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This Date in Hoosier History: Indiana Wins NIT Title Over Purdue on Carter Game-Winner

March 21, 1979 — New York, New York

While Purdue was enjoying one of its best seasons ever, Indiana was building for the future.

At a time when the National Invitational Tournament held much greater significance, the Hoosiers and Boilermakers met in New York’s Madison Square Garden for the championship game in 1979.

Down a point to Big Ten tri-champion Purdue with just over four minutes remaining, Indiana went into stall mode.

Bob Knight and the Hoosiers were looking to hold for the final shot, but an errant pass by IU guard Butch Carter with a minute remaining spoiled the plan.

Now forced to foul, Indiana sent Purdue big man Joe Barry Carroll to the stripe for a one-and-one.  Carroll missed the front end and Indiana’s Ray Tolbert secured the rebound.

After calling three timeouts, Indiana set up a play for Mike Woodson, who was quickly double-teamed.

Instead, it would be redemption time for Carter, who took a kick-out pass from Woodson and drained a 19-footer with four seconds remaining to give IU the NIT title and a 2-1 advantage on the season over the Boilermakers.

It was a very significant win for Indiana’s head coach.

“This is one hell of an accomplishment for these kids,” Knight told reporters after the game. “I’ve never been more pleased for a group of kids, including the team that won the national championship in 1976.”

Indiana placed four players in double figures, led by forward Landon Turner’s 13 points. Carter shared the tournament MVP award with Tolbert, who scorded 12 points and had 10 rebounds.

Purdue did not score in the last 8:47.  Nearby Martinsville, Ind. native Jerry Sichting, who Knight once recruited but later passed on, missed the final shot at the buzzer for the Boilermakers.

Indiana (22-12) finished in fifth place in the Big Ten that year.  With 27 wins Purdue set a program record for victories in a season.

Video credit – Galen Clavio


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