ON THIS DAY: In 2000, Pepperdine Crushes Indiana by 20 in Bob Knight's Final Game

Tom Brew

Second in a series

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — No one knew it at the time, but when Bob Knight strolled off the floor in Buffalo, N.Y., head down and hands in pockets, his Indiana coaching career had come to an end.

Indiana was the No. 6 seed in the East Regional of the 2000 NCAA men's basketball tournament and drew No. 11 Peppedine, a small school on the beach in Malibu, Calif., for its first-round opponent. Indiana, which came into the tournament with a 20-8 record, was a heavy favorite, but Pepperdine ran them off the court with their full-court trapping defense, winning 77-57.

Knight was up to his eyeballs in the Neil Reed choking scandal at the time, and that cloud hovered over this Indiana team every day. There were many people — inside and outside of that locker room — who couldn't wait for that season to end.

But no one expected it to end that quickly.

The Hoosiers, quite simply, were embarrassed. Pepperdine led by as many as 29 points at one point and the 20-point margin of defeat was the second-largest in an NCAA tournament game for Knight. The only beatdown that was worse had happened a year earlier, when St. John's beat the Hoosiers, 86-61, a pair of ominous signs there that the Indiana program under Knight was starting to fall apart.

The Pepperdine loss hurt in a lot of ways. Starting center Kirk Haston injured his knee in a collision under the basket in the first two minutes of the game and didn't return. It wouldn't have mattered, not the way these two teams played, according to Knight.

"The difference in the way they played and the way we played leads me to believe Haston wouldn't have made any difference," Knight said after the game that night.

The most shocking thing about this game was the way it ended the brilliant career of Indiana guard A.J. Guyton. Pepperdine coach Jan van Breda Kolff was determined to not let Guyton, who had scored 2,100 points in his IU career, beat them. So they pressed and trapped the whole game, and double-teamed Guyton constantly.

Guyton only took two shots the entire game — he missed them both — and scored just three points on 3-of-5 free throws.

"I think the way we play is a little different than the Big Ten teams because our presses and our halfcourt traps are a little different than what Michigan State does," van Breda Kolff said. "So I think our style of play is different than what they see game in and game out."

Indiana certainly never figured it out. Guyton didn't even get a shot off in the first 18 minutes and the Hoosiers couldn't figure out how to get points. The only guy who did anything was reserve forward Kyle Hornsby, who never missed a shot and scored 15 points off the bench.

Pepperdine guard Tezale Archie had 11 assists to spark the Waves' offense and did a great defensive job on Guyton.

"It seemed like they were a step quicker than us at everything and it seemed like we were a step slow," said Guyton. "Everywhere I went, there were two guys waiting for me and a third guy waiting to help."

Screenshot 2020-03-17 09.06.08
A.J. Guyton didn't make a single shot from the floor in his final game with the Hoosiers on March 17, 2000. (USA TODAY Sports)

Indiana made just two of its first 14 shots and trailed 24-8 just 10 minutes into the game. They never had a chance.

The national media, who was all over Knight at the time because of the Neil Reed thing, loved that Indiana got pounded so bad.

"Everyone knows the best way to stop the bully is to bully him yourself,'' J.A. Adande wrote in the Los Angeles Times: "The Waves didn't just beat the Hoosiers, they beat them down. The Indiana players probably haven't been abused this badly since, oh, last week's practice.

"The Waves were the more aggressive team. the faster team, the tougher team. Not to crash a good story or put an early halt to all the Cinderella and David metaphors, but Pepperdine was something else — the better team."

It was definitely a weird couple of days in Buffalo. The day before, during his pregame news conference, Knight went on one of his patented rants that last 20 minutes or so. He bashed the media and the NCAA and didn't take any questions. He just talked, on and on.

"I don't expect everyone to agree with everything I say or do. In the time I've been coaching, I've probably done over a thousand things to motivate kids and teams. And I'll guarantee a lot of them I wouldn't want to talk about at a church social or a PTA meeting or a garden party.

"But we're not teaching kids how to play canasta. This is a game where kids get bloody noses and get hurt."

Knight even admitted to a few flaws of his own — "I've had regrets about the way I've treated my wife sometimes'' — but hammered at reporters for the way they covered the Reed story.

"What's an unnamed source? Somebody, please tell me," he says. "If I said 65 percent of the people in this room had sexual relations with a sheep, would that be coming from an unnamed source?"

Reporters simply shook their heads. 

Knight felt badly for the way Guyton's career ended. Asked by a Buffalo News reporter after the game if Guyton simply wore down at the end of the season, Knight stunned the assembled media by responding, "That's a fair question."

National types make note of a rare Knight plaudit to the media, the Buffalo News story said.

"I don't think it's easy for a guard to carry a scoring burden," Knight said. "A guard ... has to be a guy the ball is thrown out to and he takes the shot. We just run the hell out of Guyton."

Indiana's ''zero tolerance'' policy on Knight was in place, but a few months later, in September 2000, Knight was fired. 

He would not return to Assembly Hall for 20 years, where he was greeted by standing ovations in early February this year. 

Guyton tried had to bring Knight back to campus, too, writing him a very public letter in 2014 and asking him to attend Guyton's Indiana Hall of Fame induction. Knight refused. (A clip of Guyton's speech is in the attached video.)

Related 'ON THIS DAY' stories

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  • REUNION OF 1980 TEAM: Forty years later, a great reminder of how this is one of Indiana's forgotten great teams. CLICK HERE
  • BEST INDIANA TEAMS TO NOT WIN TITLES: Bob Knight's return has rekindled interest in the best-selling book, "Missing Banners,'' that looks at five seasons where Indiana could have won a title but didn't. CLICK HERE
  • BOB KNIGHT HONORED AT OHIO STATE: Knight part of celebration for Ohio State's 1960 national championship team. CLICK HERE

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