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This Date in Hoosier History: Indiana Slays Shaq and LSU in Round of 32

March 21, 1992 — Boise, Idaho

The last time Indiana and LSU met, it was the 1987 NCAA Tournament, with the Final Four on the line.  IU overcame an eight point deficit in the final seven minutes to win, and Hoosier head coach Bob Knight dropped this unforgettable line in the post-game press conference.

“I was worried about losing until I looked down the floor and saw (LSU head coach) Dale Brown. Then I knew we had a chance.”

When Knight looked down the floor during a 1992 rematch he still saw Brown.  But he also saw someone else that no doubt looked much more menacing.

At 7-foot-1 and 294 pounds, Shaquille O’Neal was no small second round task for a No. 2 seed Indiana squad that once again had Final Four aspirations.

O’Neal’s stat line for the 1991-92 season was almost as imposing as he was:  24.1 points, 14 rebounds and 5.2 blocks per game.  The two-time consensus All-American and SEC player of the year was going to be a considerable challenge for an Indiana team that had no one in its regular rotation above 6-foot-9.

The key to this game wasn’t going to be stopping O’Neal.  No one had done that yet, and neither did the Hoosiers.

O’Neal scored 36 points and grabbed 12 rebounds against Indiana.

Instead, Indiana’s plan was to outscore the No. 7 seed Tigers on the other end, attacking LSU with their depth and versatility.

Calbert Cheaney nearly matched O’Neal with 30 points.

Alan Henderson added 19, Matt Nover 13 and Eric Anderson 12 as the Hoosiers attacked O’Neal to try to lure the shot blocker and then looked to pass to their cutting teammates.

LSU stormed out to a 27-13 lead and it looked like Brown might exact his revenge against his nemesis Knight.

But the Hoosiers tightened things up on the defensive end and responded with a quick 9-0 run.  IU carried that momentum to a 45-38 halftime advantage.

O’Neal only had nine points at the break but he would score LSU’s first nine points of the second half as the Tigers forged back into a 47-47 tie.

Indiana would recover and found themselves up 71-61 with 6:30 remaining.

But behind O’Neal, LSU kept fighting back and the Tigers pulled to within 73-70 with less than four minutes remaining.

Perhaps that is when Knight remembered who was patrolling the opposing bench.

IU guard Damon Bailey nailed a three-point shot to stretch the margin back to six points.  After an O’Neal basket, Cheaney made a traditional three-point play for a 79-72 Hoosier lead with 2:42 remaining.

Indiana was able to hold off LSU from there, slaying the giant O’Neal as Knight once again tormented Brown.

The Hoosiers shot 55 percent from the field, and Jamal Meeks led IU with eight assists.

Indiana advanced with an 89-79 win and the Hoosiers would eventually land back in the Final Four in Minneapolis.

It would be O’Neal’s last college game as he left school a year early and went on to a 19-year NBA career that included four championships.

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