Thomas saves Indiana from ‘Cats’ claws

Thomas saves Indiana from ‘Cats’ claws

By Bob Hammel, H-T Sports Editor

February 12, 1987

From the February 12, 1987 Bloomington Herald-Telephone

EVANSTON, Ill. – Thanks to Daryl Thomas, Indiana came out of a Northwestern ambush with its one-game Big Ten lead still right there in the standings Wednesday night.

But if there ever was a moral defeat, it belonged to the No. 2-ranked Hoosiers. Northwestern kept scrambling back from Indiana leads right to the finish before yielding, 77-75.

Those same standings show Northwestern last in the league at 1-11, mirroring leader Indiana’s mark. The previous meeting between the two produced the biggest losing margin in Northwestern history: 52 points, the score Jan. 17 at Indiana’s Assembly Hall 95-43. Surely that represents a basketball first for the Hoosiers, their winning margin trimmed by 50 without costing a game.

It did cost the Hoosiers some standing with coach Bob Knight. “I don’t enjoy being a part of basketball when we come out and play like we did tonight,” Knight said in a brief and biting summation.

“What Northwestern did was outcompete us for 40 minutes.

“I’m not very happy with the way we played, and I’m less happy with the way we thought.”

From the February 12, 1987 Bloomington Herald-Telephone

It was not a cheery night for Steve Alford, who pulled even with Don Schlundt for Indiana’s all-time career scoring record at 2,192. “Alford was horrendous,” Knight said. “We got nothing from him in the way of leadership. It’s his responsibility to get people ready to play a ball game.

“If we don’t have Daryl Thomas, we don’t have a chance to win the game.”

Indiana won because Thomas – who had an IU-career high of 32 points, plus a game-high 11 rebounds – worked Northwestern’s big men into foul trouble in the first half, then held a late-game burst that capitalized on the problem and moved the Hoosiers from a 47-44 lead to 58-47 with 7:55 to go.

Thomas had three baskets in that 11-3 run.

The score was 52-46 when Thomas rebounded a missed free throw by teammate Rick Calloway, then faked and drove on 7 foot Jim Pitts, who had four fouls. Seconds later, Thomas rebounded an Alford miss and laid it back in while Pitts had to stand and watch. Next time downcourt, Thomas drove to the basket, missed, but fielded his own rebound and scored again.

Seven times, prior to the Thomas-led scoring run, Indiana had Northwestern down by five points but couldn’t extend the margin any further. Each time, before long, the Wildcats caught back up.

One of those leads was 34-29 just before halftime. Keith Smart’s banked-in jump shot created the lead with 2:10 to go in the half.

Indiana didn’t get the ball back for two full minutes. Northwestern ran the 45-second shot clock down to :03 before Indiana’s Dean Garrett fouled Bryan Ross. Ross hit one free throw, missed the second, but the Wildcats got the ball back when the rebound went out of bounds. They ran a patient offense again, and when Elliott Fullen missed, 6-foot-4 forward Terry Buford climbed high to claim the rebound and start things over again. With both the shot clock and first half running out, Shawn Watts drove the Hoosier middle and dropped off a pass to Pitts for a dunk.

When Northwestern opened the second half with two straight baskets by Shon Morris, the Wildcats had run off seven points in a row and taken a 36-34 lead.

They never led again, after Indiana responded with a free throw by Garrett, a rebound basket by Calloway and a jump shot by Smart.

From 58-47, though, things got sticky for Indiana.

A three-point basket by 1985 Indiana high school “Mr. Basketball” Jeff Grose of Warsaw pulled Northwestern within 61-56 with 4:55 left.

Thomas worked free for a dunk, then another inside basket as both Morris and Ross played with four fouls. Morris drew No. 5 trying to slap the ball away from Alford with 2:42 left, and Alford’s one-and-one conversion gave Indiana a 70-62 lead.

Back came Northwestern one more time, even without leading scorer Morris, but the Wildcats never got the margin under four again until Grose’s three-point shot at the buzzer.

Thomas couldn’t get close-in shots to drop in the first half but he hit 10 of 12 free throws in scoring 16 points. He finished 14-for-16 on free throws and hit six of the seven shots he took from the field in the second half to double his halftime total. His previous IU highs were 31 against Iowa State and 30 against Illinois last year.

Alford, 4-for-13 including a 1-for-7 start that carried into the second half, scored 15 points, Calloway 14 and Smart 13, but Knight said, “I don’t think we had a player out there tonight except for Thomas.”

Morris had 20 points and Fullen 16, among Northwestern starters, but the Wildcats’ big edge in this one came from the bench. Each team used three reserves; Northwestern’s finished with a 27-0 scoring edge, 16 of the points coming from Grose. The total matched Grose’s season high.

Pitts also helped here. He was playing in his first Big Ten game, after missing several weeks with an injury, and he scored 9 points in 29 minutes.

Northwestern, which shot .340 in the first Indiana game, improved to .510 (to Indiana’s .548), and the Wildcats came out with a 25-25 standoff in rebounds.

Indiana will wait five days before playing the second half of this “road trip.” The Hoosiers play the league’s Monday night ESPN game at Wisconsin (9:35).

Tonight, the two teams closest to Indiana in the league standings collide when Purdue (9-2) plays at Iowa (8-2). Illinois (8-3) plays at Minnesota and then goes to Iowa Saturday.

INDIANA 77
FG FT REB TP
Calloway 4-5 6-8 1 14
Thomas 9-16 14-16 11 32
Garrett 1-3 1-2 3 3
Alford 4-13 4-4 3 15
Smart 5-5 3-4 2 13
Eyl 0-0 0-0 2 0
Smith 0-0 0-0 0 0
Meier 0-0 0-0 1 0
Totals 23-42 28-34 25 77
NORTHWESTERN 75
FG FT REB TP
Morris 8-14 4-5 7 20
Buford 3-5 1-2 3 7
Ross 1-2 1-2 3 3
Fullen 4-13 8-9 4 16
Watts 1-4 0-0 0 2
Pitts 3-3 3-4 1 9
Wyss 0-2 2-2 3 2
Grose 6-8 0-0 0 16
Totals 26-51 19-24 25 75
SCORE BY HALVES
Indiana 34 43 – 77
Northwestern 32 43 – 75
Attendance: 8,117

BIG TEN STANDINGS
CONF. AG
Indiana 11-2 20-2
Purdue 9-2 18-3
Iowa 8-2 21-2
Illinois 8-3 18-5
Michigan 6-6 18-8
Ohio State 6-8 15-8
Michigan State 3-8 8-13
Minnesota 2-8 9-11
Wisconsin 1-10 11-13
Northwestern 1-11 6-10