Hoosiers wrap up ‘clear’ title, 96-67

Hoosiers wrap up ‘clear’ title, 96-67

by Bob Hammel, H-T Sports Editor

February 27, 1976

From the February 27, 1976 Bloomington Daily Herald – Telephone

MADISON, Wis. – It was first-place Indiana against last-place Wisconsin Thursday night, but Hoosier all-American Scott May admitted he was specially inspired.

“When you’re playing for the championship, you’ve gotta put out,” May said.

So Indiana has the clear-cut Big Ten basketball championship, delivered with a 96-67 rout of the Badgers and a career-high 41 points by May.

Wisconsin came into the game with the longest-losing streak in its basketball history, 13 games. But the Badgers were as fired up as May. It was Senior Night, the last home game for five Wisconsin seniors and for resigned coach John Powless, who reflected before the game.

“The crowd always gives the seniors a nice hand and gets everybody ready. I don’t think we’ve lost one of these (a home finale) since I’ve been here.”

It had been five years, anyway, and the biggest Badger crowd in a good while, 9,343, was there to do its noisy part.

The inspiration didn’t just work with seniors. Sophomore forward Bill Pearson admitted he was “super-inspired,” and he played like it with 14 first-half rebounds.

Pearson and sophomore guard Brian Colbert did the scoring as Wisconsin gave the Hoosiers their worst game-opening treatment of the year – 6-0 after 75 seconds, 8-2 with three minutes gone.

But after the Hoosiers had missed their first six shots, Quinn Buckner hit a jump shot, May scored a rebound basket and May slipped away on a fast break for a three-point play that gave Indiana the lead – never to be given back.

Pearson’s second reobund basket had Wisconsin still within 21-18 with nine minutes to go in the half. But Indiana scored seven points in a row – the first five by May – to take a 28-18 lead and the pullaway had begun.

By halftime, May had 19 points and 13 rebounds and Indiana’s lead was 39-26.

“We were getting the ball inside (against Wisconsin’s zone defense) the first half,” IU coach Bob Knight said, “but we missed a lot of good shots so we weren’t really accomplishing anything.

“We seemed to get stronger the second half.”

May, 9-for-10 from the field the last half, personally outscored Wisconsin, 7-2, in the opening four minutes as the Hoosier lead jumped to 48-28.

“Maybe they just got tired,” IU forward Tom Abernethy said. “They really were playing hard at the start of the game.”

May did most of his sniping from the wings and the baseline. As the Badger zone stretched to counter him, Hoosier passing took on a sheen. Abernethy, 0-for-5 the first half, was 5-for-6 the second, helped chiefly by Bob Wilkerson’s passing and an effective inside screening game.

At times, the Hoosiers seemed to be putting on a clinic. “They have two different styles,” Powless said. “They can show great patience on offense and also run with the ball effectively. The cheap ones they get off the break kill you.”

It was 88-62 with 2:30 left when May and Abernethy, the last Hoosier regulars on the floor, came out to a loud ovation.

May posted career highs for both points (33 against UCLA was his previous peak) and rebounds (he had 18; his previous high was 17 against Iowa last year).

His point total was the highest by a Hoosier since Steve Downing had 41 against Illinois in 1973. The two now share eighth on the IU list for scoring in a Big Ten game.

Abernethy was the only other Hoosier to make double figures, coring 12.

Captain Dale Koehler, one of the departing seniors, led Wisconsin with 17 points and Colbert had 16.

For only the second time all year (the first was in their 80-74 victory at Michigan Jan. 10), the Hoosiers had more turnovers than their opponent (15-11 Thursday).

But Indiana offset that with a 67-46 rebound margin – the highest rebound total for a Big Ten team this year – and with .520 shooting to Wisconsin’s chilly .322.

The Indiana victory eliminated the last possible Hoosier-catcher, Michigan – Indiana 16-0 in league play with games left against Northwestern at Evanston Monday and Ohio State at Assembly Hall March 6 and Michigan 12-3 with three games left.

It’s Indiana second clear-cut Big Ten championship in a row, third in four years (Michigan interrupted the string by sharing the championship with IU in 1974) and sixth in history – to go with six co-championships.

INDIANA 96 M FG FT R A PF TP May, f 37 16-26 9-10 18 1 1 41 Abernethy, f 33 5-11 2-3 6 2 1 12 Benson, c 23 2-05 2-4 9 3 4 6 Buckner, g 19 3-8 0-0 3 2 4 6 Wilkerson, g 33 2-7 1-2 12 7 4 5 Wisman 11 1-5 0-0 1 2 1 2 Valavicius 13 3-4 0-0 5 0 4 6 Radford 12 1-2 3-5 3 2 1 5 Crews 10 3-3 1-2 0 2 0 7 Bender 3 0-0 0-0 1 0 1 0 Eells 2 0-0 0-0 2 0 0 0 Roberson 2 1-1 0-0 1 0 0 2 Haymore 2 2-3 0-0 1 0 1 4 Team 5 Totals 39-75 18-25 67 21 22 96 WISCONSIN 67 M FG FT R A PF TP Koehler, f 39 5-23 7-9 12 3 4 17 Pearson, f 25 3-11 0-2 16 1 5 6 Johnson, c 32 4-13 0-1 6 0 5 8 J. Smith, g 30 3-12 0-0 4 5 2 6 Paterick 10 2-6 2-2 0 0 0 6 Brey 10 0-1 0-0 1 1 1 0 Rudd 11 4-6 0-0 2 0 0 8 Falk 2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 B. Smith 2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 Piacenza 2 0-1 0-1 0 0 0 0 Team 1 Totals 29-90 9-17 46 13 21 67 SCORE BY HALVES Indiana 39-57 96 Wisconsin 26-41 67 Errors: Indiana 15, Wisconsin 11. Blocked shots: Indiana 2 (Benson, Wilkerson); Wisconsin 4 (Johnson 3, Pearson). Steals: Indiana 6 (Buckner 3, May 2, Wilkerson); Wisconsin 3 (Koehler; Pearson, Piacenza). Technical fouls: Wisconsin 2 (bench, Johnson.) SHOOTING FG Pct. FT Pct. Indiana 39-75 .520 10-26 .692 Wisconsin 29-90 .322 9-17 .529 Officials: Jerry Menz, Bob Brodbeck and Bob Showalter. Attendance: 9,343.