On March 24 in IU history: Walton, UCLA trip up Hoosiers

March 24, 1973

In just his second season at Indiana, Bob Knight coached the Hoosiers to their first Final Four appearance since winning the 1953 national championship.

Standing in IU’s way was the Goliath of college basketball, UCLA, owners of a 73-game winning streak and the six-time defending champions.

The national semifinal in St. Louis started competitively enough, but the Bruins reeled off 18 straight points late in the first half to turn a 20-17 deficit into a 35-20 advantage behind Jamaal Wilkes, who had eight of his 13 points in the run. The lead was 40-22 at halftime.

The UCLA lead was 54-34 with 13 minutes left to play when Indiana started its comeback. The Hoosiers used a 21-3 run to pull within 57-55 with just under six minutes remaining. The anchor was IU big man Steve Downing, who led all scorers with 26 points. However, Downing fouled out defending Bruin standout Bill Walton with eight minutes left, an absence that the Hoosiers would feel down the stretch when UCLA ran off 10 straight points to regain control, holding IU to just four points the rest of the way. Walton finished with 14 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists, narrowly missing a triple double. He was aided by Tommy Curtis’ 22 points off the bench as the Bruins went on to cruise past Memphis State in the title game.

Downing was supported by 13 points and six assists from John Ritter, but they didn’t have enough company as Steve Green was just 1-of-7 from the field, John Laskowski 1-of-8 and freshman Quinn Buckner 3-of-10. Indiana did regroup enough to roll past Providence, 97-79, in the third-place game behind 21 points apiece from Downing and Ritter.


  1. I know this game is one in which H4H and I share a great deal of pain over a blown call favoring Walton over Steve D. Was a game changer and took the major momentum from the IU comeback. Still think to this day had the foul been properly called on Walton, IU wins the game.

  2. You are correct, thinkaboutit…

    Keep in mind Downing finished with 26 points while barely playing more than 1/2 of the second half. Walton’s 14 points and boards came over a total game and his stats were padded due to Downing’s absence.

    Downing had thoroughly outmatched Walton. Had Downing not been tagged with the bogus foul (a game clearly fixed to send UCLA to the title game), he likely nearly triples Walton’s scoring output.
    I have never once heard the name “Steve Downing” uttered from the lips of Bill Walton. Those who are the greatest of legends acknowledge those rare instances when they were had. They tip their hat to someone who gave them a lesson in heart and determination. On the biggest stage, Downing brought his best.

    Never realized John Hulls (Jordan Hulls’ grandfather) was on the bench with Knight. John Hulls came via being on Knight’s staff at Army. Wow…I should have known that.

    John Hulls, his grandfather, came to Indiana from Army with Bob Knight in 1971 and served on his staff as a shooting coach (courtesy: Wikipedia).

    Sincerely, Downing’s 5th*

    * (for those who remember my original handle on IDS’s Basketblog and Hoosier Scoop)

  3. UCLA Basketball was one of the most corrupt college sports programs in NCAA history. As I have posted on this site before, I have a friend who played BB at UCLA under Wooden and he witnessed the corruption first hand. The stories he has told about the money paid to star players, the systemic academic fraud that took place and the special treatment granted to BB players by the LA police are outrageous. It was as if the Mafia was running UCLA Basketball. The things UCLA got away with for so many years make any other NCAA violations we’ve learned about since look like minor infractions in comparison. I wonder if Wooden ever admitted to himself that his program was a fraud?

    My friend, disgusted with what he witnessed and resentful that he was prohibited from pursuing pre-med studies, transferred to another school, where he enjoyed success in college basketball and went on to became a very successful MD.

    1. “I tried my best,” Wooden told the Basketball Times in 2005, “. . . My conscience is clear.”

    2. One does wonder if they would have less championships if 2 of the regional rounds were not at Pauley and 2 of the championship rounds were not at the LA Sports Arena during that run.

  4. Ah, this was the game where I elected to stay home and watch the game and not attend my wife’s nursing school graduation. It was brought to my attention many times over the next 15 years.

    We had just moved back to Indiana after 6 years living outside of LA. Those were good days to be a UCLA fan. Was nearly impossible to get a game ticket. My favorite team was a few years earlier with Curtis Rowe and Sydney Wicks. Every game a different player seemed to be the difference.

  5. I don’t believe Bob Knight has ever referred to UCLA or Wooden’s program as one of the best college BB programs ever. I’m pretty sure Knight had/has significant disdain for UCLA and Wooden, knowing that their success was built on massive cheating.

    One story my friend told me was about one of his teammates he met up with at a UCLA BB Reunion. His former teammate, who went on to play in the NBA for many years made two comments while at the reunion. First he said, “I made less money, after taxes, during my first three years in the NBA than I did in my last three years at UCLA.” Secondly he told a group of his former teammates, “I didn’t know how to read when I enrolled as a freshman, and I didn’t know how to read when they handed me my diploma during graduation.” I could go on repeating many other examples, but you get the idea.

  6. 1981 IU benefited to play 2 regional March Madness games at assembly hall though they should have won the games regardless.

  7. So are we to conclude the 2002 Hoosier team had the most difficult run to a Final Four…(considering they also had to defeat #1 Duke in the regional semi at Rupp) ?
    Also consider one less round of March Madness play during the first two banners for the Hoosiers under Knight (1976 (32 team field), 1981 (48 team field + Assembly advantage)).

    Hate to mention this….but we only have 1 banner and 3 Final Fours since the field was expanded to at least 64 teams (1987, 1992, 2002).
    Mike Davis has 1/3 our Final Fours and 1/2 our Championship Monday night appearances since the field was expanded (Bobby’s Hoosiers didn’t make it to the title game in ’92).

  8. 2002 remains our singular Monday night championship game appearance since 1987….That’s nearly a 35-year banner drought and 18-year absence from the biggest Monday night in college basketball.

    Yup, I’d say the candy stripes are rather due. Our hoops have become one and the same with the pigskin at IU.

    1. Have to agree with you H4H,
      IUBB has become as IUFB has been historically. The blame for this resides at the same location as the blame for the FB futility, Hoosier Nation. Failure to hold the BOT and IU Administration accountable for their blunders is at the root of the problem. As I see it, IU athletics is just a symptom of an overall problem with the university itself. I think the feckless leadership has gone beyond fostering the athletic woes to academics as well. Yes, there are exceptions but the signs are there for those willing to remove the crimson colored glasses.

  9. Feckless is a good word. Sounds a lot like necklace.
    Don’t be reckless. Don’t be feckless. Just round around wearing your SEC necklace!

    Just kidding….Trying to break the tensions and anxiety. Two households in my family …One works from home…The other significant other is going to work and defined as “essential.” What is the point of lockdowns and social distancing/isolation when I’m seeing all kinds of these broken examples?
    Many things claimed as “essential” are not. Do the couples spit up because one can work from home and one cannot? I have an example in my family where a couple works at the same company but under different functions. One in sales/marketing gets to work from home. The spouse works in a printing department and is still being told to come to work (where at least 50 people work in the department). The spouse still asked to go to work says there is barely any work once he gets there. Thus, one person in multiple “contact” situations (doing nothing “essential” and not in the medical field) returns home to the partner who watches all their isolation thrown out the door once the returning spouse/significant other walks through the door.

    The CDC should be able to crackdown on companies claiming their work is “essential” when it is not. Our president is not helping with his mixed messages. Outside of food and medical, we should be at full lockdown (shelter-in-place). That is not happening. There is no consistency within companies. A printing department primarily used to print sales documents sure doesn’t seem “essential.”

    1. H4H,
      I share you concerns about the potential abuse of the term essential but we do have to remember something. Things are far more interconnected than most realize. Just because it is not connected with the medical field does not mean it is not essential. Anything related to the supply of essential goods and services will be deemed essential. I suspect the folks involved in the production of tp might be considered essential these days, for obvious reasons. Anyone involved in maintaining the nation’s infrastructure will be deemed essential. If your emergency supply of beans can’t get to you, could be a problem and I didn’t even get to defense related good and services. I suspect the list could go on and on of things most of us don’t even “thinkabout” or even knew existed.

      1. Yes, but a printing department at an insurance company is not essential…nor is half the orders being placed through Amazon which are simply entering the supply chain because people are bored at home.
        Those going to distribution jobs and warehouse jobs could be far more protected if toys, computer games, and Pelotons …and thousands of other luxury goods were stopped right now. Amazon and department stores do not want to lose the business. Many are increasing their business because of the so-called “social distancing” via huge upticks in online ordering.
        They want to protect their industries by securing more online business …which, in turn, puts heavy numbers of workers at distribution and delivery points who cannot work in environments at “safe” distances from each other.
        Greed takes over commonsense and ethical behavior. The dollar still rules in America and it comes at the cost of lives. You know, those disposable elderly and low income workers.
        I had a family member tell me that a manager (working in delivery/distribution) told a worker who was concerned with the lack of social distancing and added risks being taken that they she should “feel lucky because you still have your job.”

        1. H4H,
          I don’t disagree that there is a certain amount of greed involved. However, there is one thing you must consider which few have. If the economy totally collapses due to a more severe shutdown, there are consequences which may be worse than our current problems. Go back and look at the spike in suicides at the onset of the Great Depression. Extrapolate those ratios to our current population and the numbers are terrifying.

  10. If this virus started in China….couldn’t they have at least sent us an accurate fortune cookie? e.g. “The secret to happiness is more respirators.” ….”Do not mask your feelings…Order many masks.” “3 % of these cookies don’t have a fortune. You figure it out.”

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