The answer to the question seems obvious.
The loudest moment at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall?
There have been many, but most would point to Dec. 10, 2011 when Indiana defeated Kentucky at the buzzer on a 3-pointer by Christian Watford.
But in the eyes of two long-time IU veterans, the loudest moment came six years earlier.
“The most emotional game that I’ve ever seen played at Assembly Hall was the Christian Watford shot,” Don Fischer said on a recent podcast produced by IU Athletics.
“That was as loud as I’ve heard it as well, but not quite as loud as the Killingsworth dunk.”
Younger fans might be wondering, how could anything top the Wat Shot, and what was the Killingsworth dunk?
Marco Killingsworth was one of the nation’s most highly sought after high school basketball players in the 2001 recruiting class. While recruiting services were not nearly as prevalent as they are today, the Birmingham, Alabama native was on the radar of virtually every major program in the country, including IU.
A product of Central Park Christian Academy, Killingsworth was a first team Parade All-American who was ranked as the third-best power forward in the country by Hoop Scoop (12th overall player), Border Wars and Athlon’s. Killingsworth’s 30 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocks per game and .670 field goal percentage led Central Park Christian Academy to a 31-1 record in 2001.
But the 6-foot-8 forward chose Auburn and played there for three years before transferring to Indiana to play one season — the 2005-06 campaign.
On Dec. 1, 2005, No. 16 Indiana welcomed No. 1 Duke to Assembly Hall in connection with the Big Ten / ACC Challenge.
Never had Killingsworth looked more like that coveted high school prospect than on this night. He was virtually unstoppable inside and scored a career-high 34 points in 34 minutes. He was 15-of-20 from the field, had 10 rebounds, and two blocks.
But Duke raced out to a 16-2 lead and maintained a 44-35 advantage at halftime. Led by stars J.J. Reddick, Greg Paulus and Sheldon Williams, the Blue Devils seemed likely to cruise to victory in Bloomington.
But Killingsworth had other ideas — and he worked the crowd in Bloomington into a frenzy along the way.
Not known as a perimeter shooter, Killingsworth hit a 3-pointer from the top-of-the-key to cut Duke’s lead to 58-53. The improbability of that moment only served to supercharge the atmosphere.
And three minutes later, Killingsworth delivered a thunderous dunk that extended an 11-0 run, gave IU a 59-58 lead with under eight minutes remaining, and generated decibel levels many believe had never been heard before inside the building.
Killingsworth rebounded a Paulus miss and quickly brought the ball up the floor, generating a two-on-one opportunity. He kicked the ball to Robert Vaden on the sideline who wisely went right back to the big man who was now charging down the free throw lane like a freight train.
Killingsworth received the pass, took two long strides, and delivered a left-handed hammer that would test the limits of the delicate tissues inside the human ear.
One of Fischer’s ears didn’t hold up.
“When Killingsworth dunked that ball, and that crowd erupted, my eardrum popped,” Fischer said. “It was unbelievable.
“I’m not kidding you, my eardrum popped.
“It was the loudest I’ve heard it for a single play or anything like that whatsoever.”
Former IU Athletics administrator Kit Klingelhoffer agreed with Fischer. He knew Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski from his time spent on Bob Knight’s staff in the ’70s, and he recalled a conversation with the legendary coach after the game.
“Mike Krzyzewski looked at me and he goes ‘our games against North Carolina, I’ve heard noise before, but I’ve never heard noise like I heard in this building tonight,'” Klingelhoffer recalled. “‘It was deafening. I couldn’t talk to my assistants, I couldn’t talk to my players. It was unbelievable.'”
For as magical as the moment was, Killingsworth and the Hoosiers peaked too soon.
Krzyzewski wisely used a timeout after the dunk, Killingsworth didn’t score again, and Duke would close the game on a 17-8 run.
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