Hoosiers are survivors

Hoosiers are survivors

By Bob Hammel, H-T Sports Editor

February 20, 1987

From the February 20, 1987 Bloomington Herald-Telephone

“It’s not the way we wanted to go into the game,” Indiana forward Daryl Thomas admitted Thursday night.

But the game – the Iowa game that starts the homestretch for Indiana’s Big Ten leaders – finally is in sight for the Hoosiers, coming up Saturday afternoon at Assembly Hall (3:05, NBC-TV).

My, it was a long time coming for the Hoosiers, who wheezed past a third straight team the watching world didn’t figure could give them a contest – Minnesota this time, at Assembly Hall.

For the second time already this week, it took a retrieval by 6-foot-10 center Dean Garrett under the Hoosier basket to give Indiana a 72-70 victory that boosted the Hoosiers to 22-2 overall and 13-1 in league play as Iowa (23-3 and 11-3) arrives.

It was another tooth-gnashing night to be a Purdue fan. Indiana played from behind much of the last half and seemed on the hook, ready to be landed, when the Gophers – who hit pressure shot after pressure shot in the tense last half – got the basketball back with 55 seconds left and the score tied for the 20th time, 70-70.

Minnesota coach Clem Haskins took a timeout at 0:46 to draw up plans. “We were trying to clear Kim (Zurcher) for a jump shot, backscreen for him and get a shot for him in the corner,” Haskins said. “He’s won two games for us. Against Wisconsin he won the game with a three-pointer.”

Zurcher got the ball and started to go for his shot, but defender Steve Alford slapped the ball out of his hands, out of bounds.

Officials faced a borderline call: Was it an aborted shot or an avoided one? No shot, officials ruled, which meant Minnesota still had to get a shot up – with 16 seconds left in the game, and 6 seconds on the shot clock.

“It was an attempt,” Haskins contented. “He’s going up to shoot the basketball. It was a tough call, a judgment call. We’d like to think it was an attempt. We’d like to get the ball out and go for a last-second shot.”

To Indiana coach Bob Knight, the Alford deflection was “a really key play for us, putting the thing down to a point where they’ve got to get it in-bounds and try to get set up in those last five or six seconds (on the shot clock).”

From the February 20, 1987 Bloomington Herald-Telephone

Minnesota’s choice was the same as before: Zurcher from the right corner. This time, Steve Eyl was the defender, and Zurcher’s shot never had a chance. Eyl blocked it, Rick Calloway retrieved the ball and got it to Alford, and the Hoosiers went after victory.

Alford weaved through the Gopher defense, reached the baseline, cut for the basket and put up a short shot in traffic. It missed, but – as he was in the last five seconds of the third overtime at Wisconsin Monday night when his rebound shot beat the Badgers, 86-85 – Garrett was there to seize the rebound. When he went back up with it, he was fouled – with 0:03 on the clock.

Earlier in the year, Garrett was a high-risk free-throw shooter for the Hoosiers. Michigan State was willing to risk a two-shot foul late in the game to grab him even when he didn’t have the basketball, just to make him the Hoosier on the line.

Garrett broke the tie by swishing his first try. Knight took a timeout to set up a defense, in case of a second-shot miss. Garrett hit the second shot, and Haskins used his last timeout to draw up a play. The Gophers set it up, Indiana took a look at it, and Knight called another timeout.

When the sideline maneuvering ended, Minnesota hit guard Ray Gaffney with a pass as he broke up the middle of the court. Before Gaffney could get into firing range, though he bobbled the ball and was called for traveling as the clock ran out.

All the action crammed into those last few seconds didn’t constitute the night’s total. One more time, the Hoosiers met a team that shed all appearances of a loser. “That was a great basketball game,” Haskins said. “We played as well as we possibly can play. We got beat by an excellent ball club.”

Indiana jumped out to a 12-5 lead, but the Gophers caught up at 20-20 and no one had breathing room the rest of the night. Todd Meier’s jump shot gave Indiana a 36-34 halftime lead. Gaffney and Zurcher sparked a 14-6 Minnesota run that put the Gophers up, 52-48, with 13:55 to go Indiana caught up on Eyl’s lob to Garrett for a layup and went ahead on a three-point play by Thomas.

Six times after that, Indiana edged into two-point leads, but Minnesota repeatedly came up with a countering play. “We made a lot of pretty good plays offensively, that we had to make in the last seven or eight minutes,” Knight said, “but we just could not get the second play. That’s something Minnesota prevented from happening. They made each play they had to make until the last time.”

Knight went to a zone defense with 10 minutes left and stayed in it most of the rest of the way. The effect was to slow play, an advantage for the Hoosiers after Thomas – the Hoosiers’ offensive leader for a third-straight night – picked up his fourth foul on a three-point play by Gaffney tying the game with 7:52 left.

Minnesota, the Big Ten’s second-poorest shooting team going in, made the zone pay by hitting five shots over it – one a three-pointer by Terence Woods. With 4:20 left, Tim Hanson hit a difficult shot to tie the game, with 3:30 to go, Gaffney did; with 1:30 left, Zurcher did, creating the 70-70 tie that stood till Garrett’s pressure free throws.

Garrett scored the last six Indiana points on free throws – a one-and-one conversion with 4:06 to go, a two-shot conversion at 2:06, and the last two. Each time, the score was tied when he went to the line.

The last time up there, at 0:03, he said, “I just thought I was going to make it, and I did.” The first of those two, the tie-breaker, “was the most important one,” he said. “I got that one and I had more confidence.”

Thomas scored 24 points, including 12-for-13 on free throws. Garrett and Alford had 17 points each. Alford’s on another off-target evening for one of the game’s best marskmen; 7-for-20 overall, 3-for-9 from three-point range.

Coffey and Woods had 13 each and Gaffney and Zurcher 11 each for the Gophers (9-14 overall now and 2-11 in the Big Ten – with 11 straight losses). Indiana, though shooting its Big Ten season low, .436, won for the eighth time in a row since its 101-88 loss at Iowa on Jan. 22.

Coffey 5-11 3-3 6 13
Burton 3-6 0-0 7 6
Shikenjanski 3-7 0-1 7 6
Woods 6-10 0-0 4 13
Gaffney 4-11 3-4 3 11
Hanson 2-5 0-0 0 4
Zurcher 4-8 3-4 3 11
Smith 2-3 2-3 3 6
Totals 29-61 11-15 38 70
Thomas 6-9 12-13 7 24
Minor 1-2 0-0 1 2
Garrett 5-8 7-8 8 17
Alford 7-20 0-0 2 17
Smart 1-6 2-4 1 4
Calloway 3-9 0-1 5 6
Eyl 0-0 0-0 1 0
Freeman 0-0 0-0 0 0
Meier 1-1 0-0 0 2
Hillman 0-0 0-0 0 0
Totals 24-55 21-26 32 72
Minnesota 34 36 – 70
Indiana 36 36 – 72
Attendance: 16,693