Credit - IU Photo Archives

Assembly Hall at 50: What are the top-10 IU basketball wins on its iconic home court?

Indiana Athletics announced earlier this week that it will be recognizing the 50-year anniversary of Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall over the course of the 2021-22 season.

Mike Woodson played there from 1976 to 1980, and on Nov. 9 he will become the seventh head coach to lead the Hoosiers onto the Branch McCracken Court.

Since the building opened in 1971 IU basketball has played 744 games in front of a total of 12,157,892 fans, and they have amassed a 612-132 (.823) record.  With all of that history to comb through, coming up with a list of the top-10 IU wins is a tall task.

IU will publish its own list over the course of the season, but here is our attempt at the top-10 IU basketball wins in the venerable structure.

10. The dedication game (Dec. 18, 1971).  Although it wasn’t the first game played there, IU attacked the building’s dedication in style.  On the same day that the court was formally recognized as the Branch McCracken Court, IU whipped Notre Dame by a still difficult to comprehend 94-29 score.  It was the largest winning margin in IU history, and John Ritter outscored the Irish by himself with 31.

9. Taking down No. 1 Michigan (Feb. 2, 2013).  Indiana’s most recent win over a No. 1 ranked team at Assembly Hall was a high profile day in Bloomington, with ESPN Gameday on campus.  The game featured at least nine players who went on to suit up in the NBA, and current IU stars in the league Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo led the Hoosiers with 19 and 15, respectively, as the Hoosiers won 81-73.

8. Revenge against the Jayhawks (Dec. 17, 1994).   Indiana had lost five straight to Kansas dating back to 1981, including two NCAA Tournament contests.  But when the No. 3 Jayhawks came to Bloomington, the home crowd made the difference.  Brian Evans scored 29 points and Alan Henderson added 22 as IU beat Kansas 80-61 and extended the nation’s longest home winning streak to 47 games.  The streak would go on to 50 games, IU’s longest in the building.

7. The Elite Eight at Assembly (March 22, 1981).  It was a moment that is unlikely to be repeated.  Indiana’s 78-46 trouncing of St. Joseph’s isn’t memorable for the game itself, as IU did what it had done every game for a month — dominate.  No, instead this game is memorable for what it was — a home game with the Final Four on the line.  Can you imagine?  Ray Tolbert and Landon Turner led IU with 14 apiece, and Isiah Thomas has 12 assists.

Credit – IU Archives

6. The Fab Five Game (Feb. 14, 1993).  Michigan’s iconic “Fab Five” including current head coach Juwan Howard came to Assembly Hall for the final meeting of the full five against the Hoosiers.  No. 1 Indiana used a 13-0 run late in the second half to claim the win in front of a raucous crowd.  IU had five players in double figures, with Calbert Cheaney and Matt Nover leading the way with 20 apiece. Brian Evans had a huge game with three 3-pointers and 17 points.  IU moved their record to 3-1 against the Fab Five with a 93-92 win.

5.  Jay Edwards at the buzzer (Feb. 19, 1989). Jay Edwards led the Hoosiers with 23 points, and scored 10 of Indiana’s final 11 points in the game’s last 6:25.  But his shot against eventual national champion Michigan at the horn put this one on the list.  Edwards caught a pass and turned into a 24-footer as the clock struck zero.  Assembly Hall erupted into pandemonium as the ball went through the net and IU won, 76-75.  The shot won more than just a game — it ended up securing an outright Big Ten title for the Hoosiers, who won the 1989 league crown by one game.

4. Kirk Haston at the buzzer (Jan. 7, 2001).  The Michigan State Spartans were the defending national champions, No. 1, undefeated, and on a 23-game winning streak. Indiana was only 9-6 on the season and in need of a big win to right the ship under first year head coach Mike Davis. The Hoosiers were a year away from doing big things, but on this day they did just enough behind 27 points from Kirk Haston including a three-pointer from the right wing at the buzzer to end the game and set off a furious court-storm.

3. Woodson takes down OSU for Big Ten title (March 2, 1980).  Indiana and Ohio State met for the final regular season game of the 1980 season and the Big Ten title on the line.  Mike Woodson’s return from back surgery sparked a six-game winning streak for IU, capped off by his 21-point effort in IU’s 76-73 overtime win over at the time Big Ten co-leader Ohio State in the finale to secure the conference title.  Isiah Thomas also had 21 for the Hoosiers, and Butch Carter made free throws to force the extra session.

2. The perfect season saved (Feb. 7, 1976).  Every IU fan knows the about the perfect 1976 season, but few realize how close the Hoosiers came to losing that year. Kent Benson saved the Hoosiers in the final seconds of regulation, forcing overtime with a controversial buzzer-beater. IU outscored the Wolverines 12-7 during the extra period to earn the win.  Substitute Wayne Radford scored six of his career-high 16 points in overtime. Indiana would go on to meet the Wolverines one more time — in the national championship game six weeks later.

1. The Wat Shot (Dec. 11, 2011).  For so many reasons this was the greatest IU win in the building.  Indiana had been on a three-year climb out of the gutter after NCAA violations, and a home game against the No. 1 team and a rival had the crowd at a fever pitch.  Kentucky had seven players who would go on to the NBA, and it eventually won the 2012 national title.  But Indiana made 9-of-15 3-pointers to stay in the game, and the ninth became the most iconic regular season shot in program history as Christian Watford drained a three at the buzzer.

Got a favorite we left out?  Tell us about your memories in the comments section.

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