing to give Auburn the lead at 70-69 with 3:30 left.

Louisville regained the lead when Crook found Thompson for a layup.  It would be the last lead change as Thompson rebounded a Person miss.  Ellison then tipped in a Thompson miss and Louisville led 73-70.  Finally with under 2:00 left, Ellison blocked a Moore jumper and Hall got a breakaway.  Louisville was able to put away Auburn from there at the free throw line.  They earned their 4th Final Four appearance in 7 years, but ironically the last for Denny Crum.

Auburn, meanwhile, have not gotten any closer to a Final Four.  But hey, they are a football school after all.

Auburn starters (points scored)

Chris Morris (17) – Small Forward

Chuck Person (23) – Power Forward

Jeff Moore (11) – Center

Gerald White (8) – Point Guard

Frank Ford (13) – Shooting Guard

Auburn bench (points scored)

Mike Jones (2)

Terrance Howard (2)

Auburn Coach: Sonny Smith

Louisville starters (points scored)

Herbert Crook (20) – Small Forward

Billy Thompson (13) – Power Forward

Pervis Ellison (15) – Center

Milt Wagner (16) – Point Guard

Jeff Hall (14) – Shooting Guard

Louisville bench (points scored)

Mark McSwain (4)

Tony Kimbro (0)

Kevin Walls (2)

Louisville Coach: Denny Crum

billy thompson

Billy Thompson scored the go-ahead layup against Auburn as Louisville advanced to the Final Four *photo courtesy of Louisville Cardinals

March 22, 1986 – Southeast Regional Final: (#11)LSU Tigers 59, (#1)Kentucky Wildcats 57

It is easy to say that it’s hard to beat someone four times in a season and that is why LSU finally got Kentucky.  But in the Regional Semifinals, Kentucky had beaten Alabama for the fourth time in 1986.  So from the Kentucky perspective, it was possible.

Kentucky came into the Regional Finals with a 32-3 record and a 14-game winning streak.  And Kenny Walker was intent on keeping that streak going.  Walker scored 9 of Kentucky’s first 11 points as the Wildcats took an 11-4 lead.  And after each basket, Walker was displaying a lot of emotion.

But the Tigers shut down Walker with their switching ‘freak’ defense and the scoring slowed as a result.  Don Redden scored three straight baskets to tie the game at 14.  LSU grabbed their first lead of the game at 17-16 when Ricky Blanton found John Williams for a layup and a foul.

LSU took as much as a four-point lead but baskets by Walker and Winston Bennett brought Kentucky back to a 28-all tie.  The teams traded baskets until Redden hit a free throw with 6 seconds left in the half to give LSU a 33-32 lead.  But Kentucky answered before the buzzer as Roger Harden (the hero of the first LSU game) found Walker on the baseline for a short jumper at the horn.  Kentucky led 34-33 and Walker had 16 points.

The back and forth continued into the 2nd half.  LSU grabbed a 39-36 lead but three straight points from Bennett tied the game.  Walker got his first points (and only field goal) of the 2nd half on a steal and breakaway layup to tie the game at 43.  Individual credit for shutting down Walker goes to Blanton and reserve Oliver Brown.  Both were physical with him and didn’t let him get an easy shot, although seemingly easy shots were missed by Walker too.

Kenny did kick out to Harden for a wing jumper to give Kentucky a 45-43 lead.  Then Ed Davender hit a driving runner over Brown in the lane to give Kentucky their biggest lead of the 2nd half.  But after an LSU timeout, John Williams responded with back-to-back baskets to tie the game at 47.

While the scoring was coming at a snail’s pace, Kentucky’s James Blackmon shook free for two straight corner jumpers to give the Wildcats a 51-47 lead, both were on kickouts by Walker.  Ricky Blanton then put together back-to-back baskets to tie the game.  After Walker missed the front end of a 1-and-1, Redden hit a banker from the post to give the Tigers a 53-51 lead.

Blackmon’s third straight corner jumper tied the game again but LSU regained the lead on two Blanton free throws.  Then with under 2:00 left, Blackmon finally missed a corner jumper.  LSU got the ball and Redden eventually followed up a Derrick Taylor miss to give LSU a 57-53 lead with 1:31 left.

Blanton committed a foul away from the ball and Walker and Kenny made two free throws for his 4th second half point.  LSU called a timeout with 1:19 left and then ran the clock down.  Kentucky then committed a non-intentional foul with 44 seconds left.  Although the Wildcats weren’t in the bonus yet, the 45-second shot clock reset and LSU could run out the clock.

Kentucky was apparently very intent that they were going to get a steal as they let LSU play with it before Redden found Blanton with a touch pass for a layup with 15 seconds left.  LSU led 59-55.  Harden came back down with a runner and Kentucky called a timeout to stop the clock with 5 seconds left.

LSU inbounded to Williams who was fouled at 3 seconds.  This is where Kentucky made what turned out to be their costliest of mistakes.  With 1 timeout left, the Wildcats didn’t wait for Williams to shoot his 1-and-1 and instead took it before the free throw.  The announcers thought it was a good strategy to ice Williams, but say he were to miss the front end (which he did).  Kentucky then could call its last timeout and design a play.

They didn’t have that option.  Instead, Blackmon missed from half court on a shot that came after the buzzer (although it may have counted because we didn’t have instant replay at the time, much to the chagrin of Michigan State fans).  LSU had finally gotten Kentucky on their fourth attempt of the season and now were the lowest seed at the time to have ever made the Final Four.

The Tigers magical run ended against Louisville in the National Semifinals, 88-77, despite leading by 8 points at the half.  There was a way too short ending for one of the key players on this LSU team.  Don Redden passed on March 8, 1988 of a heart ailment.  Redden’s good friend, Ricky Blanton, scored 30 points in the SEC tournament quarterfinals three days later in an 87-80 win over Vanderbilt.  He then gave the game ball to Redden’s parents.

LSU starters (points scored)

Don Redden (15) – Small Forward

John Williams (16) – Power Forward

Ricky Blanton (12) – Center

Derrick Taylor (4) – Point Guard

Anthony Wilson (12) – Shooting Guard

LSU bench (points scored)

Oliver Brown (0)

Neboisha Bukumirovich (0)

Bernard Woodside (0)

Jose Vargas (0)

LSU Coach: Dale Brown

Kentucky starters (points scored)

James Blackmon (10) – Small Forward

Winston Bennett (8) – Power Forward

Kenny Walker (20) – Center

Roger Harden (12) – Point Guard

Ed Davender (5) – Shooting Guard

Kentucky bench (points scored)

Cedric Jenkins (2)

Rob Lock (0)

Kentucky Coach: Eddie Sutton

don-redden redden in action

Senior Don Redden was the most outstanding player of the Southeast Regional *photos courtesy of The Draft Review and LSU sports

March 29, 1986 – National Semifinal Game: (#1)Kansas Jayhawks 67, (#1)Duke Blue Devils 71

It’s almost sad that they couldn’t match the two top-ranked teams in the National Championship Game, but Louisville would make a mockery of that statement.  The winner of this matchup between the #1 and #2 ranked teams in the country would take on the Cardinals in the final.

This was Mike Krzyzewski’s first Final Four and his team played like it early.  It took a few minutes for anybody to get on the board but finally Danny Manning out back his own miss.  After a Johnny Dawkins basket, Kansas got the next 6 points on the break.  Ron Kellogg, Cedric Hunter and Calvin Thompson each notched field goals and Kansas led 8-2.

Duke’s senior stars got the next few baskets as Mark Alarie got a slam and Dawkins hit a pull-up in the lane after a between-the-legs dribble.  Manning committed his 2nd foul with under 13:00 left and sat for the rest of the half.  Back-to-back baskets by Danny Ferry gave Duke an 11-8 lead and forced a Kansas timeout.  Alarie scored on a hook after the timeout to complete Duke’s 11-0 run.

Greg Dreiling then picked up his 2nd foul for Kansas after scoring on a hook shot.  But Kansas was able to stay with Duke as the only Blue Devil scoring was Dawkins.  He hit Duke’s next 8 points and 10 of their next 14 to give the Devils a 27-21 lead.  Kansas ran into more trouble when point guard Cedric Hunter committed his 3rd foul.

But Kansas’ bench gave them a spark.  Point man Mark Turgeon and swingman Archie Marshall led the attack.  Turgeon twice found Ron Kellogg for jumpers.  Kansas had a chance to tie the game but Tommy Amaker stripped the ball away on a 3-on-1 Jayhawk break.  David Henderson cashed in at the other end to put the Devils up 31-27.

Marshall then got into the act with a tip-in and a short jumper on a Dreiling feed.  But a three-point play by Jay Bilas helped give Duke a 36-33 halftime lead.

Manning started the 2nd half but it didn’t take him long to commit his 3rd foul.  He stayed in for the moment as Duke gained a seven-point lead.  But Thompson found Kellogg in the post for a jumper.  Then Thompson got a steal and Kellogg fed Hunter for a basket.  Hunter committed his 4th foul on the next possession but it wasn’t all bad as Turgeon continued to spark Kansas.

A three-point play by Thompson gave Dawkins 3 fouls and cut the Duke lead to 41-40.  Alarie hit two free throws and then a jumper from the foul line.  But that was Duke’s last point for awhile.  Turgeon hit a layup and then found Kellogg for a corner jumper.  Dreiling blocked a shot and Kellogg got a breakaway to give Kansas a 46-45 lead.

Turgeon then got a steal and fed Marshall for a reverse and a three-point Jayhawks lead.  They had a chance to increase it but Turgeon lost the ball and committed his 3rd foul.  Duke made a mini-run when Larry Brown had to go to his third string point guard Altonio Campbell.

Two field goals from Kellogg answered the run and gave Kansas a 52-49 lead.  They held that lead until disaster struck.  Hunter found Marshall with a lead pass.  Marshall went up for the layup and landed awkwardly on his left knee, tearing ligaments and taking him out for the 1987 season.  This field goal gave Kansas a 59-55 lead but their momentum understandably was squashed.

The Jayhawks also got into more foul trouble as Duke scored the game’s next 6 points from the foul line as Manning and Dreiling committed their 4th fouls.  Dreiling hit two free throws to tie the game at 61 before fouling out on the next possession.  But Kellogg hit a corner jumper and then Ron found Manning for his 2nd field goal of the game.  Kansas led 65-61.

They had a chance to increase it but Hunter missed a tough shot in transition.  Duke finally scored a field goal when Dawkins hit from the top of the key.  Then Manning missed a tough shot over Alarie at the end of the shot clock.  It was the capper to Manning’s 2-for-9 performance from the field.  Credit Alarie and his defense.

At the other end, Henderson found Alarie for a slam and Manning’s 5th foul with 2:47 left.  Alarie missed the free throw but the game was tied at 65.  Thompson hit a jumper in the lane after recovering a Kellogg fumble and Kansas led.  Dawkins put back a Henderson miss to tie the game again.  Thompson then missed over Alarie and Duke got the ball and a timeout with 58 seconds left.

They ran down the clock and set up Alarie at the wing.  He missed a jumper but Danny Ferry recovered the rebound and scored with 23 seconds left.  Duke led 69-67.  Kansas went to Kellogg without using a timeout.  Kellogg charged into Ferry with 11 seconds left.  But the Jayhawks got another chance when Ferry missed the front end of the 1-and-1.

Again Kansas didn’t call a timeout and Kellogg came up short with a wing jumper.  Amaker got the rebound, drew Hunter’s 5th foul, and made two free throws with 1 second left to decide the affair.

It looked like the was Kansas’ best chance at a National Championship for the next few years as Dreiling, Thompson and Kellogg were all seniors.  But, as it surprisingly turned out, they would have another chance a few years later.

Meanwhile for Duke, the chance was now for their first ever National Championship.

Kansas starters (points scored)

Ron Kellogg (22) – Small Forward

Danny Manning (4) – Power Forward

Greg Dreiling (6) – Center

Cedric Hunter (5) – Point Guard

Calvin Thompson (13) – Shooting Guard

Kansas bench (points scored)

Mark Turgeon (2)

Archie Marshall (13)

Chris Piper (2)

Altonio Campbell (0)

Rodney Hull (0)

Kansas Coach: Larry Brown

Duke starters (points scored)

David Henderson (13) – Small Forward

Mark Alarie (12) – Power Forward

Jay Bilas (7) – Center

Tommy Amaker (7) – Point Guard

Johnny Dawkins (24) – Shooting Guard

Duke bench (points scored)

Danny Ferry (8)

Billy King (0)

Kevin Strickland (0)

Duke Coach: Mike Krzyzewski


Duke was headed to the title game against Louisville.  Pictured clockwise is Jay Bilas (#21), Mark Alarie (#32), Danny Ferry (#35), Billy King and Johnny Dawkins *photo courtesy of the Examiner

March 31, 1986 – National Championship Game: (#2)Louisville Cardinals 72, (#1)Duke Blue Devils 69

For this Championship Game, 7 of the 10 starters were seniors.  Billy Thompson, Milt Wagner and Jeff Hall led Louisville while Johnny Dawkins, Mark Alarie, David Henderson and Jay Bilas were in their final game at Duke.

But the under-classmen for Louisville scored their first 6 points as sophomore Herbert Crook hit two field goals and freshman Pervis Ellison two free throws.  Duke came back led by Dawkins, who scored 11 of Duke’s first 15 points.  The highlight of which was when he chased down a loose ball that Milt Wagner dribbled off his foot, grabbed the ball right by the basket but made a tough shot while flying by and being contacted by Wagner.

Duke took as much as a 7-point lead but Billy Thompson led the Cardinals back with two field goals.  Other than those two shots, Alarie did a good job of shutting him down in the first half (as he did against Danny Manning in the National Semifinal).  But then Ellison committed his 2nd foul and Duke went ahead 25-18 on Dawkins’ 13th point.

Louisville’s bench led them back as Mark McSwain and Tony Kimbro scored a combined 7 points.  Then Ellison rebounded a Wagner airball and slammed it home to cut the Duke lead to 31-27.  Wagner didn’t get his first two points until free throws cut the lead to 33-31.  Then Ellison stole a cross-court pass and got a breakaway slam to tie the game at 33.

But Louisville went cold at the end of the half but Duke wasn’t much hotter.  A Dawkins baseline jumper with 5 seconds left gave him 15 points and gave Duke a 37-34 halftime lead.

The Devils took a 5-point lead early in the 2nd half, but offensive rebounds by Louisville led them on a 6-0 run.  Ellison had two tips at a Thompson miss before finally putting it back in.  Then Ellison found Crook who put back his own miss to give Louisville a 42-41 lead.

But after a Duke timeout, Dawkins got hot again and scored the next 7 points.  The last of those seven would be Dawkins’ last field goal.  Duke maintained a slight lead as Ellison and Alarie each committed their 3rd fouls.  Then nervousness struck for Louisville as Thompson and Wagner each committed their 4th fouls and Duke led 54-48.

But Louisville went on a 7-2 run, which included an Ellison three-point play for his 17th point, to cut the lead to one.  Duke responded with the next 5 points to take a 61-55 lead.  But Alarie committed his 4th foul and Wagner lobbed to Ellison for a layup.  Then after Dawkins and Danny Ferry missed shots, Wagner got his first field goal when he drove baseline, drew contact from Bilas and made a tough shot.

The three-point play cut the Duke lead to 61-60 and gave Bilas 4 fouls.  Ellison then committed his 4th foul and Henderson hit two free throws.  But Henderson committed an offensive foul after an Ellison basket and Henderson had his 4th foul.  Suddenly, 6 important players were 1 foul away from disqualification.

Louisville took a 64-63 lead when Crook found Wagner for a backdoor layup.  Dawkins hit two free throws for a Duke lead but with 2:47 left, Thompson hit in the lane to give Louisville a 66-65 lead.  It would be the last lead change.  While Duke had the lead, there were possessions when Coach K slowed the ball down.  That, along with perhaps general fatigue, seemed to quell Duke’s momentum and Coach K probably regretted the decision to stop playing aggressively.

Henderson missed a jumper and Alarie a tip but Louisville turned the ball over at the end of the shot clock and Duke got a timeout with 1:47 left, down 66-65.  Henderson missed from the baseline.  Dawkins got the rebound at the other baseline, stepped back, and was short on a jumper.  Louisville got the rebound and ran down the shot clock until they called timeout with 11 seconds left on the shot clock and 48 on the game clock.

They gave it Hall, who went 1-on-1 against Dawkins.  Hall airballed his shot but ‘Never Nervous’ Pervis Ellison grabbed the rebound and put it back in for a three-point Louisville lead.  Henderson missed a driving layup and Duke missed two tips before Alarie fouled Ellison on the rebound with 27 seconds left.  That was all for Alarie.

Ellison made the two free throws for a 70-65 lead as the Louisville fans and bench sensed that this was it.  Duke scrambled to cut the lead to 70-69 with 3 seconds left after Thompson missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and the Devils scored on two putbacks.  But Milt ‘Ice’ Wagner put the game away with two free throws.

Louisville had won and Pervis Ellison became the second freshman to win the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player (Arnie Ferrin of Utah won it in 1944 as a freshman, bet you didn’t know that).  Ellison earned his nickname ‘never nervous’ from this Championship Game.

Louisville starters (points scored)

Herbert Crook (10) – Small Forward

Billy Thompson (13) – Power Forward

Pervis Ellison (25) – Center

Milt Wagner (9) – Point Guard

Jeff Hall (4) – Shooting Guard

Louisville bench (points scored)

Mark McSwain (5)

Tony Kimbro (6)

Kevin Walls (0)

Louisville Coach: Denny Crum

Duke starters (points scored)

David Henderson (14) – Small Forward

Mark Alarie (12) – Power Forward

Jay Bilas (4) – Center

Tommy Amaker (11) – Point Guard

Johnny Dawkins (24) – Shooting Guard

Duke bench (points scored)

Danny Ferry (4)

Billy King (0)

Weldon Williams (0)

Duke Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

1986 ellison pervis_ellison


Freshman Pervis Ellison was named the Final Four MOP in 1986 *photos courtesy of CD Universe and Big Blue History

For the 1986 NBA Draft, it was already covered that Maryland’s Len Bias was the 2nd pick by the Boston Celtics.  The 1st pick was North Carolina’s Brad Daugherty by the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Auburn’s Chuck Person went 4th to the Indiana Pacers.  Kentucky’s Kenny Walker went 5th to the New York Knicks.  Memphis State’s William Bedford was taken 6th by the Phoenix Suns.

Duke’s Johnny Dawkins was taken 10th by the San Antonio Spurs while Georgia Tech’s John Salley was taken with the next pick by the Detroit Pistons.  LSU’s John Williams was taken 12th by the Washington Bullets.  Syracuse’s Pearl Washington was taken next by the New Jersey Nets, followed by Portland taking Big East opponent, St. John’s Walter Berry.

Duke’s Mark Alarie was the 18th pick by the Denver Nuggets while his Championship Game opponent, Billy Thompson, was taken by Atlanta with the next pick.  Michigan State’s Scott Skiles was taken at #22 by the Milwaukee Bucks.

The first pick of the 2nd round was Georgia Tech’s Mark Price was Dallas.  He was traded to Cleveland on draft day.  Kansas’ Greg Dreiling was taken by Indiana with the next pick.  Louisville’s Milt Wagner was taken at pick #35 by Dallas.  Syracuse’s Rafael Addison was taken by Phoenix 4 picks later.  Kansas’ Ron Kellogg was taken by Atlanta at pisk #42 but never ended up playing in the NBA.  A few Georgetown Hoyas were taken late in the 2nd round as David Wingate and Michael Jackson was taken by Philadelphia and New York, respectively.

Notable later round picks was Washington taking Duke’s David Henderson in the 3rd round, Philadelphia taking St. John’s Ron Rowan and the L.A. Lakers taking Memphis State’s Andre Turner in the same round.  BC’s Dominic Pressley was taken by Seattle in the 5th round as well as Cleveland State’s Clinton Smith by Golden State.

College players featured in past articles that were drafted in 1986 were Michigan’s Roy Tarpley taken by Dallas with the 7th overall pick.  Ohio State’s Brad Sellers was drafted by the Chicago Bulls with the 9th pick.  Villanova’s Harold Pressley was taken by the Sacramento Kings with the 17th pick.  Former Georgetown and UNLV star Anthony Jones was taken at #21 by Washington.

In the 2nd round, Richmond’s Johnny Newman was taken by Cleveland.  Oklahoma’s Anthony Bowie was taken by Houston in the 3rd round.  Pepperdine’s Grant Gondrezick was taken by Phoenix in the 4th round.  Michigan’s Richard Rellford was taken by Indiana in the 5th round.


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