ON THIS DAY: In 2002, Indiana Shocks No. 1 Duke With Great Comeback

Tom Brew

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — On March 21, 2002, most Indiana fans weren't holding out much hope that the Hoosiers could knock off No. 1 ranked Duke in the regional semifinals in Lexington, Ky. They were hopeful, of course, but not optimistic.

And with good reason. That 2002 Duke group, the defending national champions, was one of Mike Krzyzewski's best teams, led by Jay Williams, Carlos Boozer and Mike Dunleavy. Indiana, which came into the game as a No. 5 seed, had some nice players, but this was Mike Davis' second team after the Bob Knight firing and he still didn't have the backing of Hoosier Nation, especially after a very average 19-10 regular season.

This seemed like a longshot, at best.

“I just remember that whole week before and everybody was counting us out,’’ Indiana guard A.J. Moye told us during an interview in 2016. “Everybody was saying something, and they weren’t even interviewing me. And I just got pissed. And that’s when I said what I said — 'It’s not like they’re the University of Jesus Christ and we’re playing the Twelve Disciples. It’s just Duke. Duke is just a name on a jersey.' 

"I remember Coach Davis and the media relations people telling me, ‘You can’t speak to the media anymore.’ It was funny, but it was true. And I remember when I said that, thinking, ‘Well we’ve got to go out and prove it now.’ ’’

Indiana fell behind early and trailed by double digits for long stretches of the game, down by as many as 17 points at one time. But those final 12 minutes will go down as some of the most exhilarating in Indiana basketball history. 

IU climbed back in the game with a combination of favorable bounces, a ton of made free throws, some big defensive plays and one big shot after another. One of the most memorable plays down the stretch was when the 6-foot-3 Moye went up from a standing position underneath the basket and blocked  the shot of the 6-foot-9 Carlos Boozer. The play resulted in a jump ball and Rupp Arena was as electric as it had been the entire game.
At the very least, it was a huge momentum swing for the Hoosiers.

"I know I surprised Boozer on the block,’’ said Moye, who scored 14 points in just 17 minutes of playing time against Duke. “He’s going up for the dunk. He’s thinking ‘I’m just going to dunk this.’ I know I surprised him. I know I surprised a lot of people. People don’t really realize it, but I can get up. I can get up. I still can. I probably still hear about that block two or three times a week and that was 13 years ago.''

IU had taken a 74-70 lead with 11.1 seconds to play following a pair of free throws by Moye. It looked like Indiana was going to win.

"I thought we had the game won,’’ Davis said. “And then a few seconds later, after they got an offensive rebound off a missed free throw I thought we were going to lose. It was the craziest final 10 seconds of a game that I can ever remember. I remember that it seemed like that last 10 seconds took about two hours.’’

Duke came down and missed a three-pointer but the ball got kicked back out to Jay Williams and he launched another three-pointer. He made it and was fouled by Dane Fife with 4.4 seconds to play. Fife, to this day, swears he never touched him. 

Williams had a free throw to tie but he missed – and Boozer got the rebound. Boozer went back up for a shot to give Duke the win but Jeffries deflected it and Newton got the rebound and IU had won, 74-73.

Jared Jeffries was the best player on the floor that night, scoring 24 points and grabbing 15 rebounds, including nine offensive rebounds. Jarrad Odle also had a huge night, scoring 15 points in just 18 minutes. Jeff Newton had a big team off the bench too, with eight points and 10 rebounds.

There have also been several other great IU games on this date, many of which could have mad the cut as our game of the day. Here's a quick look at a few of those:

2008: Dakich loses only NCAA game as Indiana coach

This is the one and only NCAA game with Dan Dakich as Indiana's head coach and, to me, it's always going to be that "What Might Have Been'' game. Kelvin Sampson had been fired as Indiana's coach, and Dakich was the interim. 

This was a really good Indiana team led by freshman sensation Eric Gordon and forward D.J. white that was 22-4 and 11-2 in the Big Ten when Sampson was fired. Dakich won his first two games, but then lost three of the last four. They were pounded by 29 points at Michigan State, lost in overtime at Penn State to a team that was 6-11 in the league entering the game and then lost its first Big Ten tournament game on a last-second shot to a Minnesota team that also had a losing record in the league.

The Hoosiers got run off the floor in a dispirited 86-72 loss to Arkansas and Dakich was not retained. Tom Crean was hired, the NCAA swooped in, and Indiana's program basically had to start over after that game. A lot of people like to blame Dakich for the collapse, but that's way off-base. Those players had been through a lot with the Sampson debacle, and they didn't have much fight left to end the season. They just wanted it over — and that happened quickly in the first round. But in my book, that was an IU team that could have made a deep tournament run.

Five other moments on March 21

  • 1979 — Beat Purdue to win the NIT title in New York
  • 1992 — Beat LSU and Shaquille O'Neal in second round of NCAA tournament in Boise, Idaho.
  • 2003 — Beat Alabama in first round of NCAA tourney
  • 1993 — Beat Xavier in second round of NCAA tournament 
  • 1991 — Lost to Kansas in second round of NCAA tourney 

Related 'ON THIS DAY' stories

  • March 16, 2017: Indiana fires Tom Crean after nine seasons. CLICK HERE
  • March 17, 2000: Indiana loses to Pepperdine 77-57 in Bob Knighjt's final game as coach of the Hoosiers. CLICK HERE
  • March 18, 1953: Hoosiers win their second NCAA championship on Bobby Leonard's last-minute free throw. CLICK HERE
  • March 19, 201
  • March 19, 2016: Indiana knocks off Kentucky in second round in Des Moines in Tom Crean's final NCAA tournament win for the Hoosiers. CLICK HERE
  • March 20, 1987: Bob Knight and Mike Krzyzewski meet in the postseason for the first time, and IU prevails. CLICK HERE

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