It was one of those moments that Hoosier fans will remember forever. You likely remember where you were, who you were with, and exactly where you were sitting — if you were sitting. Today we take a look back at Indiana’s stunning upset of the No. 1 ranked Duke Blue Devils in the Sweet Sixteen round of the 2002 NCAA Tournament.
(You can watch the full length commercial free game and/or Don Fischer’s call of the last few minutes below)
THE DUKE BLUE DEVILS
The defending national champion 2001-02 Duke Blue Devils were one of Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s best teams. Coming into their Sweet 16 matchup with Indiana they were 31-3. As the preseason number 1 ranked team they were considered a lock to win the school’s 4th national title. They never left the top 5 all year. Their only losses on the season were ACC losses on the road to Florida State, Maryland and Virginia.
Duke won the ACC conference tournament handily, winning every game by double digits, including a 30 point win over senior point guard Archie Miller’s North Carolina State team in the final. The Blue Devils had NC State’s number that year, winning their 3 matchups by a combined 86 points. And this was a good NC State team that made it to the round of 32 of the NCAA tournament, narrowly losing there to the #2 seed UConn.
The Duke roster was loaded with future NBA players including Jay Williams, Carlos Boozer, Mike Dunleavy, Dahntay Jones, Chris Duhon and Daniel Ewing.
THE INDIANA HOOSIERS
The 2001-02 Indiana Hoosiers were a solid team, but no one could have predicted their magical NCAA tournament run. In the early part of the season they lost games that good teams shouldn’t lose such as Marquette and Southern Illinois. They looked bad in a 66-52 loss to rival Kentucky, and with a 6-4 record there were grumblings about the future of head coach Mike Davis. A subsequent loss to in-state mid-major Butler only made things worse. The Hoosiers stood at 7-5 going into the Big Ten schedule and appeared to be destined for the NCAA tournament bubble at best.
Indiana turned a corner in conference play and ended up winning a share of the conference title with an 11-5 record. Their record stood at 19-10 going into the Big Ten tournament, where they won one game before losing to Luke Recker and Iowa. At 20-11 and with a co-conference title, the Hoosiers were a lock to make the tournament but not expected to be a high seed, and not expected to make a big run.
Duke and Indiana advanced through to the round of 16 to set up the epic matchup. Indiana perhaps caught a break in the round of 32, as its opponent UNC Wilmington had knocked off Indiana’s presumed opponent, #4 seed USC.
THE GAME: MARCH 21, 2002
The Hoosiers caught another break with the location of their Thursday night matchup with Duke. Although not generally thought of as friendly confines for the Hoosiers, Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky is only a 3 hour drive from Bloomington. The crowd was noticeably in IU’s favor from the outset, both from Indiana fans and neutral fans rooting for the underdog. And Indiana was a decided underdog. The closing point spread had Duke at -13.
The game would go according to plan in the first half, as Duke led 42-29 at the break. There was no reason to expect that anything was about to change. The Blue Devils would put the Hoosiers away and advance to the elite 8. That expectation continued to be the case as the Blue Devils maintained a comfortable margin into the second half. Its largest lead was 17 and Duke led by 14 at the 12 minute mark.
It was at that point that Indiana began to make a concerted effort to feed the post to take advantage of Duke foul trouble, and crash the offensive glass. Jared Jeffries would score 12 down the stretch and A.J. Moye would add 10. The rallying Hoosiers scratched and clawed and cut the lead to 1 around the 5 minute mark. That’s when A.J. Moye got the block heard round the world on Boozer, and suddenly an enthusiastic crowd was manic.
Not to be denied, Duke gathered itself and broke back out to a 6 point lead at the 2:45 mark on a Dunleavy 3-pointer. It looked like the Hoosier comeback might not happen. Never daunted, Indiana kept fighting and Tom Coverdale tied the game at 70 with 2 free throws at just under 2 minutes to go. Moments later Coverdale gave IU its first lead of the game with a short jumper that hit the rim 3 times before finally falling.
After a Duke miss, Moye would hit 2 free throws to give IU a 4 point lead with 11 seconds to go. And then the unthinkable occurred. Jay Williams hit a 3-pointer and was fouled by Dane Fife. With a chance to tie the game, Williams missed the free throw, Boozer missed a put-back, Indiana got the rebound as the clock expired, and the Hoosiers pulled off a stunner!
The Hoosiers would go on to reach the Final Four and advance to the National Championship game in Atlanta.
You can watch the full commercial free game with IU legend Dick Enberg on the call here:
Hear the Don Fischer and Todd Leary call here:
Notes: With a point spread of 13, Indiana’s win was the largest upset in NCAA tournament history for games in the round of 16 or later.
Indiana would win the game despite 11 missed free throws and its highest turnover total of the season (23).
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Main photo – Getty Images