ON THIS DAY: In 1987, Knight, Krzyzewski Squared Off in NCAA Tourney For First Time

Tom Brew

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — It was an NCAA tournament regional semifinal game at Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati, so regardless of the opponent, it was a big deal for the 1987 Indiana Hoosiers.

But the opponent made it extra special.

Bob Knight's team had visions of winning a national title that year, and it was the Duke Blue Devils who were in the way. This was 33 years ago, so Duke's Mike Krzyzewski was still cutting his teeth with the Blue Devils. He had made the national championship game a year earlier, and his first-ever tournament meeting with his coach and mentor, Bob Knight, was sure the be something special.

"It was definitely different, preparing for that game,'' Indiana center Dean Garrett said this week while looking back at that game. "We knew all about the connection they had, that Coach K had played for Coach Knight, and coached with him. Coach would get really fired up for those others games, like with Auburn and LSU and UNLV and Syracuse, but Duke was different.

"I don't he really liked having to coach against him. And playing against them? It was like playing against us. We ran the same stuff. We knew everything they were doing, and they knew everything we were doing.''

Knight and Krzyzewski have had their issues through the years, but in those early days, Knight was always very supportive. When Krzyzewski made the Final Four a year earlier, Knight was seeing wearing a DUKE button during the games.

That night in Cincinnati, Garrett played 39 minutes, battling Duke star Danny Ferry every step of the way. Indiana won 88-82, but it wasn't easy. Garrett and fellow starters Steve Alford, Keith Smart, Ricky Calloway and Daryl Thomas scored 86 of the Hoosiers' 88 points in a building loaded with Indiana fans.

"Being a No. 1 seed, we really had a great path that year,'' Garrett said. "We played our first two games in Indianapolis (Fairfield and Auburn), then our next two in Cincinnati (Duke and LSU), and you couldn't have asked for anything better.''

All five Indiana starters were in double figures, and the Hoosiers shot 56 percent from the field. They scored 88 points and made just one three-pointer in the process. (Duke made 8-of-11 from three-point range to stay in the game.) 

Smart and Calloway, who was from Cincinnati, led the way with 21 points. Alford had 18, Thomas had 15 and Garrett had 11 points and nine rebounds.

"We won a lot of games that way, with a balanced attack,'' Garrett said. "Steve was the star of that team, no question, but we were all capable of having big nights, and there were a lot of nights like that where all five of us played well.

"That was a great game, a hard game. They stayed right with us, and I know Coach was relieved when it was over. He knew they would play us hard.''

The win raised Indiana's record to 27-4 and set the stage for a regional final against Dale Brown's LSU team two days later.

Also on this day:

  • 2015 — Lost to Wichita State in first round of NCAA tournament in Omaha.
  • 1994 — Beat Temple in second round of NCAA tournament in Landover Md.
  • 1981 — Beat UAB in regional semifinals of NCAA tournament in Bloomington. 
  • 1976 — Beat No. 2 Marquette in regional finals in Baton Rouge, La.

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 
  • Coming on March 21: Another classic Knight-Krzyzewski showdown, and a whole lot more. 

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