As the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 1988 and an All American in 1989, Jay Edwards was always going to have a place in the lore of IU basketball history.
But over a three week span in the winter of 1989, Edwards ascended to near God-like status.
On Feb. 12, 1989, Edwards hit a 16-foot shot at the horn to take down Purdue 64-62. Three weeks later Edwards hit another shot against Illinois that appeared to be a game-winner — until Nick Anderson stunned the Hoosiers at the other end of the floor.
But sandwiched in between those two epic Edwards moments was the stuff of pure legends.
Michigan, ranked No. 13 at the time and the eventual 1989 national champion, led 75-73 and ran the clock down until Glen Rice missed an inside shot with nine seconds remaining. Eric Anderson grabbed the rebound and threw the ball to Edwards’ long-time high school and college teammate, Lyndon Jones.
Jones brought the ball up the floor with the final seconds ticking off the clock too fast for the uneasy Assembly Hall crowd. As Jones started to go right, he saw Edwards coming up to the top of the key area to his left. Indiana coach Bob Knight could be heard yelling “shoot it Jay” as it became apparent that his sharpshooter had found an opening.
Knight was loath to call a timeout in such situations, preferring instead to avoid an inbounds pass, let his players follow their instincts, and operate against a defense that hadn’t had time to get set up. On this day, it worked to perfection.
Jones delivered a bounce pass to his cutting teammate, and in one fluid rhythm, Edwards caught the pass and turned into a 24-footer as the clock struck zero.
While the clock showed 0:00 with the ball still in Edwards hands, the horn marked the end of the game. The ball left Edwards’ fingertips just before that horn sounded, and the next thing it contacted was net. All net.
“It was a hell of a shot,” Knight told reporters after the game. “Jones was just looking for Edwards and Edwards did a good job of getting open. I thought Jones was going to take the shot when he came across the 10-second line. But Jones has played with Edwards a lot longer than I have.”
With a second game-winner in as many weeks, Edwards etched his name in the annals of IU basketball history as one of the program’s greatest clutch shooters. Seemingly unfazed by big moments, Edwards said after the game he was screaming at Jones to give him the ball.
“I love getting the ball in the final seconds when the game is on the line,’ Edwards told reporters after the game. “Who wouldn’t enjoy it? Even if I wasn’t making them, I would still want the ball.”
Edwards led the Hoosiers with 23 points, and scored 10 of Indiana’s final 11 points in the game’s last 6:25.
The shot won more than just a game — it ended up securing an outright Big Ten title for the Hoosiers, who won the 1989 league crown by one game.
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