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This Date in Hoosier History: Indiana Steamrolls Maryland in 1981 NCAA First Round Contest

March 14, 1981, Dayton, Ohio

With a field of just 48 teams, there were no easy games in the 1981 NCAA Tournament.  For No. 14 ranked Indiana, an opening round game against the No. 18 team — the Maryland Terrapins — would provide an immediate major challenge.

Or at least that’s what everyone thought.

Maryland brought a pair of All-ACC talents with them to Dayton for that first round NCAA battle with IU.

Senior Albert King led the Terrapins in scoring at 18 points per contest, and he would go on to a nine-year NBA career.

Junior Buck Williams was the second leading scorer for Maryland and he would go on to play 17 seasons in the NBA while being named an All-Star three times.

Led by head coach Lefty Driesell, the 21-9 Terrapins were big and talented.

Indiana also entered the game with a 21-9 mark, but the Hoosiers arrived at the University of Dayton Arena on a roll.  Winners of five straight games to close out Big Ten play, IU won those final conference contests by an average margin of 13 points per game on their way to the 1981 Big Ten crown.

While King and Williams came into the game with the notoriety, it would be Indiana forwards Landon Turner and Ray Tolbert who left with the national buzz.

Tolbert had 26 points and 8 rebounds, while Turner added 20 and 7.  Facilitating it all at an electrifying pace was point guard Isiah Thomas, who scored 19 points and had an at the time program record tying 14 assists.

After an 8-0 Maryland start, Indiana dominated the rest of the way and cruised to a 99-64 win.  As a team IU had 25 assists and just 9 turnovers while shooting 65 percent from the field.

All five IU starters reached double figures, with Ted Kitchel and Randy Wittman contributing 13 and 10 points, respectively.

The tournament opening win would signal things to come, as IU won all five NCAA games by a double digit margin on their way to a national title.

“That game that they played against Maryland was one of the all-timers,” legendary IU writer Bob Hammel said in 2016 at the team’s 35 year reunion.

Driesell might have helped fuel the rout.  The Maryland head coach was overheard before the game unable to distinguish between Tolbert and Turner.  But he was gracious in defeat.

“We just got our fannies beat,” Driesell said after the game to reporters based on a Bloomington Herald Times report by Hammel.

“They played great. They dominated us on the boards. They dominated us on defense. If they’d been playing the 76ers today, they’d have beaten the 76ers.”

Video credit Galen Clavio

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