IU lucky ‘n good in victory over UK

IU lucky ‘n good in victory over UK

by Bob Hammel, H-T Sports Editor

December 16, 1975

From the December 16, 1975 Bloomington Daily Herald – Telephone

LOUSVILLE – Indiana was good and lucky Monday night, so college basketball’s version of the No. 1 gun survived another shoot-out with a frisky young challenger.

The lucky part was the way the Hoosiers scrambled to get into overtime with Kentucky. The good part was that, once there, they finally asserted the command that had eluded them for 40 frustrating minutes and they put the Wildcats down, 77-68.

By a wild coincidence, the score was identical to IU’s victory over Kentucky the last time the two met at Freedom Hall. But this one was no 9-pointer.

This time, it took an indiscreet shot by Larry Johnson, one of the Kentucky heroes, and a fluke basket by Kent Benson to pull the Hoosiers back from Boot Hill. Johnson tried an off-balance, driving shot from about five feet with 1:10 to go in regulation time and Kentucky ahead, 62-60. It missed.

IU capitalized on that opening with a Scott May jump shot that tied the game. Rick Robey another Wildcat standout, untied it with a quick inside move and basket at 0:29, and IU faced a must-score situation that challenged its poise.

The basket the Hoosiers got didn’t show the real way they answered it.

A couple of quick passes inside the 1-3-1 Kentucky zone defense that had bothered the Hoosiers the last half worked Tom Abernethy free for a driving shot. “I had an opening to the basket so I took it,” Abernethy said. “It wasn’t a real lay-up – about a four-foot shot.”

He put the shot up, but Robey came flying across to get a hand on the ball before it could get to the basket goaltending, in IU eyes, but not in the officials. I thought, it was going in – I’m not one to second guess but I really thought he goaltended,” Abernethy said. “I was jumping up about the goaltending,” IU coach Bob Knight admitted. “I almost missed the tip-in.”

From the December 16, 1975 Bloomington Daily Herald – Telephone

It wasn’t one to miss, because it’ll be remembered awhile – especially in Kentucky. Benson, partially blocked out on the play, stuck out a hand barely more than waist high – primarily to bat the ball in the air and give him a chance to go up after it for a tip-in. “I hit it with my full hand, right in the palm,” Benson said. The ball arched high in the air and swished neatly through with nine seconds left, tying the game 64-64.

Indiana’s defense met, Johnson in center court and frisked the ball away just before time ran out, sending the two rivals into overtime.

Getting there was a lift for IU, a body blow to Kentucky which had a precious victory in its hands. The difference showed quickly as the Hoosiers coolly and precisely put Kentucky away.

They had things under control before the first minute of the five-minute extra period was gone. Benson broke the tie with two free throws, then twice in a row swept off defensive rebounds after Wildcat misses to set up Indiana scores – Abernethy getting one with a close-in jump shot and Quinn Buckner the other when he took an uncharacteristically long outlet pass from Benson at midcourt and outsprinted Kentucky freshman Truman Claytor to the goal for a lay-up.

Suddenly, it was 70-64 with 4:04 to go, and the Wildcats never got any closer than that the rest of the way as IU poise produced an error-free possession game.

It wasn’t a game that was Kentucky’s right up to the end. Indiana was the team with the mid-game chances to put things away, but the Hoosiers stopped themselves with poor free-throw shooting late in the first half and Kentucky provided its own momentum in the last 10 minutes of regulation time.

Benson and May, who shared game honors with 27 points apiece, did all of Indiana’s scoring as the Hoosiers moved out to a quick 17-7 lead in the first six minutes.

It was 23-11 after 10 minutes, Kentucky guards Johnson and Claytor breaking down repeatedly in backcourt under pressure from Buckner and May – the latter the surprise choice to take Claytor, Bob Wilkerson spending the game on forward Jack Givens.

Indiana missed four potential free-throw points, committed two turnovers and missed a couple of good shots – and that was all the encouragement Kentucky needed to work back into the game.

Still, it was 34-24 with 1:40 to go in the half when Kentucky came on with a blitz that cut the edge to 34-32 by halftime and sent the Wildcats to the dressing room believing they could nail IU.

They opened the second half by falling back 6, then spurted once to tie. Indiana eased out again to 48-42 as May stuck in three straight jump shots, then 54-47 on a jump shot by freshman Rich Valavicius at 9:57.

Kentucky’s late-game explosion was detonated by three spectacular plays. The first was a sequence, sophomores Givens and James Lee refusing to quit on the Wildcat offensive board until Lee stuck in a basket – on Kentucky’s fifth shot as IU suddenly lost all control of its defensive board.

Robey roamed in free for an uncontested rebound basket seconds later to cut the IU lead to 54-53 with 8:23 to go. May, firing blanks by then in an 0-for-7 streak, had open invitations to score on most of the tries. But he tried to force one with the 1-point lead and Givens (1) leaped high to block the shot, (2) recovered his balance to grab the ball along the sidelines near midcourt, and (3) eluded an attempted cutoff by Wilkerson to drive in for the lay-up that put Kentucky ahead 35-34, as the Bluegrass majority in the crowd of 16,615 rejoiced.

From the December 16, 1975 Bloomington Daily Herald – Telephone

Benson put Indiana ahead 56-55, at 6:51, but 6-10 Mike Phillips lunged in a minute later to sweep away Valavicius’ lay-up try and keep Kentucky within 1. Robey tied the game with a free throw at 4:30 and, after May’s sixth and seventh misses of his dry spell, Claytor and Lee shot Kentucky into a 60-56 lead – with the clock under three minutes.

Abernethy and Givens matched baskets – Abernethy’s a driving, second-effort cash-in of a recovered Hoosier miss – before May drilled two in a row to tie the game. Johnson’s crucial miss in between.

“We hurt ourselves with mistakes,” Hall said “but I’m totally pleased with the effort, the courageousness.

“The tip by Benson had to be the luckiest I’ve ever seen.”

Certainly the best-timed lucky one, anyway. Kentucky teeth will still be gnashing over that one years from now, just as Hoosier teeth would have over what they considered uncalled goaltending, had the ‘tying basket not come.’

Abernethy was the only Hoosier besides May and Benson to make double figures, scoring 10 – 4 in the overtime. Buckner, who sat out 13 minutes in the second half with four fouls but came o to direct the overtime play, scored 5 of his 7 points in the overtime.

Givens had 20, Johnson 16 and Robey 11, and Givens (12′ and Lee (10) gave Kentucky 47-40 board control, Benson leading Indiana with 14.

Indiana shot .514 in the last half and overtime to finish at .471, while Kentucky’s .387 was the lowest by a Hoosier opponent so far this year. The Wildcats also had 16 errors to IU’s 11, both figures low for a 45-minute game.

Indiana (4-0) returns to play this weekend in the second Indiana Classic – the Hoosiers meeting Georgia (3-2) in the 7 o’clock tourney opener Friday with Virginia Tech (4-1) and Oregon (4-2) meeting at 9. Winners meet at 9 p.m. Saturday for the championship, losers for third at 7.

Kentucky, somehow, is 2-3.

INDIANA 77 FG FT R A PF TPMay, f 11-28 5-8 8 0 3 27Abernethy, f 4-5 2-4 7 2 4 10Benson, c 11-19 5-7 14 1 4 27Buckner, g 3-7 1-4 4 4 4 7Wilkerson, g 2-7 0-0 5 4 1 4Wisman 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0Valavicius 1-1 0-0 1 0 0 2Crews 0-1 0-0 0 1 0 0Team 1Totals 32-68 13-23 43 12 16 77KENTUCKY 68 FG FT R A PF TPGivens, g 9-21 2-2 12 1 1 20Robey, f 3-5 5-7 8 0 4 11Hall, c 0-1 0-0 3 0 3 0Johnson, g 8-15 0-0 7 3 2 16Claytor, g 2-12 0-0 0 3 2 4Phillips 3-5 3-5 4 0 1 9Lee 3-9 0-0 10 1 3 6Casey 0-3 0-0 0 1 2 0Fowler 1-2 0-0 1 0 1 2Haskins 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0Warford 0-1 0-0 1 0 0 0Team 1Totals 29-75 10-14 47 9 18 68SCORE BY PERIODS Indiana 34-30-13 77Kentucky 32-32-4 68 SHOOTING FG Pct. FT Pct. Indiana 32-68 .471 13-23 .565 Kentucky 29-75 .387 10-14 .714 Errors: Indiana 11, Kentucky 14Attendance: 16,615Officials: Jim Bain and Burrell CrowellUPI COACHES' POLL 1. INDIANA (41) 410 2. Marquette 324 3. Maryland 297 4. N. Carolina 259 5. UCLA 204 6. Notre Dame 165 7. Alabama 85 8. Nevada LV 67 9. Cincinnati 55 10. Tennessee 50 11. Washington 49 12. Michigan 47 13. N. Carolina St. 45 14. Rutgers 43 15. Louisville 39 16. San Francisco 34 17. St. John's 17 18. Arizona St. 13 19. Arizona 9 20. Wichita St. 8 AP WRITERS' POLL 1. IND. (59) 1198 2. Maryland 1016 3. Marquette (1) 882 4. N. Carolina 718 5. Notre Dame 644 6. UCLA 565 7. Cincinnati 478 8. Alabama 421 9. N. Carolina St. 264 10. Louisville 255 11. Tennessee 245 12. Washington 108 13. Nevada LV 107 14. San Francisco 165 15. Rutgers 131 16. Michigan 124 17. Auburn 94 18. St. John's 89 19. Arizona St. 87 20. Kentucky 41