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1990 College Basketball Season – Runnin’ Rebel Domination

April 10, 2015

larry johnson

JuCo All-American Larry Johnson was the newest member of the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels in 1989 *photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated for Kids

For the pre-season rankings in 1989-90, the top 10 looked like this.  #1 UNLV, #2 LSU, #3 Syracuse, #4 Michigan, #5 Georgetown, #6 Arizona, #7 North Carolina, #8 Illinois, #9 Arkansas, and #10 Duke.

UNLV and LSU was getting some new talent while everyone else was returning most everybody.  Arkansas had some young talent that was coming together while every other team from 3-10 was losing key people.

UNLV was perhaps getting the most heralded of newcomers as Juco All-American Larry Johnson signed on to join a star-studded lineup.  They would get invited to the Pre-Season NIT and would get a chance to show off their talent against a run-and-gun team.

November 15, 1989 – Pre-Season NIT 1st round: Loyola (Marymount) 91 @(#1)UNLV Runnin’ Rebels 102

The Loyola Marymount Lions, under former Lakers coach Paul Westhead, had been known the last two seasons for their run-and-gun style.  In 1988, they had upset Wyoming in the 1st round of the NCAA tournament before losing to North Carolina.  In 1989, they had made the NCAA tournament again.

Now for 1990, they had two supreme senior stars, as well as a third senior who played a prominent role.  Their stars had been teammates since the 9th grade in Philadelphia.  Swingman Bo Kimble and big man Hank Gathers were garnering NBA attention.  The third unheralded senior was shooter Jeff Fryer.  Fryer would play prominently in Westhead’s system as the sharp-shooter, while Kimble shot and penetrated and Gathers was the inside threat.

Loyola also had point guards Tony Walker and Terrell Lowery to push the tempo and feed Fryer and Kimble for threes and Gathers for layups.  Lowery, the 6th man, was more of a scorer and also shot a lot of threes.  Lowery was a sophomore while Walker was a Juco transfer.  Another key player was big man shooter (a stretch 4 if you will) Per Stumer from Sweden.  Stumer was the other inside player on defense but hung around the perimeter on offense.  Reserves of this team included Tom Peabody, John O’Connell and Chris Knight.

Loyola would debut their 1990 running game style against another fast-paced team in the “Runnin'” Rebels.  Johnson joined a star-studded lineup that included 1988 Olympian forward Stacey Augmon, guards Greg Anthony and Anderson Hunt, and centers David Butler, Moses Scurry, and George Ackles.

But for this opening game, all three centers were out.  Ackles had a wrist injury and would be red-shirted for the 1990 season.  Meanwhile, Butler and Scurry were out with academic trouble.  This would be a key factor early on in the season but for now, Vegas was on their home-court at the Thomas & Mack Center.

James Jones, the “center” for now for Jerry Tarkanian and the Rebels, got things started with a jumper in the lane.  But Loyola gave a preview of their style as Kimble hit a pull-up and Fryer hit a three and a long two.  But Jones, Johnson and Augmon dominated the inside early on and gave UNLV a 10-point lead.

But the tempo was taking effect as Johnson was bent over and out of breath a few times.  Loyola took advantage as Peabody got a steal in the back court and fed Kimble for a layup to cut the lead to 23-19.  Another steal and layup by John O’ Connell cut the lead to 25-23.  Then Lowery pushed after a Rebels miss and found Fryer for a corner three.  A possession later, Lowery hit his own pull-up three.  Gathers then fed Peabody for a layup and Stumer hit two free throws.  It was now 33-25 Loyola.

Loyola continued to maintain their lead at 40-34 when, with 5:41 left in the half, the game was stopped because of a bomb threat.  The game was put on a 4-minute delay while police searched the building and people in attendance checked their seat and area.  ESPN cameras even caught a glimpse of a package up in the vents of the building.  Ultimately, nothing was found and nothing happened.

The delay seemed to halt Loyola’s momentum a bit.  UNLV cut it to 44-43 after reserve Barry Young hit a three.  Johnson then drove, spun and scored for a Runnin’ Rebels lead.  Johnson would finish with 14 1st half points despite having to sit at various times for being gassed.

But three buckets from Terrell Lowery put Loyola Marymount back ahead 54-50.  Jones then followed up a miss by Hunt at the buzzer to cut the lead to 54-52.

Jerry Tarkanian wasn’t happy with his team’s defense in the 1st half and didn’t think he could contain Marymount man-to-man.  So he switched to a zone for a rare time and slowed down the tempo on offense to start the 2nd half.

UNLV did get some breakaways too but they were briefly answered by threes from Jeff Fryer.  But when Anthony outletted to Augmon for a breakaway three-point play, the Rebels took a 65-62 lead.

Hunt then answered a basket by Kimble with a three and then a slam after a long pass from Anthony.  At this point of the 2nd half, the intensity was high and there were some near flare-ups.  The closest came when Gathers and Hunt almost got involved after shoving each other.  Gathers had to be briefly restrained but it fired him up in a different way.

After a block from Stumer, Gathers drove down the lane for a layup and a foul.  This cut the UNLV advantage to 70-66 and also unleashed what was called the ugliest free throw style in college basketball.  Gathers shot his free throws right-handed at this point (trust me, this would become a story-line later) and this free throw was flat and Gathers almost fell over the line before releasing.

Despite the missed free throw, a layup by Gathers cut the lead back to 72-70.  But UNLV broke Loyola’s press and Augmon put back his own miss.  Johnson then hit a turnaround from the baseline after Anthony got a steal and Fryer committed his 4th foul.  Lowery penetrated and found Kimble for a three-point play to cut it to 76-73.

But then the Anderson Hunt show began (the first of a few in 1990).  First, he got a steal and layup.  Then Anthony found him for a corner three.  After Gathers hit a pull-up, Anthony pushed the ball back and found Hunt for another corner three to make the score 84-75 UNLV.

Fryer briefly kept the Lions within striking distance with two jumpers.  But then a key player (although he had only scored 2 points) fouled out for Loyola.  Tony Walker was called for a charge in transition with UNLV only up 87-80.  Walker ran the fast-paced offense and was getting the ball to Gathers, Kimble, and Fryer for their shots.

After Walker fouled out, Young hit a pull-up from the foul line and Johnson hit a turnaround from the post.  Johnson then outletted to Hunt for a breakaway.  Hunt then knocked the ball away from Kimble and Anthony got a breakaway layup.  UNLV was now up 95-80 and the game was all but over.

However, the intensity wasn’t.  After the final buzzer, the teams walked off the court without shaking hands and apparently almost came to blows in the tunnel walking to the locker room.  They would ultimately get a chance to play each other again, but in much, much, much different circumstances.

The loss of UNLV’s centers early on came up to bite them after they won the first two games of the Pre-Season NIT in Vegas.  They traveled to New York to take on Kansas.  The Jayhawks had former Indiana Hoosier Rick Calloway, as well as senior guards (from their 1988 Championship team) Kevin Pritchard and Jeff Gueldner.  But the Jayhawk big men of Mark Randall, Mike Maddox and Pekka Markkanen made the difference for Roy Williams’ team as they went on a 34-16 run and won 91-77.

Kansas had beaten 2nd ranked LSU in Baton Rouge a day before beating UNLV.  As a result of Kansas knocking off the #1 and #2 ranked teams in the nation, they went from unranked to #4 in the nation in one week.

Loyola (Marymount) starters (points scored)

Bo Kimble (21) – Small Forward

Per Stumer (6) – Power Forward

Hank Gathers (18) – Center

Tony Walker (2) – Point Guard

Jeff Fryer (23) – Shooting Guard

Loyola (Marymount) bench (points scored)

Terrell Lowery (15)

Chris Knight (0)

Tom Peabody (2)

John O’Connell (4)

Greg Walker (0)

Loyola (Marymount) Coach: Paul Westhead

UNLV starters (points scored)

Stacey Augmon (18) – Small Forward

Larry Johnson (24) – Power Forward

James Jones (14) – Center

Greg Anthony (15) – Point Guard

Anderson Hunt (26) – Shooting Guard

UNLV bench (points scored)

Travis Bice (0)

Chris Jeter (0)

Barry Young (5)

UNLV Coach: Jerry Tarkanian

gathers_kimble

Hank Gathers (left) and Bo Kimble had been teammates since the 9th grade in Philadelphia *photo courtesy of covers.com

December 6, 1989 – ACC/Big East Challenge: Clemson Tigers 72, Providence Friars 71

In the first ACC/Big East challenge (which would only go on for two more years), this game was the prelude to the highly anticipated Duke/Syracuse game which was the second game of a double-header in Greensboro, North Carolina.

In the first two days (and four games) of the challenge, the conferences had tied with two wins apiece.  But the high end teams like Duke, Syracuse, North Carolina and Georgetown had not played yet and would in the next two days.

But this game would feature a surprise team in their particular conference.  Providence, coached by Rick Barnes, still had some players remaining from their 1987 Final Four team.  There were big men Marty Conlon and Abdul Shamsid-Deen and point guard Carlton Screen.  But their star and future NBA player was junior Eric Murdock.  The Friars had faltered late in the 1989 season after winning their first 13 games.  They were 4-0 so far in 1990.

Clemson had been in the bottom rung of the ACC for most of their existence.  But for 1990, head coach Cliff Ellis had two young big men who would make an impact in the NBA.  Senior Elden Campbell and junior Dale Davis were dubbed the duo of doom.  Neither was as heavily chiseled as they would become but the athleticism was off the charts.  The rest of the roster filled with swingmen Sean Tyson, David Young, Derrick Forrest and Kirkland Howling along with point guard Marion Cash.

It would be the role players that were big in this game.  David Young started Clemson off on the right foot with two three-pointers.  Campbell and Davis each hit two field goals and Young hit another three as Clemson took a 19-9 lead midway through the half.

But then the pressure defense of Rick Barnes and Providence got going and Clemson didn’t score a point for 5 minutes.  Campbell picked up his 2nd foul and eventually Davis committed his 3rd.  The Friars went on a 14-2 run to take a 23-21 advantage.

But then Sean Tyson came off the bench and made his impact.  He scored 10 points over the latter part of the 1st half as the Tigers regained a 34-32 lead at the halftime break.

Tyson also scored 10 points early in the 2nd half as the teams went back-and-forth.  Carlton Screen was leading the way for Providence with help from senior forward Quinton Burton.  A three-pointer from Eric Murdock put the Friars up 51-48 but Eric was not much of a factor in the ball game.  Neither was Marty Conlon who, along with Screen and Murdock, would average over 14 points per game in 1990 to lead the Friars.

But Campbell and Davis were struggling as well for Clemson and the missed offense for both teams would continue to be made up by Tyson, Burton, Young and Abdul Shamsid-Deen.  Young’s 4th three-pointer put Clemson up 56-55.

But Providence would take the biggest lead at 64-60 when Burton hit a three and Shamsid-Deen got a basket on a Dale Davis goaltend.  But Conlon picked up his 4th foul and Campbell hit two free throws.

Both teams would go into a drought for the next few minutes as the Friars took a 65-62 lead.  Then with 2:13 to go, Davis scored a power layup against two guys and drew a foul.  With a chance to tie the game, Davis missed the free throw but Campbell follow-slammed the miss and the Tigers had a 66-65 advantage.  Just like that, the duo of doom had arrived.

But Davis committed his 4th foul at the 2:05 mark.  However, Burton could only tie it as he split his free throws.  Davis then banked a shot in from the post.  Burton responded by nailing a three after a cross-court pass from Conlon.  The Friars led 69-68 but Burton committed a foul in the back court on Clemson point guard Marion Cash.

Cash hit two free throws with 1:30 to go.  The two teams then exchanged turnovers before Providence got the ball back with under a minute left.  They got two offensive rebounds before Burton hit a runner from the baseline with 24 seconds to go.  Clemson didn’t call a timeout and attacked the Friars press.

David Young was short on a pull-up from the baseline but Davis got the rebound and was fouled.  Dale Davis was evidently never a good foul shooter (he was 42% in this early season and would never climb higher than 70% in his NBA career).  But he made both shots here with 14 seconds to go and Clemson led 72-71.

Providence didn’t call a timeout either and they got a good shot.  Screen penetrated and kicked out to an open Conlon at the top.  But the struggling big man bricked the jumper and the buzzer sounded.  Clemson had a key early win that would spark momentum going into the ACC season.

The Tigers would finish at the top of the ACC in the regular season with a 10-4 record and they would be undefeated at home.  They would lose in the ACC Semifinals to Virginia 69-66 and would become the #5 seed in the East Regional.

Providence would lose another one-point game to in-state rival Rhode Island 3 days later.  Providence losing by one-point (or at the buzzer) would become a theme at critical points of their season.

Clemson starters (points scored)

Kirkland Howling (3) – Small Forward

Dale Davis (12) – Power Forward

Elden Campbell (12) – Center

Marion Cash (7) – Point Guard

David Young (12) – Shooting Guard

Clemson bench (points scored)

Sean Tyson (20)

Derrick Forrest (6)

Ricky Jones (0)

Tim Kincaid (0)

Clemson Coach: Cliff Ellis

Providence starters (points scored)

Quinton Burton (20) – Small Forward

Marty Conlon (4) – Power Forward

Abdul Shamsid-Deen (14) – Center

Carlton Screen (17) – Point Guard

Eric Murdock (10) – Shooting Guard

Providence bench (points scored)

Marques Bragg (4)

Chris Watts (0)

Marvin Saddler (2)

Greg Bent (0)

Providence Coach: Rick Barnes

dale davis

Dale Davis’ two free throws gave Clemson a big early-season win against Providence in the 1st of 3 ACC/Big East challenges *photo courtesy of millercards.net

December 6, 1989 – ACC/Big East Challenge: (#6)Duke Blue Devils 76, (#1)Syarcuse Orangemen 78

A veteran college basketball fan could have been thinking of this game when Duke and Syracuse first became conference opponents in 2014.  The same two guys that were coaching them in 1989 were still there 25 years later, Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim.

But even in 1989, this was a big-time star-studded matchup.  Each team had lost a key player after the 1989 season.  For Syracuse, it was point guard Sherman Douglas and for Duke, forward Danny Ferry.

Without Douglas, Boeheim had to start 6’4″ Stephen Thompson at the point while freshman and true point guard Michael Edwards waited off the bench for his shot.  Thompson led an athletic Syracuse lineup of Derrick Coleman, Billy Owens and Dave Johnson.  Kentucky transfer LeRon Ellis joined the team to man up the middle.  That was Syracuse’s starting five, but Boeheim didn’t have much off his bench.  Rich Manning and Tony Scott came in along with Edwards, but they didn’t receive much time.

Duke had a veteran lineup to supplant the loss of Ferry.  They didn’t have veterans to take over once point guard Quin Snyder graduated.  But they were able to get perhaps the 2nd-best point guard recruit in the country and Coach K immediately gave him the ball.  Bobby Hurley was teamed with seniors Phil Henderson, Robert Brickey and Alaa Abdelnaby in the starting lineup.  He was also joined by sophomore Christian Laettner, and Hurley and Laettner would begin a love-hate-respect 3-year relationship.

Duke’s bench wasn’t particularly overwhelming either.  There was junior shooter Greg Koubek and sophomore defensive ace Brian Davis.  There were freshman guards Billy McCaffrey and Thomas Hill.  There were particularly underwhelming big men Crawford Palmer and Clay Buckley (both were out for this game and neither became more than a bench-warmer at Duke).

Syracuse’s athleticism was shown off the tip (literally) as Owens alley-ooped to Dave Johnson after the Orangemen won the jump ball.  Later, Ellis found Coleman for a slam.  The big mismatch in Syracuse’s favor was the 6’4″ powerfully built Thompson against the freshman Hurley.  A few times, Thompson took him to the lane for finger rolls and pull-up jumpers.  He also back cut the freshman for layups.

Syracuse built an early lead (that could have been bigger had the Orangemen converted several layups on fast breaks and back cuts that they missed on) despite Coleman committing two early fouls.  Their big run came after Thompson follow-slammed a Johnson miss to give the Orange a 26-17 lead.

Coleman then followed up a miss and later found Owens for a fast break dunk to put the lead into double-digits.  Then after Laettner committed his 2nd foul for Duke, Coleman lobbed to Owens for another slam.  Coach K had to call a timeout with 5:57 left in the half as Syracuse now led 32-17.

The momentum started to change when Syracuse started missing shots and Duke got out on the break.  Hurley got a layup that was goaltended by Thompson and then Hurley found Brickey with a touch-pass for a slam.  Brickey, in particular, started to get going for Duke with 8 points late in the 1st half.

With that, it took a leaner from Bobby Hurley that got the bounce at the buzzer to cut the Syracuse lead to 40-33 at the half.

After the teams exchanged buckets to start half number two, Coleman picked up his 3rd foul.  Because Derrick was a senior and Boeheim had no bench, Coleman stayed in and it didn’t hurt Syracuse.  Brickey got the pro-Duke Greensboro Coliseum crowd going with a breakaway double-pump reverse slam.

Later, Hurley showed off his play-making skills when he threw an alley-oop pass from half-court to Brickey, who caught it with his elbow at rim level and laid it in.  This forced a Boeheim timeout less than 3 minutes into the half as Duke cut it to 42-41.

The Blue Devils were able to take a lead when Hurley penetrated and found Brickey for a layup.  And until very late in the game, neither team took more than a two-point lead.  The heavyweights were literally trading punches.

Thompson and Laettner would be the keys for their team as the second half wore on as each led the way.  Coleman and Brickey would be supporting actors as the teams thoroughly entertained the crowd and the broadcasters.

But then as the action hit the final four minutes, Phil Henderson and Billy Owens traded threes.  Owens’ turnaround from the foul line tied the game at 71.  Thompson then tipped-in a miss on the break to give Syracuse the lead again.  Laettner would hit two free throws, after Ellis picked up his 4th foul, to tie the game again with over 3:00 left.

Both teams failed to convert on their next possession.  Then Ellis gave the Orange a 1-point lead with a free throw.  Coleman then committed his 4th foul when Brickey found Laettner on a cut.  With 1:28 to go, Laettner uncharacteristically missed both free throws.  Alaa Abdelnaby fouled Coleman on the rebound of the second miss and Derrick gave Syracuse a 76-73 lead by nailing both ends of the 1-and-1.

Coleman had a chance to increase that lead after Hurley missed and Abdelnaby fouled him again with 39 seconds left.  But he missed the front end of the 1-and-1.  Henderson split a pair of free throws to cut the lead to two.  Syracuse was moving the ball around trying to avoid getting it to Thompson, their weakest foul shooter who’s lack of foul shooting capability had been shown off so far in this game.

But in their haste, Syracuse made a killer mistake.  A pass to Owens at halfcourt was overthrown and Henderson picked up the steal.  Henderson and Duke were fortunate that the officials didn’t see Phil step on the out-of-bounds line after picking up the ball (the announcers didn’t notice until the replay).  Henderson took it coast-to-coast and finished against two guys to tie the game with 15 seconds left.

Syracuse got a timeout at the 10-second mark and had to go full-court.  They got it to Owens, who was pressured by Brickey as he brought the ball up.  Billy was able to find Dave Johnson by the basket with a bullet feed.  Johnson drew a foul on Laettner with 3 seconds left.  This was Christian’s 5th foul.  Johnson would end the 1990 season as a 61% foul shooter, but he made both on this trip.

Duke threw it to Hurley at halfcourt and Bobby got a timeout just before the buzzer sounded.  There was 1 second on the clock but if the time clock showed tenths (as the NBA did starting in 1990), it surely would have been about 0.3 or 0.4.  How do I know this?  Because the buzzer sounded as soon as Duke touched the ball and they couldn’t get off a shot.

The ACC and Big East were tied at 3 wins apiece in the challenge going into the final day.  For Syracuse, their #1 ranking would remain until the Big East season started.  For Duke, they would travel to defending champion Michigan three days later for another tough game.

Duke starters (points scored)

Robert Brickey (21) – Small Forward

Christian Laettner (19) – Power Forward

Alaa Abdelnaby (11) – Center

Bobby Hurley (4) – Point Guard

Phil Henderson (14) – Shooting Guard

Duke bench (points scored)

Billy McCaffrey (7)

Greg Koubek (0)

Brian Davis (0)

Duke Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

Syracuse starters (points scored)

Dave Johnson (8) – Small Forward

Derrick Coleman (16) – Power Forward

LeRon Ellis (5) – Center

Stephen Thompson (21) – Point Guard

Billy Owens (18) – Shooting Guard

Syracuse bench (points scored)

Rich Manning (8)

Michael Edwards (2)

Syracuse Coach: Jim Boeheim

Georgetown University vs Syracuse University

Stephen Thompson shows off his powerfully built frame, despite being 6’4″, by finishing against Georgetown’s Alonzo Mourning while Billy Owens looks on *photo courtesy of getty images

December 7, 1989 – ACC/Big East Challenge: (#3)Georgetown Hoyas 93, (#17)North Carolina Tarheels 81

John Thompson and the Georgetown Hoyas had big men Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo returning.  Thompson decided that he would play them together, and shots in the paint by the opponent became infinitely tougher as a result.  The Hoyas also had key senior guards returning in Dwayne Bryant and Mark Tillmon.

Thompson was a big opponent of the Big East/ACC Challenge and looking at his cupcake schedule for early in the 1990 season, perhaps they could have used some tougher games.

Dean Smith and North Carolina had missed out on two freshman point guards who were not only among the top recruits in the nation but it was a position UNC needed badly.  But without Kenny Anderson and Bobby Hurley, a lot was placed on junior King Rice.  Rice could penetrate and defend but not shoot.  Georgetown actually had a freshman point guard in David Edwards who would make a difference on this day that North Carolina could have used.

Rounding out the roster for Smith was seniors Scott Williams and Kevin Madden, juniors Pete Chilcutt and Rick Fox (along with Rice), and sophomore Hubert Davis.  To go along with them, the Tarheels had a bevy of freshmen in George Lynch, Matt Wenstrom, and Henrik Rodl.  It would be nothing compared to their 1990 class.

North Carolina actually played a tough schedule and came in 4-2 after losing to Missouri in the Maui Invitational title game and at Alabama.

The big factors for Georgetown in the game; Tillmon, Mourning, Mutombo and Edwards each got into the scoring column as the Hoyas took an 8-7 lead.  Scott Williams had 6 of the 7 points.

Then Georgetown took a slightly bigger lead at 16-9 as Tillmon and Bryant each got steals and layups.  But it was Lynch who would bring Carolina back into the game after he came in off the bench.  The Tarheels took a 22-20 lead on two free throws from Rice with under 9:00 remaining.

But then Tillmon hit three straight buckets, helped out on one play by a Mutombo block.  Reserve Antoine Stoudamire hit a three to put the Hoyas up 29-22.  The score went back and forth from there but Carolina wasn’t helped by Rick Fox committing 3 fouls.

The Heels did cut it to 39-35 late in the half and had a last shot chance to cut it further.  But Bryant got a steal with 5 seconds remaining and pushed.  He found John Thompson’s son, Ronnie, in the corner for a long jumper well inside the three point line.  Thompson nailed the jumper at the buzzer and it was inexplicably called a three-pointer.  Luckily, I guess, the final result wasn’t a one-point win for Georgetown but it was still an egregiously bad call.

The 2nd half started with Mutombo getting away with an obvious goaltending.  But not all calls were going against Carolina as John Thompson got a technical early in the 2nd half as well.

A breakaway three-point play from Tillmon gave him 17 points and gave Georgetown a 47-40 lead.  But it was cut back to 51-48 before Alonzo Mourning showed up after only a cameo in the 1st half.

Mourning rebounded a Tillmon missed and slammed one home while he was fouled.  He missed the free throw but later, he rebound-slammed a Bryant miss in transition to put the Hoyas back up by seven.  Davis and Tillmon exchanged threes before Mourning got another slam to make it 60-51 Hoyas.

The rest of the game saw Georgetown continually hold off the Tar Heels at both ends of the court.  Dikembe Mutombo finished with 9 blocked shots.  Tillmon and Mourning would continue scoring baskets.  But the biggest play was made by the freshman.

With the score down to 80-75, David Edwards took it 1-on-1 past Rice.  He then connected on a double-pump banker against two people while he was fouled.  The three-point play ended up being the straw that broke the camel’s back.  But Mourning would punctuate everything by blocking two perimeter jumpers.  He finished with 5 blocks.

North Carolina would continue their so-so start to the season with a loss at Iowa two days later.  They were now 4-4.  But they put it together for the moment by winning 6 of their next 7 games heading into the ACC season.

Georgetown, meanwhile, would start 14-0 and get to as high as #2 in the nation when they traveled to a rising Big East power on January 20.  Thompson’s freshman star point guard David Edwards playing time was going down by that point and he would transfer to Texas A&M after several disagreements with coach Thompson.

Georgetown starters (points scored)

Sam Jefferson (0) – Small Forward

Alonzo Mourning (18) – Power Forward

Dikembe Mutombo (6) – Center

Dwayne Bryant (10) – Point Guard

Mark Tillmon (27) – Shooting Guard

Georgetown bench (points scored)

David Edwards (12)

Ronnie Thompson (11)

Milton Bell (4)

Anthony Allen (2)

Antoine Stoudamire (3)

Michael Tate (0)

Mike Sabol (0)

Georgetown Coach: John Thompson

North Carolina starters (points scored)

Kevin Madden (6) – Small Forward

Pete Chilcutt (10) – Power Forward

Scott Williams (19) – Center

King Rice (3) – Point Guard

Rick Fox (5) – Shooting Guard

North Carolina bench (points scored)

George Lynch (19)

Hubert Davis (14)

Jeff Denny (5)

Matt Wenstrom (0)

Henrik Rodl (0)

Kenny Harris (0)

North Carolina Coach: Dean Smith

December 9, 1989 – (#6)Duke Blue Devils 108 @(#8)Michigan Wolverines 113 (OT)

The Michigan Wolverines started defense of their national championship by losing to Arizona 82-75 to open the season.  But Steve Fisher and the Wolverines won 4 in a row since and now were taking on another challenge, albeit this one in Ann Arbor.

Fisher was now officially the head coach of the basketball team.  He brought back most of his talent as seniors Rumeal Robinson, Terry Mills, and Loy Vaught stepped up and led the way.  The other major returning piece was junior Sean Higgins, who was taking over for the departed Glen Rice.  Role players Mike Griffin and Demetrius Calip were back, along with freshmen Michael Talley and big man Eric Riley.

Duke got off to a faster start than they had against Syracuse as the Blue Devils led 9-2.  But soon after the slow start, Michigan began to dominate.

Duke still did not have any frontcourt people behind Christian Laettner and Alaa Abdelnaby.  So when Abdelnaby picked up 3 fouls, Michigan’s big front line (that ran no shorter than 6’9″) began to dominate the boards.

As a result, Mills, Vaught and Higgins began scoring at will as the Wolverines took a double-digit lead.  Rumeal Robinson also was a factor as the senior took the freshman Bobby Hurley to school.

The Wolverines had as much as a 49-31 lead before Duke was able to cut it to 51-38 at the half.  Bobby Hurley had led the way for Duke with 11 points.  Higgins had 14 while Mills and Robinson finished with 12.

A big key for Duke was to step it up in the first 5 minutes of the 2nd half.  They started out strong as Laettner scored and was fouled on a drop-step to the middle.  Laettner missed the free throw but Abdelnaby rebounded and put it back in.  Then Robert Brickey follow-slammed a Hurley miss and Laettner put back a Phil Henderson miss.  Suddenly, it was 51-46 and Michigan called a timeout less than 2 minutes into the half.

After a three-point play from Vaught, Abdelnaby picked up his 4th foul on a charge.  But he stayed in to try and contend with Michigan’s big men.  The Wolverines continued to hold a lead (although it never crept into double digits) until Robinson picked up his 4th foul on a charge and went to the bench.

Without their point guard, the Wolverines went into a mini-funk and Duke went on a 10-0 run to take a 72-69 advantage.  Mills later picked up his 4th foul on a charge, but Michigan was able to stay in it thanks to Vaught.  Loy hit three baseline jumpers and two free throws.  But Duke took an 85-80 lead on a three-pointer from Henderson.

Mills connected on a fallaway banker but then committed his 5th foul on a rebound scramble and had to sit for the game.  Duke maintained its 5-point lead after Laettner saved a ball from going out of bounds by finding Abdelnaby for a layup.  But then with around 3 minutes to go, Higgins hit a three from the top to cut it to 89-87.

Another baseline jumper from Vaught tied the game as Duke went scoreless for two minutes.  Brickey broke their ice with 1:02 to go by hitting two free throws to give them a 91-89 advantage.  But Robinson and Higgins ran a pick and pop and Higgins connected on a trey from the top for a Wolverines lead.

Brickey tied it with a free throw at the 31.9 second mark (Michigan was apparently on of the few college arenas that were capable of their clocks producing tenths of a second in 1990).

Michigan didn’t call a timeout and went for the last shot.  Robinson went 1-on-1 with Hurley at the left baseline.  Rumeal was able to pull up and nail the jumper with 4.6 seconds to play.  Duke called a timeout and then another with 3.8 to go after throwing a pass near mid-court.

Greg Koubek had taken over for Abdelnaby for the stretch and he inbounded.  Hurley got the ball but had to throw up a desperation three against two guys.  As Michigan stood and watched the shot go up, Koubek sneaked to the boards and put back the miss just before the buzzer to force overtime.

The teams subsequently battled to a 101-all tie before Vaught hit another wing jumper.  Then the freshman Eric Riley, who came in for Mills and seemed like a mismatch against Laettner, blocked a shot and Griffin fed the ball ahead to Robinson on the break.  Rumeal went behind-the-back on the dribble and scored to give Michigan a 105-101 lead with 2:18 to go.

Duke came back to within 105-103 and had a chance to take the lead but Hurley’s three was in-and-out.  Hurley then committed his 5th foul on Robinson with 1:10 remaining and Rumeal hit both ends of the 1-and-1.

Henderson cut it to 107-106 with a three but Higgins answered with a baseline turnaround with 42 seconds left.  Koubek missed a three and fouled Riley on the rebound.  But Eric showed he was still a freshman by missing the front end of the 1-and-1.

Michigan was able to switch out and defend Henderson, Koubek, and Billy McCaffrey (who came in for Hurley) as they tried to get off a tying three.  Finally, Laettner drove the lane and was fouled by Vaught.  Christian hit two free throws with 10.8 to go and then Henderson fouled Robinson at 8.9.

Robinson made both free throws again and Duke had to shoot a three to try and tie it.  McCaffrey went coast-to-coast but bricked a pull-up trey and Higgins rebounded and was fouled.  Sean would finish the day with two free throws.

Michigan had a big win and Oklahoma had a big home win against UNLV on December 9.  But, as it turned out, the biggest story of the day was a prelude to a tragedy.

Loyola Marymount was taking on Cal-Santa Barbara.  Hank Gathers drove the lane and was fouled 6 minutes into the 2nd half.  When he went to the line, his heart was beating faster than normal.  He launched the free throw, missed and collapsed to the floor.  Coaches and medical staff rushed out to the court but Gathers got up within seconds and walked off the court.  He was later diagnosed with an abnormal heartbeat and would miss the next three weeks of action for Loyola Marymount.

Duke starters (points scored)

Robert Brickey (11) – Small Forward

Christian Laettner (26) – Power Forward

Alaa Abdelnaby (12) – Center

Bobby Hurley (19) – Point Guard

Phil Henderson (22) – Shooting Guard

Duke bench (points scored)

Greg Koubek (10)

Billy McCaffrey (4)

Brian Davis (2)

Thomas Hill (2)

Duke Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

Michigan starters (points scored)

Sean Higgins (32) – Small Forward

Loy Vaught (27) – Power Forward

Terry Mills (18) – Center

Rumeal Robinson (22) – Point Guard

Mike Griffin (2) – Shooting Guard

Michigan bench (points scored)

Demetrius Calip (4)

Michael Talley (4)

Eric Riley (4)

Michigan Coach: Steve Fisher

December 19, 1989 – Loyola (Marymount) Lions 117 @(#21)Oregon State Beavers 113

I know the matchup says that this game was between Loyola Marymount and Oregon State, but a marquee could have said Bo Kimble vs. Gary Payton.

Loyola Marymount had put up 5 wins since losing their opener to UNLV.  But this would be their first real game since Hank Gathers initially went down with an irregular heartbeat on December 9 in a game against UC-Santa Barbara.  The Lions survived 104-101 as Kimble put up 51 points.

Oregon State had been coached by Hall-of-Famer Ralph Miller for 19 seasons.  But he retired after the 1989 campaign and opened the door for his assistant Jim Anderson.  Anderson had been at Oregon State for 29 years before getting the head coaching opportunity.

Miller had led the Beavers to 8 NCAA tournament appearances.  The closest he had gotten to the Final Four was in 1982 when they made it to the West Regional Finals as a #2 seed with a future Laker in A.C. Green as a freshman.  But they were drilled by top-seeded Georgetown and their freshman Patrick Ewing 69-45.

But Miller and now Anderson had clearly the best player in their programs’ history.  Gary Payton was a senior and was all-everything for the Beavers.  But even Payton had not led them beyond the 1st round of the NCAA tournament in two previous appearances.

But the Beavers, like the Lions, were off to a 5-1 start.  This including dominating 2nd ranked Arizona 84-61 at Gill Coliseum which helped them crack the top 25.

The Lions got off to a 6-2 lead after Kimble got a layup when Tony Walker pushed the ball after an Oregon State basket.  But Payton would lead the Beavers to a 17-13 advantage, despite picking up 2 fouls, by the time the under 16 minute media timeout came about.

Payton would help give Oregon State as much as a 12-point lead but Loyola Marymount was able to cut it back to 37-31 with 9:09 to go.  The tempo was definitely quicker than the Oregon State crowd was used to.

Payton and Kimble battled for the rest of the half as Oregon State took a 56-52 lead.  Payton had 28 points and Kimble 26 at that point.  But then Kimble picked up his 3rd foul with 1:45 to go.  This got momentum to Oregon State as they went on a 10-0 run (Payton didn’t even score any ofthe points during the run – Karl Anderson, Allan Celestine, Will Brantley and Teo Alibegovic got into the action).

Kimble had to come back in during the run and with 13 seconds to go, Kimble tipped in his own miss to stop the 10-0 spurt and cut the lead to 66-54.  Then Terrell Lowery got a steal for the Lions and Kimble got a layup.  But the half wasn’t over and Oregon State turned the ball over again with 3 seconds left.  Loyola inbounded to Lowery, who cut baseline for a reverse at the buzzer.  A 6-0 run in the last 15 seconds by Loyola cut Oregon State’s halftime lead to 66-58.

The latest run had an effect as the Beavers started out cold in the 2nd half.  Back-to-back baskets by Kimble cut the lead to 68-65 and forced a timeout with 15:51 left.  From there, the teams traded baskets and leads as the pace was still racing.

And, of course, the main players were Kimble and Payton.  Payton scored his 40th point when he tipped in his own miss to give Oregon State an 88-86 lead.  But Kimble came back with a turnaround jumper from the wing for his 44th point.

It seemed that the winner of this game would be whichever star got the most help.  Jeff Fryer, who had missed the last 4 games after breaking his hand, had struggled shooting the ball early on.  But he made four three-pointers down the stretch.  Karl Anderson was contributing for Oregon State off their bench.

Down the stretch though for the Beavers, it was Payton.  Gary committed his 4th foul on a charge after scoring one of his baskets.  But he put together three baskets in a row, the last of which tied the game at 112 with a minute and a half left.  Payton had 48 and Kimble had 50.

Loyola now had the ball with a chance to lead.  They were, for a rare time, showing patience and running a set offense.  Coach Paul Westhead didn’t like the direction that offense was going and called a timeout with 1:10 left.

Westhead’s strategy was to go to Kimble down low.  It turned out to be wise as Bo got a pass from Lowery and got past his defender.  Payton dropped down to help out but Kimble scored a banker and drew Payton’s 5th foul.  It was a double whammy for Oregon State.  Kimble completed the three-point play to give Loyola Marymount a 115-112 lead at the 59 second mark.

Without Payton, it was anybody’s guess where the Beavers were going to go with the ball.  Will Brantley drove and found Karl Anderson who was fouled.  Karl made the first but missed the second and Kimble rebounded.

Oregon State was unsure whether to foul or not and let Tom Peabody (who would finish the 1990 season shooting 13-for-34 from the foul line) bring it across without committing a foul.  Finally, Earl Martin fouled Terrell Lowery with 19 seconds left.  Lowery, on the other hand, was a 74% foul shooter and made his two free throws.

The game ended when Peabody rebounded an Allan Celestine miss and ran out the clock.  Loyola Marymount had a big win against a ranked team without one of their two best players.  They would get a chance to up their ranking as they hosted #7 ranked Oklahoma, another high-scoring team, 5 days later.

Oregon State would finish the regular season at 22-5 and 15-3 in the Pac-10, good for a share of 1st place with Arizona.  They would get upset in the 1st round of the Pac-10 tournament by Arizona State, who was hosting the tournament, and would earn a #5 seed in the West Regional.  They got upset again, this time by 12th seeded Ball State 54-53.  This wouldn’t be the last time you’ll hear from Ball State in this particular blog post.

Loyola (Marymount) starters (points scored)

Bo Kimble (53) – Small Forward

Per Stumer (10) – Power Forward

Chris Knight (4) – Center

Tony Walker (8) – Point Guard

Jeff Fryer (22) – Shooting Guard

Loyola (Marymount) bench (points scored)

Terrell Lowery (18)

Tom Peabody (0)

Chris Scott (2)

John O’Connell (0)

Loyola (Marymount) Coach: Paul Westhead

Oregon State starters (points scored)

Earl Martin (16) – Small Forward

Teo Alibegovic (12) – Power Forward

Scott Haskin (6) – Center

Gary Payton (48) – Point Guard

Will Brantley (10) – Shooting Guard

Oregon State bench (points scored)

Karl Anderson (17)

Allan Celestine (4)

Lamont McIntosh (0)

Bob Cavell (0)

Charles McKinney (0)

Oregon State Coach: Jim Anderson

gary payton

a young Gary Payton (with hair!) while at Oregon State *photo courtesy of SI vault on Twitter

December 24, 1989 – (#7)Oklahoma Sooners 136 @Loyola Marymount Lions 121

After their big win against Oregon State, Loyola hosted Oklahoma in their annual matchup with the Sooners.  Both teams averaged over 120 points per game, so excitement was anticipated and the teams didn’t disappoint.

As for talent, only Bo Kimble and Skeeter Henry managed to play an NBA game (a combined 109 games, 105 by Kimble) from this particular contest.

But Oklahoma and coach Billy Tubbs did have some good players in the run-and-gun game despite losing Stacey King and Mookie Blaylock from the year before.  Terry Evans was an effective point guard (despite being a red-shirt freshman) and ran the back court with Henry.  Damon Patterson, Tony Martin, and William Davis were effective inside players.  Jackie Jones also contributed from the wing.  Surprisingly, the veteran of the group Terrence Mullins (the only player remaining who played in the 1988 NCAA Championship Game) didn’t get much time.  But he had a big stretch in this game.

Oklahoma was 4-0 and their biggest win came against UNLV two weeks earlier.  But this was also going to be their first road game of the season.

They started off well grabbing a 13-6 lead as Henry and Jones combined for 9 points.  But a 6-0 Bo Kimble run (that ran past the under 15 minute timeout) cut the lead to 13-12.  Patterson hit a pull-up and Jones nailed a three.  But Jeff Fryer tied the game with back-to-back triples on feeds from Terrell Lowery.

Damon Patterson scored 8 of the Sooners next 10 points to keep them at a 28-all tie by the time the game reached the under 12 timeout.  As you can see, both teams were living up to their run-and-gun billing.  Oklahoma though was dominating the inside game more as Loyola was without Hank Gathers for this game as well.  Patterson had 19 points before going out with 3 fouls with his team up 48-44.

Loyola’s advantage was that they were shooting a ton more free throws.  Kimble, himself, got to the line 10 times in the 1st half.  This included two free throws to cut the lead to 48-46.  But the Lions then went ice cold and Skeeter Henry led OU on an 8-0 run to take a 56-46 advantage.  Fryer finally broke the drought with his 5th three-pointer of the half.

Oklahoma kept its lead as William Davis, normally a starter but nursing a sprained ankle, contributed off the bench.  But after he committed his 3rd foul, Loyola made a run (a run that was aided by a Billy Tubbs technical).  The end of the 1st half highlighted the high-paced show.  Terrell Lowery went coast-to-coast for a layup after a steal to cut the lead to 65-61.

But then the aforementioned veteran who wasn’t getting as much time, Terrence Mullins, hit a pull-up from the wing with 21 seconds left.  Did Loyola hold for the last shot?  Of course not.  Tony Walker penetrated and found Lowery for a corner three with 12 seconds left.  But then Evans pushed it down the court and hit Mullins for his corner three at the buzzer.  10 combined points in the last 30 or so seconds and Oklahoma led 70-64 at the half.

Through the halfway point of the 2nd half, Oklahoma maintained its lead as Skeeter Henry took over the scoring duties.  He had 18 points in the first 10 minutes and had 29 all-together at that point.  But each member of Oklahoma’s starting front court had 4 fouls.  Loyola was down 105-94 when a Terrence Mullins technical (for pushing Tony Walker in a mini-scrum) sent Kimble to the line for two more free throws.

Kimble made both and then got a three-point play on a cut to slice the lead to 105-99.  Kimble then committed his 4th foul, but without Gathers, Bo wasn’t coming out of the game.  Davis missed two free throws after that foul and reserve Tom Peabody hit a corner jumper to cut it to 105-101.

A three from Lowery later put Loyola down 107-105.  But the Lions couldn’t take the lead on their next possession as Fryer missed a three.  Fryer had nightmare 3-for-19 shooting performance in the 2nd half.  Kimble did tie it with two free throws with 7:47 to go.  But Henry found Patterson for a layup after breaking the press and then Skeeter hit four free throws.

Loyola cut the lead to 1 three more times as Per Stumer (from Sweden) nailed a three and then Walker and Kimble got breakaways after steals.  But Loyola could never take the lead.  A chance happened when Lowery and Walker were on a 2-on-1 break.  Walker, however, missed the layup.  The Lions couldn’t score a possession later when Henry got a steal and Davis a breakaway.  It was now 117-114 with 5:28 left.

But Loyola was ice cold once again for the rest of the way and the combined performance of Davis, Patterson, Henry and Tony Martin (who finished with 23 and 12) put the game out of reach for the Lions.

Gathers would be back for the Lions in their next game a week later.  Loyola lost a two-point game to Xavier as Tyrone Hill matched Bo Kimble’s production of 38 points.  They then had to travel to Philadelphia (Kimble and Gathers’ hometown) for two games.  They beat St. Joseph’s in the first game 99-96 (when Kimble made a running three-pointer at the buzzer) but then had to take on undefeated LaSalle.

Oklahoma would finish the regular season at 26-4 and would win the Big Eight conference tournament.  For the 3rd straight season, they were a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament.  But they ran into trouble in an early round.  Again.

Oklahoma starters (points scored)

Jackie Jones (10) – Small Forward

Damon Patterson (29) – Power Forward

Tony Martin (23) – Center

Terry Evans (3) – Point Guard

Skeeter Henry (41) – Shooting Guard

Oklahoma bench (points scored)

William Davis (17)

Smokey McCovery (4)

Kermit Holmes (2)

Mike Harris (2)

Terrence Mullins (5)

Oklahoma Coach: Billy Tubbs

Loyola Marymount starters (points scored)

Bo Kimble (46) – Small Forward

Per Stumer (3) – Power Forward

Chris Knight (5) – Center

Tony Walker (12) – Point Guard

Jeff Fryer (29) – Shooting Guard

Loyola Marymount bench (points scored)

Terrell Lowery (18)

Tom Peabody (7)

Chris Scott (1)

Loyola Marymount Coach: Paul Westhead

kimble

Bo Kimble scores 2 of his game-high 46 points, but his #30 counter-part Skeeter Henry and Oklahoma got the last laugh *photo courtesy of fanbase

January 6, 1990 – (#25)Loyola Marymount Lions 121 @(#17)LaSalle Explorers 116

This game had a Philadelphia flavor, minus the fact that the game was in Philadelphia.  For Loyola Marymount (who were in the rankings for the first time all season), stars Bo Kimble and Hank Gathers hailed from Philly, as well as head coach Paul Westhead.

Kimble and Gathers had, in fact, been high school teammates with LaSalle star junior guard Doug Overton.  That team had defeated a team that featured the other LaSalle star, senior athletic big man Lionel Simmons, and reserve red-shirt junior forward Bob Johnson in the 1985 City title game.

LaSalle, hailing from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), had started the season at 8-0 with stars Overton and Simmons leading the way.  The Explorers had a storied basketball history that included winning the 1954 NCAA championship with Tom Gola leading the way.  Westhead had actually coached LaSalle from 1970-1979 before being hired as an assistant coach by the Lakers.

But LaSalle had not won an NCAA tournament game since Gola led them back to the NCAA title game in 1955 (where they lost to Bill Russell and the University of San Francisco), and coach Speedy Morris was trying to change that.

While the Explorers, with Simmons and guards Jack Hurd and Randy Woods getting going, got off to an early lead, they got caught up in Loyola Marymount’s tempo.  LaSalle went up 20-11 when they answered a Loyola basket by pushing the ball and Woods found Johnson for a layup.  But Terrell Lowery pushed the ball right back at them and found Jeff Fryer for a corner three.

Fryer then got a steal off the press and Lowery hit a reverse layup.  Terrell, who would later play parts of 4 seasons in the major leagues, then hit a three to cut the lead to one.  The rest of the half went back and forth from there as Hank Gathers was playing with reckless abandon.

After Gathers’ initial fainting spell a month earlier, he had been prescribed Inderal (which slows down the heart beat and can cause sluggishness).  Gathers was cleared to return after three weeks but had not been playing with any energy.  So Gathers evidently started to cut back on his medication (gulp! but hindsight is 20-20) and was playing better against LaSalle.  He hit several pull-up jumpers in the lane after 1-on-1 moves, showing off possibly small forward NBA skills (sigh).

Loyola took a 59-55 lead at the half as Gathers scored 16 points.  He had also started shooting his free throws left-handed (and hadn’t looked good with it).

Gathers started the 2nd half well too as he pushed the ball and found Kimble for a three.  Then Gathers showed off more 1-on-1 skills with a cross-over and a runner in the lane to put the Lions up 64-57.

Doug Overton kept LaSalle in it with three transition layups, but two three-pointers from Jeff Fryer kept Loyola ahead 72-64.  LaSalle went on a 6-0 run and Loyola followed with a 5-0 run, all within the span of 2 minutes, it seemed.

But finally an 8-0 run by the Explorers, which included an Overton behind-the-back pass to Simmons on the break for a slam, tied the game at 83, and we still weren’t halfway through the 2nd half.

Loyola took a lead again at 90-87 when Fryer hit a three.  Then point guard Tony Walker pushed the ball for a coast-to-coast layup.  But Overton pushed it right back and found Simmons for a slam and a foul.  Simmons was having a brilliant day despite airballing three free throws.

Overton was as well.  After the under 8 minute timeout, Overton nailed a three to tie the game at 99 and then gave LaSalle its first 2nd half lead with a pull-up from the foul line.  The teams continued back and forth but LaSalle was able to take a 109-105 lead after three-pointers from Bob Johnson and Jack Hurd.

But Kimble penetrated and found Fryer for a banker.  Then Walker got a steal and Kimble hit two free throws to tie the game at 109.  Then after Simmons missed two free throws (including one of his three airballs), Walker drove down the lane for a layup.  The game then reached the under 4 minute timeout.

Fryer nailed a three after the break and Gathers hit his first left-handed free throw of the game (in his fifth attempt).  But LaSalle cut it back to 116-115 with under 2:00 to go when Johnson nailed a three off an Overton assist.  Walker was then called for a charge and LaSalle had a chance to lead.

But Simmons missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and Overton committed his 5th foul on Kimble.  Overton finished with 23 points, 10 assists, and 7 steals.  Kimble made both ends of the 1-and-1 with 1:28 to go.  LaSalle reserve Bron Holland cut it to 118-116 with a free throw and the Explorers got the ball back after an LMU turnover.

But Simmons missed a pull-up from the baseline and Gathers rebounded.  Terrell Lowery was fouled with 39.8 seconds to go but kept the door open by splitting his free throws.  Speedy Morris used his last timeout with 34.2 remaining and his team down three.

They went for an immediate tie but Bob Johnson missed a pull-up three.  Gathers grabbed his 12th rebound and Loyola was able to run a lot of time off the clock before Gathers was fouled with 10.5 left.  Hank and his left-handed free throw style made both ends of the 1-and-1 to put the game away and give LaSalle their first loss of the season.

As it turned out, it would be LaSalle’s only loss during the regular season.  The Explorers dominated the MAAC and finished at 29-1.  But with the low amount of “competition” the Explorers had, they were only named a #4 seed in the East Regional.  They lost in the 2nd round to Clemson 79-75 after holding a 19-point lead in that game.

But they had won their first NCAA tournament game since 1955 with a defeat of Southern Mississippi in the 1st round (in case you were wondering, Brett Favre did not play in that game but Clarence Weatherspoon did).  Speedy Morris would coach 11 more seasons at LaSalle and make only one more NCAA tournament appearance and not win a game.

Loyola started their West Coast Conference schedule and went unblemished over the first month.  Their next challenge (and their next out-of-conference game) would be on February 3rd when they traveled to LSU and take on a new big man on the scene.

Loyola Marymount starters (points scored)

Bo Kimble (32) – Small Forward

Per Stumer (4) – Power Forward

Hank Gathers (27) – Center

Tony Walker (9) – Point Guard

Jeff Fryer (27) – Shooting Guard

Loyola Marymount bench (points scored)

Terrell Lowery (12)

Chris Knight (0)

Tom Peabody (6)

John O’Connell (4)

Loyola Marymount Coach: Paul Westhead

LaSalle starters (points scored)

Jack Hurd (16) – Small Forward

Lionel Simmons (34) – Power Forward

Milko Lieverst (4) – Center

Doug Overton (23) – Point Guard

Randy Woods (4) – Shooting Guard

LaSalle bench (points scored)

Bob Johnson (20)

Bron Holland (13)

LaSalle Coach: Speedy Morris

lionel-simmons

Lionel Simmons was an All-American in 1990, but his teams’ one loss in the regular season was marred his three airballs from the foul line *photo courtesy of Hoopstalgia

January 11, 1990 – (#10)Duke Blue Devils 96 @(#9)Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 91

For the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, they had rarely (if ever) come up with the prize from a recruiting class.  But in 1989, they had.  Point guard Kenny Anderson from New York City was being recruited by North Carolina and Duke, among others.  But he ended up choosing Georgia Tech thanks in part to head coach Bobby Cremins’ New York City connection.

Anderson would join a strong perimeter cast with junior Dennis Scott and senior Brian Oliver.  All averaged over 20 points per game and became known as lethal weapon 3 (two years before that movie actually came out).  The Yellow Jackets had started the year 10-0 thanks to these guys.

Cremins’ other pieces were freshman big man Malcolm Mackey, who would average double-doubles in two of his four seasons with the Jackets but wasn’t quite there as a freshman, and senior JC transfers center Johnny McNeil and defensive guard Karl Brown.  Neither of those players were big scorers and Cremins didn’t go much deeper on his bench.  So lethal weapon 3 was going to take them however far they would go.

Georgia Tech’s first test of the season would come in the form of the Duke Blue Devils (although Tech beat Pitt twice and Pitt was ranked to start the season, they went downhill quickly).  Duke had not had any trouble since losing their back-to-back games against Syracuse and Michigan.  But forward Robert Brickey had injured a knee in their ACC opener against Virginia and was out for a few weeks.

But Duke still came in 10-2 and got off to a good start against Tech at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.  Three straight buckets by Christian Laettner gave the Blue Devils an early 10-4 lead.  Then Bobby Hurley got going with three straight assists as Phil Henderson got two layups and Alaa Abdelnaby got a slam.  Duke now led 16-6 and Georgia Tech had to use a timeout less than 4 minutes into the game.

Hurley kept the assists going as he found Brickey’s replacement, Greg Koubek, for a three to put the Devils up 19-8.  That three started off a sequence of four straight triples.  Brian Oliver hit a pull-up three from the top.  Hurley answered with his pull-up from the top.  Anderson then pushed it down court and found Scott for a trey from the wing.

Duke continued to hold its lead as Scott was the only one hitting for Tech.  He had two three-point plays (the old fashioned way) and a step-back three from the wing.  But Duke’s balance held them off as the four starters that weren’t Laettner got involved in the scoring.  The Blue Devils took as much as a 13-point lead after Hurley penetrated and kicked out to Henderson for a three from the top.

But over the last 6 minutes of the half, Georgia Tech made its run.  Scott finished the half with 21 points and fourth-year junior James Munlyn came off the bench and gave Cremins 4 points as Tech was able to cut Duke’s lead to 51-48 at the break.

Tech then started the 2nd half on an 13-3 run, which culminated with Scott hitting a step-back three from the corner and then a pull-up from the foul line.  But then Tech started getting into foul trouble as Mackey and Oliver each picked up their 3rd.  Alaa Abdelnaby scored 5 points and then Henderson hit a three to cut Tech’s lead to 64-62.

For Tech to that point of the game, Scott was outstanding and Oliver wasn’t too shabby as well.  But in terms of scoring, the 3rd weapon wasn’t shooting well.  Kenny Anderson had scored only 6 points.  But that changed as the freshman got going with 7 points in a row.  He started with a pull-up jumper from the baseline and then he hit a pull-up in the lane after losing Hurley with a behind-the-back dribble.  Anderson then hit a pull-up three in transition and Georgia Tech had its biggest lead at 71-62 with 11:26 to go.

The other star who hadn’t gotten involved in the first 3/4’s of the game was Christian Laettner.  Laettner had 9 points so far and 6 of them came in the first three minutes.  But he got going with a jumper from the post and then a banker after recovering a ball that was stripped from Abdelnaby.

Tech took a 78-68 lead when Anderson hit another pull-up from the baseline, but Duke kept plugging away.  Their defense had been challenged by Coach K and now they were responding.  Scott had now gone ice cold and the other two scorers couldn’t sustain any runs.  Duke went on a 10-2 spurt that culminated with Hurley finding Greg Koubek for a three in transition.  Cremins called a timeout with 4:52 to go.

But the timeout didn’t help the Jackets.  Henderson hit a baseline jumper to tie the game at 80.  Mackey missed the front end of a 1-and-1 after Abdelnaby picked up his 4th foul.  Mackey then committed his 4th and Laettner hit both ends of the 1-and-1 with 3:53 to go.  Then after Koubek blocked an Oliver shot, Laettner found Henderson for a three and it was 85-80 Duke.

But Anderson pushed it right back and drew the 5th foul on Abdelnaby.  Anderson’s two free throws, plus two subsequent free throws from Oliver, cut the lead back to one.  But with 2:20 to go, Hurley hit two free throws.  Anderson came back with a pull-up in the lane after a spin against Hurley but Tech could not regain the lead.

Laettner hit two free throws to give Duke an 89-86 lead with 1:15 to go.  Then Billy McCaffrey rebounded a missed three from Scott.  McCaffrey then penetrated and found Laettner for a slam and Mackey’s 5th foul with 34 seconds to go.  This three-point play would ultimately put the game away and give Duke a big road win against a quality Georgia Tech team, who was suffering their first loss.

These teams would see each other again in 2 1/2 weeks but would first have to get by some challenges from other ACC opponents.

Duke starters (points scored)

Greg Koubek (16) – Small Forward

Christian Laettner (23) – Power Forward

Alaa Abdelnaby (12) – Center

Bobby Hurley (15) – Point Guard

Phil Henderson (26) – Shooting Guard

Duke bench (points scored)

Brian Davis (0)

Billy McCaffrey (2)

Crawford Palmer (0)

Thomas Hill (2)

Joe Cook (0)

Duke Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

Georgia Tech starters (points scored)

Dennis Scott (30) – Small Forward

Malcolm Mackey (8) – Power Forward

Johnny McNeil (4) – Center

Kenny Anderson (19) – Point Guard

Brian Oliver (24) – Shooting Guard

Georgia Tech bench (points scored)

Karl Brown (2)

Darryl Barnes (0)

James Munlyn (4)

Brian Domalik (0)

Georgia Tech Coach: Bobby Cremins

anderson vs hurley

The freshman point guards battle as Kenny Anderson takes on Bobby Hurley *photo courtesy of Pinterest

January 15, 1990 – (#5)Syracuse Orangemen 59 @Connecticut Huskies 70

Since joining the Big East at its inception in 1979, the UConn Huskies had mostly bottom-feeders.  They had gone 50-96 in Conference games in their first 10 seasons and had an above .500 record once.

In 1986, Jim Calhoun had taken over the helm and went 9-19 in his first season.  But season-by-season, they started to get better.  They had Cliff Robinson who flourished under Calhoun and enjoyed a productive 18 seasons in the NBA.  But he was gone by 1990.

However, Calhoun still had senior leader and point guard Tate George.  He had also been able to recruit some gems.  Shooting guard Chris Smith came locally from Bridgeport.  Freshman forward Scott Burrell also came locally from Hamden.  But then came a prize out of the Middle East.  21-year-old Israeli forward Nadav Henefeld was being termed as the Larry Bird of Israel.  Henefeld visited UConn, fell in love with it, and became their ‘point forward.’

Henefeld would go back to Israel after the 1990 season and play professionally for Tel Aviv until 2002.  But for one season, Henefeld and Connecticut had a mutual love.  That one season started with a loss to Texas A&M in the Great Alaska Shootout.  But UConn followed with 7 straight wins.

They lost their first two Big East games (including by 31 points at St. John’s).  But then they won 3 games in a row and had a chance to see how far they had come when they hosted Syracuse at the Hartford Civic Center (Gampel Pavilion would be opened on January 27).

Syracuse had started 10-0 and were #1 in the polls for 6 weeks.  But then they were stunned on their home floor by Villanova 93-74.  They recovered to win two in a row and were still #5 in the polls.  But the Orange still relied heavily on the starting five and still didn’t have any reliable perimeter shooting.  This would become a factor when UConn went to a zone.

Billy Owens started the scoring in this game by tipping in a Dave Johnson miss.  But then Tate George nailed a three after junior Murray Williams (who would be starting until Burrell, who didn’t play in this game, took his place) found him with a cross-court pass.  Then Williams got a block, and George led Chris Smith for a breakaway slam.  Henefeld followed with a steal, a push, and a feed to George for a layup.

After Smith made 1 of 2 free throws following a Jim Boeheim technical, UConn had literally run off 8 points in a row and were ahead 8-2.  Despite a technical on Calhoun, UConn kept running the break to a 13-6 lead within the first 4 minutes.  Henefeld then nailed a three to put the Huskies up by 10.

They held that lead for awhile before another three from Henefeld, a Henefeld feed to backup center Dan Cyrulik for a layup (Henefeld showing off the Larry Bird skills), and then a three from Smith put UConn ahead 30-14.

But the Huskies went cold and the Orangemen went on a 6-0 run to cut it to 10 with 6 1/2 to go in the 1st half.  George briefly answered with a three but the Orange went on a 9-0 run and the lead was down to 33-29.

Another three from Henefeld (UConn’s 6th three of the half on 9 attempts) put the Huskies back up by 9 late in the half.  But LeRon Ellis tipped in a miss at the buzzer and UConn led 38-31 at the half.

Syracuse was not able to score within the first 2 1/2 minutes of the 2nd half as UConn went to a zone.  But the Huskies couldn’t stretch their lead beyond 12 despite Billy Owens picking up his 4th foul.

Syracuse eventually got back into the game when they brought in a true point guard in freshman Michael Edwards.  Edwards was able to find Ellis and Derrick Coleman inside for layups.  The lead went down to 47-43.  UConn’s sophomore center Rod Sellers would stem off the tide with back-to-back baskets (including a bad goaltending call on Derrick Coleman).

A three from Owens would cut it back to 52-49 but that would be the closest Syracuse got.  Junior forward Lyman DePriest drove for a layup and then George lobbed to Henefeld for a layup.  Later, George was able to connect on a scoop while his side was facing the basket and draw a foul.  This three-point play put UConn up 59-51.

Syracuse made one last run that was culminated when Stephen Thompson got a steal and Coleman put back his miss and drew a foul with 2:19 to go.  Coleman missed the free throw and Syracuse was still down 61-57.  They had another chance to cut further but George got a steal from Owens and Sellers (a 52% foul shooter in 1990) hit both ends of a 1-and-1 with 1:07 to go.

Syracuse then missed four shots before UConn was able to rebound and put the game away at the foul line and with a breakaway layup in the last second by Lyman DePriest to make the final margin 11.

UConn would try to keep their streak going with a win against Georgetown 5 days later.

Syracuse starters (points scored)

Dave Johnson (6) – Small Forward

Derrick Coleman (16) – Power Forward

LeRon Ellis (14) – Center

Stephen Thompson (10) – Point Guard

Billy Owens (13) – Shooting Guard

Syracuse bench (points scored)

Michael Edwards (0)

Rich Manning (0)

Syracuse Coach: Jim Boeheim

Connecticut starters (points scored)

Murray Williams (2) – Small Forward

Nadav Henefeld (11) – Power Forward

Rod Sellers (8) – Center

Tate George (17) – Point Guard

Chris Smith (17) – Shooting Guard

Connecticut bench (points scored)

Lyman DePriest (9)

Dan Cyrulik (2)

John Gwynn (4)

Connecticut Coach: Jim Calhoun

January 18, 1990 – Ohio State Buckeyes 88 @(#6)Michigan Wolverines 90

The Ohio State Buckeyes were on the mend after not making the NCAA tournament for two consecutive seasons.  Their coach, Gary Williams, had moved on to Maryland and 33-year-old assistant Randy Ayers was promoted.  Not only was Ayers young, but the team had no seniors.

Their veterans were juniors chiseled big man Perry Carter and backup forward Treg Lee.  The sophomores were forward Chris Jent, guard Jamaal Brown, and backup center Bill Robinson.  The freshmen were shooting guard Alex Davis, point guard Mark Baker and their biggest star of all, forward Jim Jackson, a local product from Toledo.

The Buckeyes started out losing 3 of their first 4 games but got it together early in the Big Ten season.  They upset Indiana by two points and then won at Iowa.  They were 3-1 in the Big Ten and 9-5 overall but would get their biggest test so far in the conference season.

Michigan had kept on winning since beating Duke.  Their only blemish was their Big Ten opener at Indiana.  The defending champion Wolverines were 12-2 and had not lost at home under Steve Fisher.

But the young Buckeyes would have none of it early as they took a 9-5 lead.  But Terry Mills and Loy Vaught led Michigan on a 9-0 run to take the lead.  Sean Higgins wasn’t known as a defender at Michigan, but he shut out Jackson for a good portion of the first half.

The other Buckeye big guys, Carter and Jent, had productive first halves but each committed 3 fouls.  But Ohio State was able to take the lead when Jackson got his first points on a pull-up jumper from the elbow over Rumeal Robinson, and then Davis hit a long two from the baseline.  The Buckeyes had held Robinson, the Wolverines leading scorer, scoreless to that point.

But Vaught carried the load with 13 points before going out with 3 fouls.  Back-to-back baskets by Jackson put the Buckeyes ahead 39-38.  But a three-point play by Robinson got him his first field goal and gave Michigan a 43-40 lead.  The Wolverines held a 47-46 advantage at the break.

The 2nd half started out with the teams going back and forth.  Brown found Carter for a layup and the Buckeyes led.  Vaught and Mills answered with layups on great feeds.  Davis tied it with a trey.  Mike Griffin got a rare basket for Michigan on a press breaking layup.  Carter scored in the post on an up-and-under.  Then Jackson capped a transition breakaway with a crossover and a finish.

Ohio State big guys continued in foul trouble as Jent picked up his 4th foul and backup center Robinson picked up his 4th and 5th in succession.  But Ohio State went on a run that started when Jackson tipped in a Carter miss and was fouled.  Jackson later hit a baseline jumper and then found Carter for a layup.  When Treg Lee hit a turnaround in the post for his only two points, Ohio State led 64-57.

But Terry Mills gave Michigan a spark with three field goals and an assist to cut the lead to 68-66.  Then backup point guard Demetrius Calip drove baseline and hit a double-pump reserve to tie the game.  Michigan then got out in transition and Robinson found Higgins for a three and the Wolverines led with 9:22 to go.

Ohio State was able to hang around as Vaught picked up his 4th foul.  But the Buckeyes were cold and couldn’t overtake the Wolverines.  It didn’t help when Jent, who went scoreless in the 2nd half after 12 1st half points, fouled out with 6:05 to go.

Finally, Robinson found Calip for a three from the baseline to put Michigan up 78-71.  Later, a tip-in by Calip made it a nine-point lead with just over 3:00 left.

But Michigan tried too hard to put the game away and forced some plays and shots.  Vaught fouled out after missing a layup and six free throws from Ohio State cut it down to 82-79 with 1:46 left.  Michigan finally slowed it down and ran some clock.

They ran down the entire shot clock in fact before giving it to Higgins.  Sean up-faked the freshman Jackson and launched a long three at the end of the shot clock.  It was good and seemed that it would bury the Buckeyes with under 1:00 to go.

But the Buckeyes stayed alive with the help of Michigan.  The Wolverines committed two shooting fouls and Carter and Jackson each hit two free throws.  Robinson also helped out by missing half of his four free throw attempts.

When Jackson found Carter for a left-handed driving banker (Carter had 21 2nd half points), the Buckeyes were down 87-85 and called a timeout with 10.7 seconds to play.  They then had to hope Robinson missed another free throw after Davis fouled him with 9.6 left.  He made the front end of the 1-and-1 but did miss the 2nd shot.

Ohio State pushed it to Davis, their best three-point shooter, to try and tie the game.  Davis was closely guarded by Robinson but stepped back for a three from the left baseline as Robinson stumbled backwards.  Before Davis made the shot though, the official on the baseline had blown his whistle for an offensive foul.

In the days before there were 20 million TV cameras (not to mention camera phones) at a sporting event, ESPN did not have a good look at the play but it didn’t appear Davis had done much to commit an offensive foul.  Ayers and the Ohio State bench didn’t seem to like it very much (and the play happened right in front of them).

Either way, the foul was called with 5.2 seconds left and Robinson was finally able to make two free throws to put the game away.  Michigan’s winning ways ended when they lost their next game at Iowa by two points.  They would lose at home to Purdue a few weeks later.

Michigan would finish 3rd in the Big Ten with a 12-6 record and were a #3 seed in the West Regional.  No problem right, Michigan had finished 3rd in the Big Ten and was a #3 seed in 1989 too.

Ohio State regressed a bit as their loss to Michigan started a 4-game losing streak.  But the Buckeyes recovered enough to finish with a 10-8 Big Ten record, including a win over Michigan, and an NCAA tournament appearance as an 8th seed in the West.

Ohio State starters (points scored)

Jim Jackson (19) – Small Forward

Chris Jent (12) – Power Forward

Perry Carter (29) – Center

Jamaal Brown (4) – Point Guard

Alex Davis (15) – Shooting Guard

Ohio State bench (points scored)

Bill Robinson (2)

Mark Baker (5)

Treg Lee (2)

Steve Hall (0)

Tom Brandewie (0)

Ohio State Coach: Randy Ayers

Michigan starters (points scored)

Sean Higgins (16) – Small Forward

Loy Vaught (17) – Power Forward

Terry Mills (18) – Center

Rumeal Robinson (16) – Point Guard

Mike Griffin (3) – Shooting Guard

Michigan bench (points scored)

Demetrius Calip (16)

Eric Riley (2)

Michael Talley (2)

Michigan Coach: Steve Fisher

January 20, 1990 – (#2)Georgetown Hoyas 65 @Connecticut Huskies 70

The Connecticut Huskies had been a nice story so far and perhaps they were about ready to be ranked.  But a win against 14-0 Georgetown seemed to be a little too much to ask.  The Hoyas had been pretty dominant (albeit against lesser competition) so far and it was their best start since Patrick Ewing’s senior year.

But 14-0 wouldn’t only describe Georgetown’s record coming in.  Nadav Henefeld started the Connecticut attack with two free throws and a three.  It would be the only scoring in the first 4 minutes of the game.  For Georgetown, Mark Tillmon and Alonzo Mourning each picked up 2 fouls.

But then after the media timeout, Chris Smith got it going for Jim Calhoun’s Huskies.  He hit a three from the wing and then a pull-up long two from the other wing.  Tate George got a steal and fed Smith for a breakaway.  A breakaway slam by Rod Sellers made the score, yes, 14-0.  The Hartford Civic Center was beside itself and the announcers were shocked.

Georgetown finally got on the board when Mourning got two layups.  Suddenly, Georgetown remembered that you can’t win if you don’t score.  Tillmon and Ronnie Thompson (the coach’s son) hit jumpers.  Mourning hit a hook and Tillmon followed with a pull-up from the wing.  The score was now down to 16-12.

A three-point play by Mourning after a lob pass from Dwayne Bryant tied the game at 17.  Tate George followed with a driving layup for his 1,000th career point.  Bryant answered with an NBA range three to give the Hoyas their first lead.

But UConn got their momentum back thanks to reserve guard John Gwynn.  Gwynn scored 9 points over the latter part of the 1st half to lead the Huskies to a 35-29 halftime advantage.

But Bryant started out the 2nd half with a three and just like that, John Thompson’s senior starting back court would be released.  Tillmon, the Big East’s leading scorer in the early season who had managed only 4 points in the 1st half, hit a jumper, two free throws and then got a steal and layup to put the Hoyas ahead 40-37.

Nadav Henefeld followed with the first of his many big threes in the 2nd half to tie the game.  Henefeld then pick-pocketed Thompson at halfcourt and fed Smith for a breakaway.  Tillmon followed with a runner but Henefeld nailed another three just before the first media timeout.

Connecticut maintained a 53-50 lead before controversy ensued.  Tillmon drove down the lane for a runner.  It hit the back rim and then the front rim before Mourning tipped it in while it was still on the rim.  Mourning was fouled in the process by backup center Dan Cyrulik.  The officials not only disregarded the goaltending a counted the basket, but they gave it to Tillmon and gave Mourning a 1-and-1 because he wasn’t the person who scored.  If the officials had credited Alonzo with the tip-in, he would be going for the three-point play.  Instead, Georgetown had a chance for a four-point play and they got it when Mourning nailed both ends of the 1-and-1.  Georgetown got the lead and, needless to say, UConn got screwed.

It might have mattered more had Henefeld not hit another big three to put the Huskies ahead 58-56 with under 6:00 remaining.  Cyrulik gave UConn a four-point lead with a jumper.  But field goals by Thompson and Mourning squared the game back at 60.

However, the Israeli sensation came back to the rescue.  Henefeld came off a Lyman DePriest screen and nailed a three from the top to give UConn a 63-60 advantage.  But over the next few possessions, UConn missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and then had a turnover.  Meanwhile, Mourning hit an over-the-head layup after Bryant lobbed him a pass from half-court.

Then with a minute and a half remaining, Mourning blocked a Henefeld shot and Georgetown had a chance to lead.  Tillmon took it coast-to-coast and was fouled.  Tillmon, a 74% foul shooter and a senior, missed them both.

Gwynn hit both ends of a 1-and-1 to give UConn a 65-62 lead.  Then Smith rebounded a missed three from Tillmon and saved it from going out of bounds to Henefeld.  Nadav hit both ends of the 1-and-1 to make it a five-point lead.  Tillmon would keep the Hoyas alive with a three at the 31.9 second mark.  But Gwynn hit two more free throws and DePriest hit a free throw to put the game away.

This was said to be UConn’s biggest win in their basketball history.  However, as the season went along and the nation started to realize that the Huskies were for real, the wins kept getting bigger.

The Hoyas suffered some more setbacks, including two losses to Syracuse.  The final game of the regular season at the Carrier Dome was an overtime affair that decided the Big East regular season championship.  Georgetown would then lose to UConn for the second time in three games in the Semifinals of the Big East tournament

Georgetown would still be a #3 seed in the Midwest Regional.  But they were upset by Tyrone Hill and 6th seeded Xavier 74-71 in the 2nd round.  Thompson would have one more year with his twin towers of Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo.

Georgetown starters (points scored)

Michael Tate (0) – Small Forward

Alonzo Mourning (21) – Power Forward

Dikembe Mutombo (2) – Center

Dwayne Bryant (14) – Point Guard

Mark Tillmon (19) – Shooting Guard

Georgetown bench (points scored)

David Edwards (0)

Ronnie Thompson (7)

Sam Jefferson (2)

Antoine Stoudamire (0)

Mike Sabol (0)

Georgetown Coach: John Thompson

Connecticut starters (points scored)

Murray Williams (0) – Small Forward

Nadav Henefeld (21) – Power Forward

Rod Sellers (2) – Center

Tate George (11) – Point Guard

Chris Smith (11) – Shooting Guard

Connecticut bench (points scored)

Lyman DePriest (6)

John Gwynn (15)

Dan Cyrulik (4)

Connecticut Coach: Jim Calhoun

January 21, 1990 – (#11)Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 79 @Virginia Cavaliers 81 (OT)

Georgia Tech had recovered seemingly to their first defeat to Duke by winning back-to-back games.  But they were starting a three game ACC road trip in Virginia.

On paper, it looked like a layup.  The Virginia Cavaliers were 0-4 in the ACC and were 9-5 overall.  But it was deceiving.  Two of Virginia’s losses in the ACC were close and happened because the Cavaliers didn’t know how to finish games with the lead.

Furthermore, the Cavaliers had made a run to the 1989 Elite Eight with a mostly young team.  The only key player who wasn’t returning for 1990 was shooting guard Richard Morgan.

Terry Holland was in his 16th season at Virginia and in his last season of coaching.  His key cogs were sophomore swingman Bryant Stith, who was the ACC freshman of the year in 1989, and junior point guard John Crotty.  The offense was basically built around those guys.

Junior forward Kenny Turner and sophomore guard Anthony Oliver applied some scoring punch and would play hero roles in this game.  Freshman center Ted Jeffries was the defender in the middle.  There wasn’t much coming off the bench.  In fact, a lot of Virginia’s bench was from the football team.  Most notably, future NFL running back Terry Kirby.

Georgia Tech was 12-1 and got off to a 9-5 start as Kenny Anderson and Brian Oliver scored all of their points.  Dennis Scott got involved a bit later with two jumpers but Virginia was able to hang around and Holland put in a wrinkle defensively.

Virginia went to a diamond and 1 with Turner man-to-man against Scott and the only four Cavaliers in a zone.  Georgia Tech went through a five-minute scoring drought while trying to figure out how to attack that defense.

Meanwhile, the Cavs went on a 13-3 run to take a 28-20 lead.  Stith led the way with 14 first half points.  Virginia eventually took their momentum to a 37-24 with 3:00 to go in the half.  But Tech was able to finish on an 11-3 run to cut it to 40-35 at the half.

Oliver and Anderson started out the 2nd half with threes as Georgia Tech took a quick lead.  But Stith countered with 7 points in a row to put Virginia back in front.

Virginia was doing an excellent job in shutting down Dennis Scott.  Scott went scoreless over the regulation part of the 2nd half.  He was rarely open and when he was, he couldn’t put in a shot to save his life.  Brian Oliver wasn’t shooting well either.  Anderson had kept the Jackets in the game.

Unfortunately for Virginia, Stith wasn’t getting much scoring help and the Cavaliers couldn’t run away with the lead.  Karl Brown, a reserve guard and defensive standout for Georgia Tech, tied the game at 61 with a three at the 6:21 mark.  Both teams didn’t score for the next two minutes plus.

Stith then made both ends of his 1-and-1 but Malcolm Mackey put back an Anderson miss to tie the game again.  Then with under 3:00 to go, Anderson drove, spun, scooped and scored to give Tech a 65-63 lead.  Virginia couldn’t match them and Tech took a three-point lead when Brian Oliver made a free throw.  It looked like the same script for Virginia as they were going to blow another late lead.

Tech couldn’t increase their lead as Brown missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 58 seconds left.  Virginia searched desperately for a field goal that they hadn’t scored in 5 plus minutes.  Finally, Crotty found Jeffries under the basket.  He was fouled by Oliver with 30 seconds left.  Jeffries was a 43% foul shooter in 1990, but made both shots.

Virginia then waited patiently for Georgia Tech to pass to Brown before committing the foul.  Brown was a 66% foul shooter in 1990 and with 14 seconds to go, he made 1-of-2.  Virginia pushed the ball without a timeout.  Crotty found Turner at the top as Stith was trying to get free at the baseline.

Stith couldn’t get free, so Turner swung it to Anthony Oliver at the left wing.  Oliver up-faked Brown and drove to about 8 feet away.  Anthony then pulled up and nailed his jumper just before the buzzer to tie the game and send it into overtime.  Oliver would be out for the extra period after he hurt himself celebrating his made basket.

Virginia had gone 6 minutes without a field goal before Oliver’s jumper and Georgia Tech hadn’t burned the nets either in that time.  But in overtime, neither team could stop the other.

Georgia Tech took a 71-69 lead when Scott made his first field goal of the 2nd half.  But then Stith fed Crotty at the wing.  John launched and nailed a three while he was fouled.  The four-point play gave Virginia a two-point lead.  Stith would make 75-71 with two free throws at the 2:35 mark.

But Georgia Tech would come back and cut it to 77-76 when Scott nailed a three with 1:00 left.  Stith would be fouled again at the 39 second mark and got to his career-high of 30 points with two free throws.

Tech called a timeout and Bobby Cremins set a play where Anderson penetrated and Scott would pop out to the top off a screen for a three.  The play worked to perfection as Scott nailed a long three to tie it at 79 with 29 seconds to go.

Virginia, just like regulation, didn’t call a timeout.  Turner got the ball at the top again guarded by Scott.  He pump faked past Scott (who was never really known for his defense) and pulled up at the elbow.  Turner nailed the jumper with 5 seconds to go.

Tech didn’t call a timeout, despite having one in their pocket.  Anderson launched a three from just in front of half-court that hit nothing but backboard.  Virginia had survived for their first ACC win.

These teams would have another classic in a month but first Tech had to get through after failing in the first game of their 3-game road test.

Georgia Tech starters (points scored)

Dennis Scott (17) – Small Forward

Malcolm Mackey (9) – Power Forward

Johnny McNeil (2) – Center

Kenny Anderson (29) – Point Guard

Brian Oliver (15) – Shooting Guard

Georgia Tech bench (points scored)

Karl Brown (7)

James Munlyn (0)

Georgia Tech Coach: Bobby Cremins

Virginia starters (points scored)

Bryant Stith (30) – Small Forward

Kenny Turner (13) – Power Forward

Ted Jeffries (8) – Center

John Crotty (21) – Point Guard

Anthony Oliver (6) – Shooting Guard

Virginia bench (points scored)

Matt Blundin (2)

Doug Smith (1)

Jeff Daniel (0)

Virginia Coach: Terry Holland

bryant_stith001b

Bryant Stith’s career-high 30 points led Virginia to their first ACC win in 1990 *photo courtesy of Virginia Sportswar

January 24, 1990 – NC State Wolfpack 82 @(#8)Duke Blue Devils 85 (OT)

The Duke Blue Devils were a week removed from getting drilled 79-60 at North Carolina.  But they were still tied at the top of the ACC with the Tarheels at 4-1.

North Carolina State was coming off a Sweet 16 appearance in 1989 and two junior studs at guard.  Point guard Chris Corchiani led the ACC in steals and was second in assists and shooting guard Rodney Monroe was among the leading scorers in the ACC averaging 23.2 points per game.

Jim Valvano also had an improving forward in Tom Gugliotta.  Gugliotta went from averaging 2.7 points per game as a freshman to 11.1 as a sophomore.  Gugliotta was flanked in the front court by seniors Brian Howard and Brian D’Amico.

The bench was young with freshman forwards Kevin Thompson and Bryant Feggins, along with senior JC transfer Mickey Hinnant.  NC State had dropped out of the rankings after losing at Georgia Tech and to North Carolina at home.  They were still 13-4 but the dumpster pile was starting to get bigger, off the court.

Despite his improved play, Tom Gugliotta didn’t get off to a good start in this one.  He missed two free throws and committed two fouls.  Duke grabbed a 13-6 lead in the first 5 minutes, culminating with a three-point play by Phil Henderson on a Bobby Hurley fast break assist.  They increased it to 19-11 over the next 4 minutes as freshman Billy McCaffrey hit two jumpers.

NC State was able to hang around though as Gugliotta and D’Amico got easy inside baskets thanks mostly to Corchiani.  But Monroe was cold from the field and Howard, who averaged just under 15 points per game in ACC games, was scoreless.  But it was 30-29 Duke with just over 5:00 remaining in the half.

However, the Blue Devils stretched it out again as Henderson led the way with 14 points.  A breakaway layup by McCaffrey with 4 seconds left in the half put Duke ahead 45-37 going into the break.

Duke continued its run to start the 2nd half as Henderson nailed a three and Hurley found Greg Koubek, who was still starting in the place of injured Robert Brickey, for a wing jumper on the break.  Valvano had been forced to use two timeouts in the first minute and 5 seconds and Duke led 50-39.

But then Duke’s center Alaa Abdelnaby, who was slowed by the flu, picked up his 3rd foul on a Gugliotta layup.  Tom missed the free throw but Howard tipped it in for his first field goal.  Monroe hit a jumper and Howard got a steal and layup.  Then after a Corchiani runner, Duke had to call timeout with 14:39 left and their lead down to 54-50.

The timeout didn’t help Duke initially as Corchiani hit a pull-up three after a steal to cut it to one.  But Gugliotta picked up his 4th foul on a charge and the Blue Devils re-grabbed a 60-55 advantage.

But Rodney Monroe came alive to score six points in a row to key an 8-0 Wolfpack run.  Monroe had 18 points on 6-of-21 shooting and the Wolfpack led 63-60 with 7:43 to go.  After Mike Krzyzewski had to call another timeout, Hurley bailed them out with a three at the end of the shot clock.

The teams traded buckets and NC State went up 69-67 with just over 4:00 remaining when Corchiani hit another three.  Christian Laettner, who was having his usual (for that season) effective blue collar game, picked up his 4th foul on a charge.  But Duke still regained a 71-69 lead as Hurley found Henderson for two buckets.

The scoring pace slowed down over the next two minutes but Howard tied it at 71 with a baseline jumper and Corchiani gave the Wolfpack a 73-72 lead when he stole the ball from Hurley at the end of the shot clock and scored on a breakaway with 1:03 left.

Hurley then missed an ill-timed three after a timeout and Howard rebounded.  Henderson had to foul Monroe with 19 seconds left.  Rodney made the first but was in-and-out on the second.  The Wolfpack led 74-72.

Billy McCaffrey then attempted an ill-timed three but was bailed out when Howard was called for a foul on the shot with 19 seconds left.  These were still in the days that, even though McCaffrey was fouled on a three, he was attempting two shots.

On the first free throw, McCaffrey looked like a freshman in the final 19 seconds of a game and badly short-armed it.  He also missed the second but Laettner tipped in the miss to tie the game.

NC State didn’t use a timeout.  Corchiani tried to find Monroe but Rodney was shut off by Henderson (as he had been for most of the game).  Finally, Howard got the ball at the right baseline guarded by McCaffrey.  Howard could have perhaps taken advantage of his height had he had more time.  But he was forced to take a long turnaround jumper and it was just short as the buzzer went off.

Hurley started the overtime scoring with a bullet feed to Abdelnaby from half court.  He later fed Laettner for a layup and Duke took a four-point lead.  But with 2:43 left, a turnaround jumper in the lane by Howard plus the 5th foul on Laettner cut the lead to one.

But as can usually be when the star of one team fouls out, the other team relaxes.  Hurley got a steal and fed Henderson for a pull-up jumper.  Then Hurley led a 3-on-1 break and fed Greg Koubek for a layup.  Duke now led 84-79 with 1:05 to go.

But Howard answered again with a three-pointer from the top.  Corchiani then fouled Hurley with 29 seconds to go.  Bobby made the front end of a 1-and-1 but missed the back end.  The Wolfpack had a chance to tie.

But Corchiani missed a three and D’Amico fouled Abdelnaby after he grabbed the rebound with 10 seconds left.  State got another chance after Alaa missed the front end.  Corchiani tried to up-fake Hurley but Bobby stayed on the ground with his arms vertical.  So Corchiani had to improvise a leaning three attempt at the buzzer and missed.

Duke was now set for its rematch with Georgia Tech on Superbowl Sunday with a 5-1 ACC record and a 15-3 overall record.  NC State would rebound with two home blowout victories over Maryland and Virginia.  But then they had to travel out west to take on UNLV.

NC State starters (points scored)

Brian Howard (12) – Small Forward

Tom Gugliotta (14) – Power Forward

Brian D’Amico (15) – Center

Chris Corchiani (17) – Point Guard

Rodney Monroe (19) – Shooting Guard

NC State bench (points scored)

Kevin Thompson (2)

Bryant Feggins (0)

Mickey Hinnant (3)

Jamie Knox (0)

NC State Coach: Jim Valvano

Duke starters (points scored)

Greg Koubek (8) – Small Forward

Christian Laettner (18) – Power Forward

Alaa Abdelnaby (10) – Center

Bobby Hurley (10) – Point Guard

Phil Henderson (25) – Shooting Guard

Duke bench (points scored)

Brian Davis (4)

Thomas Hill (2)

Billy McCaffrey (8)

Duke Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

January 28, 1990 – (#13)Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 86 @(#8)Duke Blue Devils 88

Georgia Tech was on a 2-game losing streak.  After a two-point loss at Virginia, the Yellow Jackets lost at Clemson by one point.  Now, in the 3rd game of their 3-game road trip, they had to travel to Cameron Indoor Stadium for a big time matchup.

But Tech, most notably Dennis Scott, was ready for the challenge early on.  Within the first 2 1/2 minutes, the Jackets took a 9-2 lead.  Later, five straight points from Kenny Anderson kept that advantage at 17-10.

Halfway through the 1st half, the third of Georgia Tech’s lethal weapons, Brian Oliver, put back a miss and drew the 3rd foul on Duke’s leading scorer Phil Henderson.  The other notable game that Henderson got into foul trouble was Duke’s only loss in the last 12 games, at North Carolina.

It looked like this one might follow the same script as Dennis Scott suddenly got scalding hot.  It started with a pull-up three over 6’11” Christian Laettner from the corner.  Then after two layups, Scott connected on a transition three that put Tech up 34-22.

But with just about 4:00 left, Scott picked up his 3rd foul and had to sit.  With that, Duke got momentum as Bobby Hurley drove baseline for his first field goal.  Sophomore Brian Davis proved to be a big spark with 8 first half points.  Four of them came on the 10-2 Duke run that cut the lead to 38-35.

Hurley’s pull-up three cut the lead to 40-38 but Johnny McNeil blocked a Duke chance of tying the game.  Anderson then found Oliver for a slam in transition but the Blue Devils would get the last shot of the half.  Hurley drove in from the top and kicked out to Billy McCaffrey.  Hurley’s fellow Caucasian freshman nailed the jumper at the buzzer and Tech led 42-40 at halftime.

The teams matched each other for a good portion of the early 2nd half.  A little over 4:00 into the half, Tech had out-scored Duke 15-11 and led 57-51 (tell me a college game today where you see that much scoring in that little amount of time).

Dennis Scott was continuing to burn the net and the Georgia Tech big three would finally get some help from their teammates.  Karl Brown hit two free throws and then Malcolm Mackey hit a turnaround push shot from the baseline.  After Anderson found Oliver on the break, Georgia Tech led 69-57 and had just completed an 8-0 run.  Krzyzewski called a timeout with 11:50 to go.

The timeout seemed to help, as it usually is intended to.  Laettner hit two free throws and then Henderson followed with a three and a breakaway slam after a Laettner steal.  Within the next minute and a half, Duke had cut the lead to 69-64 and it was Bobby Cremins’ turn to call a timeout.

Tech regained a 10-point lead after Henderson picked up his 4th foul.  But it was mentioned many times on the broadcast that the Yellow Jackets had a double-digit 2nd half lead in their first meeting.

Henderson came back in and Laettner scored 6 Duke points in a row.  Henderson would then nail a three to cut the lead to 76-73.  Two free throws from freshman Thomas Hill and Laettner gave Duke its first lead of the ballgame.  But Anderson came right back with a runner in the lane.

With Robert Brickey still out of the Duke lineup, it was a crap-shoot to see who would take his small forward spot late in games.  In this particular game, it was Brian Davis, who had an effective 1st half.

A Davis putback gave Duke an 80-78 lead.  But Scott tied it with a baseline jumper against a double-team for his 33rd point.  He did not disappear in the 2nd half of this one like he did in the first game.

But with under two minutes left, Laettner kicked out to Hurley for a corner three and a Duke 83-80 lead.  Scott could not tie it as he missed a rare three from the top.  Hurley got the ball back into his hands and penetrated to find Davis for a layup and a foul.  The three-point play gave Duke an 86-80 lead with 1:21 left and fouled out Georgia Tech center Johnny McNeil.

But Anderson would find Oliver for a three in the next 12 seconds and the game was still up for grabs.  Duke ran down the shot clock and Davis found a lane to drive.  Oliver fouled him to stop an easy layup but Davis made the two free throws with 46 seconds to go.

Anderson then kicked out to Scott for three and Georgia Tech was within 88-86 at the 31 second mark and Cremins used his last timeout.  Duke moved the ball around while Tech seemed in no hurry to foul.  They finally forced a turnover with 15 seconds left as Scott stole a Laettner pass.

But without a timeout, Tech’s offense seemed a bit discombobulated.  Anderson drove in but was doubled and tied up by Phil Henderson with 7 seconds left.  The possession arrow pointed Duke’s way.

Anderson then followed up his offensive mistake by not fouling Duke quick enough and letting the clock run down to 2 seconds before Scott had to commit a foul on Davis.  Although Davis would miss the front end of the 1-and-1 this time, Tech with no timeouts only had a prayer shot.  It wasn’t answered.

Georgia Tech had now lost three games in a row on the road.  But they would seem galvanized by their effort against a tough Duke team in a tough environment.  The Yellow Jackets would drill North Carolina 102-75 in their next game.  That victory kicked off a winning streak.

For Duke, the schedule would get a little tougher as they got into February.  They would lose road games at Virginia, NC State and Clemson.  But they still had an undefeated home record heading into their finale against their rival Tar Heels.  The ACC standings would look a bit different by that point.

Georgia Tech starters (points scored)

Dennis Scott (36) – Small Forward

Malcolm Mackey (2) – Power Forward

Johnny McNeil (4) – Center

Kenny Anderson (19) – Point Guard

Brian Oliver (23) – Shooting Guard

Georgia Tech bench (points scored)

Karl Brown (2)

Georgia Tech Coach: Bobby Cremins

Duke starters (points scored)

Greg Koubek (9) – Small Forward

Christian Laettner (19) – Power Forward

Alaa Abdelnaby (12) – Center

Bobby Hurley (8) – Point Guard

Phil Henderson (16) – Shooting Guard

Duke bench (points scored)

Brian Davis (16)

Thomas Hill (6)

Billy McCaffrey (2)

Duke Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

January 29, 1990 – (#7)Syracuse Orangemen 70 @(#18)St. John’s Red Men 65

After losing to Connecticut, Syracuse lost a 1-point decision to Providence at the Carrier Dome.  With the two-game losing streak, Jim Boeheim decided to put his only true point guard, freshman Michael Edwards, into the starting lineup while bringing Dave Johnson off the bench.

This moved Billy Owens to forward and got him out of his slump.  It also brought Stephen Thompson to the wing, where he was much more effective.  But, perhaps most importantly, Syracuse had an unselfish guard who knew how to get the ball inside and to the wing scorers, and did so.  Syracuse beat Pitt and destroyed Georgetown at Georgetown.

St. John’s had a 13-2 record after an 8-game winning streak.  Syracuse stopped it in their first meeting at the Carrier Dome by a score of 81-72.  But Lou Carnesecca’s team came back with a 4-game winning streak before losing to UConn as the Huskies opened Gampel Pavilion.

St. John’s had a good mix of youth and experience.  The seniors in the lineup was forward Jayson Williams and guard Boo Harvey (who had the word “Redmen” cut into the back of his hairline).  The rest of the starting lineup was filled with sophomores.  The center was Robert Werdann and the point guard was Jason Buchanan.  But the biggest star (other than perhaps Williams) was forward Malik Sealy (who was helping start a trend with his flat-top hairdue.. the 90’s had arrived!).

Coming off the bench were sophomores Billy Singleton and Chucky Sproling.  They would take the place of Williams and Harvey in 1991 and lead St. John’s to an effective season.  But they weren’t too shabby in 1990 with a 17-4 mark coming into the Syracuse game at Madison Square Garden.

Unlike most Big East games, the scoring early on was fast and furious.  Syracuse got it started as Derrick Coleman showed off his handles with a behind-the-back dribble on the break and a finish.  Sealy matched it with a baseline jumper.  Thompson and Buchanan then exchanged baskets.

Syracuse stretched to a lead as Owens hit two jumpers, Thompson got a breakaway and Coleman slammed home an Edwards airball and then hit a jumper from the foul line.  This concluded a 10-2 Orangemen run that gave them a 16-8 lead at the 15:28 mark.

Syracuse increased that lead to nine at one point but two threes from Boo Harvey cut the lead to 21-18 with under 12:00 left.  But after cutting the lead to one, Orangemen center LeRon Ellis hit a rare three.  Thompson followed with a rare three and Syracuse was back up 29-22.

It took until the 7:56 mark for each team to make their first substitution of the game.  But it was still the starters who gave the scoring punch.  A driving runner from Owens put Syracuse up 34-26 but two putbacks by Jayson Williams sliced that advantage in half.

St. John’s eventually tied it at 36 when Sealy twice tipped in misses and Williams got a breakaway slammer (not to compare with the slammer Williams would eventually be put in in 2002).  But over the last 3 minutes of the half, Syracuse outscored the Johnnies 4-0 to take a 40-36 lead at the break.  Williams didn’t help matters by missing two free throws after the buzzer had sounded.

The 2nd half started out like the first as both teams went at each other and traded baskets (but not leads as Syracuse stayed ahead).  A three-point play by Williams cut the lead to 49-47 and drew Derrick Coleman’s 4th foul.  Fortunately for Coleman and the Orangemen, the Big East experimented with the 6 fouls to foul out rule.  But Coleman had not scored after getting 6 points in the first 5 minutes.

The offense for both teams slowed down suddenly as St. John’s went to an effective trapping defense.  Boeheim countered with a zone (Syracuse wasn’t known for the zone at this time, as opposed to later years under Boeheim).

The next few minutes were a free throw battle.  Coleman picked up his 5th foul but, remember, that didn’t foul him out.  But he did get a seat on the bench and came back at the 7:12 mark as Syracuse still led 59-55.

St. John’s cut it to one when Harvey penetrated and found Williams for a layup and a foul.  The Redmen had two chances to take their first lead after the Orangemen missed two front ends of 1-and-1’s.  But they failed on both and Syracuse regained a 62-59 lead with 3 and a half minutes to go.

Owens then hit a rare field goal for either team over the last few minutes to give the Orangemen a 64-59 lead.  But then Owens committed his 5th foul and two free throws from Sealy cut it to one.

But then came the biggest play as Owens bullet-fed Thompson in the lane.  Thompson double-pumped and scored against three guys while drawing the foul with under 2:00 to go.  The three-point play gave Syracuse a 67-61 lead but didn’t quite put the game away.

St. John’s cut it to four and had to a chance to cut it further when Owens committed an offensive foul with 50 seconds left.  But Thompson stole a Harvey pass and Syracuse had a chance to salt it away at the line.  But they hit 1 of their next 3 free throws and two free throws from Harvey cut it to 68-65.

But Harvey fouled Dave Johnson with 12.9 seconds left.  Johnson was a 61% foul shooter in 1990 but nailed both shots to put the game away.

For Syracuse, their 3-game winning streak would reach 8, the last of which being a win over UConn.

St. John’s would lose their 3rd game in a row when Georgetown defeated them at Madison Square Garden 5 days later.  The teams that beat them in their losing streak (Connecticut, Syracuse, and Georgetown) would finish ahead of the Redmen in the Big East as St. John’s went 10-6.  They only played 13 of their games (and none of their NCAA tournament games) with Jayson Williams, as he was set back by a broken foot.

They lost to Villanova in the 1st round of the Big East tournament but would get a #6 seed in the East Regional.  They beat Temple before losing to 3rd-seeded Duke 76-72 in the 2nd round.

Syracuse starters (points scored)

Billy Owens (22) – Small Forward

Derrick Coleman (7) – Power Forward

LeRon Ellis (10) – Center

Michael Edwards (3) – Point Guard

Stephen Thompson (22) – Shooting Guard

Syracuse bench (points scored)

Dave Johnson (6)

Rich Manning (0)

Tony Scott (0)

Syracuse Coach: Jim Boeheim

St. John’s starters (points scored)

Malik Sealy (16) – Small Forward

Jayson Williams (22) – Power Forward

Robert Werdann (8) – Center

Jason Buchanan (4) – Point Guard

Boo Harvey (11) – Shooting Guard

St. John’s bench (points scored)

Chucky Sproling (2)

Billy Singleton (2)

St. John’s Coach: Lou Carnesecca

January 29, 1990 – (#11)Illinois Fighting Illini 67 @Iowa Hawkeyes 69

The second game of a big Monday double-header was a budding Big Ten rivalry.  Most of the budding in the rivalry came from a recruiting story from 1989.

One of the best high school players in the nation was Simeon’s Deon Thomas (Simeon in Chicago had produced high school stars like the late Ben Wilson, Nick Anderson and more recently, Derrick Rose and Jabari Parker).  Thomas was being recruited heavily by, among other teams, Illinois and Iowa.

Thomas eventually chose Illinois and this didn’t sit well with an assistant coach at Iowa (Thomas had apparently verbally committed to Iowa).  Bruce Pearl had recorded telephone conversations with Thomas (with the help of Iowa athletic staff) where Deon had allegedly told him that Illinois assistant coach Jimmy Collins had offered Thomas $80,000 and a Chevy Blazer.  Pearl then sent these tapes to the NCAA, who launched an investigation that concluded in November, 1990.

While there wouldn’t be enough evidence to support Pearl’s claim, the NCAA did uncover three minor violations at Illinois over 6 years.  So the NCAA hit Illinois with a ban from the 1991 NCAA tournament as well as scholarship and recruitment reductions over the next two seasons, ironically when Thomas actually began playing.  Deon would be red-shirted for the 1990 season.

But with this being a little more than 9 months before the NCAA investigation concluded, the accusations were still ringing in the air.  While Iowa coach Dr. Tom Davis and Illinois head man Lou Henson did shake hands before and after the game, Davis seemed to initiate it both times while Henson did it reluctantly.

There was also an incident during the game where Illinois senior Ervin Small (a former teammate of Thomas’ at Simeon) slammed an Iowa player to the ground.  Small was not ejected and made a big play late in the game, but the feelings were out there.

The Illini had lost Nick Anderson, Kenny Battle and Lowell Hamilton (their starting front court) from their 1989 Final Four team.  But they won their first 11 games as the back court of Kendall Gill and Steve Bardo returned for their senior seasons.  Marcus Liberty also stepped up to average just under 18 points per game.

Those three stars were supported by big men Ervin Small and Rodney Jones, shooting ace P.J. Bowman, and red-shirt freshman forward Andy Kaufmann (also a shooting ace).  Kaufmann would be the only players mentioned so far who would be back with the Illini for 1991.

Illinois started out the Big Ten season at 5-3 with blowout losses at Minnesota and Purdue and a close loss at home to Michigan.  Illinois was now 5th in the Big Ten behind those 3 teams and Michigan State, and they couldn’t afford many, if any, more losses if they wanted to compete for a conference title.

A loss to 1-6 Iowa (9-8 overall) would definitely not help.  Iowa’s one Big Ten win was a two-point home victory over Michigan.  But they were trying to recover after Roy Marble, B.J. Armstrong and Ed Horton had graduated (so, yes, they really could have used Thomas).

The Hawkeyes had also lost some key pieces to academic ineligibility earlier in the season.  Ray Thompson and Brian Garner were promising freshmen in 1989 but each would eventually transfer.

With that, the Hawkeyes’ only veteran NBA prospects would be center Les Jepsen and shooting forward Matt Bullard, both were seniors.  Bullard was slowed by a knee injury and was coming off the bench but Jepsen had stepped up into being the first option and seemed to be Iowa’s only bright spot.

The other pieces were young.  There were sophomore guards Wade Lookingbill, Troy Skinner and James Moses and there were freshmen forwards Acie Earl and Jay Webb.

Iowa had won 8 of their first 9 games with Thompson and Garner still on the roster.  But they had gone 1-7 since.  The game started out slowly on both sides as Iowa led 6-5 five minutes into the game.

Gill rebounded a Liberty miss and hit a pull-up in the lane while he was fouled.  Gill later found Liberty for a baseline jumper to put Illinois ahead 15-9.  A three from Bardo made the score 22-13.

But Illinois was not able to put the Hawkeyes away and Iowa hung around with Jepsen scoring 8 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the 1st half.  They cut it to 34-33 before a three from Bardo put the Illini back ahead by four at the half.

The Illini started to fly a bit at the beginning of the 2nd half.  Liberty found Gill for a baseline jumper that completed a 9-4 run and gave Illinois a 46-37 lead.  But Acie Earl hit a pull-up from the wing.  Then Bullard followed up his own miss by tipping a rebound to Jepsen for a slam and a foul.  Suddenly, Iowa was back in the game and we were less than 5 minutes into the 2nd half.

A three from Bullard cut it to 48-47 before both teams went into a drought.  Liberty finally broke it with three field goals to put Illinois ahead 54-50 with about half of the 2nd half remaining.

Liberty would eventually get a fourth basket on a Bullard goaltending.  Illinois kept its lead at four until Liberty recovered a loose ball and found Small for a layup and a foul.  Small missed the free throw but his big play (while he was getting booed by Iowa fans for his take-down earlier in the 2nd half) gave the Illini a 62-56 lead.

A three from Bardo made it 65-58 with 3 minutes remaining.  Bardo had a chance to increase that lead on the next possession but missed a driving banker.  Jepsen then lobbed to Bullard for a layup.  Skinner followed with a steal and a feed to James Moses for a baseline jumper.

Illinois called a timeout with 1:52 remaining and Liberty broke the press for a pull-up jumper in the lane to give Illinois a 67-62 lead.  But Liberty followed by fouling Moses on a jumper.  James made the two free throws and then Jepsen got a steal after Illinois ran down most of the shot clock.

After an Iowa timeout with 44.5 seconds remaining, they found Wade Lookingbill at the top.  Lookingbill banked in a seemingly improbable three to tie the game at 67.  Liberty tried to get a quick response but Bullard blocked his shot.

Illinois recovered the ball and Henson signaled for them to reset and take the last shot.  But instead, Liberty drove in and was short on a pull-up.  Gill then missed a tip and Skinner finally got the rebound for Iowa and called timeout with 11 seconds left.  Dick Vitale was blasting Illinois for their game management over the last 3 minutes, and with good reason.

The Illini went to a press, which was uncharacteristic.  Iowa broke it easily as Skinner found Jepsen with a lead pass.  Jepsen went in for a driving layup against two guys to give Iowa a lead with 1.5 seconds remaining.  The crowd was in hysterics as they couldn’t believe their team had come back either.

Illinois still had a chance at a long pass and shot (which they had pulled off successfully in the previous season at Indiana).  But Bardo’s pass was intercepted by Lookingbill and Iowa had won round 1 of the Deon Thomas recruiting saga war.

The Hawkeyes wouldn’t have much else to celebrate in 1990, although they would beat Purdue by one of Jepsen and Bullard’s senior day.  They finished 12-16 and missed the NCAA tournament.  They would be back in the hunt in 1991 with the recruitment of Chris Street (a sad name in Iowa lore).

Illinois would not win another road game until their final game of the regular season at Indiana.  That win came after killing Iowa 118-85 in a rematch at Champaign.  Illinois was tied with Minnesota for 4th in the Big Ten at 11-7.  While Minnesota would go on an NCAA tournament run (covered later), Illinois (as a #5 seed in the Midwest Regional) would be upset by Dayton 88-86 in the 1st round.  Then the NCAA penalties came and the Illini would not make it back to the tournament until 1993.

Illinois starters (points scored)

Kendall Gill (18) – Small Forward

Marcus Liberty (18) – Power Forward

Rodney Jones (4) – Center

Steve Bardo (11) – Point Guard

P.J. Bowman (10) – Shooting Guard

Illinois bench (points scored)

Ervin Small (4)

Andy Kaufmann (2)

Andy Kpedi (0)

Ken Gibson (0)

Illinois Coach: Lou Henson

Iowa starters (points scored)

Wade Lookingbill (11) – Small Forward

Michael Ingram (0) – Power Forward

Les Jepsen (18) – Center

Troy Skinner (7) – Point Guard

James Moses (6) – Shooting Guard

Iowa bench (points scored)

Matt Bullard (11)

Acie Earl (9)

Jay Webb (3)

Dale Reed (0)

Rodell Davis (4)

Iowa Coach: Tom Davis

pearl collinsDEON THOMAS

The two main culprits in the Deon Thomas (bottom) recruiting scandal was Iowa assistant coach Bruce Pearl (top left) and Illinois assistant coach Jimmy Collins *photos courtesy of Lost Lettermen and Deadspin

February 3, 1990 – NC State Wolfpack 82 @(#12)UNLV Runnin’ Rebels 88

I only have the 2nd half of the next two UNLV games featured (this one and Feb. 18 vs Arizona), so the writing about those games will be a bit shorter.  Thank g-d, right?

Since the start of the new year, UNLV had only lost a 1-point game at New Mexico State and then a 2-point game at LSU on the weekend before this one.  The loss to LSU dropped them from 5th to 12th in the polls.  But UNLV was still 14-4 coming into this game.  However, there was an ongoing NCAA investigation into Jerry Tarkanian and his program that was now involving the Supreme Court.

The issue involved several recent UNLV recruits getting amenities.  It all came to a head in 1992 when Tarkanian was forced to resign after 19 seasons as coach and in 1993, the NCAA issued a 3-year probation for UNLV that limited their TV appearances.

Speaking of NCAA sanctions, NC State was currently in the 1st year of a 2-year probation and would not be allowed to participate in the 1990 NCAA tournament.  Coach Jim Valvano would resign after the season.

With these proceedings as a backdrop, UNLV took a 43-42 lead at the half.  Both teams had shot just under 60% in the 1st half.  Rodney Monroe led NC State with 16 points while Larry Johnson paced UNLV with 12.

Monroe started the 2nd half with 5 quick points as the Wolfpack took a 52-47 lead on the road at Vegas.  Rebels point guard Greg Anthony hit a three and two free throws to tie the game at the 15:23 mark.

Both teams then went back and forth as Stacey Augmon and David Butler got going for UNLV while Brian Howard and Chris Corchiani sparked the Wolfpack, along with reserve Mickey Hinnant.

A pull-up jumper in the lane by Corchiani gave NC State a 69-68 with under 8:00 remaining in the game.  It was at this time that Tarkanian switched his defense to the amoeba (a defense that would become famous at UNLV over the next two seasons).  The amoeba was essentially that one or two guys would play man-to-man (in this case: Anthony and Anderson Hunt against Corchiani and Monroe) and the others would play a zone.

The defensive switch sparked a 10-0 Rebels run in which Anthony got a reverse layup on the break and Johnson and Butler followed up misses.  This run took up about 4 minutes as Valvano called his second timeout in 3 minutes with 3:55 to go.

Brian Howard broke the run with two free throws.  He then came up with a steal on a long pass, but Butler stole it back from him and got a slam.  Then after a three-point play from Monroe, Valvano tried his cunning strategy by fouling.  Anthony obliged by missing the front end of a 1-and-1 with 1:41 to go.

UNLV also turned the ball over on the next possession as Anthony miss-connected with Augmon on a long pass.  But NC State was only able to cut into it at the 1:00 mark when Corchiani penetrated and kicked out to Tom Gugliotta for a corner three.  Despite it now being a one-possession game with more than the shot clock value remaining, Valvano stuck with his fouling strategy.  Monroe fouled Anthony with 53 seconds left.

Anthony again missed the front end of the 1-and-1 and the strategy somehow paid off.  But Corchiani missed a tying three from the top.  Then NC State fouled on the rebound and some controversy ensued.

At the time, college basketball had the intentional foul rule in which the refs were supposed to call a deliberate foul in which the defensive player wasn’t going for the ball.  If an intentional was called, there were two shots and the ball for the team that was fouled.

But anybody who was watched multiple basketball games knows that a team that is behind in the late going is going to try and foul so that they can get the ball back.  So, in essence, those fouls are all “intentional” fouls but are never called that way by the refs (hence: teams go to the line for 1-and-1’s).

In this case, an intentional foul was called on NC State with 37 seconds left.  Anthony made two free throws and UNLV got the ball back.  Anthony was fouled again and made both ends of the 1-and-1.  This finished the game.

NC State traveled to North Carolina for their next game while UNLV went back to blowing out their Big West competition.  But they would host highly ranked Arizona in two weeks.

NC State starters (points scored)

Brian Howard (10) – Small Forward

Tom Gugliotta (10) – Power Forward

Brian D’Amico (10) – Center

Chris Corchiani (8) – Point Guard

Rodney Monroe (31) – Shooting Guard

NC State bench (points scored)

Kevin Thompson (4)

Mickey Hinnant (7)

Bryant Feggins (2)

NC State Coach: Jim Valvano

UNLV starters (points scored)

Stacey Augmon (16) – Small Forward

Larry Johnson (24) – Power Forward

David Butler (15) – Center

Greg Anthony (15) – Point Guard

Anderson Hunt (7) – Shooting Guard

UNLV bench (points scored)

Moses Scurry (8)

Travis Bice (0)

Stacey Cvijanovich (3)

UNLV Coach: Jerry Tarkanian

February 3, 1990 – (#20)Loyola Marymount Lions 141 @(#14)LSU Tigers 148 (OT)

Loyola Marymount was now on a 9-game winning streak and had put up 150 points in their latest game against Saint Mary’s.  But now for the first time since taking down LaSalle, the Lions were going out of conference as they traveled to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to take on the new big man sensation in the country.

Shaquille O’Neal was already a force as a freshman, averaging a double-double.  He was flanked by fellow big man sophomore Stanley Roberts.  Roberts had not played as a freshman because he was a prop 48 casualty.  Even at this time, Roberts had trouble controlling his weight and laziness.

But the big star for LSU was another sophomore in guard Chris Jackson (later Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf).  After averaging just over 30 points per game as a freshman, Jackson put in 27.8 in 1990.

O’Neal, Roberts and Jackson were the stars of Dale Brown’s Tigers.  But other players who would step up in this game were junior Wayne Sims, sophomore Vernel Singleton, and freshmen Randy DeVall and Maurice Williamson (who’s father, John, was an ABA and NBA star).

The Tigers came in at 15-4 and had just upset UNLV at home the previous weekend.  They were battling Alabama and Georgia for the top in a weak SEC, but now they had a chance to show off their fast paced offense.

Within about 6 minutes, LSU had taken a 17-8 lead as O’Neal already had 4 blocks and Jackson had 8 points.  But Loyola Marymount was never out of a game and threes by Jeff Fryer, Terrell Lowery and Bo Kimble (plus a rebound-slam by Kimble) got them right back to within 23-22.

Roberts was effective early on with his post game and would need to be more so when O’Neal picked up his 3rd foul.  But LSU steadily started pushing out the lead as everybody contributed.  Roberts, Sims, Singleton and Jackson put points on the board while DeVall penetrated and found people.

The Tigers took a 50-38 lead.  They stretched it out more with under 4:00 to go in the half when O’Neal came back in and put back his own miss.  Then a Shaq outlet to Jackson for a breakaway layup made the score 64-48.  LSU led 72-58 at the half as Jackson led the way with 21 points.

Loyola made a quick run to begin the 2nd half as Kimble hit a three and Hank Gathers, who had a quiet 21 points in the 1st half, hit a jumper from the post.  Then Tony Walker put back a Fryer airball and then pushed it right back for a layup after an LSU score.  Fryer followed with a three and Gathers put back a Kimble miss to cut the lead to 76-72.

LSU would stretch it back to ten when O’Neal outletted to Williamson for a three-point play and then Shaq hit a jumper from the post.  After Gathers hit two field goals, O’Neal grabbed an offensive rebound and was able to put in a double-pump scoop while being grabbed.  Even early on, the commentators were impressed with the big man’s agility.

Kimble and Lowery followed with threes as the 2nd half was only about 5 minutes old.  But Loyola could not grab the lead.  For whatever reason, LSU didn’t wear down (7 players scoring over 12 points and 6 over 18 probably helped).  Throughout the next 10 minutes, the teams kept scoring and scoring but the Tigers would eventually grab a 126-114 lead with 4:35 remaining.

But then perhaps the tempo caught up to LSU.  And you probably know by now that Loyola is never out of a game no matter how many points they trail by.  Within the next minute and a half, Fryer found Gathers for a reverse layup, Lowery found Kimble for a three, Kimble found Lowery for a three, and Fryer got a steal and layup.  It was down to 126-124.

A three-point play by Gathers cut the lead to 128-127 and gave Hank 40 points.  It was said (and I guess clearly known) that Hank had cut down on his medication (gulp!!!!!!!!) and had been playing much better since.

Williamson broke Loyola’s press and found Singleton for a slam.  Sims then hit two free throws after Gathers picked up his 4th foul.  But Hank responded to both baskets with one of his own.  But O’Neal hit a jumper in the lane with 2:00 left to put the Tigers ahead 134-131.  Gathers couldn’t answer this time as O’Neal got his 11th block of the game on the Gathers hook.

Tony Walker committed his 5th foul with 1:26 remaining but the Lions got a break as Williamson missed the front end of the 1-and-1 and Gathers rebounded.  Kimble then went 1-on-1, drove into the lane, pump faked, drew a foul and made the basket.  The three-point play tied the game with 1:13 to go.

Gathers later rebounded a Jackson miss and Loyola got a timeout with 25 seconds left and a chance to win.  Dale Brown instructed his team to foul Gathers or Lowery.  Lowery drove in and was fouled by Jackson with 10 seconds left.  The strategy paid off as Terrell missed the front end of the 1-and-1.

The game was chaotic from there as Gathers rebounded Lowery’s miss but airballed a fall-away as if the buzzer was sounding (there was 8 seconds left).  LSU then took a half-court prayer with 5 seconds left and finally the ball went out of bounds at the 1 second mark and LSU would get it under Loyola’s basket.

Brown called a timeout and set up a lob play to Roberts or O’Neal.  Paul Westhead was thinking the same thing on the other bench and Kimble was able to block Robert’s attempt at the buzzer after the inbounds was lobbed to him.  So the Lions and Tigers would keep battling at the bayou.

Gathers started the overtime with two field goals to bring his total to 48 points.  Fryer missed a three after a steal that could have put Loyola up by seven.  It turned out to be a big miss.  DeVall came right back down and hit a pull-up three.

But Loyola would get another break as Jackson committed his 5th foul at the 3:00 mark.  But Lowery would miss the front end again and baskets by Roberts and O’Neal put the home team up 141-138.

Lowery would miss a tying three and O’Neal would get his 12th block on a Kimble drive.  Then Lowery would foul Williamson, who made both ends of the 1-and-1.  Kimble cut it to 143-141 with a high-arcing three from the corner but Williamson came right back with a driving banker.

The game would then be effectively over when Fryer missed a three and Kimble committed his 5th foul with 24 seconds remaining.  LSU had won the highest scoring game in NCAA history and their 4th game in a row, the streak would reach 7.

LSU would finish behind Georgia and Alabama in the SEC regular season standings and would get upset by Auburn in the 1st round of the SEC tournament.  They finished the regular season at 21-8 and would get a #5 seed in the Southeast Regional.

Loyola would lose only one more time in the regular season (their only conference loss to Pepperdine).  But in their 1st round game of the WCC tournament, the worst thing possible happened.  Hank Gathers collapsed midway through the 1st half and had a fatal heart attack.

The rest of the WCC tournament was canceled and Loyola was declared the winner.  They decided to play on in the NCAA tournament and were a #11 seed in the West Regional.  Their memorable tournament run will be covered later.

Loyola Marymount starters (points scored)

Bo Kimble (32) – Small Forward

Per Stumer (2) – Power Forward

Hank Gathers (48) – Center

Tony Walker (7) – Point Guard

Jeff Fryer (28) – Shooting Guard

Loyola Marymount bench (points scored)

Terrell Lowery (20)

Tom Peabody (4)

Chris Knight (0)

John O’Connell (0)

Loyola Marymount Coach: Paul Westhead

LSU starters (points scored)

Randy DeVall (12) – Small Forward

Stanley Roberts (21) – Power Forward

Shaquille O’Neal (20) – Center

Chris Jackson (34) – Point Guard

Maurice Williamson (18) – Shooting Guard

LSU bench (points scored)

Wayne Sims (19)

Vernel Singleton (22)

Harold Boudreaux (2)

Richard Krajewski (0)

LSU Coach: Dale Brown

hank gathers shaq

Hank Gathers shoots over Shaquille O’Neal for two of his 48 points.  One month later, he was gone *photo courtesy of Tiger Rag

February 7, 1990 – NC State Wolfpack 88 @North Carolina Tarheels 77

North Carolina was not quite having its typical season in 1990.  They were 16-7 and had just gotten blown out by Georgia Tech 102-75.  It was the worst North Carolina performance that anyone could remember.

It didn’t get much better over the first few minutes of this game.  But there was some solace for Tarheel fans at this point.  North Carolina was still undefeated at home in 1990 and Jim Valvano was 0-9 all-time in the city of Chapel Hill against Dean Smith’s team.

Scott Williams picked up two early fouls and UNC had several turnovers early on.  But NC State couldn’t get more than a 5-point lead.  The Tarheels then bounced back after the first 5 minutes and went back-and-forth with NC State with their typical balanced attack.

Rick Fox, Kevin Madden, Williams (who stayed in with the 2 fouls), George Lynch and King Rice got into the scoring column as UNC took a 17-16 lead halfway through the 1st half.

But then with 8:58 to go and the game tied at 18, Williams picked up his 3rd foul and sat for the rest of the half.  Undaunted, the Tarheels took the lead but couldn’t gain an advantage as Rodney Monroe picked it up after a slow start.  The teams eventually battled to a 35-all halftime tie.

The 2nd half started very well for the Wolfpack.  Guard Mickey Hinnant (who was getting the start to add more quickness against a slow UNC team) got a steal and slam.  Chris Corchiani led Brian Howard for a breakaway.  Corchiani then found Monroe for a pull-up jumper.

Although Carolina stayed with the Wolfpack for awhile, halftime would be the last time the game was tied and North Carolina never grabbed the lead in the 2nd half either.

But the Tarheels did cut it to 53-52 at the 11:56 mark after Williams hit two free throws.  Williams wasn’t really a factor in this game with his foul trouble.  Fox and Madden were leading the way for North Carolina.

Back-to-back baskets from Brian Howard and a three from Tom Gugliotta led NC State on a 7-2 run.  But back-to-back baskets from sophomore Hubert Davis cut the lead back to 60-58.  Valvano took a timeout at the 9:10 mark.

Howard answered with a three.  Then Gugliotta got a steal and Kevin Thompson (who was a big factor off the bench along with fellow freshman Bryant Feggins) tipped in a miss.  The Wolfpack now led 65-58 but Corchiani picked up his 4th foul.

But NC State had no problems without their point guard.  Gugliotta hit a pull-up in the lane and later had a blocked shot that led to a second straight bucket by Hinnant.  Monroe then fed Thompson for a layup and NC State led 73-61.

With just over 5:00 to go, Williams picked up two quick fouls to foul out.  The Tarheels didn’t have much answers after that as NC State raced to a 79-63 lead and never looked back.

This would turn out to be Jim Valvano’s one win at North Carolina in his career.  It would be his last appearance there as a coach as he would resign from NC State following the 1990 season.

The Tarheels would win at Wake Forest before traveling to Virginia a week after this game.

NC State starters (points scored)

Mickey Hinnant (14) – Small Forward

Brian Howard (14) – Power Forward

Tom Gugliotta (13) – Center

Chris Corchiani (9) – Point Guard

Rodney Monroe (22) – Shooting Guard

NC State bench (points scored)

Kevin Thompson (10)

Jamie Knox (2)

Brian D’Amico (2)

Bryant Feggins (2)

NC State Coach: Jim Valvano

North Carolina starters (points scored)

Kevin Madden (14) – Small Forward

Pete Chilcutt (5) – Power Forward

Scott Williams (8) – Center

King Rice (7) – Point Guard

Rick Fox (22) – Shooting Guard

North Carolina bench (points scored)

George Lynch (8)

Hubert Davis (8)

Jeff Denny (0)

Henrik Rodl (3)

Matt Wenstrom (2)

Kenny Harris (0)

North Carolina Coach: Dean Smith

valvano smith

Jim Valvano got his first victory over Dean Smith in Chapel Hill in their final matchup in 1990 *photo courtesy of Raleigh News Observer

February 14, 1990 – North Carolina Tarheels 80 @Virginia Cavaliers 81

Despite a 3-6 ACC record, the Virginia Cavaliers had defeated Duke 72-69 the previous week at home.  As a result, retiring head coach Terry Holland got a crew cut.  He still had it on Valentine’s Day, 1990 when the Cavaliers hosted Dean Smith’s Tarheels.

North Carolina was falling fast in the ACC standings with two losses in their last 3 ACC games.  Virginia had just taken a loss at Clemson two days after defeating Duke, but it was felt that they were coming on.

Scott Williams didn’t start this game for UNC because of a sprained ankle, although he did come in and contribute.  This meant that Dean Smith moved freshman George Lynch into the starting lineup.  This put three Tarheels in the starting lineup that were originally from Virginia (Lynch, Hubert Davis, Kevin Madden).  This didn’t sit well with the raucous fans in University Hall.

John Crotty opened the game with a three (this became a theme) and later put back his own miss to give Virginia an early 7-3 lead.  Crotty hit his second three to put the Wahoos up 12-6 with just over 4 minutes gone by.  Later, two threes from Kenny Turner gave Virginia a 22-8 advantage.

North Carolina got back into it as Madden and Rick Fox led the way.  But they were held off by two long treys from Crotty.  Then Crotty’s 5th three of the half put Virginia up 35-19 with about 7 minutes left.

But then the inside guys for the Heels of Williams, Lynch and Pete Chilcutt brought UNC back to striking range.  Kevin Madden also had 5 quick points as the Tarheels cut Virginia’s lead to 42-35 at the half.

The second half started as a lot of the first went.  Crotty and Turner nailed threes.  But five quick points from Fox cut the lead to 48-44.  Then two straight buckets by Williams made it 50-48.  North Carolina was eventually able to force a tie at 56.

But then Bryant Stith (Virginia’s leading scorer who had been quiet so far) nailed a three and Turner did the same.  But as one may have guessed by now, Virginia wasn’t getting much offense outside of the bomb squad.  They went into another drought.  But they did set a school record with threes made in this game.

Carolina went on a 12-3 run (the 3 from Virginia being a bomb from Turner, naturally).  Fox hit a three and King Rice went coast-to-coast.  Rice alley-ooped to Williams and Hubert Davis hit a pull-up to tie the game at 65 with 7:09 to go.  Davis then nailed a three to give North Carolina their first lead of the ballgame.

Anthony Oliver responded with a trey for Virginia, however the Tarheels re-grabbed a 71-68 advantage.  Crotty then found Virginia’s backup quarterback Matt Blundin for a layup with a bullet feed.  Crotty then swung the ball to Oliver for a wing jumper and Virginia took a 72-71 lead with 4:27 left.

A minute later, the Cavaliers opened up their advantage again by, guess what, another three from Crotty.  Crotty’s three followed by two free throws from Stith gave Virginia a 79-73 lead.  But field goals from Fox and Davis cut it to 79-77 with 1:22 left.

Virginia ran down the shot clock and Davis fouled Crotty on a drive with 40 seconds left.  Crotty was 0-for-3 from the line going into these two shots, but the junior point guard made them both.  But then Crotty fouled King Rice on the inbounds.  Rice made the first but missed the second and Kenny Turner rebounded and was fouled.

Turner’s front end was in-and-out and Carolina had a chance to tie it with a three.  They couldn’t get an open shot though so Davis pulled up and nailed a two with 12 seconds left.  Crotty was then fouled by freshman Henrik Rodl (who was playing this game after learning earlier in the day that his grandmother in Germany had passed the previous night).

Crotty missed the front end but Turner got the rebound and was tied up at the 7 second mark.  The possession arrow pointed towards Virginia.  This time, the Cavaliers got it to their best foul shooter in Stith and he was fouled by Fox.  But even Bryant couldn’t nail the front end.

Carolina rebounded and pushed.  Fox found Williams for a runner that seemed to be attempted after the buzzer, but we’ll never know in the pre-replay era.  Either way, the shot bricked and Virginia survived.

Terry Holland was hoping that he would get at least one more matchup with Dean Smith before he retired as Virginia’s coach and became the Athletic Director at Davidson.  As it turned out, he would.  Virginia would get a chance at a mini-winning streak against UNC after losing in 17 of their previous 20 meetings.

North Carolina starters (points scored)

Rick Fox (22) – Small Forward

Kevin Madden (16) – Power Forward

George Lynch (6) – Center

King Rice (3) – Point Guard

Hubert Davis (13) – Shooting Guard

North Carolina bench (points scored)

Scott Williams (14)

Pete Chilcutt (4)

Henrik Rodl (2)

Jeff Denny (0)

Kenny Harris (0)

North Carolina Coach: Dean Smith

Virginia starters (points scored)

Bryant Stith (14) – Small Forward

Kenny Turner (19) – Power Forward

Ted Jeffries (0) – Center

John Crotty (27) – Point Guard

Anthony Oliver (11) – Shooting Guard

Virginia bench (points scored)

Matt Blundin (8)

Jeff Daniel (0)

Doug Smith (0)

Terry Kirby (2)

Virginia Coach: Terry Holland

john crotty

John Crotty’s 7 three-pointers helped Virginia beat North Carolina and keep their bubble NCAA hopes alive *photo courtesy of Virginia Sports

February 17, 1990 – (#13)Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 95 @NC State Wolfpack 92 (2OT)

Georgia Tech was 6-0 in the month of February so far and had looked dominant since their last loss to Duke.  They were now 3rd in the ACC standings and two games out of 1st (technically three since Duke had beaten them twice) at 6-4.

NC State had lost at Clemson in their only ACC game since defeating North Carolina.  They were 5-4 and falling.  But they got off to a quick start in this one.  A three from Chris Corchiani gave the Wolfpack a 7-4 lead and kicked off a 21-6 run.

The balanced attack with Corchiani, Rodney Monroe, Brian Howard and Tom Gugliotta getting field goals boosted NC State to its 25-10 lead with about half of the 1st half gone by.

But Georgia Tech was able to pick up the tempo and turn it around.  Their defense keyed a 14-2 run that culminated when Dennis Scott hit a three while he was fouled.  The four-point play cut it to 27-24.  NC State was able to hold its lead at 33-29 at the half.

Jim Valvano’s Wolfpack continued to hold the lead into the 2nd half but they couldn’t increase it.  A three from Scott tied it at 47 but that was the only tie for awhile.  NC State went on a 13-6 run, culminated by a three-point play from Mickey Hinnant, to take a 60-53 advantage.

But then Dennis Scott nailed three treys and Georgia Tech had their first lead with under 6:00 remaining.  Scott would end up scoring 20 second half points.  But Rodney Monroe kept NC State alive and tied the game at 67 with a three of his own.

Two free throws by Tech freshman Malcolm Mackey put the Jackets ahead with under 3:00 remaining.  Brian Oliver then got a steal from Monroe and scored to give Tech their biggest lead.  But NC State was able to cut it back to 72-71 with 1:46 remaining on two free throws from Howard.

Valvano decided to go to his fouling strategy and Monroe took the foul on Karl Brown (a 66% foul shooter).  The senior reserve guard obliged by missing the front end of the 1-and-1.  Corchiani then took full advantage by nailing a three from the top to give the Wolfpack the lead.

Georgia Tech ran the clock down after a timeout.  Dennis Scott was fouled on a drive to the hoop with 41 seconds remaining.  Scott made both free throws to tie the game at 74.  NC State called a timeout and then went to Rodney Monroe.  But Monroe couldn’t shake free from Oliver’s defense and missed a tough three at the buzzer, forcing overtime.

Oliver’s tough defense on Monroe would become a theme.  So would NC State foul trouble as Gugliotta and Hinnant each picked up their 4th fouls.  But Brian Howard nailed a three to put the Wolfpack up 77-76.  But Oliver and Kenny Anderson each made two free throws.

Howard cut it to 80-79 at the 1:22 mark with two free throws of his own.  Oliver then missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and State had a chance to lead.  Howard penetrated and kicked out to Gugliotta for a three from the top that gave NC State an 82-80 lead.  Bobby Cremins called a Tech timeout with 28 seconds left.

They went to Dennis Scott but he forced a three and missed.  Oliver got the rebound though and was fouled by Corchiani, his 4th, with 12 seconds left.  Oliver made the free throws this time to tie the game.  NC State did not call a timeout and perhaps should have.  Corchiani could not shake Anderson 1-on-1 but had to get a forced shot off and it was blocked by Scott, who was helping out.  2nd overtime.

The teams battled to an 86-all tie before Howard picked up his 4th foul and Mackey made two free throws.  Then Anderson fed Oliver who spun and laid it in for a 90-86 Yellow Jackets lead.

But Monroe brought them back with a three and Bryant Feggins blocked an Oliver shot and Howard saved it back in with under 1:00 to go.  But after a timeout, Corchiani missed a pull-up and Gugliotta missed a tip.  Howard then fouled Karl Brown on the rebound and he was out of the game with 30 seconds left.

Brown made the front end, missed the back end, but Johnny McNeil picked up the rebound for Tech and gave it up to Anderson, who was fouled.  Anderson made both free throws for a 4-point lead.  McNeil then fouled out when he hacked Monroe on a jumper.

Monroe officially put the game away by missing the two free throws.  Oliver rebounded, was fouled, and finished off the game at the line.

Georgia Tech had finished off a tough road game and now were going home to take on Virginia.

NC State would have their final victory in a home win against Duke 4 days later.  It would be Jim Valvano’s final victory.  The Wolfpack then lost at Virginia and Maryland and then at home against Wake Forest to fall to 6th in the ACC.

They then would lose in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament to Georgia Tech 76-67.  It had been frowned upon that NC State had been allowed to participate in the ACC tournament when they were ineligible for the NCAA tournament.  But with the quick exit, they didn’t knock out any bubble teams like Virginia.

Georgia Tech starters (points scored)

Dennis Scott (28) – Small Forward

Malcolm Mackey (10) – Power Forward

Johnny McNeil (6) – Center

Kenny Anderson (17) – Point Guard

Brian Oliver (28) – Shooting Guard

Georgia Tech bench (points scored)

Karl Brown (6)

James Munlyn (0)

Georgia Tech Coach: Bobby Cremins

NC State starters (points scored)

Brian Howard (26) – Small Forward

Tom Gugliotta (14) – Power Forward

Brian D’Amico (2) – Center

Chris Corchiani (14) – Point Guard

Rodney Monroe (31) – Shooting Guard

NC State bench (points scored)

Kevin Thompson (0)

Mickey Hinnant (3)

Bryant Feggins (2)

NC State Coach: Jim Valvano

February 18, 1990 – (#20)Arizona Wildcats 87 @(#7)UNLV Runnin’ Rebels 95

Arizona had waited about 11 months for revenge but did not have the same roster as a year before.  Sean Elliott, Anthony Cook, and Kenny Lofton were gone from the 1989 team that had lost to UNLV in the Sweet 16 68-67 when Anderson Hunt nailed a game-winner.

Arizona still wasn’t a big fan of Hunt after this game when head coach Lute Olson accused him of “yelling at his assistant coaches” after the game.

Arizona had come in 17-4 despite losing key pieces.  Their only losses were at Oregon and Oregon State in an early road trip, at UCLA and at Pitt.  They had some key wins versus Purdue and Oklahoma.

The Wildcats were led by senior forward Jud Buechler.  Junior guard Matt Muehlebach and sophomore big man Sean Rooks also averaged double figures.  Arizona also welcomed in Maryland transfer (and future Bison Dele) Brian Williams and freshman center Ed Stokes.  The team was quarterbacked by sophomore Matt Othick.

They shot 59% in the 1st half against a normally stingy UNLV team but still trailed 44-41 (just like the NC State/UNLV game, I only have the 2nd half).

UNLV was on a 7-game winning streak and all of their players had served various suspensions that were handed to UNLV.  So perhaps for the first time all season, Jerry Tarkanian had a full roster.

The Runnin’ Rebels got off quickly in the 2nd half as Stacey Augmon hit a banker in transition.  Larry Johnson lobbed to David Butler for a layup.  Butler and Johnson then got fast break buckets as the Rebs raced to a 52-43 lead.

Foul trouble was a big theme for both teams as Stokes and Butler each picked up their 4th fouls early in the 2nd half.  But Larry Johnson hung around with 3 fouls and gave UNLV a 65-53 lead with a double-pump layup in traffic while he was fouled.  Johnson then kicked out to Greg Anthony (who was playing with a broken nose) for a three to increase the lead to 15.

Matt Muehlebach led the Wildcats back into it with two three-pointers and another jumper.  Arizona cut it to 77-70 with under 5:00 to go.  But by that point, Stokes had fouled out and 4 fouls were saddled on Rooks and an ineffective Williams.

UNLV ran down the shot clock for a rare time on their next possession and Johnson would show off the skills that brought on the LJ arm signal a decade later.  Johnson nailed a three from the top at the end of the clock as the announcers were saying that that wasn’t fair for Johnson to be able to do that along with his strong post game.

A three-point play by Buechler cut it back to 80-73 and fouled out Butler.  But Johnson went back to his strong post game and hit on an up-and-under move.  He then put back a Hunt miss with 2:54 left to give the Rebels an 84-73 lead.

The rest of the game consisted of Arizona scoring and then fouling the Runnin’ Rebels and UNLV making their free throws.  The final three minutes probably took close to a half an hour.  But it did involve Hunt possibly yelling at the Arizona bench after being fouled.  That became a story post-game that overshadowed the well-played game.

UNLV would end up winning 10 in a row before dropping a road game at Cal-Santa Barbara.  They then started another streak by winning their last two regular season games and then three more in the Big West conference tournament.  They were a #1 seed in the West Regional.

Arizona would win its next two road games at Cal and Stanford before traveling to Duke and losing 78-76.  They then beat Oregon and Oregon State at home and won the last Pac-10 tournament until 2002.  The Wildcats were a #2 seed in the West Regional.  They would get killed by #7 seed Alabama 77-55 in the 2nd round.

Arizona starters (points scored)

Jud Buechler (21) – Small Forward

Brian Williams (2) – Power Forward

Ed Stokes (10) – Center

Matt Othick (7) – Point Guard

Matt Muehlebach (14) – Shooting Guard

Arizona bench (points scored)

Sean Rooks (23)

Wayne Womack (8)

Brian David (2)

Case Schmidt (0)

Arizona Coach: Lute Olson

UNLV starters (points scored)

Stacey Augmon (16) – Small Forward

Larry Johnson (26) – Power Forward

David Butler (19) – Center

Greg Anthony (16) – Point Guard

Anderson Hunt (10) – Shooting Guard

UNLV bench (points scored)

Moses Scurry (4)

Barry Young (4)

James Jones (0)

Travis Bice (0)

UNLV Coach: Jerry Tarkanian

February 19, 1990 – Providence Friars 72 @(#6)Connecticut Huskies 75 (OT)

UConn had opened Gampel Pavilion on January 27 with a bang.  They beat St. John’s 72-58 and only had one loss since (at Syracuse).  Connecticut was now 22-4 and quite a story in the country.

Providence was a so-so 14-8 on the season and 7-6 in Big East play.  But they had beaten Georgetown and St. John’s in their last two games and senior point guard Carlton Screen was playing the best basketball of his career.

Jim Calhoun started out with 6’5″ bulldog Lyman DePriest on Screen and he picked up 2 early fouls.  But the UConn guards who had led them all year started fast.  Tate George hit his first two jumpers (including a three) and Chris Smith got 7 quick points as UConn took an early 12-5 lead.

Screen was able to lead Rick Barnes’ Friars back into a 23-22 lead with 6 points.  But UConn reserve guard John Gwynn hit three jumpers and Nadav Henefeld nailed a three to put UConn back out ahead.  The half ended with the Huskies best pitcher (and talented freshman basketball player) Scott Burrell hitting two field goals, including a banker at the end of the half after stealing an outlet pass.  UConn led 39-28 at the break.

The second half started with both teams kicking dirt for about 13 minutes.  UConn could not increase its lead but Providence could not speed up the tempo and get back into the game.  Connecticut liked the deliberate half-court game but may have ridden it too far after taking a 58-47 lead at the 7:18 mark.

After Eric Murdock (Providence’s 2nd leading scorer) hit a three after being held down so far, the Connecticut momentum may have started halting when Henefeld and Rod Sellers each missed two free throws.  The Huskies were able to hit enough foul shots to maintain a 62-54 lead after Murdock picked up his 4th foul.

But then Tate George picked up his 4th foul, Murdock hit two free throws, and Carlton Screen went coast-to-coast for a left-handed running hook to cut the lead to 62-58 with 2:25 left.  At the 1:50 mark, Chris Smith was called for an offensive foul and a three from senior Quinton Burton cut the lead to one.

After UConn used a timeout, Tate George was called for a travel and Smith committed his 4th foul on Screen with 33 seconds left.  Carlton missed the front end of the 1-and-1 though and Marty Conlon had to foul John Gwynn with 27 seconds left.

Gwynn missed the front end of the 1-and-1 but the rebound went off of Conlon’s hands right to George.  Gwynn would be fouled again at the 20 second mark.  John this time made 1-of-2 and the Huskies held a two-point lead.

Providence did not use a timeout and got a break when Murdock rebounded an ill-advised three-point attempt from Conlon.  Murdock put back the miss to tie the game with 3 seconds left.  Connecticut called a timeout but could not get a shot off.  The Huskies were receiving their first challenge at their new home.

Murdock hit two free throws to put Providence ahead for the first time since 23-22.  But Henefeld hit a baseline jumper for UConn’s first field goal in 8 minutes.  Murdock hit on a runner but Smith came back with a three-point play to put the Huskies ahead 68-67.  Then Smith got a steal off the press and fed George for a layup.  Providence called timeout at the 2:44 mark.

The Friars then caught UConn’s free throw jinx as Burton and Murdock each went 0-for-2.  Smith hit two free throws for a five-point lead but then fouled out with 1:19 to go.  Murdock hit the two shots this time and UConn led 72-69.

Then after Burrell missed the front end of a 1-and-1, Screen found Murdock for a three from the top of the key to tie the game again.  Calhoun used a timeout with 45 seconds remaining and must’ve conveyed to his team to get the last shot.

They ran it down before George came off a Henefeld screen with under 10 seconds remaining.  George was doubled but spotted an open Nadav at the top.  Henefeld launched and his three hit the front rim and bounced in with 2 seconds left.

Providence was not able to get off a good shot and UConn had survived.  The Huskies’ improbable season would continue as they only lost at Georgetown for the rest of the regular season.  They would find themselves in the Big East Championship Game for the first time against Syracuse, who they had tied for the regular season title with.

The Friars would finish 17-10 and 8-8 in the Big East, good for 6th place.  They would lose to Georgetown by one point (yep, another heartbreaker) in the Big East Quarterfinals (Georgetown would go on to lose to UConn in the Big East Semis).  Then cruelly, after being named a #9 seed in the West Regional, the Friars lost another one-point game (this one in overtime) to Ohio State 84-83.  Rick Barnes would not lead Providence to another NCAA tournament until 1994.

Providence starters (points scored)

Quinton Burton (9) – Small Forward

Marty Conlon (10) – Power Forward

Abdul Shamsid-Deen (5) – Center

Carlton Screen (15) – Point Guard

Chris Watts (6) – Shooting Guard

Providence bench (points scored)

Eric Murdock (21)

Marques Bragg (6)

Greg Bent (0)

Providence Coach: Rick Barnes

Connecticut starters (points scored)

Lyman DePriest (0) – Small Forward

Nadav Henefeld (10) – Power Forward

Rod Sellers (5) – Center

Tate George (18) – Point Guard

Chris Smith (17) – Shooting Guard

Connecticut bench (points scored)

Scott Burrell (12)

John Gwynn (9)

Murray Williams (2)

Dan Cyrulik (2)

Toraino Walker (0)

Connecticut Coach: Jim Calhoun

henefeld

Israel’s finest Nadav Henefeld was a big key to UConn’s success in 1990.  His game-winning three-pointer beat Providence on February 19 *photo courtesy of Getty Images

February 22, 1990 – Virginia Cavaliers 73 @(#8)Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 71

As good as the first game was between these two teams, this one at least had a better ending (or, a more unbelievable one).

Virginia was coming into this game with a 15-8 overall record with a 4-6 conference mark (in 6th place by a game and a half).  As it stood, they were a bubble team that didn’t have a quality road win.  A victory a Georgia Tech would certainly give them one.

Georgia Tech was undefeated in February and had not lost since their visit to Duke.  But Virginia had beaten them in overtime a week before their Duke defeat by primarily shutting down Dennis Scott with a diamond and one defense.

Terry Holland came out with the same defense with guard Anthony Oliver playing 1-on-1 against Scott.  It was perhaps even more effective.  Although Kenny Anderson did start out with 5 quick points and an assist, a breakaway three-point play by Oliver gave Virginia a 12-11 lead six minutes into the first half.

The Cavaliers continued to stay with the Jackets despite John Crotty picking up 2 fouls.  Forwards Bryant Stith and Kenny Turner were the main cogs but Virginia also got help from a future NFL running back.  Terry Kirby got a fast break layup and hit a three to tie the game at 30.  The teams battled to a 37-all halftime tie.  Scott had only been able to shake loose for one three-pointer and 3 points overall.

Scott hit his second three and 6th point to tie the game at 44 but, for the most part, he wasn’t able to get shots off against the diamond and 1.  Kenny Turner’s 13th point put the Cavs up two but Brian Oliver responded with two three-pointers for Tech.  Oliver had 9 1st half points to back up Kenny Anderson’s 13.  Karl Brown had contributed 8 points off the bench to make up for Scott’s missing offense.

Field goals from Turner, Stith and Kirby put Virginia back up 54-52 before two free throws from Brian Oliver tied the game again with 11:24 left.  Another three from Oliver put Tech up 59-57 but John Crotty tied it with a steal and a coast-to-coast layup for his 1,000th career point.

Crotty Continued to help Virginia finally gain an advantage with a three to put the Cavaliers up 64-59 with under 8:00 left.  Virginia continued to lead 66-61 with 5 and a half to go, but then the Cavaliers went into a drought.

Kenny Anderson countered with two field goals and Scott hit a three for his 3rd field goal in 14 attempts as Tech took a 68-66 lead with 2 and a half remaining.  But Virginia’s star, Bryant Stith, tied it with a turnaround jumper in the lane.

Then after Georgia Tech failed to score, Crotty gave the Wahoos the lead with a pull-up three from the top over Anderson.  UVA led 71-68 and Bobby Cremins called a timeout with 1:07 to go.

They went to Dennis Scott despite his troubles and he missed a three.  But Kenny Anderson got a steal on Georgia Tech’s press and found Brian Oliver for a three to tie the game with 42 seconds left.

Terry Holland didn’t call a timeout and Virginia ran down the clock.  Tech cut off their three options of Stith, Crotty and Turner and so Kirby had to take an open three as the clock ran out.  He bricked for his first miss of the game but Georgia Tech knocked it out of bounds under their own basket with 1 second left.

Cremins called another timeout to try and defense what was probably going to be a lob play.  Holland, who was in his last year of coaching, devised a brilliant play.

Bryant Stith started in the post on the weak side as John Crotty was getting set to inbound.  As soon as Crotty got the ball, Stith cut to the middle of the lane while Anthony Oliver cut to the spot Stith was previously at.  This caused their defenders, Dennis Scott and Kenny Anderson, to collide and Crotty lobbed the ball to an open Stith in the middle.

Stith caught it and, in one motion, shot a jumper and nailed it at the buzzer.  Virginia had incredibly avoided overtime and had gotten their quality road win.  They had also swept Georgia Tech.

But, as it turned out, this wouldn’t be the last time they met in 1990.

Virginia starters (points scored)

Bryant Stith (19) – Small Forward

Kenny Turner (17) – Power Forward

Ted Jeffries (4) – Center

John Crotty (14) – Point Guard

Anthony Oliver (6) – Shooting Guard

Virginia bench (points scored)

Terry Kirby (9)

Jeff Daniel (2)

Matt Blundin (2)

Doug Smith (0)

Virginia Coach: Terry Holland

Georgia Tech starters (points scored)

Dennis Scott (11) – Small Forward

Malcolm Mackey (6) – Power Forward

Johnny McNeil (2) – Center

Kenny Anderson (21) – Point Guard

Brian Oliver (23) – Shooting Guard

Georgia Tech bench (points scored)

Karl Brown (8)

Darryl Barnes (0)

Georgia Tech Coach: Bobby Cremins

March 4, 1990 – North Carolina Tarheels 87 @(#5)Duke Blue Devils 75

In the greatest rivalry in college basketball (and perhaps in sports), it was the road teams that had had the advantage.  Going into their matchup earlier in the season in Chapel Hill, Duke had won 3 of the last 5 games on North Carolina’s floor (including the last two).  North Carolina ended that streak as point guard King Rice dominated his matchup with Bobby Hurley and the Tarheels killed Duke 79-60.

But going into this matchup at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina had won 7 of their last 10 games there.  Duke was reeling a bit after losing at NC State and Clemson over the last week and a half.  But, with a win, they could still tie for the ACC regular season title with Clemson and force a coin flip to determine the top seed in the ACC tournament.

North Carolina had lost three in a row before rebounding with a home win against Georgia Tech.  But with its losing streak, North Carolina was solidly in 4th place in the ACC standings.  The Tarheels were 18-11 but Dean Smith insisted that they were better than their record showed.  They proved it in this game and would prove it in the NCAA tournament.

Both teams got off to solid starts in this game and North Carolina would take their first lead at 10-8 when Kevin Madden got a steal and slam.  It was senior day for Duke’s Alaa Abdelnaby, Robert Brickey and Phil Henderson.  Abdelnaby had a good game, Brickey had a so-so performance and Henderson struggled.

Duke’s 7 turnovers contributed to North Carolina’s 6-0 run that gave them a 20-12 lead.  Five straight points from junior Rick Fox put the Tarheels up 27-16.  But then Abdelnaby got his 10th point on a tip-in and Fox committed his 3rd foul.  He went out of the game and the momentum turned.

North Carolina started turning the ball over a bit and Duke went on a 14-2 run (the highlight being a Hurley alley-oop to Brickey) to take a 30-29 lead.

Scott Williams would commit his 3rd foul as well but Carolina stayed right with the Blue Devils.  They even took a 44-43 lead at the half when King Rice penetrated and found Pete Chilcutt for a baseline jumper.  The Tarheels had shot 62% from the field in the 1st half but had 14 turnovers.

The turnovers dropped when their point guard reverted back to the star he was in the first matchup.  King Rice would keep Carolina afloat when Fox and Williams each picked up their 4th fouls.  They both stayed in but combined for only 4 points over the first 9 minutes of the 2nd half.

Rice hit two buckets and then after Hurley nailed a three, Rice threw a long pass for Fox for a breakaway.  Rice hit another pull-up jumper from the elbow.  But four straight points from Abdelnaby put Duke ahead 56-55.  Abdelnaby had 16 points at that juncture but he and Hurley were the only Blue Devils playing well.

After back-to-back buckets from Rice and George Lynch, Hurley tied the game at 59 with a three.  But then Rice’s backup, freshman Kenny Harris, found Fox on a backdoor cut for a slam at the 11:01 mark.  Pete Chilcutt and Lynch followed with field goals after Abdelnaby made his first mistake by missing a slam.

Hurley kept Duke to within 68-65 with two free throws and a three.  But then he joined his teammates and went cold.  Rice fed Chilcutt for a reverse layup and, a few minutes later, Fox drove baseline for a reverse to put the Tarheels up 73-65.  Fox followed with a steal and led Rice for a breakaway three-point play and Hurley’s 4th foul with 3:36 left.

Duke was not able to make a sustained run and their hopes officially ended when Christian Laettner finished up his so-so day with a traveling violation.  North Carolina punctuated their big win with slams from Kevin Madden (who had a quiet 14 points on the day) and Pete Chilcutt.

North Carolina’s win meant that Clemson won their first ACC regular season championship ever.  UNC would take on Virginia in the 1st round of the ACC tournament.  The winner would play Clemson.  Duke’s regular season would end with an ACC Semifinal loss to Georgia Tech.  The Blue Devils would fall to a #3 seed in the East Regional.

This game was played on a Sunday afternoon on March 4, 1990.  It would become an infamous day in college basketball history when Loyola Marymount took on Portland later that day in the quarterfinals of the West Coast Conference tournament.  Hank Gathers would collapse after completing an alley-oop, go into cardiac arrest, and die.  That took over the day’s story-line versus anything else going on in the world, including perhaps the greatest rivalry in sports.

North Carolina starters (points scored)

Rick Fox (16) – Small Forward

Kevin Madden (14) – Power Forward

Scott Williams (9) – Center

King Rice (20) – Point Guard

Henrik Rodl (2) – Shooting Guard

North Carolina bench (points scored)

Pete Chilcutt (14)

George Lynch (12)

Kenny Harris (0)

Hubert Davis (0)

Matt Wenstrom (0)

North Carolina Coach: Dean Smith

Duke starters (points scored)

Robert Brickey (8) – Small Forward

Christian Laettner (15) – Power Forward

Alaa Abdelnaby (16) – Center

Bobby Hurley (16) – Point Guard

Phil Henderson (6) – Shooting Guard

Duke bench (points scored)

Brian Davis (0)

Thomas Hill (6)

Billy McCaffrey (0)

Greg Koubek (6)

Clay Buckley (2)

Joe Cook (0)

Duke Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

March 9, 1990 – ACC Tournament Quarterfinals: Virginia Cavaliers 92, North Carolina Tarheels 85 (OT)

Terry Holland’s last Virginia Cavaliers team had climbed to 5th in the ACC with Jim Valvano’s last NC State losing their final home game.  They were squarely on the bubble, so either they lose and hope the NCAA committee recognizes that they did enough to get an NCAA bid or they beat Carolina and assure themselves of an NCAA bid.

After North Carolina defeated Duke, the star of the game King Rice missed a practice and was held out of the starting lineup as a result.  Rick Fox also came off the bench for this game.  But both came in 2 minutes into the game with Dean Smith’s offense struggling.

Scott Williams kept North Carolina in it for the first few minutes before Fox scored 7 straight points to give UNC the lead.  Bryant Stith and Kenny Turner were the main factors for Virginia as the Cavaliers retook a 15-13 advantage on a three-point play by Turner.

The teams continued to battle back and forth in the 1st half with North Carolina eventually taking a 35-34 lead into the locker room.

Each team continued hitting to start the 2nd half.  Stith found Ted Jeffries for a baseline jumper to give Virginia the lead.  Rice found Pete Chilcutt for a jumper from the top as Carolina went back ahead.  Then threes were exchanged between Turner, Fox, and then Anthony Oliver.

Oliver later scored on a baseline drive.  He then got a steal and found Stith for a runner and a foul.  The three-point play gave Virginia a 47-40 advantage.  Oliver hit two more baskets to keep Virginia going but George Lynch scored 6 points as Carolina went on a 10-4 run to cut it to 51-50.

Turner and Stith held Carolina off despite Anthony Oliver picking up his 4th foul.  John Crotty had had a quiet game but his pull-up jumper from the foul line in transition gave the Cavaliers a 67-60 lead.  Stith then hit two free throws to increase it to nine.

Dean Smith wasn’t very happy with the officiating and kept trying to get his point across down the stretch.  His team finally responded when Williams and Chilcutt hit turnaround jumpers from the baseline.  Then Rice and Fox ran a touch-pass fast break to cut it to 71-68.  Oliver hit a pull-up at the end of the shot clock and Rice responded with a driving banker.

But what followed would be Dean Smith’s biggest gripe.  Kenny Turner followed up a miss and was fouled.  As he launched the shot, George Lynch seemed to block it before it hit the backboard.  But after a mini-discussion, the officials credited Turner with the basket and a free throw.  He missed the foul shot but Virginia still led 75-70.

Hubert Davis hit a three and Smith called the first of his 4 remaining timeouts with 2:34 left and let the officials know how he felt about their performance.  Carolina got the ball back and Davis airballed a tying jumper.  Crotty followed by nailing both ends of the 1-and-1.  But Davis found Williams in the lane for a hook shot and Carolina used another timeout at the 1:31 mark, down 77-75.

Stith made both ends of the 1-and-1 and Davis hit a pull-up from the baseline.  Fox then committed his 4th foul on Stith who, again, made both ends of the 1-and-1.  Williams followed with a turnaround jumper and Smith called another timeout with 38.4 seconds left.  Virginia had hit their last 6 free throws and Stith hit his last four.

So when Virginia went to Stith guarded by Fox and his 4 fouls, what did the Fox do?  He flopped and drew a charging call on Stith (does this shock anyone?).  Carolina went for the win but Davis missed a three at the 16 second mark.  However, on the rebound scramble there was a held ball.  The possession arrow pointed North Carolina’s way and they got another chance.

After Virginia called a timeout to set its defense, UNC gave the ball to Rice at the top of the key.  He penetrated and missed a runner but Williams tipped it in with 5 seconds remaining.  Crotty pushed it down the floor but Williams blocked his last-second attempt to send the game into overtime.

It was referenced many times that the last time these two teams met in the ACC tournament, Carolina won in double overtime in 1987.  In that game, a freshman by the name of Scott Williams hit a hook shot at the buzzer to send the game into that second overtime.  Williams’ tip-in to tie it in this game probably brought back haunting memories for Virginia fans.

But early in this overtime, Fox fouled out and the Cavaliers took an 84-81 lead.  But Lynch stole the ball on the press and followed up a Rice miss.  Williams then followed up a Lynch miss in transition to give the Tarheels an 85-84 advantage.

But Stith penetrated and kicked out to Anthony Oliver for a long two from the top.  Although it wasn’t a three, it was a shot that gave Virginia the lead to stay.  After Lynch turned the ball over, Oliver hit another jumper for his 6th point of the overtime and an 88-85 Cavaliers lead.

Williams would miss a tying three and Virginia’s quarterback Matt Blundin rebounded and hit two free throws to put the game away with 34 seconds to go.

The Cavaliers were now all but assured an NCAA tournament spot.  But just in case they weren’t, they defeated top-seeded Clemson in the Semifinals, 69-66, to take on Georgia Tech for the ACC Championship.  They had already beaten the Yellow Jackets twice in 1990.

Virginia starters (points scored)

Bryant Stith (32) – Small Forward

Kenny Turner (17) – Power Forward

Ted Jeffries (2) – Center

John Crotty (11) – Point Guard

Anthony Oliver (23) – Shooting Guard

Virginia bench (points scored)

Terry Kirby (5)

Matt Blundin (2)

Jeff Daniel (0)

Doug Smith (0)

Virginia Coach: Terry Holland

North Carolina starters (points scored)

Kevin Madden (6) – Small Forward

Pete Chilcutt (10) – Power Forward

Scott Williams (20) – Center

Kenny Harris (0) – Point Guard

Henrik Rodl (3) – Shooting Guard

North Carolina bench (points scored)

King Rice (6)

Rick Fox (21)

George Lynch (12)

Hubert Davis (7)

Jeff Denny (0)

Matt Wenstrom (0)

North Carolina Coach: Dean Smith

March 11, 1990 – ACC Championship Game: Virginia Cavaliers 61, (#14)Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 70

Virginia had beaten Georgia Tech twice during the regular season.  But the Yellow Jackets Semifinal opponent, Duke, had also beaten them twice during the season.

Georgia Tech came back in the third matchup and won 83-72.  It goes to show you again how hard it is to beat somebody three times in a season.

Virginia had mainly held down Georgia Tech’s (and the ACC’s) leading scorer, Dennis Scott, by using a diamond-and-one in the two matchups.  So naturally they came out with the same defense in this game.

John Crotty hit a banker on Virginia’s first possession and Bryant Stith hit a pull-up from the top for a 4-0 lead.  Georgia Tech’s first two field goals were threes by Brian Oliver that banked in, one from the top and the other from the left wing.

Freshman Malcolm Mackey also got Tech’s struggling offense some points with three putbacks.  But a 6-0 Virginia run gave them a 15-12 lead.

But then Dennis Scott hit a jumper from the post for his first field goal.  Kenny Anderson followed with his first field goal with a three.  Anderson hit another pull-up, Oliver nailed a three and Scott hit a jumper from the wing.  Georgia Tech ran to a 25-17 lead.

Field goals by Anthony Oliver and Stith cut into that lead.  Then Kenny Turner hit two more field goals, including a three, to cut the lead to 29-28.  The scoring slowed down and each team got one field goal in the final three minutes of the half.  Georgia Tech led 33-30 at intermission.

Another three by Turner gave Virginia a 36-35 lead early in the 2nd half.  But Anderson responded with a three to give him 12 points and put Tech up for good.  The third trey of the game by Anderson made it 41-38.  Scott followed with a three but Virginia cut back into the lead when Brian Oliver went out with a sprained ankle.

A transition layup by Stith cut it to 44-43.  But Scott followed with a wing jumper for his 11th point and Anderson found Johnny McNeil for another field goal.  A three by Turner cut the advantage to 48-46 at the 9:22 mark.

While Dennis Scott was still not being allowed to go off against the diamond-and-one defense, he didn’t force his shots like he did in the first two games and was more efficient as a result.  But Georgia Tech’s defense would prove to be the biggest difference from the first two matchups.  Turner’s three that was mentioned in the previous paragraph would be Virginia’s last field goal until there were just over 2:00 remaining in the game.

Tech didn’t initially burn the nets either as their only field goal in the next three minutes was a stick-back by Scott.  But then with under 6:00 to go, Scott and Brian Oliver, who had come back into the game a few minutes earlier, nailed threes to put Tech up by 10.  Then after a Virginia timeout with just over 4:00 remaining, the third member of Lethal Weapon Three, Kenny Anderson, made a three to pretty much put the game away.

Georgia Tech would score their final 11 points from the line and win their second ACC Championship under Bobby Cremins, their first came in 1985.

For Virginia’s coach Terry Holland, this ACC run would be his last hurrah on the sidelines.  Virginia was a #7 seed in the Southeast Regional and lost to 2nd-seeded Syracuse 63-61 in the 2nd round.

Georgia Tech would be named a #4 seed in that same regional.  Although they would end up avoiding Virginia for a 4th time, they did get a chance to show off their stuff against quality opponents.

Virginia starters (points scored)

Bryant Stith (17) – Small Forward

Kenny Turner (15) – Power Forward

Ted Jeffries (1) – Center

John Crotty (7) – Point Guard

Anthony Oliver (13) – Shooting Guard

Virginia bench (points scored)

Matt Blundin (2)

Terry Kirby (2)

Doug Smith (0)

Mark Cooke (4)

Virginia Coach: Terry Holland

Georgia Tech starters (points scored)

Dennis Scott (18) – Small Forward

Malcolm Mackey (9) – Power Forward

Johnny McNeil (4) – Center

Kenny Anderson (18) – Point Guard

Brian Oliver (17) – Shooting Guard

Georgia Tech bench (points scored)

Karl Brown (4)

James Munlyn (0)

Georgia Tech Coach: Bobby Cremins

lethal weapon 3

Dennis Scott, Kenny Anderson and Brian Oliver (in order, left to right) became known as Lethal Weapon 3 in 1990 as they led Georgia Tech to an ACC Championship.  Their best was yet to come however.  *photo courtesy of Savannah Now

March 11, 1990 – Big East Championship Game: (#8)Connecticut Huskies 78, (#4)Syracuse Orangemen 75

In the first 10 seasons of the Big East conference, only three teams had won the tournament: Georgetown, St. John’s and Syracuse.  But none of those teams had to take on the UConn Huskies.

Connecticut’s dream season featured its first Big East Championship appearance.  The UConn fans were warned in the first half that the game would be forfeited if they kept standing during game action (boy, have times changed).  It went to show, at least from a Syracuse fan perspective, that this was so new that they didn’t know to act.  Whereas Syracuse had been there before.

This, incredibly, was the 5th straight Big East Championship Game appearance for the Orangemen.  But they had only won in 1988 by beating Villanova.  Both teams finished the Big East regular season at 12-4 but Syracuse held the tie-breaker and the top seed.  The Orange handled game efforts from Pitt and Villanova in the first two games.  UConn crushed Seton Hall and then had an upset of sorts in many eyes as they beat Georgetown in the Semifinals.

The Orangemen started the game like they have been there before.  Freshman Michael Edwards nailed a three and Derrick Coleman broke the UConn press and found Billy Owens for a slam and foul.  Stephen Thompson then hit two field goals on drives to the lane.  UConn, meanwhile, turned the ball over 5 times and seemed overwhelmed by the moment.  Four minutes into the game, Jim Calhoun had to call a timeout as Syracuse had raced ahead 10-0.

A three-point play by Chris Smith finally got the Huskies on the board.  But Coleman kept the Orange going.  His highlight was a coast-to-coast drive and slam plus the foul.  This three-point play put Syracuse up 17-5.  But if Connecticut had had a tangible advantage all season over Syracuse, it was their bench.

Calhoun brought in John Gwynn and freshman Toraino Walker.  They scored 12 of UConn’s next 14 points to bring UConn back.  The Huskies also came back with their defense as they forced 14 first half Orangemen turnovers.  With just over 7:00 remaining in the 1st half, a tip-in by Lyman DePriest (a reserve as well now that Scott Burrell was starting) cut the lead to 29-25.  It also kicked off a 12-0 run.

Tate George and Walker scored the final 10 points of the run as UConn had shockingly taken a 35-29 lead.  Walker had a career-high 10 points in the first half to highlight a 22-6 bench scoring advantage for the Huskies in the 1st half.  A tip-in by Thompson cut UConn’s halftime advantage to 42-35.

Almost desperate for answers and outside shooting, Jim Boeheim started sophomore Tony Scott in the 2nd half.  Scott had not played in the 1st half, had barely played all year, and was about to transfer to Texas A&M.  But after Tate George found Chris Smith for a three in transition to put the Huskies ahead by 10, Scott made his first impact by nailing a three.

Scott also hit a runner on a baseline drive to cut it to 49-42 just before the 16 minute mark.  After the media timeout, Coleman outletted to Thompson for a breakaway slam.  Then Scott hit his second three to cut UConn’s lead to 49-47.  An unsung hero seemed to have been found.

The teams battled to a 57-all tie with about 9 minutes remaining when a pivotal stretch arrived.  First, John Gwynn continued his strong play and hit a pull-up three while he was fouled.  Gwynn missed a chance at a rare (at least at the time) four-point play by bricking the free throw.  Owens then lobbed to Coleman for a layup and a foul to tie the game again at the 7:59 mark.

Then after the media timeout, UConn’s quiet Israeli sensation Nadav Henefeld (who had been in a shooting slump but set the NCAA single-season steals record in this game) hit a pull-up in the lane for a 62-60 lead.  Gwynn then drove the lane and connected on a left-handed double-pump layup while drawing a foul.  Syracuse’s only answers to these two baskets were 3 free throws in 6 attempts.  The Huskies were up 65-63.

Syracuse actually went through a stretch of over 6 minutes with only one field goal.  While UConn didn’t blow them away, they did enough to grab a 71-65 lead before Tony Scott ended the drought with a three at the 1:38 mark.

Scott then kept his unsung hero status going by drawing a charge from Chris Smith.  The Orangemen had a chance to tie it with under a minute to go.  But Scott was called for a travel at the 45.8 second mark as he tried to break free for another three.  It was Syracuse’s 20th turnover.

UConn would then ice the game by giving the ball to their only senior.  Tate George hit 6-for-6 free throws down the stretch for the victory.  The UConn fans now celebrated by rushing the Madison Square Garden as the PA announcer blared to stay off the court.  The UConn fans may not have known how to act but they were going to enjoy this sudden unexpected success.

With the victory, UConn had earned a #1 seed in the East Regional and, after dispatching Boston U and Cal in the first 2 rounds, got to play the Regional in nearby East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Syracuse earned a #2 seed in the Southeast Regional and made it to the Sweet 16 with wins over Coppin State and Virginia.  But they would be out-lasted by 6th seeded Minnesota 82-75 in the Regional Semifinal.  With that, Coleman and Thompson would be gone.  Coleman ended up being the #1 pick in the NBA draft.

Connecticut starters (points scored)

Scott Burrell (1) – Small Forward

Nadav Henefeld (4) – Power Forward

Dan Cyrulik (0) – Center

Tate George (22) – Point Guard

Chris Smith (20) – Shooting Guard

Connecticut bench (points scored)

Rod Sellers (0)

John Gwynn (16)

Toraino Walker (11)

Murray Williams (0)

Lyman DePriest (4)

Connecticut Coach: Jim Calhoun

Syracuse starters (points scored)

Billy Owens (16) – Small Forward

Derrick Coleman (13) – Power Forward

LeRon Ellis (2) – Center

Michael Edwards (3) – Point Guard

Stephen Thompson (21) – Shooting Guard

Syracuse bench (points scored)

Tony Scott (12)

Dave Johnson (6)

Rich Manning (2)

Mike Hopkins (0)

Syracuse Coach: Jim Boeheim

coleman

Derrick Coleman goes up for a block in Syracuse’s NCAA tournament win over Virginia.  It would be the last win in Coleman’s Syracuse career *photo courtesy of omuligelywoq.webege.com

March 16, 1990 – Southeast Regional 1st round: (#14)Northern Iowa Panthers 74, (#3)Missouri Tigers 71

The Northern Iowa Panthers are now a Mid-Major sensation as they play in the Missouri Valley Conference along with Wichita State.  But before 2010 (and even today), their NCAA tournament success came from one unsung obscure hero, Maurice Newby.

Back in 1990, the Panthers were in the Mid-Continent Conference.  They finished in 4th place with a 6-6 record during the regular season.  After defeating UIC in triple overtime in the conference tournament quarterfinals, the Panthers took down top seeded Missouri State (who had a 22-5 regular season and was still named a #9 seed in the Midwest Regional, losing to North Carolina in the 1st round).  They went on to win their conference tournament, burst somebody’s bubble, and make their first ever NCAA tournament appearance.

Coaching them was former Ohio State coach Eldon Miller.  Their star was senior inside bruiser Jason Reese.  He averaged 19.4 points per game with fellow forward, junior Troy Muilenburg averaging 14.0.  The rest of the starters averaged between 8 and 10 points per game.  They were senior center Steve Phyfe and sophomore guards Dale Turner and Cedric McCullough.  Off the bench was red-shirt junior Newby, JC transfer Brad Hill, and senior guard Jonathan Cox.

Missouri came in at 23-5 and were #1 in the polls for 4 weeks during the season.  But the Tigers were in a slump.  They had lost three of their last four games, including to 8th seeded Colorado (as the top seed) in the Quarterfinals of the Big 8 tournament.  One of their stars, sophomore Anthony Peeler, was in just as bad a slump during that time.

But Missouri had other stars to pick up the slack.  Most notably, there was junior big man Doug Smith to go with seniors Nathan Buntin, Lee Coward and John McIntyre.  Missouri didn’t rely much on their bench but they did have future Kentucky guard Travis Ford for his freshman season before he transferred.

The Tigers had been upset in the first round in 1987 and 1988.  Their bid to not have a repeat performance took a dive when Northern Iowa started out on fire.  Reese hit a wing jumper and then found Turner for a three and Phyfe for a layup.  Troy Muilenburg had a four-point play to put the Panthers up 11-6.

Off the bench came Brad Hill to nail two threes and Maurice Newby to hit another to make the score 22-8 with about 8 minutes gone by.  Muilenburg, Newby and Hill each hit another triple as they held off Missouri’s runs.

Doug Smith was dominant for Norm Stewart, in his 23rd season, but didn’t get any help.  Peeler was 0-for-5 in the 1st half to keep his slump going.

Reese ended the first half strong with 6 points as Northern Iowa rebuilt a 14-point lead after having it cut to 6.  But then John McIntyre was able to nail a long three at the halftime buzzer to salvage Missouri within 42-31 at the break.

The Tigers looked like one of the best teams in the nation in the first 3 minutes of the 2nd half as Smith hit a turnaround jumper in the lane and then slammed down an alley-oop pass from Coward.  McIntyre nailed another three to cut it to 42-38 at the 17:16 mark.

But Cedric McCullough and Reese each scored four points as the Panthers responded with an 8-0 run over the next 3 minutes.  Smith answered with two more field goals to reach 20 points.  He then kicked out to Ford for a three to cut the lead to 50-45.  But then with 11:08 to go, Smith picked up his 4th foul.  Just like that, Missouri’s only offense had to sit down.

Northern Iowa rebuilt a 59-51 advantage over the next 4 minutes before Reese had to sit down with 4 fouls.  Jason had led the way with 14 points despite having to take numerous breaks because of fatigue.  Nathan Buntin made two free throws at the 7:05 mark to bring the Tigers within six and Stewart decided to bring Smith back in.

It turned into a mistake 20 seconds later when Smith reached in for his 5th foul and then got called for a technical on top of it.  Troy Muilenburg hit two out of three free throws and then connected on two runners in the lane to make it 65-53.

But Buntin came to life after Smith had fouled out.  His three-point play cut it to 67-58.  He later found Coward on a cut to slice the lead to six.  Coward then came back in transition and fed Smith’s replacement, freshman center Jeff Warren, for a layup and a foul.  The three-point play made the score 67-64 with 2:38 left.

Northern Iowa continued its coming apart at the seems as Coward spun and hit a pull-up in the lane to cut it to one with 2:00 left.  But when all seemed lost, Reese came through.  He rebounded a Turner miss and powered for a basket against four guys while drawing a foul.  He missed the free throw but ended up hitting two more with 41 seconds left to put the Panthers up 71-68.

But then disaster struck for fans in and around Cedar Falls, Iowa.  McIntyre missed a tying three-point attempt but Buntin grabbed the rebound against Reese, scored, and drew Jason’s 5th foul with 29 seconds left.  The three-point play tied the game and both teams were without their leading scorers.

Eldon Miller initially didn’t call a timeout but Muilenburg got one with 10 seconds left when Northern couldn’t get anything going.  Missouri was out of timeouts and needed to stop them and force overtime if they had any chance of winning.

Turner got the inbounds pass and drove to the corner.  He handed off to Maurice Newby, who had just come into the game after the timeout.  Newby was way out beyond the three-point line against Peeler.  He dribbled a few times and then launched a WTF jumper from beyond the three-point line.  It went in with 2 seconds left and the clock ran out with Missouri unable to stop it.

The Tigers had gone through a 5-year run of close tournament losses (3 of them to lower seeds).  But this had to be the toughest of them all with how quickly it ended.  But I suppose it isn’t as agonizing as what happened to them 5 years later.

Still though.  This is a pretty underrated NCAA tournament moment that isn’t talked about (perhaps because the game was broadcast on ESPN?)

Northern Iowa would go down to 6th seeded Minnesota 81-78 in the 2nd round.  They would have another great NCAA tournament moment in 2010 that kicked off some mid-major success for Ben Jacobson.

Northern Iowa starters (points scored)

Troy Muilenburg (16) – Small Forward

Jason Reese (18) – Power Forward

Steve Phyfe (2) – Center

Dale Turner (10) – Point Guard

Cedric McCullough (6) – Shooting Guard

Northern Iowa bench (points scored)

Brad Hill (11)

Maurice Newby (9)

Jonathan Cox (2)

Cam Johnson (0)

Nick Pace (0)

Northern Iowa Coach: Eldon Miller

Missouri starters (points scored)

Anthony Peeler (3) – Small Forward

Nathan Buntin (21) – Power Forward

Doug Smith (20) – Center

Lee Coward (10) – Point Guard

John McIntyre (9) – Shooting Guard

Missouri bench (points scored)

Travis Ford (3)

Jeff Warren (5)

Jamal Coleman (0)

Jim Horton (0)

Missouri Coach: Norm Stewart

March 17, 1990 – West Regional 2nd round: (#8)Ohio State Buckeyes 65, (#1)UNLV Runnin’ Rebels 76

The young Ohio State Buckeyes were appearing in their first NCAA tournament in 3 years.  They had come from behind to defeat Providence 84-83 in overtime in the 1st round.  Freshman Alex Davis came off the bench to hit for 24 points, including the game-tying three in the final seconds of regulation.

The Ohio State roster that played for young coach Randy Ayers included 3 freshmen, 3 sophomores and 2 juniors.  With that being said, they didn’t figure to be much of a match for top-seeded UNLV.  The Rebels had killed 16th seeded Arkansas-Little Rock 102-72 in the 1st round.

But true to form, the Buckeyes started out well.  Guard Jamaal Brown hit five quick points and freshman star Jim Jackson found Perry Carter and Mark Baker for layups.  UNLV forced an 11-all tie as their inside duo of Larry Johnson and David Butler each scored two field goals.

But then Jackson drove baseline for a reverse slam that got the crowd going in Salt Lake City.  Baker then got a transition layup to put the Buckeyes up 15-11.  Jerry Tarkanian called a timeout at the 14:44 mark and switched to his zone defense (aka: the amoeba defense).

Just like that, Ohio State went cold and UNLV went on a 9-0 run over the next 3 1/2 minutes.  UNLV would eventually grab a 29-19 lead when Moses Scurry came off the bench and scored 5 points.

But going further into his bench hurt Tarkanian and Ohio State came back with an 8-2 run.  Larry Johnson ended that spurt with a turnaround jumper in the lane for his 5th field goal in 5 attempts.  The Buckeyes though would pull to within 2 three times at the end of the half.  The last of which came with 6 seconds to go when Treg Lee hit a turnaround from the baseline to cut the Rebels’ halftime lead to 39-37.

Jim Jackson hit two field goals at the start of the 2nd half and Ohio State would pull into a 43-all tie after 4 minutes.  But when Scurry put back an Anderson Hunt miss, the Rebels had the lead for good.

Ohio State went cold again as the next several minutes featured a bunch of free throws.  Finally, a field goal was had when Butler fed Johnson on a high-low for a layup and a foul.  LJ missed the free throw but Butler got the rebound and put it back in to give UNLV a 53-44 lead.  A pair of free throws from Stacey Augmon and Greg Anthony, who was playing with a broken jaw, followed to give the Rebels their biggest lead at 13.

Despite hitting 3 of their first 19 shots over the first 13 minutes of the 2nd half, Ohio State managed to stay within 63-53 when the door became open for them with 5:05 remaining.

Larry Johnson was called for an offensive foul away from the ball.  It was his 4th foul and Johnson picked up a technical to top it off.  Backup center Bill Robinson hit two free throws before Jackson split the technicals.  The Buckeyes were also getting the ball back with a chance to further cut into the lead.  They did so when Perry Carter drew Butler’s 4th foul and hit two free throws.

Butler and Johnson both stayed in the game with their 4 fouls and, as a result, Johnson was able to put back a Butler miss to keep UNLV ahead 65-58.  But Carter fed Lee on a cut for a slam to cut it back to five.  Ohio State had a chance to further slice the lead with 3:00 to go but Carter was called for a travel after receiving the ball in the post.

Greg Anthony hit two free throws and Carter got a layup after a Chris Jent feed.  But then UNLV ran down the 45-second shot clock and threw the dagger when Anthony nailed a three from the top with 6 seconds on the shot clock and just over a minute remaining.

It proved to be too much to overcome for the Buckeyes but they would be back over the next two seasons with their best team in 30 years.  For UNLV, they would move on to the Regionals to either take on Louisville and their big man Felton Spencer or 12th seeded Ball State.

Ohio State starters (points scored)

Jim Jackson (11) – Small Forward

Chris Jent (3) – Power Forward

Perry Carter (15) – Center

Mark Baker (9) – Point Guard

Jamaal Brown (11) – Shooting Guard

Ohio State bench (points scored)

Treg Lee (10)

Alex Davis (4)

Bill Robinson (2)

Ohio State Coach: Randy Ayers

UNLV starters (points scored)

Stacey Augmon (6) – Small Forward

Larry Johnson (23) – Power Forward

David Butler (14) – Center

Greg Anthony (14) – Point Guard

Anderson Hunt (10) – Shooting Guard

UNLV bench (points scored)

Moses Scurry (7)

Stacey Cvijanovich (0)

Barry Young (2)

Travis Bice (0)

UNLV Coach: Jerry Tarkanian

March 17, 1990 – West Regional 2nd round: (#12)Ball State Cardinals 62, (#4)Louisville Cardinals 60

In the battle of the Cardinals, Ball State may not have been as big an underdog as it seemed.  Ball State University, in Muncie, Indiana, was in its 18th year of basketball.  But in 1989 under coach Rick Majerus, they went 29-3 and made their 3rd NCAA tournament as an 8-seed in the Midwest Regional.  They got their first ever NCAA win by beating Pitt in round 1 before bowing out to Illinois.

Majerus left for the University of Utah and was replaced by assistant Dick Hunsaker.  Hunsaker had a pair of senior big men who led the way.  They were Paris McCurdy and Curtis Kidd, who had transferred from Arkansas-Little Rock (who, as a 14-seed in the 1986, had upset Notre Dame in the 1st round of the NCAA’s).  McCurdy, Kidd and sophomore forward Chandler Thompson all averaged in double figures.

The backcourt also had two seniors with point guard and defensive ace Scott Nichols and shooter Billy Butts.  Although Ball State didn’t have as strong a record as they did in 1989 with a 24-6 mark, they still won the MAC Conference tournament and then took down Gary Payton and Oregon State 54-53 in the 1st round when McCurdy got a three-point play in the last second.  Nichols held Payton to 3-for-12 from the field.  Thompson was far and away the best player on the floor with 24 points.

Louisville had lost Pervis Ellison and Kenny Payne from their 1989 team.  But their senior big man Felton Spencer was one of the most improved players in the nation after backing up Ellison for three seasons.  Spencer led five double figure scorers by averaging 14.9 points per game.  The others were JC transfer and 6th man Jerome Harmon, junior guard LaBradford Smith and sophomore forwards Everick Sullivan and Cornelius Holden.  Senior guard Keith Williams averaged 9.5 while Tony Kimbro provided senior experience as well.

Louisville played its customary tough schedule and came into the NCAA tournament with 7 losses.  But only two of them came in conference and they went on the win the Metro tournament before blitzing Idaho with a 24-2 run to win 78-59 in the 1st round.

Both teams got off to a slow start in this game but Ball State would eventually pick it up after the first 3 minutes and grab a 10-5 lead into the first media timeout.  They increased that lead when McCurdy tip-slammed a Kidd miss and then Thompson hit a jumper after a steal from Butts.

Ball State was confusing Louisville with its defensive look.  They started out in man-to-man but would zone up the middle once a cutter went through or once they looked to get it inside to Spencer.

A three from Billy Butts made it 23-9 Ball State.  Greg Miller then came off of Hunsaker’s bench to score 7 quick points as the team from Muncie grabbed a 16-point lead on five separate occasions.   Finally, a three from LaBradford Smith cut their lead to 36-23 at the half.  Smith and Spencer each only had one field goal.

Spencer did get two field goals early in the 2nd half but it didn’t cut into the lead as Butts hit a three and Thompson put back a miss to make it 44-27, the biggest lead of the game.  Thompson scored again on a finger roll to keep the lead at 17 but that would be Ball State’s last field goal for awhile.

Just before the under 12:00 timeout, Kimbro put back a miss and drew a foul.  The three-point play cut the lead to 46-34.  Three field goals from Harmon cut it to 46-41.  Two free throws from Smith made it a three point game.

But then Butts got the bounce on a three from the top to break a five minute drought for Ball State.  Then Thompson blocked a shot and got a breakaway slam over Smith while drawing a foul.  The three-point play made it 52-43 Ball State.

Smith answered with six straight points as Louisville went on a 6-2 run.  But Butts made four straight free throws after Kimbro fouled out and Smith committed his 4th.  With under 4:00 to go, Butts hit another jumper to make it 60-51.

Two free throws from Keith Williams cut the lead to 60-55 at the 3:04 mark.  Thompson and his 42″ vertical hit a layup over Spencer for Ball State’s last field goal.  Spencer’s turnaround banker from the post and a foul made it 62-58 with 2:23 left.

Louisville missed a big chance to cut into that lead when Harmon missed a breakaway layup after a steal.  But Denny Crum’s team got another chance when Butts missed the front end of the 1-and-1.  With 1:16 to go, Spencer hit two free throws after drawing the 5th foul on Nichols, who had held down LaBradford Smith in this game.

Ball State ran down the shot clock but turned the ball over and Louisville had a chance to tie.  After a timeout, they went to Spencer in the post.  Felton missed a turnaround banker.  Thompson rebounded and was fouled with 7 seconds left.  Crum called a timeout to ice him and it worked as he missed the front end of the 1-and-1.

Spencer rebounded and Keith Williams pushed the ball without calling another timeout.  Everick Sullivan got an open shot from the corner which would have won it as he was behind the three-point line.  Instead, it went off the front rim and Ball State had their second straight upset.  They now would move on to play UNLV and get a chance for an even bigger upset.

Ball State starters (points scored)

Chandler Thompson (15) – Small Forward

Paris McCurdy (6) – Power Forward

Curtis Kidd (11) – Center

Scott Nichols (0) – Point Guard

Billy Butts (15) – Shooting Guard

Ball State bench (points scored)

Shawn Parrish (4)

Mike Spicer (0)

Emanuel Cross (2)

Greg Miller (7)

Roman Muller (2)

Ball State Coach: Dick Hunsaker

Louisville starters (points scored)

Everick Sullivan (2) – Small Forward

Cornelius Holden (4) – Power Forward

Felton Spencer (14) – Center

Keith Williams (9) – Point Guard

LaBradford Smith (11) – Shooting Guard

Louisville bench (points scored)

Jerome Harmon (14)

Tony Kimbro (6)

Louisville Coach: Denny Crum

ball state '90

The Ball State team from 1990 that advanced farther in the NCAA’s then any other Ball State team *photo courtesy of Angel Fire

March 17, 1990 – Midwest Regional 2nd round: (#8)North Carolina Tarheels 79, (#1)Oklahoma Sooners 77

The Oklahoma Sooners had ended the season as the #1 team in the nation and were the overall #1 seed in the tournament.  Since losing by two points at Missouri on February 18, Oklahoma had won 8 games in a row, including the Big Eight Tournament.

But in 1989, the Sooners had trouble with the #16 seed in the 1st round.  They had to come back to beat East Tennessee State 72-71.  In the 1st round in 1990, they beat 16th seeded Towson 77-68 but it was a concern for an Oklahoma team that had repeatedly been up in the 100’s.

North Carolina had grabbed their 20th win with their 1st round victory over Missouri State.  It had been the 20th consecutive season that Dean Smith had won 20 games.  The Tarheels were going for their 1,479th overall win in their basketball program’s history, which would put them one win ahead of Kentucky for the most overall.

They got off to a good start in doing that by grabbing a 12-7 lead in the first 5 minutes.  They increased it to 19-12 when Scott Williams scored on a baseline drop-step.  It was later increased to 24-14 when Rick Fox hit his 2nd three and 8th point.  But back-to-back treys from Jackie Jones and Skeeter Henry got the Sooners back into it at the 10:34 mark.

Billy Tubbs found an effective inside combination midway through the half that helped the Sooners back into a tie.  Big and beefy William Davis and Tony Martin dominated the paint while North Carolina didn’t have an answer inside other than Williams.  Williams would be ineffective offensively and would get into foul trouble.

Martin scored 6 points after coming into the game and Davis would finish the half with 9, including a three-point play that tied the game at 33 at the 3:51 mark.  Two free throws by Terry Evans and then an Evans steal and Smokey McCovery layup put the Sooners ahead 37-33.  Oklahoma had a few chances to increase that lead but couldn’t.

North Carolina re-took the lead on Fox’s 3rd trey and then grabbed a 40-38 halftime lead when Pete Chilcutt made two free throws with 16 seconds to go in the half.

The Tarheels grabbed an early 45-40 lead before seven straight points from Jackie Jones put OU back in the lead.  It continued back-and-forth as more people went into foul trouble, the biggest name being Scott Williams with 4.  The action was also a little chippy as Martin and UNC freshman George Lynch traded elbows and pushes.

Martin would pick up a technical for throwing a blatant elbow at Lynch after a whistle but North Carolina couldn’t take advantage of it as King Rice missed both free throws.

But the Tarheels were able to increase their lead to as much as 64-57 when Pete Chilcutt hit a baseline jumper.  Oklahoma called a timeout at the 8:18 mark.  Subsequently, they fouled out Williams who only had two points.  But with that, Carolina’s big man was out.

Two three-pointers by McCovery cut the lead back to 66-65.  But North Carolina was able to stay ahead for the moment despite Rick Fox picking up his 4th foul.  A three-point play by Chilcutt on a Rice feed put the Tarheels ahead 73-69 with 3:00 to go.

But Oklahoma would cut it to one when Jones hit a three.  Lynch then committed his 5th foul at the 1:36 mark and out was UNC’s backup big man.  William Davis hit the two free throws to put OU ahead.

North Carolina worked their offense and Hubert Davis found Fox on a cross for a three with under 1:00 to go.  But William Davis answered again with a drop-step layup and a foul.  The three-point play put Oklahoma ahead 77-76 with 39 seconds left.

The Sooners then pressed the ball like they had all year.  It was effective as North Carolina couldn’t find an opening.  But then with 10 seconds left, McCovery reached in and fouled King Rice.  Rice had a 1-and-1 and made the front end to tie the game.

He missed the back end but Oklahoma tipped the ball out of bounds with 8 seconds to go.  Dean Smith used a timeout and the Tarheels inbounded and swung the ball around to Fox at the left baseline.  Fox drove baseline, met some help but was able to create enough room to bank one in at the buzzer and send the top overall seed in the NCAA tournament home.

For the Tarheels and their so-so season, this was definitely the high point.  They would come back to earth in the Regional Semifinals when Arkansas used a late run to take down the Tarheels 96-73.  Scott Williams had a much better game with 20 points.  Williams would be gone along with Kevin Madden but the Tarheels would be back, like they usually are.

For Oklahoma and head coach Billy Tubbs, this would be their last time on top after three straight seasons as a #1 seed.  The next time they made it past the 1st round of the NCAA tournament would be when they were an underdog in 1999.

North Carolina starters (points scored)

Kevin Madden (14) – Small Forward

Pete Chilcutt (17) – Power Forward

Scott Williams (2) – Center

King Rice (12) – Point Guard

Rick Fox (23) – Shooting Guard

North Carolina bench (points scored)

George Lynch (6)

Hubert Davis (2)

Henrik Rodl (3)

Kenny Harris (0)

Matt Wenstrom (0)

North Carolina Coach: Dean Smith

Oklahoma starters (points scored)

Jackie Jones (15) – Small Forward

Damon Patterson (3) – Power Forward

William Davis (22) – Center

Smokey McCovery (13) – Point Guard

Skeeter Henry (12) – Shooting Guard

Oklahoma bench (points scored)

Tony Martin (10)

Terry Evans (2)

Oklahoma Coach: Billy Tubbs

rick fox

Rick Fox’s game-winner against Oklahoma eliminated the overall #1 seed and sent North Carolina onto the Sweet 16 *photo courtesy of ebay

March 17, 1990 – Southeast Regional 2nd round: (#5)LSU Tigers 91, (#4)Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 94

A great day of basketball concluded with two gems.  Before this game ended, Arkansas was able to beat Dayton 86-84 when Todd Day rebounded and put back his own miss.  Arkansas would go on to beat North Carolina and Texas to reach the Final Four.

For this game, a fast tempo and a lot of points were expected.  LSU had stumbled a bit to end the season.  They lost road games at a weakened Kentucky, Georgia and Florida.  They were then upset bu Auburn in the 1st round of the SEC tournament.  But the Tigers were still a 5-seed and beat Villanova 70-63 in the opening round.

Georgia Tech followed their ACC championship with an easy win over East Tennessee State (the same team that gave Oklahoma trouble in round 1 in 1989).  But Brian Oliver was playing through a stress fracture in his ankle that he re-injured in the ACC title game.

LSU started out like gangbusters in this game.  Chris Jackson nailed a three from the top to put the Tigers up 5-3 and kick off a 15-0 run.  The dynamic inside duo of Shaquille O’Neal and Stanley Roberts were causing havoc on the defensive end and Georgia Tech couldn’t make an outside shot either.

Roberts, O’Neal, Vernel Singleton, and Maurice Williamson all got into the scoring act as LSU raced to a 17-3 lead and Bobby Cremins had to call a timeout at the 14:25 mark, a minute after the first media timeout.

Georgia Tech finally got credit for a basket when a Dennis Scott attempt was goaltended by O’Neal.  Williamson followed with a three and Singleton got a breakaway layup to put LSU up 22-5.  Finally, freshman Kenny Anderson got Tech going with a three and a three-point play.

LSU cooled off when Dale Brown had to rest Shaq, who had 10 early points.  Scott and Oliver each had two field goals over the next few minutes and by the time the third media timeout came about, at the 7:41 mark, Georgia Tech had cut the lead to 28-22.

The Bayou Tigers would regain a 10-point lead and stay ahead for most of the rest of the half as O’Neal and Roberts dominated the offensive boards.  But then Roberts committed his 3rd foul and LSU went cold.  The cold streak was punctuated with Singleton missing four free throws.

Kenny Anderson hit two field goals to cut LSU’s halftime advantage to 41-40.

The second half played out like the back-and-forth up-tempo game that was expected.  Brian Oliver started the half with two threes.  Later, Anderson and Scott each hit one.  But that was the only offense Tech was going to get with O’Neal and Roberts inside.  LSU took a 55-52 lead after back-to-back field goals from Roberts.

Scott answered with a three and, later, Anderson got Tech’s first two-point field goal of the 2nd half when he pushed the ball right back at the Tigers after LSU had scored.  Anderson hit a runner and drew Williamson’s 4th foul.  The three-point play put the Jackets up 60-59.

Roberts kept LSU in the game with 13 second half points.  But he committed his 4th foul when Malcolm Mackey put back a miss.  O’Neal then committed his 4th foul with 7:43 to go.  Georgia Tech would go up 72-69 after two free throws from Oliver.  But both O’Neal and Roberts stayed in the game.

Georgia Tech had played small in the 2nd half with Dennis Scott playing the 4 position.  This meant Scott had to battle O’Neal on the defensive end, but although Shaq was big for an 18-year-old, he wasn’t as big as he would become in the NBA and Scott was able to hold him down (it also didn’t help that LSU didn’t look inside to O’Neal much).

When Georgia Tech had the ball, Roberts had to guard a perimeter player which took him out of the paint and made Tech’s offensive execution a little bit easier, although they were relying heavily on the three-pointer.

Chris Jackson tied it at 72 with a three-pointer of his own.  Then O’Neal found Williamson on the break for a layup.  Anderson pushed it right back for a score but Jackson did the same.  He hit a banker but committed his 4th foul when he charged into Karl Brown (the 4th perimeter player).  Jackson’s basket counted but Brown would tie the game again by nailing both ends of the 1-and-1.

Singleton put back two misses to twice give LSU the lead.  But each time, Tech answered with a three as Scott and Anderson did the damage and Tech led 82-80.  Scott would then nail a long three in transition to give Tech their biggest lead at 85-80.  But Jackson came right back with a trey at the 4:30 mark.

The offensive game was turning into one of the most fun basketball games that a viewer could watch.  A three from Williamson at the 3:00 mark put LSU ahead 88-87.  But then Jackson fouled out and Oliver made two free throws.  Tech would maintain a 90-89 lead.

Without Jackson on the floor (who averaged 27.8 points per game but struggled in this game), it was Maurice Williamson’s ball.  He was the son of former NBA star John Williamson, who was at this game and it was mentioned that he got off of dialysis treatment to be there.  Kidney failure would claim John’s life 6 years later.

Williamson gave LSU a 91-90 lead when he got the bounce on a runner with 1:46 to play.  But Anderson came right back as he had done all day and hit a pull-up jumper from the baseline.  Anderson then deflected a pass from O’Neal out of the post and Scott got the ball.  But O’Neal came back by getting a piece of Oliver’s driving layup and keeping LSU down one with under 1:00 to go.

Dale Brown called a timeout at the 45 second mark.  LSU then held the ball waiting for the shot clock to run down.  The strategy backfired when LSU didn’t have time to run a play.  Williamson went inside to O’Neal.  Shaq was immediately doubled and kicked the ball back out to Williamson.  Maurice then drove and missed a tough shot while four defenders surrounded him.  Singleton then pushed off Scott on the rebound with 7 seconds left.  It was Singleton’s 5th foul.

Scott made the two free throws after LSU called another timeout.  Williamson then pushed the ball right back up but couldn’t break away from Karl Brown to get off a clean look for three.  Williamson had to fake and then lean in on the shot.  It was short and Georgia Tech was moving on to the Sweet 16 to take on top seeded Michigan State.

LSU looked like they would have a nice team going into 1991.  But Chris Jackson declared for the draft after his sophomore season and was picked 3rd by the Denver Nuggets.  Jackson would change his name to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf in 1993 after converting to Islam.  Stanley Roberts and Maurice Williamson would be ruled academically ineligible in the summer.  Roberts would leave campus, play in Europe for a year, and then enter the 1991 NBA draft.  Williamson would be out for the entire 1991 season.

With all of that happening, LSU would become Shaquille O’Neal with four other guys.

LSU starters (points scored)

Vernel Singleton (20) – Small Forward

Stanley Roberts (21) – Power Forward

Shaquille O’Neal (19) – Center

Chris Jackson (13) – Point Guard

Maurice Williamson (16) – Shooting Guard

LSU bench (points scored)

Randy DeVall (2)

Harold Boudreaux (0)

Wayne Sims (0)

LSU Coach: Dale Brown

Georgia Tech starters (points scored)

Dennis Scott (30) – Small Forward

Malcolm Mackey (9) – Power Forward

Johnny McNeil (7) – Center

Kenny Anderson (26) – Point Guard

Brian Oliver (18) – Shooting Guard

Georgia Tech bench (points scored)

Karl Brown (4)

James Munlyn (0)

Georgia Tech Coach: Bobby Cremins

March 18, 1990 – East Regional 2nd round: (#7)UCLA Bruins 71, (#2)Kansas Jayhawks 70

An amazing NCAA tournament continued.  Duke held off St. John’s 76-72 and would play the winner of this game.  While UCLA and Kansas were doing battle, two other games came down to the last second.  Syracuse held off Virginia 63-61 when Derrick Coleman blocked a Bryant Stith shot and Texas upset Purdue 73-72 when Panama Myers blocked a last-second shot.

The Kansas Jayhawks started the season unranked.  But they moved up to #4 within the next week after defeating LSU and UNLV (the top 2 teams in the pre-season poll).  The Jayhawks rolled through a usually powerful Kentucky team by a score of 150-95.  They were 30-4 coming in and their only losses were twice to Missouri and twice to Oklahoma (once in the Big 8 Semis).

The Jayhawks were led by a senior trio of national champions.  The backcourt of Kevin Pritchard and Jeff Gueldner had been on Kansas’ 1988 championship team while forward Rick Calloway had transferred from Indiana after being a part of their 1987 championship team.  The other starters were key big men in junior Mark Randall and Finnish star Pekka Markkanen (who, following in the footsteps of foreign players such as Andrew Gaze and Nadav Henefeld, only played one season at Kansas while playing professionally in Europe for 22 seasons).

Roy Williams also had some depth on his bench.  Juniors Terry Brown and Mike Maddox provided scoring.  Senior Freeman West was an inside presence.  Sophomore Alonzo Jamison was a defensive presence and freshman point guard Adonis Jordan was getting ready to step in once Pritchard and Gueldner ran out of eligibility.

UCLA also had a 2nd-year coach in Jim Harrick.  Harrick had led the program back to the NCAA tournament in 1989 where they lost to North Carolina in the 2nd round.  Now, even after Pooh Richardson left for the NBA, Harrick brought the Bruins to their first back-to-back NCAA tournament appearance since 1980 and 1981.

Harrick had a young team.  The only seniors were forward Trevor Wilson, their second-leading scorer, and reserve big man Kevin Walker.  The rest of the team were sophomores and freshmen.  Their leading scorer was smooth shooting center Don MacLean.  He was up front along with freshman and another smooth shooter in Tracy Murray.  The back court had sophomores Darrick Martin and Gerald Madkins, with freshman Mitchell Butler coming off the bench.

UCLA was 16-4 until Wilson broke his hand.  Without their senior leader, the Bruins went on a 5-game losing streak.  But then Wilson returned and UCLA won 4 games in a row before losing to Arizona in the Pac-10 title game.  The Bruins then beat UAB in the 1st round 68-56 with Trevor Wilson leading the way with 23.

Wilson started the game against Kansas with 4 early points as both teams started strong.  Kansas’ trio of seniors each got field goals and combined for their first 7 points.  The perimeter players were strong on both sides as Martin led the way for UCLA while Pritchard and Gueldner did the same for Kansas.  Each team got bench production as well.

Big each team’s big men got off to a slow start.  It took MacLean 13 minutes of game action to get his first field goal.  Meanwhile, Randall and Markkanen never got going (Pekka went scoreless in this game).

Kansas was able to gain a 6-point lead but back-to-back field goals by Martin (each were on a high scale in terms of degrees of difficulty) brought UCLA back.  The Jayhawks gained a 36-35 halftime lead when Gueldner found Maddox for a baseline jumper.

The Bruins then started the 2nd half with 8 consecutive points, capped off by a three-point play from Martin on a double-pump layup.  UCLA held as much as a 7-point lead before Terry Brown brought Kansas back with three three-pointers.

Calloway would give Kansas a 66-64 lead with a three-point play.  Pritchard followed by nailing a pull-up jumper at the end of the shot clock to put KU up by two with under 2:00 left.  But then Gerald Madkins, known for his defense, nailed a three for his first and only points of the game to cut it to one.

Madkins followed by fouling Pritchard with 1:10 to go.  Pritchard was an 82% foul shooter but missed the front end of the 1-and-1.  After each team exchanged turnovers, Wilson put back a MacLean miss to put UCLA ahead 69-68 with 40.6 seconds to go.  But then Madkins committed his 5th foul on Pritchard 12 seconds later.  This time, Pritchard made both ends of the 1-and-1.

UCLA called a timeout with 23.9 to go and set a play for Wilson.  Trevor found Mitchell Butler cutting, but he missed a short shot.  On the rebound though, Pritchard pushed off on Murray and was called for a foul with 9.1 left in the game.

Murray was a talented freshman who had missed his only free throw attempt so far in the game.  The first one hit the front rim and rolled around before falling through.  The second one went all net to give UCLA the lead.

Kansas had called two timeouts before Murray attempted his free throws, so they inbounded quickly after the second shot.  Calloway was short on a pull-up jumper from the wing and Gueldner couldn’t cleanly get off a follow-up attempt.

UCLA was moving on to their first Sweet 16 since 1980 where they would lose to Duke 90-81.  But the seeds were planted for a resurgence of the mighty Bruins that culminated in 1995.

UCLA starters (points scored)

Trevor Wilson (18) – Small Forward

Tracy Murray (12) – Power Forward

Don MacLean (10) – Center

Darrick Martin (18) – Point Guard

Gerald Madkins (3) – Shooting Guard

UCLA bench (points scored)

Mitchell Butler (8)

Kevin Walker (2)

Keith Owens (0)

UCLA Coach: Jim Harrick

Kansas starters (points scored)

Rick Calloway (14) – Small Forward

Mark Randall (4) – Power Forward

Pekka Markkanen (0) – Center

Kevin Pritchard (15) – Point Guard

Jeff Gueldner (7) – Shooting Guard

Kansas bench (points scored)

Terry Brown (15)

Alonzo Jamison (0)

Freeman West (5)

Mike Maddox (10)

Adonis Jordan (0)

Kansas Coach: Roy Williams

tracy murray

Tracy Murray’s two free throws helped UCLA upset Kansas in 1990 *photo courtesy of My San Antonio

March 18, 1990 – West Regional 2nd round: (#11)Loyola (Marymount) Lions 149, (#3)Michigan Wolverines 115

With all the great games came, of course, the tragic to heartwarming story.  It had been exactly two weeks since Hank Gathers had collapsed and died on the court and Loyola Marymount played their first game since on March 16 in the 1st round game against New Mexico State.

Loyola Marymount exploded for 65 points in the 2nd half as they took down the Aggies 111-92.  Bo Kimble finished with 45 points and paid tribute to his longtime friend from back in high school, Gathers.  Gathers had started shooting free throws left-handed that season because he struggled mightily with the right.  So Kimble vowed to shoot the first free throw he took in every tournament game left-handed.

While a win against New Mexico State was great, Michigan appeared too strong.  They were, after all, the defending National Champions.  Michigan finished 12-6 in the Big Ten, good for 3rd place and were a #3 seed in the West Regional.  In 1989, Michigan finished 3rd in the Big Ten and were a #3 seed in the Southeast.  But in 1990, they didn’t have Glen Rice.  Rice’s “replacement” Sean Higgins was no longer in the starting lineup.  But the Wolverines still had the likes of Rumeal Robinson, Loy Vaught and Terry Mills.

Per Stumer and Jeff Fryer started out with threes for Loyola Marymount.  Kimble and Stumer followed up with treys.  Michigan had played at a faster tempo all year, but it didn’t compare to Loyola Marymount’s.  Even so, the Wolverines pushed the ball and got good shots.  Vaught had 7 early points and Mills 6.

A Rumeal Robinson layup after he broke the press gave Michigan their last lead at 17-16.  Fryer followed with his second three.  At the 11:31 mark, the teams were tied at 19.  Loyola then broke the deadlock.  Tom Peabody got a layup off an inbounds play from under Michigan’s basket.  It was the third time they had gotten a score off an inbounds play.  Fryer followed with a fall-away three from the corner.

Kimble hit a reverse on a baseline drive.  Chris Knight, Gathers’ replacement in the starting lineup, hit a short jumper.  Terrell Lowery put back a Kimble miss and Fryer hit his fourth three-pointer.  It all added up to a 14-5 run.  Eventually, Kimble drove down the lane for a floater while he drew a foul.  The free throw gave Bo a chance to go 2-for-2 on left-handed free throws.  He made it.

A Peabody steal and Lowery layup put the Lions up 44-30 at the 6:24 mark.  Michigan was able to pull within 65-58 at the half.  A blocked shot from Peabody prevented the Wolverines from cutting it further.

Fryer and Stumer started off the 2nd half with threes as Loyola maintained their lead.  While Michigan was making shots in the faster tempo, the difference was that they were making two-pointers while Loyola made threes.

Stumer committed his 4th foul and Michigan cut it back to 77-70 at the 15:19 mark.  But Loyola kept it going as Lowery scored 7 of their next 9 points.  A three from Fryer made it 89-76 Loyola at the 12:31 mark.

After that, the rout was on.  Led by Kimble and Fryer, the Lions built a 115-88 lead over the next 4 1/2 minutes.  This game was at the Long Beach Arena, which wasn’t far from Loyola Marymount.  So with it being close to home and with many casual fans cheering for Loyola, it was a very pro-Lions crowd in Long Beach.  And they were given a treat.

Fryer nailed four more three-pointers over the last 8 minutes to lead the game with 41 points.  The Loyola Marymount Lions were moving on in their tribute to Gathers tournament run (nowadays, there would be a hashtag #ForHank).  They would now take on Alabama in the Regional Semis in Oakland and were gaining fans along the way.

Loyola Marymount starters (points scored)

Bo Kimble (37) – Small Forward

Per Stumer (21) – Power Forward

Chris Knight (4) – Center

Tony Walker (5) – Point Guard

Jeff Fryer (41) – Shooting Guard

Loyola Marymount bench (points scored)

Terrell Lowery (23)

Tom Peabody (14)

Chris Scott (0)

Marcellus Lee (3)

John O’Connell (0)

Greg Walker (1)

Jeff Roscoe (0)

Marcus Slater (0)

Loyola Marymount Coach: Paul Westhead

Michigan starters (points scored)

Mike Griffin (4) – Small Forward

Loy Vaught (19) – Power Forward

Terry Mills (23) – Center

Rumeal Robinson (23) – Point Guard

Demetrius Calip (10) – Shooting Guard

Michigan bench (points scored)

Sean Higgins (15)

Michael Talley (3)

Eric Riley (2)

Tony Tolbert (16)

James Voskuil (0)

Chris Seter (0)

Michigan Coach: Steve Fisher

bokimble

Bo Kimble shoots his left-handed free throw as a tribute to #44 Hank Gathers *photo courtesy of Seattle Sports Net

March 22, 1990 – East Regional Semifinals: (#5)Clemson Tigers 70, (#1)Connecticut Huskies 71

In Connecticut, it is simply known as “The Shot.”  The Huskies had breezed through the first two rounds, helped by the games being played in Hartford, and seemed to be breezing through Clemson.

The Tigers had had a slew of comeback victories in 1990.  The lastest of which was in their 2nd round game against LaSalle in which Cliff Ellis’ team was down 19 in the 2nd half but won 79-75.  It was LaSalle’s 2nd loss of the season, the first of which is earlier in this post to Loyola Marymount.  Clemson was this close to another comeback victory.

The game started out slowly but it was evident early on that Clemson was going to have trouble with UConn’s press.  John Gwynn, Rod Sellers (who was playing through ligament damage in his left knee) and Lyman DePriest came off the bench to spark the Huskies to a 15-9 lead halfway through the 1st half.

Chris Smith then got going with 8 points to put UConn up by 11.  Clemson’s big weapon was their duo of doom in the paint.  But Elden Campbell and Dale Davis were ineffective mostly because the perimeter players couldn’t get it inside to them because they were facing the press and not succeeding.

Clemson had 16 turnovers at the half and were fortunate to be down by only nine at 38-29.

Smith hit his 3rd three-pointer of the game to give the Huskies an early 14-point lead in the 2nd half.  His 4th three later on stretched it to 15.  Campbell and Davis hit the boards to keep Clemson within striking distance early on.  But a technical on Davis didn’t help the Clemson cause at all.

Connecticut took a 59-40 lead 8 minutes into the 2nd half.  The Huskies had gotten 13 offensive rebounds to that point and were forcing Clemson to shoot outside, which was their weakness.

Clemson had comeback from double-digit deficits for 4 victories that season, the biggest of which was the 19-point comeback against LaSalle mentioned earlier.

It didn’t look like it was going to happen in this one, but junior forward Sean Tyson gave them some energy.  He first found backup Wayne Buckingham for a banker in the post.  He followed with a steal and a put back of a miss on the break.  He later found point guard Marion Cash for a three.

But two field goals from Lyman DePriest and then a DePriest feed to Sellers for a jumper in the lane put UConn back up 65-49.  But then Clemson went to a full-court press, which usually causes problems for a pressing team.  UConn also seemed to slow their possessions in a bit of a prevent defense mode.

Tyson drove baseline for a banker and Davis followed up a miss by Campbell to cut it to 65-53.  Tate George hit a jumper at the end of the shot clock with under 6:00 to go.  But it would be the Huskies’ only field goal until the last second.

Campbell hit a turnaround jumper in the post after a timeout.  Derrick Forrest hit two free throws and Kirkland Howling followed with a three.  The lead was now down to 67-60 and Jim Calhoun used a timeout at the 4:29 mark.

But UConn still couldn’t score and freshman Toraino Walker (who was in the starting lineup in place of Sellers) committed his 4th foul on Davis.  Dale hit the first free throw but missed the second.  However, he followed up that miss and hit a short jumper for an uncustomary three-point play.

Forrest then stole the ball from Tate George and went coast-to-coast for a layup.  The UConn lead was now down to 67-65.  George broke the ice a bit by hitting both ends of a 1-and-1 but Davis tipped in a Howling miss to cut it back to 69-67 at the 2:32 mark.

UConn ran down the shot clock again but Nadav Henefeld missed a three and Davis rebounded.  Clemson then ran down the shot clock and didn’t get a good shot as George blocked a three-pointer from Cash.  However, the ball went out of bounds off of George and the shot clock reset, for some reason.

Howling then missed a three but UConn again knocked it out of bounds giving Clemson the possible last shot with 46.8 seconds to go.  It only got crazier from there.  The Tigers ran off about 20 more seconds before going inside to Davis.  Davis made a drop-step move to the baseline and went up for a shot.  However, before he could complete it, the whistle blew and Davis had stepped on the out of bounds line with 21.3 seconds remaining.

Clemson then pressed UConn and Tate George threw a pass to John Gwynn.  Forrest came up and looked to have deflected it out of bounds but after a discussion, the officials ruled that Forrest had deflected it off of Gwynn and gave the ball to Clemson with 17.5 seconds remaining.

After a timeout, it took 6 seconds for the Tigers to find sophomore guard David Young for a corner three and a 70-69 Tigers lead.  Connecticut called a timeout with 11.3 to play.

After going the full length of the court, Tate George missed a pull-up from the top.  Tyson rebounded and was fouled by Burrell with 1.6 seconds left.  It looked over for the second time in the game, but this time with the other team in front.

Even after Tyson missed the front end of the 1-and-1 and Burrell was able to rebound and scream for UConn’s last timeout with only 1 second remaining, the Huskies had to go the full-length of the court again.

Burrell was a freshman who had been drafted by the Seattle Mariners as a pitcher in the previous year’s draft.  So putting him out of bounds to make the full-court pass seemed logical, even if the 6’11” Elden Campbell was going to play the inbounds passer.

Burrell threw the pass toward George and Sean Tyson.  George was able to grab it and turn as Tyson backed off, not wanting to look like he was fouling George.  Tate then shot the ball from the right baseline and swished it in as the buzzer sounded.  UConn, in a magical season, had pulled off the most improbable of all and were moving on.

Tate George’s jumper lives in the annals of NCAA tournament history and brings a smile to any UConn fan.. but, and I wonder if anybody else has thought this, was it late?

At the time there were no replay reviews and so the shot went in and nobody thought anything of it.  It was also true at the time that the buzzer determined the end of the game as opposed to the clock saying 0:00.  If we were playing by those rules, the ball was out of George’s hands when the buzzer sounded.

But after super-slow-motioning it as we do today, the ball was still in Tate’s hands when the clock was at all zeros.  If we were playing by today’s rules, the shot probably wouldn’t count and Clemson would win (and I will probably get struck by lightning on a sunny day if I ever step foot in the state of Connecticut again, I went to college in Connecticut but not at UConn).

But that was 1990 and UConn got credit for the victory, too late to change it now (and one can argue, like I would, that a few bad calls, or bad rules, gave Clemson that opportunity.  The shot clock re-setting after a UConn blocked shot would not fly today and did Forrest really deflect the ball off of Gwynn with 17 seconds left or did he do a great sell job?).

UConn would go on to play Duke in their first Regional Finals appearance since losing to the Blue Devils in 1964.  Clemson would make it to the Sweet 16 only once since 1990, and would lose another heart-breaker.

Clemson starters (points scored)

Sean Tyson (11) – Small Forward

Dale Davis (15) – Power Forward

Elden Campbell (15) – Center

Marion Cash (8) – Point Guard

Derrick Forrest (6) – Shooting Guard

Clemson bench (points scored)

David Young (3)

Kirkland Howling (7)

Shawn Lastinger (3)

Ricky Jones (0)

Colby Brown (0)

Wayne Buckingham (2)

Clemson Coach: Cliff Ellis

Connecticut starters (points scored)

Scott Burrell (9) – Small Forward

Nadav Henefeld (2) – Power Forward

Toraino Walker (2) – Center

Tate George (12) – Point Guard

Chris Smith (23) – Shooting Guard

Connecticut bench (points scored)

John Gwynn (9)

Rod Sellers (4)

Lyman DePriest (8)

Dan Cyrulik (2)

Murray Williams (0)

Oliver Macklin (0)

Connecticut Coach: Jim Calhoun

March 23, 1990 – West Regional Semifinals: (#11)Loyola (Marymount) Lions 62, (#7)Alabama Crimson Tide 60

As we hit the regionals, Loyola Marymount still had a cult following in Oakland.  This game basically felt like a home game to Loyola as Alabama got booed for a portion of the game.

It wasn’t the Crimson Tide themselves but more because of the strategy that their coach Wimp Sanderson employed in this ball game.  Once Loyola got the first basket, a Jeff Fryer jumper from the foul line, they went into their press as usual.

Alabama broke it and got frequent 2-on-1’s.  But Sanderson pulled the ball back out and ran the shot clock.  He would not, under any circumstances, fall into Loyola Marymount’s tempo.

The Tide had a decent regular season.  They finished 24-8 and 12-6 in the SEC, 1 game behind Georgia for the regular season title.  But their biggest accomplishment was winning their second straight SEC tournament championship.  They were then named a #7 seed in the West Regional and beat Colorado State before pounding 2nd seeded Arizona like a drum, 77-55.

The Tide had some future NBA stars as Robert Horry and David Benoit manned the front court and Keith Askins came off the bench.  But their leading scorer was junior forward Melvin Cheatum.  The backcourt had Gary Waites and James Sanders, who weren’t much of factors in this game because they pulled the ball back out instead of attacking the press.

Sanderson’s strategy didn’t appear to be working early on as Alabama was almost too passive and didn’t get good shots in the last 5 seconds of the shot clock.  LMU took an early 9-2 lead as Bo Kimble hit two field goals and Per Stumer nailed a three.  But that 9-2 lead came after 6 minutes had gone by.  Loyola would then be scoreless for the next two minutes as Horry and Cheatum hit field goals to bring the Tide back.

Sanderson’s strategy took more shape as the first half went on.  Loyola wasn’t in their shooting rhythm because they had to play defense for at least 30 seconds on most possessions and they weren’t used to a slower tempo.

Kimble scored 8 points and Fryer hit his first three-pointer.  But Horry finished the first half strong with 6 of his 8 points as Alabama took two 1-point leads.  But two free throws from Fryer put Loyola Marymount up 22-21 at the half.  Yep, that score was correct.  22-21.  Easily Loyola’s lowest scoring half of the season.

Tony Walker pushed the ball to Fryer for a three to start the 2nd half as LMU desperately tried to increase the tempo.  But Alabama would have none of it and countered with a 6-0 run.  The tempo did get a little quicker as Alabama outscored Loyola 8-7 in the first 4 minutes of the 2nd half.  But the tempo was now at a normal game pace, still not quite a Loyola Marymount pace.

But Loyola kept trying and a 6-0 run, capped by a Terrell Lowery three, put the Lions up 39-35 with 12 minutes to go.  But then Alabama went on a 9-2 run and Loyola was starting to get boiling over frustrated.  Bo Kimble drove baseline and got two men in the air but didn’t get a foul call and lost the ball.  Kimble received a technical after arguing.

Kimble would not get to the free throw line in this game (no left-handed free throws).  After the technical at the 8:48 mark, a baseline turnaround by Horry put the Tide up 47-41.  But Kimble rebounded for two field goals, including a three, to bring the Lions back to within 54-50 at the 4:52 mark.

The last 4:52 was junked up and definitely looked more like a Loyola game.  Tom Peabody (aka: The Human Bruise) drove down the lane for a layup.  Lowery then got a steal off the press and was fouled.  He hit 1-of-2 but then each team stole the ball from each other once before Horry was able to get a slam.

Bama got another steal but Peabody took it right back and Lowery tipped in his miss.  Sanderson called a timeout at the 2:50 mark after his team threw the ball away again.  Peabody once again drove down the lane for a score to give Loyola a 57-56 lead.  Cheatum answered with a jumper in the lane.

Loyola pushed it right back and Fryer missed a three.  But Stumer got the rebound and kicked out to Fryer, who hit the three this time at the 1:41 mark and Loyola took a 60-58 advantage.  Cheatum hit another jumper in the lane to tie the game.

After almost losing the ball on a pass that hit the side of the backboard, Loyola called a timeout with 42.7 seconds left.  They gave it to Kimble at the top of the floor.  The ball was deflected away from him right to Lowery, who drove in for a layup and a Lions lead.  Alabama used a timeout at the 26.1 second mark.

They ran the clock down and Horry found Cheatum for what seemed like a good shot in the lane.  But Melvin missed it and Stumer rebounded.  Lowery was eventually fouled with 2.6 seconds left.  He missed the front end of the 1-and-1 and Bama used their last timeout.

Like UConn the day before, the Crimson Tide had to go the full length of the court.  A long pass was deflected but found Horry.  Unfortunately for Alabama, Robert was quite “Big Shot Bob” yet and his fall-away fell short at the buzzer.

The dream continued as Loyola Marymount was one game away from the Final Four.  Their memorable tournament run would have its toughest challenge after that team would have its toughest challenge from the unlikeliest of sources.

Loyola Marymount starters (points scored)

Bo Kimble (19) – Small Forward

Per Stumer (7) – Power Forward

Chris Knight (0) – Center

Tony Walker (0) – Point Guard

Jeff Fryer (13) – Shooting Guard

Loyola Marymount bench (points scored)

Terrell Lowery (16)

Tom Peabody (7)

Chris Scott (0)

Loyola Marymount Coach: Paul Westhead

Alabama starters (points scored)

Melvin Cheatum (21) – Small Forward

Robert Horry (21) – Power Forward

David Benoit (4) – Center

Gary Waites (3) – Point Guard

James Sanders (8) – Shooting Guard

Alabama bench (points scored)

Keith Askins (3)

Marcus Webb (0)

Alabama Coach: Wimp Sanderson

loyola marymount

Loyola Marymount celebrates during the last minutes of their victory over Michigan, they had a much tougher time with Alabama.  Across the front that we can see is Tom Peabody (#11), Per Stumer (behind Peabody), Jeff Fryer (#21), Bo Kimble, Terrell Lowery, and trainer Chip Schaefer (who would move on to be an Athletic Trainer for the Chicago Bulls during their 1990’s run).  *photo courtesy of USA Today

March 23, 1990 – Southeast Regional Semifinals: (#4)Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 81, (#1)Michigan State Spartans 80 (OT)

Ever since making the Sweet 16 in 1986 (and getting screwed out of advancing because of a clock malfunction), the Michigan State Spartans were in the bottom division of the Big Ten.

But they started off well in 1990, going on winning streaks of 6 and 7 games.  But after losing two in a row in late-January/early-February, the Spartans finished the regular season with 10 consecutive wins and the Big Ten championship.  As a result of the streak, they grabbed a #1 seed but had to go to overtime to dispatch 16th seeded Murray State.  They then defeated UC-Santa Barbara in another close game.

Jud Heathcote’s Spartans were led by junior guard Steve Smith.  Smith was their all-everything.  He averaged 4.8 assists along with his 20.2 points and, as a big guard who played the point, reminded Spartan fans of another big guard and former Spartan who played the point in Magic Johnson.

Other than some promising freshmen, the rest of the Spartans roster were marginal fill-ins.  Senior Kirk Manns was a shooter who started in the backcourt with Smith for most of the year, but a stress fracture in his foot had limited him to bench duty by the NCAA tournament and sophomore Mark Montgomery was starting in his spot.

Senior and sophomore forwards Ken Redfield and Matt Steigenga also averaged double figures but neither was a big factor offensively in this game.  The promising freshmen were center Mike Peplowski, who was coming off multiple knee surgeries, and forward Dwayne (D.J.) Stephens.  Junior Parish Hickman also contributed off the bench.

But mainly, the Spartans were the Steve Smith show.  But in this game, they would turn Georgia Tech from lethal weapon 3 to the Kenny Anderson show.

Anderson started off with a three and then he hit Dennis Scott for a transition three and Johnny McNeil for a transition pull-up.  Georgia Tech led 8-0 and Heathcote had to call a timeout just a minute and 37 seconds into the game.

Georgia Tech would maintain its 8-point lead until Peplowski and Hickman each hit two field goals.  They would go on an 8-2 run to cut Tech’s lead to 27-25.  Anderson followed with a three for his 12th point.  But then Smith responded with a three and Peplowski tipped in a miss and was fouled.  His three-point play gave Michigan State their first lead at the 3:25 mark.

Anderson and Smith dueled on for the rest of the half as Georgia Tech took a 39-35 lead.  Anderson had 17 and Smith 16 at the break.  But Scott and Brian Oliver were being held down by the Michigan State defense.

The Yellow Jackets were able to maintain as much as a 6-point lead through the first 6 minutes of the 2nd half.  But an 8-2 Spartans run, capped off by back-to-back baskets from the freshman Stephens, tied the game at 51 at the 12:23 mark.

Michigan State then grabbed the lead as Hickman hit two field goals and Smith threw down an alley-oop to make it 59-56 Sparty at the 7:23 mark.  This was a stretch when Michigan State made 10 consecutive field goals but Georgia Tech hung around as Dennis Scott got going a bit with five straight points.

The Jackets took a 65-64 lead with 3:34 to go but then Smith made a incredible play (or a lucky play).  He drove down the lane and was stripped, but a foul was called.  However, Smith was barely able to re-grab the ball after being stripped and put in a left-handed prayer for the three-point play.

Scott tied it at 67 with a turnaround from the post but then with under 2:00 left, Smith hit a jumper from the top and then Hickman scored on an up-and-under move in the lane.  The Spartans led 71-67 with 46 seconds to go.

Oliver was fouled 5 seconds later and hit two free throws.  Oliver then fouled Smith with 35 seconds to go and the 70% foul shooter (Smith would be much better than that in the NBA) made both free throws.  Anderson then took the ball coast-to-coast for a layup and Georgia Tech called a timeout.  Michigan State then moved it around until Stephens was fouled with 13 seconds to go.

The freshman made both free throws and it was 75-71 at 13 seconds.  Anderson again went coast-to-coast for a layup and Georgia Tech used their last timeout with 6 seconds to play.  Oliver then fouled Smith and Steve showed off the other 30% of his FT percentage in 1990 by missing the front end of the 1-and-1.

Johnny McNeil rebounded and passed off to Anderson.  Kenny water-bugged his way around three Spartans before launching up a shot that went in from the top at the buzzer.  The immediate question was whether the shot was a two-pointer or a three.  Replays showed Anderson’s foot on the line and refs (without the benefit of replay) correctly called it a two-point basket to send the game into overtime tied at 75.

But without the replay benefit, the refs (and seemingly everybody, at least until after the game) missed the big point.  Anderson didn’t release the shot until after the buzzer sounded and after the clock hit :00.  It should not have counted and would not in this day and age (whereas there was question from today’s viewpoint of me whether the Tate George game-winner should have counted, there was no question and wasn’t on subsequent days following this game, this shot should not have counted).

It turned out that Michigan State would get screwed four years after getting screwed in their last Sweet 16 appearance.  It turned out to be a shame as the Spartans would not advance to the Sweet 16 again under Jud Heathcote.

Smith would give them a 78-77 lead with his third three-pointer.  But Anderson responded with a runner in the lane.  Anderson missed a front end of a 1-and-1 with a chance to increase that lead and Michigan State got another chance after a held ball.  Stephens was fouled with 23 seconds to go and made two free throws to put Michigan State ahead 80-79.

Georgia Tech did not use a timeout and Anderson went down low to Scott.  Scott went across the lane and hit a runner with 8 seconds left.  Michigan State inbounded to Smith, who casually walked it up the court until Heathcote was able to get his players’ attention to call a timeout with 4 seconds to go.

As a result of the lost time, Michigan State wasn’t able to get a good shot as Redfield took and bricked a long three at the buzzer.  Georgia Tech had survived for the second straight round but they weren’t done with the Big Ten.  They had to take on Minnesota for a trip to the Final Four.

Georgia Tech starters (points scored)

Dennis Scott (18) – Small Forward

Malcolm Mackey (6) – Power Forward

Johnny McNeil (12) – Center

Kenny Anderson (31) – Point Guard

Brian Oliver (11) – Shooting Guard

Georgia Tech bench (points scored)

Karl Brown (3)

Darryl Barnes (0)

Georgia Tech Coach: Bobby Cremins

Michigan State starters (points scored)

Ken Redfield (7) – Small Forward

Matt Steigenga (4) – Power Forward

Mike Peplowski (9) – Center

Mark Montgomery (5) – Point Guard

Steve Smith (32) – Shooting Guard

Michigan State bench (points scored)

Parish Hickman (13)

D.J. Stephens (10)

Kirk Manns (0)

Michigan State Coach: Jud Heathcote

March 23, 1990 – West Regional Semifinals: (#12)Ball State Cardinals 67, (#1)UNLV Runnin’ Rebels 69

When looking back at UNLV’s 1990 tournament run, the thing that stands out was the dominating victories.  But how did a team that killed Duke by 30 in the championship game win by only two against Ball State?

The difference of the surface was Anderson Hunt.  Hunt only hit one three-pointer in this game and was in foul trouble.  He would go on to be the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA tournament.

This game was a battle between the starting frontcourts as Stacey Augmon, Larry Johnson and David Butler battled Chandler Thompson, Paris McCurdy and Curtis Kidd.

The UNLV trio was the dominant one early as they raced out to a 17-6 lead within the first 8 minutes.  But strong bench production from Dick Hunsakers’ Cardinals brought them back to within 19-18.  But Johnson responded with five straight points before the 8:00 mark to put the Rebels back in command.

While Johnson was the main man with 16 1st half points, Chandler Thompson and his 43″ vertical produced the biggest highlight.  Thompson tip-slammed a McCurdy miss by jumping over his teammate Kidd and UNLV’s Barry Young (both about 6’7″ and above).  Thompson also hit a three to cut UNLV’s lead back to 34-33.

But then after five straight Rebels points, Thompson was called for an offensive foul while on the break in the final 10 seconds of the half.  This gave UNLV the chance to give Johnson the last of his 16 points and build a 41-33 halftime lead.

LJ started the 2nd half strong as well.  Kidd, McCurdy and Thompson kept them within striking distance but UNLV was on top of their game and built as much as an 11-point lead seven minutes into the half.

But then, just like that, UNLV went into a drought.  Billy Butts, a hero against Louisville who was silent to this point in this game, hit a three and Thompson put back a miss.  A turnaround jumper by Kidd cut the lead to 59-55 before Augmon responded with a three-point play.

At this point, Ball State joined UNLV in its drought and neither team scored for the next three minutes.  Finally, Thompson hit a pull-up banker but Augmon responded with a three (a rare trey for the plastic man).

But Ball State could not get any closer than 8 and it looked like curtains at the 2:08 mark when Greg Anthony hit a free throw to put UNLV up 68-59.  Brent Musburger even spent most of that stretch narrating the end of the Georgia Tech/Michigan State game.

But then Thompson nailed a three.  Augmon missed the front end of a 1-and-1.  Then Butts hit another three at the 1:11 mark and UNLV was now only up 68-65.  Ball State played UNLV straight up and got them down to 10 seconds on the shot clock.

But then McCurdy was called for an intentional foul, which meant Butler got two shots instead of a 1-and-1 (he split the pair) and UNLV got the ball back.  Anthony was then fouled but missed the front end of a 1-and-1.  The Cardinals had life.  McCurdy found Thompson for a layup and Ball State used a timeout at the 19.4 second mark.

Defensive ace Scott Nichols then committed his 5th foul on Anthony.  But Greg once again missed the front end of a 1-and-1.  Ball State had a chance and called a timeout with 12.6 seconds left.

The play broke down when McCurdy slipped after receiving a pass at the wing.  So sophomore Mike Spicer (who came in when Nichols fouled out) penetrated but threw a weak lob pass that was intercepted by Butler and UNLV held on.  It would be the Rebels’ last test for a long while.

Ball State starters (points scored)

Chandler Thompson (21) – Small Forward

Paris McCurdy (17) – Power Forward

Curtis Kidd (11) – Center

Scott Nichols (0) – Point Guard

Billy Butts (6) – Shooting Guard

Ball State bench (points scored)

Emanuel Cross (0)

Shawn Parrish (7)

Greg Miller (5)

Mike Spicer (0)

Roman Muller (0)

Ball State Coach: Dick Hunsaker

UNLV starters (points scored)

Stacey Augmon (20) – Small Forward

Larry Johnson (20) – Power Forward

David Butler (13) – Center

Greg Anthony (7) – Point Guard

Anderson Hunt (3) – Shooting Guard

UNLV bench (points scored)

Travis Bice (3)

Moses Scurry (0)

Barry Young (3)

Stacey Cvijanovich (0)

James Jones (0)

UNLV Coach: Jerry Tarkanian

ball state unlv

Paris McCurdy and David Butler (#00) go up for a rebound as UNLV battles cinderella Ball State.  Curtis Kidd (#44) and Greg Anthony look on *photo courtesy of Youtube

March 24, 1990 – East Regional Final: (#3)Duke Blue Devils 79, (#1)Connecticut Huskies 78 (OT)

The Duke Blue Devils were looking for their 4th Final Four in 5 years.  The previous three had all come by way of the regionals in East Rutherford, New Jersey (who would host the East Regional Sweet 16 and Elite 8 from 1986-1991).

So Duke was undefeated in the Brendan Byrne Arena in the NCAA tournament.  But the Connecticut Huskies were trying to complete a magical season in which they won the Big East, got a #1 seed in the region, and had senior Tate George hit a last-millisecond shot to beat Clemson in the Sweet 16.

Duke had the advantage over UConn in the paint with their inside power.  And although Duke didn’t take the lead until midway through the first half, Alaa Abdelnaby and Christian Laettner were dominating the scoring and rebounding.

Connecticut’s advantage was with their three guards (Tate George, Chris Smith and John Gwynn) but Duke’s defense held them down and forced 12 1st half turnovers by Jim Calhoun’s Huskies.

Abdelnaby’s 17 1st half points (perhaps the best game of his Duke career in his home state of New Jersey) and Laettner’s 11 led Duke to as much as a 37-26 advantage and masked the fact that Bobby Hurley was struggling and so was Robert Brickey as he was battling a hamstring pull.

But two free throws by Nadav Henefeld, who led UConn with 8 points at the half, and a jumper by Gwynn cut the Blue Devil’s lead to 37-30 at the break.

Laettner committed his 3rd foul early in the 2nd half and Chris Smith scored 4 quick points.  Then after an Abdelnaby putback, Tate George hit two jumpers, including a three, to cut the lead to 41-39.  The starting guards for the Huskies had come to life but they would be no match for Gwynn, who would come into the game after George committed his 4th foul.

After Henefeld hit a transition three to give UConn a 44-42 lead, Gwynn started his scoring assault with two free throws at the 15:29 mark.  Duke would first go on a 5-0 run and take the lead after a three-point play from Phil Henderson.

Smith threw a lead pass to Gwynn for a subsequent three-point play and the Huskies took a 49-47 advantage.  Henderson tied it with a pull-up from the wing but Gwynn came back with a jumper from the top of the key.  Hurley fed Abdelnaby for a layup but Gwynn then put in a left-handed finger roll.

Each possession was producing two points (at least) at this point of the game.  Abdelnaby scored on an up-and-under step-thru to tie the game again at 53.  Dan Cyrulik hit a corner jumper for UConn.  Hurley hit two free throws and then Smith came back with a lead pass to Scott Burrell for a layup.  Each team had scored 13 points in 4 minutes of action.

They continued to go back and forth while Burrell committed his 4th foul.  Gwynn’s 15th point of the game was a driving layup to put UConn ahead 65-63.  Burrell later got back-to-back baskets as the Huskies took a 69-64 advantage.  But then Burrell committed his 5th foul while fouling Henderson on a jumper.  Phil made two free throws to make it 69-66 at the 3:41 mark.

Henefeld then had a turnover and Brian Davis put back a Henderson miss with under 3:00 to go.  The next minute and a half went by with no points and an exchange of turnovers.  But Duke had a chance to lead with under 1:00 to go.

After a timeout, Henderson came off a baseline screen and Hurley found him for a three from the wing and a 71-69 Duke lead.  UConn used a timeout and ran down some clock.  But George missed a runner and Abdelnaby rebounded.  He found Hurley who was fouled by Gwynn with 16.8 remaining.

Hurley seemed pretty pleased when he made the front end of the 1-and-1 to give Duke a three-point lead.  But he missed the second and UConn went in transition with a chance to tie.  George handed off to Smith for a three from the top which tied it up with 8.3 remaining.  Duke called a timeout and had to go full court.

Hurley took it coast-to-coast but his shot was blocked out of bounds by Rod Sellers with 0.3 seconds remaining.  It was well known by that point that you could still catch and shoot in 0.3 seconds and Duke got a good shot.  Hurley lobbed the ball to Abdelnaby by the basket, but Alaa was just short on a banker and the game was headed to overtime.

Connecticut started the overtime well when George found Toraino Walker for a layup off the tip.  But Henderson would respond with a three to get the game on the odd point.  George found Henefeld on a cut for a layup and Thomas Hill lobbed to Laettner over the fronting defense for a layup.

Duke would maintain its 77-76 lead when Laettner blocked a Gwynn layup and Duke had a chance to increase their lead.  But Henderson would be called for an offensive foul away from the ball with 1:28 remaining.  Duke was in the 1-and-1 penalty to Henefeld would shoot to give UConn the lead.

The front end hit the front rim and was bouncing off when Abdelnaby grabbed it a little too soon and the free throw counted because of goaltending (although Abdelnaby was having his career game, his two mistakes looked pretty huge at this moment).  Henefeld swished the second free throw to give the Huskies the lead.

They kept it after Henderson and Abdelnaby missed shots on the next possession and Henefeld finally snared a defensive rebound.  UConn ran down the shot clock as there was about 10 more seconds on the game clock than the shot clock.  They ran it all the way down but didn’t get a good shot as George airballed a prayer and Abdelnaby rebounded.

There was now 8 seconds to go as Abdelnaby gave it to Hurley and Bobby pushed without calling a timeout.  He tried to find Henderson for a corner three but his lead pass was deflected out of bounds by Tate George with 2.6 remaining.  George actually looked like he came up with a clean steal for a second but ended up never really having control.  It would cost.

After a timeout, Laettner was inbounding the ball and wasn’t being guarded.  So Duke called an audible and Laettner inbounded to Davis who quickly threw a return pass to Christian.  He dribbled to the elbow and the launched a shot that he ended up having to double-pump.  It went in before the buzzer sounded (sorry, no question about this one) and Duke had escaped to make it to their 3rd straight Final Four.

And just two days after being on the other side of the hysteria, UConn now tasted heart-breaking defeat.  But 1990 would build the University of Connecticut into the basketball powerhouse that it has become, although there was still some work to be done.  Connecticut would not be back into the Elite Eight until 1995.

Duke would go on to play Arkansas and would defeat the Razorbacks despite Bobby Hurley getting the flu and having to run back-and-forth to the locker room to puke.  The result of the championship game would make all of Duke puke (hey, it rhymes!)

Duke starters (points scored)

Robert Brickey (2) – Small Forward

Christian Laettner (23) – Power Forward

Alaa Abdelnaby (27) – Center

Bobby Hurley (3) – Point Guard

Phil Henderson (21) – Shooting Guard

Duke bench (points scored)

Greg Koubek (0)

Billy McCaffrey (1)

Thomas Hill (0)

Brian Davis (2)

Duke Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

Connecticut starters (points scored)

Scott Burrell (12) – Small Forward

Nadav Henefeld (15) – Power Forward

Rod Sellers (1) – Center

Tate George (9) – Point Guard

Chris Smith (11) – Shooting Guard

Connecticut bench (points scored)

Toraino Walker (9)

John Gwynn (15)

Murray Williams (0)

Lyman DePriest (2)

Dan Cyrulik (4)

Connecticut Coach: Jim Calhoun

March 25, 1990 – Southeast Regional Final: (#6)Minnesota Golden Gophers 91, (#4)Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 93

Back in the days when college basketball teams had a flux of seniors, a good underdog bet in your pool to go far in the NCAA tournament were senior-laden teams.  Especially those who were in the power conferences but not quite getting the attention.  It also helps when an upset gives you an easier opponent.

This perfectly describes Clem Haskins’ 1990 Minnesota Golden Gophers.  Four of the five starters were seniors led by forward Willie Burton, who would go on to have the most successful NBA career of any of these Gophers.  There was 24-year-old forward Richard Coffey, who had spent 3 years in the army between high school and college.  Center Jim Shikenjanski and point guard Melvin Newbern were the other seniors.  Guards Kevin Lynch and Walter Bond were juniors.

Minnesota had finished tied with Illinois for 4th in the Big Ten.  They were 23-8 overall and 11-7 in conference.  Then, as a #6 seed in the regional, they got to play Northern Iowa in the 2nd round after the Panthers upset a strong Missouri team.  They beat UTEP and Northern Iowa by three points in the first two rounds before springing their upset.

Syracuse was probably a likely Final Four pick from the region in a lot of pools.  But Minnesota shot over 60% in the 2nd half of their Sweet 16 game against the Orangemen and out-scored Syracuse 47-36 to win 82-75.

Now in the 1st half against Georgia Tech, the Golden Gophers continued their hot shooting and it looked like it might be a promoter (or TV networks) worst nightmare, a dark horse at the Final Four.

Each teams matched baskets for the first 7 minutes or so before Minnesota went on a 6-0 run to take a 22-15 lead at the 11:52 mark.  Burton, Shikenjanski, Newbern and Lynch were all playing well and Minnesota was out-hustling Georgia Tech on the boards and getting multiple shots.

Burton, in particular, would get going with two three-pointers to put Minnesota up 42-30 with 4 1/2 to go in the first half.  But Dennis Scott and Kenny Anderson led Georgia Tech back to within 49-47 at the break.

Bobby Cremins’ Yellow Jackets had highly relied on lethal weapon three for their scoring.  In this game, Anderson, Scott and Brian Oliver would score 89 of their 93 points.

Georgia Tech took an early 56-51 lead when Scott nailed his 4th three-pointer of the game.  But Minnesota continued to pound the boards and get out on the break to re-take a 63-61 advantage.  Then Lynch put them up by five with a three-pointer.

Scott answered with a three and Brian Oliver would come alive for the first time in the regional.  Oliver scored two buckets and Scott nailed his 6th three for 33 points to give Tech a 75-71 advantage with just over 8:00 left.

Scott would nail another three after Minnesota came back to tie the game at 77.  The Gophers would come back once again to take an 81-80 lead on a baseline drive from Burton.  Scott put back an Anderson miss but Newbern nailed a long two to give Minnesota the lead again at the 4-minute mark.

But over the next minute and a half, Oliver and Scott each hit two free throws and Kenny Anderson came off a Scott pick and nailed a three to give Tech an 89-84 advantage with 2:43 to go.

But after a timeout and an offensive rebound, Burton responded with a three and then rebounded a missed layup by Anderson.  With a chance to tie it, Lynch missed a short banker.  But Minnesota would get another chance when Oliver was called for an offensive foul on a drive down the lane with 58 seconds remaining.

After two timeouts by Haskins, Lynch drove and was fouled by Oliver with 35 seconds remaining.  Lynch showed off the magnitude of the moment by short-arming the first free throw.  He made the second to cut the lead to 89-88.  Lynch then fouled Oliver, who made both free throws.  Then Anderson rebounded a Newbern miss and hit two more free throws for a five-point lead.

But Burton nailed a step-back three and Minnesota used its last timeout with 7 seconds remaining.  Anderson was fouled on the inbounds.  He was 9-for-10 from the line in this game but the front end of the 1-and-1 was in-and-out and Minnesota rebounded.

The Gophers pushed the ball to Lynch, who dribbled to the right corner.  He launched a three while Tech center Johnny McNeil came out to challenge him.  The challenge made the difference as Lynch airballed the three at the buzzer and Tech was going to their first ever Final Four.

While Georgia Tech was moving on, Minnesota would not make the NCAA tournament again until 1994.  But a few years thereafter, they would have another chance at the school’s first ever Final Four.

Minnesota starters (points scored)

Willie Burton (35) – Small Forward

Richard Coffey (4) – Power Forward

Jim Shikenjanski (19) – Center

Melvin Newbern (17) – Point Guard

Kevin Lynch (12) – Shooting Guard

Minnesota bench (points scored)

Walter Bond (2)

Connell Lewis (2)

Bob Martin (0)

Mario Green (0)

Rob Metcalf (0)

Minnesota Coach: Clem Haskins

Georgia Tech starters (points scored)

Dennis Scott (40) – Small Forward

Malcolm Mackey (0) – Power Forward

Johnny McNeil (2) – Center

Kenny Anderson (30) – Point Guard

Brian Oliver (19) – Shooting Guard

Georgia Tech bench (points scored)

Karl Brown (2)

Darryl Barnes (0)

James Munlyn (0)

Georgia Tech Coach: Bobby Cremins

March 25, 1990 – West Regional Final: (#11)Loyola (Marymount) Lions 101, (#1)UNLV Runnin’ Rebels 131

For their last two tournament games in which they looked lethargic, UNLV made up for it in their last three games.  Loyola Marymount finally looked like an underdog, to say the least.

The Lions matched UNLV basket for basket in their first two possessions.  But then David Butler hit a turnaround from the post, Anderson Hunt and Greg Anthony nailed threes and Hunt got a layup after Butler broke the press.  It was now 14-4 UNLV and the Runnin’ Rebels were 6-for-6 from the field.

The big keys were that UNLV had played a faster tempo all year, so it didn’t take much to match with Loyola.  They also were very effective for most of the game in breaking the Lions’ press and getting easy layups.  Also, Loyola did not shoot the outside shot well for most of the game.  This affected their strategy of matching the other teams’ two-point baskets with their three-point baskets.

Stacey Augmon was the biggest beneficiary of UNLV breaking the press as he got several easy layups and pull-up bank shots.  UNLV went up 35-19 before LMU came alive for a few minutes.

Terrell Lowery and Bo Kimble nailed threes and Jeff Fryer got a three-point play on the break to cut the lead to 39-30.  Then after a field goal from Butler, LMU went on a sustained run as Kimble nailed another three, Fryer hit two free throws, and then after a steal Kimble was fouled.

He had not gone to the line against Alabama in the previous game and didn’t get a chance to shoot his left-handed free throw.  But this time, with 5:20 remaining, Kimble hit the left-handed free throw to cut the lead to five and get a big cheer from the crowd (unlike the previous tournament games that Loyola was in, UNLV had a great amount of following in Oakland so it wasn’t a pro-LMU crowd).

Kimble made the second free throw as well to cut the lead to 41-37.  Larry Johnson then put back a Butler miss.  Lowery drove right back for a layup.  Augmon hit two free throws and then Anthony would nail a three and get a breakaway three-point play after a steal by Augmon.  Just like that, it was back to 12.

UNLV would push the halftime lead to 67-47 as Augmon led the way with 25 points.

Loyola made a push at the start of the 2nd half as Kimble, who had actually been slowed in the first half by Augmon’s defense, nailed two three-pointers.  Then after Butler committed his 4th foul, Fryer nailed a three to cut it to 71-58.  But Loyola would skid its wheels for the next few minutes and keep it to within 81-68 after Kimble nailed a three.

That would be as close as Loyola would come.  Anderson Hunt came back with a three and later, the 6’1″ Hunt got a block that led to a breakaway three-point play from Greg Anthony.  Another three from Hunt would put the Rebels up 97-74.  Hunt then threw an alley-oop to Johnson for a slam on the break and the rout was on.

Hunt would break on with 30 points in this game after scoring a combined 13 in the previous two games.  UNLV had the inside power that Loyola Marymount couldn’t match (which did make one wonder how the Lions would have fared with Gathers) and the Rebels were also making the threes.  It was a lethal combination in which you couldn’t beat them.

Loyola, to their credit, played hard until the end and got a standing ovation from fans of both teams for their effort throughout the tournament despite the circumstances.  Their run is still today one of the most transcending moments in NCAA history (captured on this 30 for 30).

Meanwhile for UNLV, the 30-point win was impressive but, as they say, they were just getting started.

Loyola Marymount starters (points scored)

Bo Kimble (42) – Small Forward

Per Stumer (4) – Power Forward

Chris Knight (8) – Center

Tony Walker (4) – Point Guard

Jeff Fryer (21) – Shooting Guard

Loyola Marymount bench (points scored)

Terrell Lowery (18)

Tom Peabody (0)

Chris Scott (0)

Marcellus Lee (3)

John O’Connell (1)

Greg Walker (0)

Marcus Slater (0)

Jeff Roscoe (0)

Loyola Marymount Coach: Paul Westhead

UNLV starters (points scored)

Stacey Augmon (33) – Small Forward

Larry Johnson (20) – Power Forward

David Butler (9) – Center

Greg Anthony (21) – Point Guard

Anderson Hunt (30) – Shooting Guard

UNLV bench (points scored)

Moses Scurry (8)

Stacey Cvijanovich (2)

James Jones (7)

Barry Young (0)

Travis Bice (1)

Dave Rice (0)

Chris Jeter (0)

UNLV Coach: Jerry Tarkanian

LMU SI

Photo courtesy of krakov

April 2, 1990 – National Championship Game: (#3)Duke Blue Devils 73, (#1)UNLV Runnin’ Rebels 103

There are certain times when a champion looks more impressive or is remembered more impressively if they put together their best game in the championship game.  Some championship games are remembered more for the moment but some, like this one, are just remembered for how dominant the team was.

And it makes the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels from 1990 seem like nobody was going to stop them when, in reality, they were close to losing to Ball State in the Sweet 16.

In the last 6 halves that the Rebels played in 1990, only the first half of their National Semifinal win against Georgia Tech was a bad one.  They allowed the Yellow Jackets to grab a 53-46 halftime lead before stepping up their defense in the 2nd half and beat Tech 90-81.  For both halves against Loyola Marymount and Duke, UNLV was all business and played about as well as one could play.

The Loyola Marymount weakness was that they had nobody who could match up with the inside duo of Larry Johnson and David Butler.  Duke had Christian Laettner and Alaa Abdelnaby, but Duke’s major weakness in this ballgame was more about heart (or lacking of something below the belt).

A three-point play by Johnson put UNLV up 7-2.  A three from Anderson Hunt made it 16-10.  Then Hunt and Stacey Augmon got breakaways to make it 21-11.

For Duke, Abdelnaby and Robert Brickey were their early offense.  Phil Henderson and Laettner struggled from the field and Bobby Hurley struggled all the way around.  Hurley did not have a field goal against Connecticut, Arkansas or UNLV in the NCAA tournament.  But mainly, Duke could not set its halfcourt offense against UNLV’s amoeba defense.

UNLV got help from all participants.  Johnson and Butler were having their way down low.  Augmon was penetrating and getting easy shots.  Hunt and Greg Anthony were hitting the outside shots.  Barry Young came in off the bench and scored 5 points in a row to put UNLV up 30-17.

A three-point play on a strong move by Johnson put the Rebels up 39-23.  But then Laettner got his first two field goals and Duke was able to cut into the lead a bit.  It was down to 45-35 with 6 seconds left in the half before Anthony took it coast-to-coast for a runner at the buzzer.  Duke did not step anybody in front of him to stop the shot.

Duke was able to hang around a bit at the start of the 2nd half despite Larry Johnson nailing two three-pointers from the top.  It was 57-47 with less than 4 minutes gone by.

But then it happened.  The event that catapulted this championship game from still being somewhat in doubt into a farce and an embarrassment.  It started just before the first media timeout when Hunt nailed a pull-up from the baseline.

Then after the break, Johnson drove past Laettner and hit a pull-up banker.  On the following possession, Augmon found Hunt with a cross-court pass for a three.  Then Augmon got a steal and Hunt a breakaway.  All of that happened in just over a minute and Mike Krzyzewski had to use a timeout at the 14:49 mark.  It wasn’t over.

After the timeout, Augmon stole a cross-court pass and Hunt finished a 3-on-2 break with a finger roll.  Laettner followed by missing an easy reverse layup and UNLV got out on another break as Hunt found Augmon for a slam.  Krzyzewski had to use another timeout at the 14:19 mark, yep just 30 seconds later.  It wasn’t over.

On a subsequent 4-on-1 break, Hunt found Johnson for a layup.  Hunt then followed with a corner three.  The run ended after Laettner hit two free throws.  It you were able to count all the points, you’d probably be amazed.  UNLV had gone on an 18-0 run and now led 75-47.

Jerry Tarkanian and the rest of the UNLV fans might have actually been able to relax for the last 10 minutes.  UNLV actually out-scored Duke over the rest of the game and became the only team to hit 100 points in an NCAA Championship Game.

It was an impressive championship and the scariest part of it was that all five Rebel starters would be returning for 1991 (nope, you’d never see that today, not since Florida in 2006-2007).  It’s hard to believe that something could be scarier then a team beating another team by 30 in an NCAA Championship Game.  But all in all, it turned out to be just simply Runnin’ Rebel Domination.

Duke starters (points scored)

Robert Brickey (4) – Small Forward

Christian Laettner (15) – Power Forward

Alaa Abdelnaby (14) – Center

Bobby Hurley (2) – Point Guard

Phil Henderson (21) – Shooting Guard

Duke bench (points scored)

Brian Davis (6)

Greg Koubek (2)

Billy McCaffrey (4)

Thomas Hill (0)

Clay Buckley (0)

Crawford Palmer (3)

Joe Cook (2)

Duke Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

UNLV starters (points scored)

Stacey Augmon (12) – Small Forward

Larry Johnson (22) – Power Forward

David Butler (4) – Center

Greg Anthony (13) – Point Guard

Anderson Hunt (29) – Shooting Guard

UNLV bench (points scored)

Moses Scurry (5)

Barry Young (5)

Stacey Cvijanovich (5)

Travis Bice (0)

James Jones (8)

Chris Jeter (0)

Dave Rice (0)

UNLV Coach: Jerry Tarkanian

tarkanian unlv final four

Jerry Tarkanian (RIP: 2-11-15) celebrated his first National Championship with Larry Johnson (left) and Anderson Hunt leading the way in the Final Four against Georgia Tech and Duke *photos courtesy of Sports on Earth and Pinterest 

In the 1990 NBA draft, the New Jersey Nets took Syracuse’s Derrick Coleman with the 1st pick.  The Seattle Sonics selected Oregon State’s Gary Payton at #2.  From 3-10, the Denver Nuggets took LSU’s Chris Jackson.  The Orlando Magic took Georgia Tech’s Dennis Scott.  The Charlotte Hornets took Illinois’ Kendall Gill.  The Minnesota Timberwolves took Louisville’s Felton Spencer.  The Sacramento Kings took LaSalle’s Lionel Simmons.  The Los Angeles Clippers took Loyola Marymount’s Bo Kimble.  The Miami Heat took Minnesota’s Willie Burton.  And the Atlanta Hawks took Michigan’s Rumeal Robinson at #10.

At #11, the Golden State Warriors took Xavier’s Tyrone Hill (who last appeared in the 1987 College Basketball post.  At #13, the Clippers took Michigan’s Loy Vaught.  At 16, the Milwaukee Bucks took his teammate Terry Mills.  At 21, the Phoenix Suns took St. John’s Jayson Williams.  At 22, the New Jersey Nets took UConn’s Tate George.  At 24, the San Antonio Spurs took Florida’s Dwayne Schintzius (who also last appeared in the 1987 College Basketball post).  At 25, the Portland Blazers took Duke’s Alaa Abdelnaby.  With the last pick in the 1st round at 27, the Los Angeles Lakers took Clemson’s Elden Campbell.

In the 2nd round, Iowa’s Les Jepsen was taken by Golden State.  Georgia Tech’s Brian Oliver was taken by Philadelphia.  Kansas’ Kevin Pritchard was also taken by Golden State.  The Washington Bullets took UTEP’s Greg Foster (who last appeared in the 1987 post while playing at UCLA).  Atlanta took current UCLA Bruin Trevor Wilson.  Seattle took Arizona’s Jud Buechler.  Illinois’ Steve Bardo and Marcus Liberty were taken by Atlanta and Denver with back-to-back picks.  San Antonio took Maryland’s Tony Massenburg  and Milwaukee took Kansas State’s Steve Henson (who both last appeared in the 1988 College Basketball post).  Indiana took UTEP’s Antonio Davis (last appeared in ’87) and waited three years for him.  The Dallas Mavericks took Duke’s Phil Henderson (who never played for them or any NBA team).  Seattle took Providence’s Abdul Shamsid-Deen (who also never played in the NBA) and San Antonio took Michigan’s Sean Higgins with the last pick.

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