Indiana rips MSU for Big Ten title

Indiana rips MSU for Big Ten title

By Bob Hammel, Sunday Herald-Times

March 8, 1981

From the March 8, 1981 Bloomington Sunday Herald-Times

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Indiana had the Big Ten championship door opened to it at Ohio State Saturday afternoon and went barging through it in championship style with a 69-48 victory oven Michigan State Saturday night.

The victory capped a tumultuous weekend that saw the Hoosiers move from a game out with two games to go to win their second straight clear-cut title.

Assists came from Ohio State, which dumped Iowa Saturday afternoon at Columbus, 78-70, and from the Michigan State team that Indiana overpowered Saturday night. The Spartans brought Iowa back to IU Thursday night with a 71-70 home-court victory over the Hawkeyes.

A year ago, Indiana won its last six league games to win the championship outright.

“The difference between last year and this year is that last year we controlled our own destiny,” said Hoosier coach Bob Knight – whose IU teams have won five championships and one co-championship in his 10 seasons.

“Last year, if we won our last six, nobody could beat us out of the championship.

“This year, we didn’t have that after we lost at Iowa (Feb. 19).

“I think that’s a great tribute to these kids that they kept whacking away at it when they didn’t have full control.

“This has to be a tremendous thrill for them, and it is for me, too.”

Isiah contests a Spartan shot during IU at Michigan State, March 7, 1981. H-T file photo

Michigan State had a full house pulling for a second straight Spartan upset, and the 10,004 rocked old Jenison Fieldhouse’s rafters when senior Jay Vincent – completing a second year as the Big Ten’s scoring champion – sparked Michigan State to a 19-17 early lead.

By then, Vincent was 5-for-6, mostly from territory to the burly inside specialist: deep on the left side, near the corner.

Indiana appeared doubly vulnerable when guard Isiah Thomas picked up two fouls in the first six minutes.

But Thomas didn’t get another until the second half, and the Hoosiers moved ahead with a 5-point run that came after Vincent’s shot delivered the 19-17 lead with 8:05 left in the half.

Ray Tolbert, the Hoosier that started with Vincent as his assignment and was beleaguered by the sudden outside success, tied the game with two free throws at 7:28.

Another senior, Steve Risley, came off the bench for a second straight strong performance including points that put IU ahead for good. Risley broke the 19-19 tie with a free throw at 6:56 and broke free for a layup 36 seconds later to give the Hoosiers some room.

Consecutive baskets by Thomas, Landon Turner, and Randy Wittman zoomed the Hoosiers to a 30-23 lead, and Wittman’s 18-foot shot just ahead of the buzzer sent the Hoosiers in the half with a 34-26 lead.

Indiana, which lead the league in shooting, hit only 4 of its 13 shots but ran in 9 of 10 during the late-half stratch that gave them the lead.

“I think our offense just picked up a little bit,” Knight said. “That basket Wittman hit gave us a damned good lead.”

Landon Turner pulls down a rebound vs. Michigan State, March 7, 1981. H-T file photo

The second half, Turner took over on Vincent, who knew at halftime he needed only one more basket to top the total of runnerup Mike McGee, whose last league season at Michigan had ended a few hours eaelier.

It took Vincent a long while to get that title-winning basket. It finally came from the top of the foul circle with 8:50 to play, and it touched off an explosive reaction in the fieldhouse – Spartan fans following a burst of applause with a chant, “Jay! Jay! Jay!”

At that point, however, two champions were pretty well crowned. Indiana had a 50-38 lead and had the Spartans out of the zone defense they prefer, chasing the Hoosiers man-to-man.

“We tried to stay in our zone as long as we could,” said Jud Heathcote, whose zone was a staple on his national championship term at MSU in 1979.

“There comes a time when you just have to come after them.”

It came barly five minutes into the second half, with IU leading, 40-30.

“They went man-to-man just at a time when we were going to bring them out (of the zone),” Knight said.

Ray Tolbert (45) fights for a rebound vs. Michigan State, March 7, 1981. H-T file photo

State still was within 10 at 54-44 with 5:30 to play, but two free throws by Tolbert, one by Risley, then baskets by Thomas and Tolbert after a Spartan score put Indiana up, 62-46, with a 2:50 to go and assured the meaningful victory.

Before Knight could get the clock stopped to remove his starters in the last minute and a half, the Hoosiers had celebrated the championship with crashing dunks by Turner and Tolbert.

They led the Hoosier scoring, Tolbert with 17 points and Turner 16 (plus a game-high 9 rebounds). Thomas despite an uncharacteristic 4-for-9 night at the free-throw line, had 14.

Vincent finished with 20 points, but the man expected to co-lead the upset effort guard Kevin Smith, managed only 5.

Freshmen forward Ben Tower took up some of the slack with unexpected 7-for-9 shooting and 14 points, equaling his season high.

Indiana shot .632 for the game – 24-for-38, which means the Hoosiers hit 20 of 25 shots out of their chilly start. That charts out to the same .800 mark that carried the Hoosiers to victory in the last half Thursday night at Illinois.

Indiana (21-9 overall) will listen intently this afternoon when the NCAA announces and pairs the 48-team field that will start the national championship tournament this weekend.

Indiana seems assured of a first round bye, which means the Hoosiers probably will be playing Saturday or Sunday at Dayton or Tuscaloosa, needing one victory to be a part of the proceedings in the first Mideast regional at their own Assembly Hall March 20 and 22.

Michigan State finished 7-11 in the league and 13-14 overall.

Today’s the Day

Pairings for the NCAA Tournament will be announced this afternoon, invitations going out to at-large teams at 2 p.m. and seedings announced at 3 p.m. First- and second-round play is schudualed Thursday and Saturday at Texas (Midwest Region), Dayton (Mideast), UCLA (West) and Providence (East) and Friday and Sunday at Wichita State (Midwest), Alabame (Mideast), Texas-El Paso (West) and North Carolina-Charlotte (East). Those sites will be placed in the bracket today, but game times will probably not be announced until Monday.

INDIANA 69
M FG FT R A BS ST PF TP
Kitchel, f 11 0-1 3-3 2 1 0 0 0 3
Turner, f 39 7-9 2-2 9 0 0 0 4 16
Tolbert, c 37 5-9 7-7 3 1 1 1 3 17
I. Thomas, g 37 5-8 4-9 3 5 0 2 4 14
Wittman, g 39 4-7 1-2 2 1 1 0 0 9
Grunwald 2 0-0 0-0 0 1 0 0 1 0
J. Thomas 2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Risley 28 2-3 4-6 4 1 1 0 0 8
Franz 1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Bouchie 1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Isenbarger 1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Brown 1 1-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 2
LaFave 1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Team 0
Totals 24-38 21-29 23 10 3 3 12 69
MICHIGAN STATE 48
M FG FT R A BS ST PF TP
Kaye, f 36 0-2 3-4 2 0 0 0 3 3
Tower, f 35 7-9 0-0 3 2 0 0 4 14
Vincent, c 38 10-17 0-2 4 2 0 0 3 20
Smith, g 35 2-8 1-2 5 3 1 1 4 5
Brkovich, g 16 0-4 0-0 2 0 0 0 1 0
Bostic 14 1-1 0-0 0 1 0 0 2 2
Morrison 12 1-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 3 2
Perry 7 0-2 0-0 1 1 0 0 1 0
Bates 2 0-1 0-0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Cawood 2 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Gore 2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Fossum 1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Radelet 1 0-0 2-2 0 0 0 0 0 2
Team 2
Totals 21-46 6-10 20 9 1 1 22 48
SCORE BY HALVES
Indiana 34 35 – 69
Michigan State 26 22 – 48
Errors – Indiana 9, Michigan State 12.
Technical Foul – Tower (grabbing rim).
SHOOTING
FG Pct. FT Pct.
Indiana 24-38 0.632 21-29 0.724
Michigan State 21-46 0.457 6-10 0.6
Officials – Art White, Fred Jaspers, Malcolm Hemphill.
Attendance – 10,004 (sellout).