Date story was published: Sunday, December 7, 1986
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - This is what college basketball should be, Bob Knight proclaimed.
The notion needed no vote.
Yesterday's Kentucky-Indiana spine-tingler here - won by the Hoosiers 71-66 and lost by no one - had everything except what it needed most - an overtime period.
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That "flaw" was created, in part, by a curious walking call in the final 30 seconds that denied Rex Chapman one more dramatic three-pointer.
Still no one could feel short-changed.
This game had heroes: the triumphant return of Steve Alford to the series after his NCAA-ordered absence last year and quite possibly the unveiling of his heir apparent, Chapman. Each, coincidentally, made 10 baskets and scored 26 points.
It had villains (the referees).
It had yesterday's stars. Former UK All-American Kyle Macy and ex-IU sharpshooter Randy Wittman were among the near-capacity crowd of 17,232.
It had future kings: Chapman and another Kentucky freshman, Derrick Miller, heading the list.
What it didn't have was a loser.
So said the winning coach.
"Our kids played like hell last year and we didn't win (63-58 in Lexington)," Knight said. "Their kids played hard this year and got beat."
Officially an eight-point underdog, UK never let the more experienced Hoosiers lead by more than that. And Indiana only managed that much of an edge three times, all 32 minutes into the test of wills and man-to-man defenses.
Indiana's last eight-point lead was 58-50 with 6:23 remaining. It came courtesy of Alford's last jumper.
Then Chapman, left to run the team because Ed Davender had fouled out, went to work. The freshman from Owensboro sandwiched three-point plays around an Indiana turnover to cut the lead to 58-56. The first was a conventional perimeter jumper. The latter was a leaner in the lane while being fouled. A free throw was attached.
When Indiana answered with a basket, Chapman hit another three-point bomb to cut the lead to 60-59 with 3:44 remaining.
UK closed to within one for the last time (65-64) with 91 seconds remaining. Once more Chapman provided the points, this time needing a behind- the-back dribble to create enough space to lift off for the shot. Even at that, Chapman had to double-clutch in midair to launch a 14-footer.
"A nasty shot," said IU's Steve Eyl, whose suffocating defense forced Chapman to make the midcourse corrections.
However, Eyl's persistence on defense paid off.
After Kentucky called time with 37 seconds remaining and Indiana ahead 67-64, he disrupted the Wildcats' inbounds play enough to cause a walking violation on Chapman.
James Blackmon threw the inbounds pass to Miller, got the ball back near midcourt and turned to hand off to Chapman. Eyl denied the pass and caused Blackmon to attempt to screen the Hoosier off while handing the ball to his teammate.
"I let the ball go so I wouldn't walk," Chapman said of what happened next. "When it hit the floor, I started dribbling.
"It looked awkward, so he (referee Tom Rucker of the Big Ten) was going to call it," Chapman said. "You expect that on the road."
Yes, UK coach Eddie Sutton said, but "All I know is the rule says when you don't have control of the ball, it's not traveling."
Eyl said he could not be sure Chapman walked. But of the botched handoff, Eyl said: "It looked shaky."
The call was the third down the stretch that angered UK.
After Chapman's double-clutching three-pointer, Indiana was able to re- establish a three-point lead with the help of a whistle.
IU's Daryl Thomas was the beneficiary. With Indiana leading 65-64, the Hoosiers got four shots, the last three popped out of a rebounding gang fight under the basket.
Thomas got the last two layup attempts. After the second, UK's Rob Lock was singled out of the maze of bodies for a foul by Paul Galvan, the referee representing the Southeastern Conference.
"It was like all of a sudden, the whistle blew," Richard Madison said. "Even Indiana's guys were surprised."
True, Thomas said.
"I was surprised because they were letting so much go," he said. "I felt pushing and banging and I was pushing and banging, too."
Kentucky's Irv Thomas, who neutralized IU center Dean Garrett with 10 points and 10 rebounds, objected to his fifth foul.
Thomas fouled out with 4:05 remaining when he rebounded Chapman's missed free throw and crossed the lane as he went up for the shot. The motion drew him into an Indiana defender. Charging was the call.
"I'll have to see the film to be sure," Thomas said, "but I felt there was no way that's a charge."
Less than two minutes earlier, UK had lost Davender to fouls. Already saddled with four fouls, Davender entered the game with 5:50 remaining and fouled out 10 seconds later trying to keep up with Alford.
Afterward, Sutton refused to blame the referees.
"The officials didn't cost us the game," he said. "Sometimes officials have bad days. When they do, you've got to play a little smarter and a little harder."
UK came close to those standards, Sutton said.
"Our defense was good enough to win," he said. "If we had hit free throws, we would have won."
Kentucky made just five of 15, only one of six in the second half.
Indiana, which had three fewer field goals, made 18 of 23 free throws, including 11 of 12 after intermission.
Kentucky missed its chance to gain firm control of the game in the first half's final three minutes.
It was then that the Wildcats, ahead 30-24, missed two makeable shots.
Miller, whose 10 points made him UK's third double-figure scorer, hit a three-pointer to put the Cats ahead 30-24.
Then the skinny freshman from Savannah, Ga., grabbed a bobbled Indiana pass and took off for a layup. Because an Indiana player contested his drive, Miller had to try to put reverse english on the shot from the left side.
The ball bounced off the rim and Lock was in perfect position to stuff the rebound home.
UK's hard-luck center missed. His two-hand stuff ricocheted off the back of the rim.
"I just lost concentration," Lock said. "It turned out to be the easiest shot of the night."
The miss seemed to deflate UK and rejuvenate Indiana.
The Hoosiers scored the final 10 points of the half to take a 34-30 lead.
"This game was like an NCAA Tournament game," Sutton said. "In an NCAA Tournament game you take care of the ball much better than you do in December. You shorten the length of the game (by using the shot clock). You try to take the crowd out of the game.
"When we were up 30-24, the crowd was very quiet."
Lock's miss, Sutton said, "got the crowd back. That's one reason they outscored us 10-0."
That run settled both teams into a game in which each gave ground grudgingly.
Even as good a shooter as Alford struggled. He made just six of his first 15 shots.
But Alford, who missed last season's Kentucky-Indiana game while serving an NCAA-ordered one-game suspension, made his last four.
Those shots gave Indiana enough of a lead to hold on.
"I'd be crazy if I didn't say this was a big win," Alford said. "It might have been the biggest one here for me. I started slow, but I kept working. That's what I was looking for in myself."
Players from both sides showed they shared that feeling of satisfaction by lining up and shaking hands afterward.
"Steve told me, 'Keep working hard,' " Davender said of his exchange with Alford. "I smiled."
Davender, the Wildcats and the Hoosiers had no more to give yesterday.
"I'm sore," Davender said.