Celebratin’ time for IU’s 4th straight title

Celebratin’ time for IU’s 4th straight title

by Bob Hammel, H-T Sports Editor

February 24, 1976

From the February 24, 1976 Bloomington Daily Herald – Telephone

The blowout returned to Indiana basketball Monday night just in time for a royal occasion.

Quinn Buckner, playing in his 100th college victory, led the way as the unbeaten Hoosiers overwhelmed Iowa, 101-81, to guarantee their fourth straight Big Ten championship.

The victory, much more decisive than the 20-point final margin, assures only a share of the title for now. The Hoosiers have three games left to get the victory that would nail down another clear-cut championship.

But, to 17,691 at Assembly Hall, the means was even more significant than the historic end on this night. The electricity, the pizzazz, the fun was back.

It may be valid to ask where it had gone considering the Hoosiers were just as unbeaten going into this, their 24th game, as they were coming out.

Hoosier coach Bob Knight, who ranks with the world’s better worriers, chided everyone around the Hoosier program – himself, his players, anxious Hoosier fans and the press – for preoccupation with the what’s-wrongs while ignoring the what’s-rights of an all-winning year.

“We’ve been talking about how we can’t do this and we don’t do that,” Knight said. “What we talked to the kids about yesterday and before this game was what we can do.

“I feel very proud of these kids. They’ve done a hell of a lot of things positively. They’ve done some things that no other team in the history of the Big Ten has done and some other things only a couple have done. They’ve had to play a lot of good basketball in a tough conference.”

They played quite a bit of it Monday night in destroying an Iowa team that was 18-6 with a five-game winning streak entering the game.

The Hawkeyes led once, at 5-4. Appropriately, Buckner swung the lead back to IU for the last time with a jump shot at 16:55.

It was his second field goal. He missed his next two tries, then bombed in seven in a row as Indiana exploded away from an Iowa team that stayed as close as 49-36 at halftime only by hitting 14 free throws.

When Kent Benson and Scott May hit a couple of field goals each and Bob Wilkerson added one opening the second half, the lead jumped to 59-38 and the rout was on.

“At the beginning of the second half, we played extremely well,” Knight said. “That was the kind of basketball I enjoy seeing us play.”

The lead peaked out at 81-48 with 9:30 left. By then, Buckner had come out to a prolonged standing ovation and a Knight hug on the sidelines.

All starters were gone with 6:24 to go, the Hoosier lead at 85-57 then Indiana reserves turned the ball over five times in two sloppy minutes to give Iowa a margin-shrinking 11-point run.

But even they closed the night on the upswing – a three-point play by freshman Scott Eells, a steal and lay-up by Eells, and a steal and lay-up by Wayne Radford all coming in the last 29 seconds to boost Indiana over the 100 mark for the fourth time this year.

Indiana’s 44 field goals included some dazzling sequences that will brighten the year’s highlight film.

Roommates May and Buckner got things going with assists to each other in the first minute.

In the game’s fourth minute, Wilkerson sailed an “Alley Oop” pass over the top of Iowa’s zone defense and Benson’s timing and touch were perfect on a leap, catch and soft deposit into the goal.

The seventh and eighth minutes were nightmares for the Hawkeyes, harassed into turnovers on five straight trips downcourt while IU’s lead jumped to 19-9.

Wilkerson’s penetration inside the Iowa zone and slick pass to Tom Abernethy for a lay-up made it 25-17 at the 10 minute mark.

And, in a 57-second stretch just after that, Buckner drilled a jump shot, fooled the Hawks with a change-of-pace that freed him for a driving lay-up, then swished another jump shot to make it 31-17 and push embattled Hawkeye coach Lute Olson to a time out.

From the February 24, 1976 Bloomington Daily Herald – Telephone

Knight pulled Buckner for a breather at the time out (with 8:07 to go in the half), but life got no better for Olson.

When play resumed, IU sophomore Wayne Radford stripped the ball away from Iowa’s Dick Peth in midcourt and headed for a lay-up when Olson cut him off.

The Hawkeye coach’s device was a stroll onto the court in protest of the Radford steal – a foul in Lute’s eye. Official Jim Bain had a technical foul called before Radford could get to the basket, so Radford lost the lay-up and a little skin above his eye, too, absorbing a cut on the play that forced him to the sidelines for repairs.

IU got its lost points back, tough, because by the time Olson was through with the playing floor, a second technical foul had been called and Jim Crews sank both free throws.

Iowa got within 39-31 when the Hoosiers had three turnovers in a row late in the half, but Indiana scored 10 points in the last two minutes of the half to rebuild its lead. The 10-2 take-off to the second half erased the last doubts.

The spectacular plays didn’t stop there. May’s seal and feed to Buckner for a fast-break lay-up at 15:19 turned the crowd on. Two straight Buckner baskets opened a 71-42 lead with 13:40 to go and – with the ball in play and Iowa trying to get something going at its end – the inferno of noise ignited by the Buckner foray raged on unchecked, feeding on its own intensity.

Buckner finished 12-for-19 with 24 points, easily his season high (16 against UCLA and Notre Dame his previous high).

All other Hoosier starters finished well into double figures – Benson with 15 points (and a team-high 9 rebounds as IU owned the backboards, 42-29), May and Wilkerson with 14 each, and Abernethy with 12.

Iowa’s three seasoning scoring leaders – Scott Thompson, Bruce King and Dan Frost – were 23-for-36 (.644) so accuracy wasn’t the Hawkeye problem. However, 10 of their 23 field goals came after the 71-42 margin was opened, 5 of them after the last Hoosier starter was out.

Thompson totaled 22 points, King 20 and Frost 16 as the Hawks dropped to 8-6 in the conference – a half-game back of Michigan State (9-6) and 3 1/2 behind runnerup Michigan (12-3), the two teams the Hawks meet next weekend in Iowa City.

Indiana’s streaks moved on – 4 wins in a row this year, 15 in Big Ten play; 34 straight Big Ten victories; 33 wins in a row at Assembly Hall, and 54 consecutive victories in regular-season games.

Indiana will have only a couple of days to refocus, going to Wisconsin Thursday night for a try at clinching the clear-cut league title. The game originally was planned Saturday but it was shifted to Thursday (8:35 p.m., Ch. 4) so Wisconsin could host the state high school wrestling championships in its fieldhouse.

IOWA 81 M FG FT R A PF TP King, f 35 9-1 2-2 3 0 4 20 Frost, f 36 6-9 4-10 9 2 1 16 Haberecht, c 24 0-1 0-0 0 0 2 0 Thompson, g 35 8-13 6-6 7 1 1 22 Wulfsberg, g 20 1-2 4-4 0 4 3 6 Peth 23 2-6 9-11 2 4 3 13 Gatens 9 1-3 0-0 2 0 1 2 Mays 10 1-4 0-0 0 2 1 0 Mayfield 3 0-0 0-1 0 0 1 0 Hairston 3 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 Magnusson 2 0-0 0-0 0 0 1 0 Team 6 Totals 28-52 25-34 29 12 18 81 INDIANA 101 M FG FT R A PF TP May, f 24 6-15 2-2 6 6 4 14 Abernethy, f 31 5-7 2-2 6 1 4 12 Benson, c 23 7-11 1-1 9 0 4 15 Buckner, g 26 12-19 0-0 0 8 1 24 Wilkerson, g 29 7-10 0-1 6 6 3 14 Radford 12 2-3 3-4 2 1 2 7 Crews 7 0-3 2-2 0 0 1 2 Wisman 14 1-3 2-2 1 4 5 4 Valavicius 19 2-5 0-0 6 0 4 4 Bender 6 0-1 0-1 0 1 0 0 Haymore 4 0-0 0-0 0 0 2 0 Roberson 3 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 Eells 3 2-2 1-1 1 0 1 5 Team 5 Totals 44-79 13-16 42 27 31 101 SCORE BY HALVES Iowa 36-45 81 Indiana 49-52 101 Errors: Iowa 23, Indiana 19. Blocked shots: Iowa 3 (Haberecht); Indiana 1 (Benson). Steals: Iowa 4 (Frost, King, Mays, Thompson); Indiana 10 (Abernethy 2, Buckner 2, May 2, Radford 2, Eells, Wilkerson). Technical fouls: Iowa coach Olson 2. SHOOTING FG Pct. FT Pct. Iowa 20-52 .538 25-34 .735 Indiana 44-79 .557 13-4 .813 Officials: Jim Bain, Malcolm Hemphill and Rollo Vallern Attendance: 17,691 (capacity).