Hoosiers turn up the volume

Hoosiers turn up the volume

By Bob Hammel, Sunday Herald-Times

March 15, 1987

From the March 15, 1987 Bloomington Herald-Telephone

INDIANAPOLIS – They sat like 34,000 dumbstruck witnesses, the largest Indiana University basketball crowd in history silenced by a superb Auburn takeoff that to the red-wearing multitude seemed a calamity.

It wasn’t quickly correctable, a la the 8-0 Maryland start that triggered a 99-64 Hoosier avalanche at Dayton in the 1981 NCAA tournament. This one started 8-2, then became 13-4 and 22-10 before a television timeout not quite six minutes into the game gave the 34,000 some relief.

It wasn’t exactly relief that came to the Hoosiers during that break. “We weren’t doing what was set up for us to do,” Indiana guard Steve Alford said, “and when that happens, we don’t play very well. At the timeout, that’s exactly what Coach told us.”

With Bob Knightian emphasis. And volume.

“If Auburn had continued to score like they did in that first six minutes, we’d have had to score to win,” Knight said.

The Hoosiers came away from that timeout and gave up one more basket to husky Auburn center Jeff Moore, to make the Tiger lead 24-10 – on pace for 160-67.

From there on, Indiana did the pace-setting and roared around Auburn for a 107-90 victory that put the Hoosiers in the Midwest Regional at Cincinnati for a Friday night game against Duke, 65-60 winner over Xavier in the other Hoosier Dome game Saturday.

It was the first time Indiana reached 100 in the Hoosiers’ 43 NCAA tournament games. It wasn’t really by preference. “We would not have wanted to play the game at 100 – I didn’t want to get into that kind of game,” Knight said. “We wanted to start out with control (and) speed up the tempo in the second half.

“That shows you how much we were able to do what we wanted to at the start.”

Once down 22-10, not to mention 24-10, “a little bit of the tempo is already dictated,” Knight said. “We’ve got to get back in the ball game. And then it became a faster-paced game.”

From the March 15, 1987 Bloomington Herald-Telephone

Keith Smart reacted as if he had been waiting a year to get in one of those.

The Hoosier guard, whose first two collegiate seasons were spent in free-wheeling junior college ball, got the ball inside to fellow junior college refugee Dean Garrett for a couple of baskets, scored one himself then found Steve Alford open on the right baseline for Alford’s first basket of the game – nine minutes into it.

Suddenly, the Auburn lead was just 28-23, but the one problem Indiana hadn’t solved was 6-foot-7 Tiger forward Mike Jones. He hit his first five shots, none of them close or easy. “If I hit my first couple of shots, it doesn’t make any difference if it’s a layup or what, I’m ready to go,” Jones said.

He sent up an eight-point fusillade in just over two minutes to stand the charging Hoosiers off, 38-30.

By then, though, Alford was as grooved as Jones. The Hoosier all-America hit a couple of two-pointers, then two straight three-point shots. With 5:38 to go in the half, what he hit was Daryl Thomas with a pass for a three-point play that ended IU’s uphill pull and provided a 40-40 tie.

By halftime, Jones had 21 points but Indiana – despite a mildly desperate bullseye from Auburn’s Gerald White, a good five feet back of the three-point stripe two seconds ahead of the halftime buzzer – was in charge, 53-48.

All the electricity in that half wasn’t wired into the scoreboard. Moore and Garrett squared off once. Thomas had his own friction point. Even Alford stepped in eye-to-eye with Auburn guard Gerald White after a foul-line exchange. On the sidelines, coaches Knight and Sonny Smith had their own mid-court meeting. “I don’t know who cussed first, to be honest with you,” Smith said. Knight’s recollection: “I said (to Smith), ‘Hey, let’s eliminate the bull. Let’s just play.'”

Before the second half, the two met again, much more amiably. The game didn’t become picnic-peachy, but most of the squaring off stopped.

And Indiana didn’t.

The Hoosiers didn’t score the first four times they had the basketball in the second half, but by ten their man-to-man defense was keeping Jones and the ball apart and the Hoosier rebounding game – led by Rick Calloway, in Garrett’s foul-caused absence – was functioning at a year’s best level. “I thought that (rebounding) was the only edge we had on their ball club,” Smith said. “Evidently I didn’t analyze that situation real good. They’re the first team that’s whipped us convincingly on the boards.” Indiana, outrebounded by its opponents for the season, whipped Auburn for the game, 45-34, Calloway matching his IU-career high with 13.

“We came off at the half with a good feeling,” Knight said. “We had outscored them by 17- from that timeout on. I had to feel pretty good about that.

“Then I thought the key was our being able to get started well in the second half. It was a little while before we got a 10-point lead, but I thought that was really important for us to get to that point.”

Smart ended Indiana’s scoreless start in the second half with a basket with 18:15 left, and 24 seconds later Alford zipped in a three-point shot. After a three-point play by Auburn’s White, Smart scored another basket and Alford sank another three-pointer and the 10-point edge was established, 63-53, with 17:10 to play.

The closest Auburn got after that was 79-72, after a seven-point spurt keyed by Frank Ford’s three-point basket.

Thomas worked free for a layup, and Alford’s seventh three-pointer of the game jumped the lead to 84-72. It got as low as 90-82 with 4:50 left, but by then Indiana was using the clock well, Auburn was trapping frantically, and Hoosiers were finding openings for layups.

With 34 seconds to go, Knight gave the NCAA-record crowd of 34,185 its treat, pulling Alford, then Calloway, then Thomas to roaring ovations. Smart left at 0:30, arriving on the sidelines to a Knight bear-hug.

Smart’s 15 assists set an IU record. Alford’s 31 points was his high for NCAA play, the high for any Hoosier in the tournament in 11 years. Thomas scored 27 points, Calloway 18. Indiana shot .603, it’s best mark in two months. “They’re an outstanding basketball team,” Smith said.

Even slowed to 9 in the second half, Jones became the fist IU opponent to score 30 since Curtis Wilson did it for Ohio State in both teams’ Big Ten opener. Moore scored 24 and White 17.

Indiana will take a 26-4 record into the regional. Only two IU teams in history have won more games, the 31-1 team in 1974-75 and the 32-0 national champions of 1976.

Jones 10-22 9-9 9 30
Morris 5-11 0-1 4 10
Moore 11-20 2-2 10 24
White 6-13 1-1 1 17
Ford 4-11 0-0 3 9
Howard 0-4 0-0 4 0
Lynn 0-4 0-0 2 0
Caylor 0-0 0-0 0 0
Dennison 0-1 0-0 0 0
Totals 36-86 12-13 34 90
Calloway 7-12 4-4 13 18
Thomas 9-14 9-10 8 27
Garrett 4-6 1-2 3 9
Alford 10-17 4-5 3 31
Smart 7-12 6-7 9 20
Eyl 0-0 0-0 5 0
Meier 0-0 0-0 2 0
Smith 0-0 0-0 0 0
Hillman 1-2 0-0 0 2
Sloan 0-0 0-0 0 0
Freeman 0-0 0-0 0 0
Minor 0-0 0-0 1 0
Totals 38-63 24-28 45 107
Auburn 48 42 – 90
Indiana 53 54 – 107
Attendance: 34,076