Isiah’s 39 leads IU by Michigan, 98-83

Isiah’s 39 leads IU by Michigan, 98-83

By Bob Hammel, Sunday Herald-Times

March 1, 1981

From the March 1, 1981 Bloomington Sunday Herald-Times

It was Indiana’s traditional day for seniors, but it wasn’t one when they could act like senior citizens.

The pace was so fast the Assembly Hall scoring record almost fell – for one player, and for everybody – but Indiana finally closed its home season with a 98-83 victory over Michigan to stay in step with Iowa and Illinois atop the Big Ten.

Heading into the final week, Iowa (a 96-75 winner over Wisconsin Saturday) is 13-3 in Big Ten play, Indiana 12-4 and Illinois (an 81-70 winner at Purdue) 11-5. Thursday, Indiana plays at Illinois and Iowa is at Michigan State, and the race ends Saturday with Indiana at Michigan State, Iowa at Ohio State and Northwestern at Illinois.

Sophomore Isiah Thomas scored 39 points to fuel the Hoosier victory charge, but lots more was needed to stay ahead of the fast-firing Wolverines in a game that fell a point shot of the Assembly Hall two-team record for a college game (182, when Indiana outscored Iowa, 101-81, late in the 1974-76 season).

Thomas also just missed a hall record. Steve Downing’s 41-point total against Illinois in 1973, threatened earlier this year when Ted Kitchel scored 40 against the Illini, barely made it through again on sophomore Thomas’s highest-scoring day as a Hoosier.

It was a day that didn’t appear gilt-edged for Indiana when Michigan opened a 30-23 lead with about five minutes left in the half. “I’m not sure we were particularly struggling,” IU coach Bob Knight said. “They shot extremely well.”

From the March 1, 1981 Bloomington Sunday Herald-Times

The Wolverines had a chance to widen their lead to nine, but Thad Garner’s bank shot dipped far into the basket and popped out. For the nest 15 minutes, Indiana’s offensive hummed with Hall of Fame efficiency to win one that, for a change, got out of the Hoosier defense’s control.

The beginning of the stretch of brilliance was appropriate. Glen Grunwald, one of the four Hoosier seniors, honored at their final home performance, took a Thomas pass for a layup to start the Hoosier comeback and his own 10-point day, his highest in two seasons.

It took Michigan’s highest scorer ever, senior Mike McGee only seven seconds to get that basket back with a shot from the corner.

But another senior, Ray Tolbert, rebounded Landon Turner’s miss and jammed in a crowd-rousing dunk Thomas stole the ball back for IU, and Tolbert’s one-and-one conversion pulled the Hoosiers within 32-29.

Seconds later, it was Thomas at the free throw line, a sight available 21 times during the record challenging afternoon. He hit both free throws (and 17 for the day) to make it 32-31.

But McGee hushed the hall and its 17,072 habitues again with two free throws and a basket, restoring a 36-31 lead with 2:40 to go in the half.

Indiana’s comeback formula was the same as before: Grunwald working loose in the offense for a basket , followed by a Tolbert rebound basket that became a game-tying 3-point play.

The Hoosiers rushed past Michigan to lead 44-38 until McGee’s 3-point play beat the halftime buzzer by three seconds.

Thomas opened a 27-point second -half scoring show by hitting jump shots on IU’s first two possessions of the second half. Still, it was 52-49 and Turner – who had 17 points in the game’s first 22 minutes – had gone to the bench with four fouls when IU took off again. Thomas had six of the points and Kitchel a 3-point play in an 11-point Indiana streak that put Michigan down, 63-49, with 13:30 to go. Thomas added eight more in a burst that opened the lead to 75-57 with 9:58 left.

IU got there from the 30-23 hole by scoring 52 points in just 33 possessions.

By then, Michigan had abandoned any thoughts of patience or patterns and gone to a fire-when-able style that long-range gunners McGee and Johnny Johnson made work.

Suddenly, the score was 82-75 with a 3-58 still left on a clock that seemed to be moving like a calendar.

Long before that crisis point, six minutes before, Thomas was tired, he admitted later. He lost what would have been his 40th point when he prepared to shoot a free throw with 9:58 left, took a deep and weary breath, re-cocked and – just before he launched a shot that went in – was called for exceeding the 10 seconds the rules give him to get a free throw in the air.

“I was aware of the 10-second rule,” he said, “but I’ve never seen it called. I was tired – I just wanted to get some more rest.”

The one wiped out was the first of the two free throws, and he hit the second. He wasn’t any fresher when he went back to the line six minutes later with the 18-point lead down to 7, but he hit both free throws.

McGee offset those in five seconds with a hurry-up basket.

Indiana beat the Michigan press and ran off 23 seconds before Tolbert got a one-and-one chance. He hit both.

And in 11 seconds, Johnson nullified those to make it 86-79 with 3:04 still to go.

IU worked with patience again before springing Ted Kitchel for a layup and an 88-79 lead with 2:20 left. McGee finally missed, but sophomore Ike Person of Michigan was fouled on the rebound, and his two free throws cut the lead back to seven with 2:07 remaining.

From the March 1, 1981 Bloomington Sunday Herald-Times

Finally, Indiana put the game away with a burst that included a close-in Thomas jump shot, McGee’s fifth foul (for charging into Tolbert), two free-throws by Kitchel, a Tolbert rebound of Johnson’s miss, and layup by Kitchel. The score was 94-81 and Knight at last was free to give the crowd its chance for a last salute to Senior Tolbert, who left the floor with a wave at 0:53.

Thomas was 11-for-15 from the field in his 39-point game, which also included six rebounds, five assists and three steals.

“He played extremely well,” Knight said.

“It was by far his best all-round game.”

Turner, though playing only 20 minutes on his foul-shortened day, scored 15, Kitchel and Turner 13 each and Grunwald 10 as IU outshot Michigan (.559 to .458) and outrebounded the Wolverines (38-34 for the game, 24-10 the last half).

McGee had his second 29-point game of the weekend to edge within range of Big Ten career records for conference games (he has 1,451; former Minnesota center Mychal Thompson has the record at 1,477) and overall play (he has 2,310; Purdue’s Rick Mount scored 2,323).

Johnson added 14 and Johnson 10 for Michigan, which lost to IU for the ninth straight time at Assembly Hall. The Wolverines are 7-9 in league play in coach Bill Frieder’s first season and 16-9 overall. IU is 19-9, within a victory of a fourth straight 20-win season and the eighth of Knight’s 10 Hoosier years.

MICHIGAN 83
M FG FT R A BS ST PF TP
McGee,f 35 11-22 7-7 4 2 0 2 5 29
Garner, f 35 4-10 0-1 3 6 0 0 5 8
Heuerman, c 30 4-7 2-3 9 2 1 0 5 10
Mt. Bodnar, g 34 3-6 2-2 7 4 0 0 4 8
Johnson, g 29 7-12 0-0 0 5 0 0 4 14
McCormick 16 3-6 2-2 2 0 0 0 3 8
Person 7 0-2 2-2 1 0 0 0 1 2
Burton 8 1-3 2-2 3 0 1 0 2 4
Mk. Bodnar 2 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Hopson 2 0-3 0-0 1 0 0 0 1 0
Pelekoudas 1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Brown 1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Antonides 1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Team 4
Totals 33-72 17-19 34 19 1 3 32 83
INDIANA 98
M FG FT R A BS ST PF TP
Kitchel, f 29 5-12 3-3 6 3 0 0 4 13
Turner, f 30 7-11 1-1 1 0 1 0 4 15
Tolbert, c 39 4-10 5-5 9 5 0 0 3 13
I. Thomas, g 37 11-15 17-21 6 5 0 3 3 39
Wittman, g 40 0-3 4-4 3 2 0 0 2 4
J. Thomas 11 0-1 0-1 2 2 0 0 0 0
Grunwald 16 4-4 2-2 4 1 0 0 3 10
Risley 4 1-2 0-0 2 1 0 0 1 2
Isenbarger 1 0-0 0-1 1 0 0 0 0 0
Bouchie 1 1-1 0-0 1 0 0 0 1 2
Franz 1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Brown 1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Team 3
Totals 33-59 32-38 38 19 1 3 21 98
SCORE BY HALVES
Michigan 41 42 – 83
Indiana 44 54 – 98
Errors – Michigan 11, Indiana 11.
Technical Foul – Indiana bench.
SHOOTING
FG Pct. FT Pct.
Michigan 33-72 0.458 17-19 0.895
Indiana 33-59 0.559 32-38 0.842
Officials – Gary Muncy, Bob Showalter and Bill Herzog.
Attendance – 17,072 (capacity).