Outstruggled ’em: Hoosiers survive ND 63-60

Outstruggled ’em: Hoosiers survive ND 63-60

by Bob Hammel, H-T Sports Editor

December 12, 1975

From the December 12, 1975 Bloomington Daily Herald – Telephone

“Super-team” talk went temporarily out of fashion Thursday night, but Indiana had enough points and poise to escape with a 63-60 victory over Notre Dame before 17,639 at Assembly Hall.

“It was a game that was kind of a struggle for both teams,” Indiana coach Bob Knight said.

“And I guess we just outstruggled them.”

It’s a fair sum-up, because the Hoosiers didn’t outshoot or outrebound the Irish, who pulled off another rare achievement against a latterday Indiana team: a comeback when apparently dead and buried.

The Hoosiers’ one assertive stretch of a long, hard evening shot them out front, 51-37, with 11 minutes to go. “Usually when Indiana has a 14-point lead here, it ends up being a 34-point lead,” Notre Dame coach Dick (Digger) Phelps said. “You’ve got to hand it to our kids for not quitting.

And Knight did. “They deserve a tremendous degree of credit,” Knight said, “because over about a three-minute period, we were really playing well. But then we made some mistakes and they capitalized on them and really played well down the stretch.”

The Irish needed only a couple of shaky minutes by Indiana to strip away the firm command the sudden lead gave IU. Freshman forward Bruce Flowers scored twice in 11 seconds, the second time on an interception with the Irish in a full-court zone press to move Notre Dame within 53-50 with 8:11 to play.

They were eight tense minutes.

The Irish never caught up, and never got the ball when they had a chance to, but twice they got the lead to two. The first time, Quinn Buckner, singled out by Knight as “the sole reason we won,” worked free for a close-in jump shot at 4:46 to edge the Hoosiers lead up to 58-54.

The other time, Buckner hit a free throw, and Notre Dame all-American Adrian Dantley wrapped two rebound baskets around it to cut the IU lead to 59-58 with two minutes left.

The Hoosiers went into a stall – and survived a major scare when 6-7 Bob Wilkerson dribbled the ball for five seconds with the 6-8 Flowers on him, causing a jump ball at the IU end with 1:26 to play. Tom Abernethy ran down the tip, and the Hoosiers held on again until Scott May was fouled with 37 seconds left.

When May hit both halves of a clutch one-and-one and Abernethy drew a charging foul from the determined Dantley eight seconds later, the Hoosiers had the ball, a 61-58 lead and only 29 seconds to kill.

But the cozy feeling left in a hurry. Grabbed by Flowers as he started to dribble away, Buckner was awarded two free throws at 0:23. Both missed, and on the second, Kent Benson was called for jumping on the back of Notre Dame’s Dave Batton.

Batton hit two free throws and it was a one-point lead with the ball at the Irish end. However, the Hoosiers cracked the press, and at 0:11. Buckner was back at the foul line in the same situation – two free throws after an intentional foul. This time, he flipped both in, and the Hoosiers at last were in solid shape.

Notre Dame got two hurried shots away – with only moderate challenge from the foul-conscious Hoosiers – before Wilkerson wrapped up a rebound and ran out the clock.

“Sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you,” the relieved Knight said.

“Statistically, Notre Dame has all the better of it, so I’ve got to be very pleased with our guys because we came out of the struggle on top.

“Notre Dame has always been a very fine basketball team, and particularly so in games that have some significance.”

It was a game that had similarities to the Irish-IU game at Assembly Hall two years ago – the last one Indiana lost at home. Neither team shot well in the first half; errors were frequent. But the difference was that this time, Indiana was the team barely staying ahead and Notre Dame was doing the chasing.

Dantley made what Knight called “two great plays” in the first minute of the game to get Notre Dame ahead, 5-2. Knight quickly shifted Wilkerson onto him and Dantley got only one more field goal the first half – in the process, working Wilkerson into foul trouble (3).

Indiana was down 16-13 and the Irish had the ball four more times with a chance to widen the lead before May hit two free throws and Buckner scored a fast-break basket for an Indiana lead.

Freshman Bernard Rencher worked free under the basket to return the lead to Notre Dame, but four different Hoosiers contributed to an eight-point streak that helped the Hoosiers to a 29-24 halftime lead … though the Indiana shooting figure at halftime was a poor .286.

Notre Dame outscored the Hoosiers, 8-2, opening the second half to get ahead again. Indiana’s charge didn’t really begin until Benson – scoreless up to then – stole an in-bounds pass in center court and bolted in for a lay-up that unleashed the noise the packed house had been holding back.

The next 2 1/2 minutes were vintage stuff.

From the December 12, 1975 Bloomington Daily Herald – Telephone

Benson and May did almost all the scoring as the lead grew to 51-37 – the embattled Phelps drawing a double- technical foul in the process and May converting it into three points by hitting one of two free throws and a close-in hook.

That was the high-water mark as Notre Dame scored on eight straight possessions to tighten things for the nervous finish.

May, who had a poor shooting night (7 for 19′ led everybody with 25 points and 9 rebounds. Buckner had 16 points plus 8 rebounds and 4 assists.

Dantley, held under 20 points only four times in 29 games last year, totaled 19 with Abernethy doing the price defensive work on him the second half. Knight, who searched out Dantley to shake his hand after the game, said “He played as well as he did against us last year (when he scored 32 points). He only took 17 shots and I think without any question he is more involved with directing the offense this year than he was before.

Indiana was outrebounded, 48-42, and the Hoosiers’ .368 shooting average was their lowest in 55 games. Notre Dame didn’t excel either, shooting .393 and outerring the Hoosiers, 19-12.

Now 3-0, the Hoosiers play Kentucky at Louisville Monday night. Notre Dame, 4-1, is at home to St. Francis, Pa., Saturday before a 17-day break that precedes its annual game with Kentucky at Louisville.

NOTRE DAME 60 FG FT R A PF TP Dantley, f 8-17 3-4 8 1 4 19 Knight, f 2-2 0-0 2 0 1 4 Batton, c 4-10 2-2 5 0 4 10 Paterno, g 3-9 4-6 5 1 1 10 Martin, g 0-5 0-0 1 2 5 0 Flowers 3-5 3-4 5 0 5 9 Laimbeer 2-5 0-0 6 0 2 4 Williams 0-5 0-0 2 2 3 0 Rencher 1-2 0-0 0 1 0 2 Carpenter 1-1 0-0 2 2 2 2 Team 12 Totals 24-61 12-16 48 9 27 60 INDIANA 63 FG FT R A PF TP May, f 7-19 11-13 9 1 4 25 Abernethy, f 3-4 1-2 2 1 2 7 Benson, c 3-10 1-3 6 1 4 7 Buckner, g 5-15 6-11 8 4 1 16 Wilkerson, g 2-5 0-3 4 0 3 4 Radford 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 Crews 1-4 2-2 2 2 3 4 Valavicius 0-0 0-0 1 0 0 0 Team 10 Totals 21-57 21-34 42 9 17 63 SCORE BY HALVES Indiana 29-34 63 Notre Dame 34-36 60 Errors: Notre Dame 19, Indiana 12. Steals: Notre Dame 5 (Flowers 2, Dantley, 1, Martin 1, Carpenter 1); Indiana 5 (Benson 1, Buckner 1, Crews 1, May 1, Wilkerson 1). Blocked shots: Notre Dame 3 (Batton 1, Dantley 1, Martin 1); Indiana 2 (Benson). Technical fouls: Indiana 2 (bench, Wilkerson); Notre Dame 2 (bench 2). SHOOTING FG Pct. FT Pct. Indiana 21-57 .368 21-34 .618 Notre Dame 24-61 .393 12-16 .750 Officials: Phil Robinson, George Solomon and Richard Weiler. Attendance: 17,639.