March 18, 1953 — Kansas City, Mo.
Playing with two sophomores and three juniors in the starting lineup, the 1952-53 Hoosiers were ahead of schedule.
Led by All-Americans Don Schlundt and Bobby Leonard, Indiana tore through the Big Ten’s first ever 18-game schedule with a 17-1 mark.
IU Head Coach Branch McCracken’s fast pace led to the first instance of IU going over the 100 point mark in program history with a win over Butler. The Hoosiers repeated the feat with a 113-78 trouncing of Purdue, marking the first 100 point game in Big Ten history.
The Hoosiers won the Big Ten by three games and entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 team in the country.
Wins over DePaul and Notre Dame in Chicago sent IU to Kansas City for the Final Four. After handing LSU 80-67 in the national semifinal, the stage was set for Indiana to face defending national champion and No. 3 Kansas in the title game.
Playing against a partisan Kansas crowd, the odds were stacked against Indiana at the Municipal Auditorium. And legendary Jayhawk head coach Phog Allen was looking for revenge after Indiana defeated Kansas in the 1940 title game in the same building.
IU struggled with foul trouble and turnovers in the first half and trailed early. But an 8-2 run to close the first session allowed Indiana to go into the locker rooms tied at 41.
The contest remained close throughout the second half as both teams struggled to score.
A late technical foul against Indiana’s Charley Kraak helped Kansas tie the game at 68 with under a minute remaining. It was the third technical foul on IU in what was a hotly contested affair. The Hoosiers had two starters foul out of the game.
With the ball and a chance to win the game, Leonard drove to the basket and drew a foul with 27 seconds remaining. He would go to the line for two shots and a chance to deliver IU’s second national title.
The 6-foot-3 Leonard, a 67 percent free throw shooter, missed the first attempt short off the front of the rim.
“They said Branch (McCracken) said you had ice water in your veins,” Leonard was informed after the game by reporters.
“If it was ice water, it sure felt warm running down my leg,” Leonard playfully recalled his response years later.
Of course Leonard made the second shot, and a stifling defensive effort by the Hoosiers on Kansas’ final possession gave IU the 1953 crown, 69-68.
The 6-foot-10 Schlundt led IU with 30 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. The sophomore would go on to become IU’s all-time leading scorer with 2,192 points. That mark stood until 1987.
Although he was outscored by Schlundt 30-26, Kansas’ B.H. Born was named the most outstanding player of the game. Indiana’s Kraak might have been equally deserving of the honor after a career high 17 points and team high 13 rebounds. Leonard contributed 12 points.
To help you watch the silent video below, here are the players with jersey numbers who appeared in the game:
13 – Kraak
14 – Byers
21 – Leonard
22 – DeaKyne
25 – Scott
30 – Poff
31 – Farley
34 – Schlundt
41 – White
Videos by Galen Clavio / Critical Past / IU Athletics
- March 14: Indiana vs. Auburn (1987)
- March 14: Indiana vs. Maryland (1981)
- March 17: Four memorable games
- March 18: Indiana vs. Kansas (1953)
- March 19: Indiana vs. Kentucky (2016)
- March 20: Indiana vs. Duke (1987)
- March 21: Indiana vs. Duke (2002)
- March 21: Indiana vs. Purdue (1979)
- March 21: Indiana vs. LSU (1992)
- March 22: Indiana vs. North Carolina (1984)
- March 22: Indiana vs. LSU (1987)
- March 23: Indiana vs. Kent State (2002)
- March 24: Indiana vs. Temple (2013)
- March 25: Indiana vs. Louisville (1993)
- March 26: Indiana vs. Florida State (1992)
- March 27: Indiana vs. UCLA (1976)
- March 28: Indiana vs. UNLV (1987)
- March 28: Indiana vs. LSU (1981)
- March 28: Indiana vs. UCLA (1992)
- March 29: Indiana vs. Michigan (1976)
- March 30: Indiana vs. Kansas (1940)
- March 30: Indiana vs. North Carolina (1981)
- March 30: Indiana vs. Syracuse (1987)
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