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When I Think of Indiana

Today's 12:00 pm EST (CBS) match-up between the No. 4 ranked Kentucky Wildcats (9-0), and Indiana Hoosiers (4-4) at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, marks the renewal of Kentucky's original rivalry game.  The 'Cats and Hoosiers have hooked up 52 times since 1924, with 44 of those games being played since 1965.  The rivalry has been peppered with colorful characters, close games, upsets, wide margins, and landscape-changing contests.  It's a rivalry that has eclipsed time, and today stands as one of the hottest non-conference rivalries in college basketball. 

UK versus IU elicits varying images, based on which side of the Ohio River ones loyalty lies, but for me, when I think of Indiana, I think of ...  

... The only double-overtime game played between the two schools -- Played on December 11, 1971 at Freedom Hall, the 'Cats came into the game ranked as the No. 7 team in the country, while Indiana was unranked.  But behind what is possibly the most outstanding individual performance in the history of the rivalry -- Steve Downing's 47 points, on 19-35 shooting -- IU overcame the talent gap and beat the 'Cats 90-89.  Jim Andrews led UK that day with 22 points.

... Hoosier head coach Bob Knight slapping the back of Joe Hall's head on December 7, 1974 -- In that 98-74 Indiana win, in which UK was ranked No. 15 in the land to IU's No. 3, coach Knight ventured to the Wildcat bench to lodge a complaint with an official who was standing near Hall.  Words were exchanged between the two, and what had been a cordial relationship quickly turned sour when Knight smacked Hall across the back of his head.  UK assistant Lynn Nance was so irate, coach Hall had to physically restrain him from attacking Knight.  Needless to say, the intensity of the rivalry grew exponentially at the moment Knight connected with Hall's head. 

... The Elite Eight game played between the two powerhouse programs on March 22, 1975 -- IU came into the game the undefeated, No. 1 ranked team in the land.  But on that day, Kentucky, led by Mike Flynn's 22 points, as well as four other double-digit scoring Wildcats, defeated the "un-defeatable", 92-90, in one of the greatest NCAA Tournament games ever played. 

... The Hoosiers 1976 undefeated National Championship team -- One of the best college basketball teams in the history of the sport, they ran, defended, and pick and rolled their way to a 35-0 record.  The last team to go through an entire season unbeaten.  Led by Quinn Buckner, Scott May, and Kent Benson, that group of Hoosiers gave Bob Knight the first of his three NCAA championships.

... The UK vs. IU game on December 15, 1979 -- Indiana came into the contest ranked as the No. 1 team in the country.  Led by Isiah Thomas and Ray Tolbert, the Hoosiers succumbed, though, to the Kyle Macy-led 'Cats in Rupp Arena, 69-58.

... December 6, 1980, in a season in which IU won Bob Knight's second national title, No. 5 Indiana playing in Assembly Hall, lost to the No. 2 ranked 'Cats, 68-66 -- Led by Fred Cowan and Sam Bowie's 14 points apiece, Kentucky overcame the terrific tandem of Isiah Thomas (20 points), and Landon Turner (15 points). 

... March 30, 1981 -- The same day President Ronald Reagan was shot in Washington, DC, the Hoosiers capped off a 26-9 season by winning the National Championship, 63-50, over the North Carolina Tar Heels.  That year the Hoosiers were led, once again, by the ankle-breaking Isiah Thomas, and forward Landon Turner.

... Only four months after winning the national championship, IU's Landon Turner was paralyzed in a single-car accident -- Although he would never play basketball again, Turner, a McDonald's All-America in 1978, was drafted in the 1982 NBA Draft by Red Auerbach; this was Auerbach's way of showing his great respect for Turner.  Turner did, though, return to the IU campus in the fall of '82, and graduated with a B.A. in physical education in 1984.  

... The General's chair toss -- On February 23, 1985, in a 72-63 home loss to Purdue (a team Knight HATED losing to), the IU coach became a bit "overheated," and reaching for his jacket to toss, instead grabbed his chair, and tossed it across the court while a Boilermaker was standing ready to shoot at the free throw line.  Of course, Knight's act has become a part of college basketball lore, and will forever be linked to the Hall of Fame coach.

... UK's 63-58 victory over a Steve Alford-less Indiana on December 7, 1985 -- In a game I attended, the Hoosiers, ranked No. 19 in the country, were without their star guard because Alford posed for an IU sorority fund-raising calendar.  When Knight discovered the unintentional indiscretion, he sat his sharp-shooter for fear of being forced  by the NCAA to relinquish a possible victory over No. 9 UK.  The game was tight the entire contest, and after the game, Knight and UK coach Eddie Sutton were involved in a shouting match in the bowels of Rupp Arena over the selection of the officiating crew.  The two coaches already tense relationship was rendered non-existent thereafter.

... Keith Smart draining an 8-footer in the final seconds to win coach Knight his third and final national championship in April of 1987 -- The 74-73 victory over Jim Boeheim's Syracuse Orangemen (led by Sherman Douglas and Rony Seikaly) capped off a remarkable 30-4 campaign for the Hoosiers.  Indiana was led by All-America Steve Alford and Daryl Thomas.

... Kentucky's 82-76 overtime victory over the No. 5 ranked Hoosiers on December 5, 1987 in the Big Four Classic -- UK, ranked No. 2 in the nation, was led by Ed Davender and Rex Chapman who combined to score 42 points.

... Damon Bailey and the Hoosiers laying the good wood to the No. 1 ranked 'Cats on December 4, 1993 -- Playing at the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis, Bailey led the No. 21 Hoosier domination by scoring 29 points in IU's 96-84 upset of Kentucky.  Travis Ford and Roderick Rhodes combined to score 39 points in UK's losing cause.

... UK's 70-61 epic overtime  victory on December 8, 1998 -- Heshimu Evans scored 22 points for the 'Cats in their win over the No. 11 Hoosiers.  IU was led in scoring by the perpetually disliked Luke Recker, who had 18.

... Indiana coach Mike Davis going nuclear on December 21, 2002 --  In No. 16 UK's victory over No. 6 Indiana at Freedom Hall (a game I attended ... and enjoyed immensely) the IU head coach ran uninhibited onto the playing floor, and refused to leave ... during game action, because of a perceived poor call by the officiating crew.  The resulting technicals, of which there were two, sealed the 70-64 win for the 'Cats.  Those few minutes remain the most surreal moments of any college basketball game I've witnessed.

... All the great ones the Hoosier state let slip away ... away to where basketball is best played - LeRoy Edwards, Cliff Barker, Tommy Kron, Mike Flynn, Larry Steele, Louie Dampier, Kyle Macy, James Blackmon, Jim Master, Roger Harden, and Sean Woods.  All Indiana natives, all Wildcats for life. 

Series Facts and Figures

UIK holds a 29-23 advantage in the rivalry ... The initial game in the rivalry was a 20-18 Indiana win on December 18, 1924 ... Between 1924 and 1944, the 'Cats and Hoosiers played eight games, with IU winning six ... The rivalry was renewed, after 21 years, in the championship game of the UKIT in 1965, a 91-56 Wildcat win ... In the 44 games played since 1965, UK has won 27 and lost 17 ... Since 1965, both teams have been ranked in 26 of the 44 games ... In the history of the rivalry, both teams have put together long winning streaks - IU six in a row ('24-'42), UK five in row ('43-'70), IU five in a row ('71-'74), UK five in a row ('94-'98), UK five in a row ('00-'04) ... UK is 3-10 in Assembly Hall versus Indiana ... When UK has been the higher ranked team, the 'Cats are 17-7 ... In the four games played between December of '89 and January of '91, the average margin of victory was 2.5 points (UK was 2-2 in those four games) ... Since 1965, 17 games have been decided by five points or less (UK leads 11-6), and there have been six overtime games (UK is 3-3) ... Since 1991, UK holds a 14-4 victory advantage over the Hoosiers.

Fearless Prediction

Kentucky 78  Indiana 64

For a look at Tru and sylvar's excellent pregame analysis, scroll down the front page, or click here.

Thanks for reading, and Go Cats, beat Indiana!