Fourth time was a charm for coach Mike Krzyzewski and his Duke Blue Devils. After eight consecutive tournament invitations and four consecutive NCAA Final Four appearances, Duke finally took home the pot of gold with a 72-65 win over Roy Williams' Kansas Jayhawks.

Duke rode the performances of Final Four Most Outstanding Player Bobby Hurley who ran the show with 12 points and nine assists, All-American Christian Laettner and a freshman Grant Hill who showed signs of what was to come with his all-around game. Roy Williams and his scrappy Jayhawk team defeated his teacher Dean Smith and North Carolina in the semifinal game 79-73 without any major stars but was really never close in the championship game with Duke.

Coach K. had to do all he could to prevent a Duke letdown after their stunning semifinal upset over defending champion and previously undefeated UNLV. The Runnin' Rebels pounded Duke by 30 points in the 1990 championship game and looked invincible this year as well behind All-Americans Larry Johnson and Stacey Augmon and guards Greg Anthony and Anderson Hunt. But Duke held on to win 79-77 in a nip and tuck affair that ended with Hunt missing a possible game-winning shot just before the buzzer went off.

Despite not winning consecutive championships, Johnson could take some solace in being voted the consensus player of the year, no small feat in a year that included Laettner, Georgia Tech star Kenny Anderson and LSU's Shaquille O'Neal. Ohio State's Randy Ayers was voted consensus coach of the year, leading the Buckeyes to a Big Ten championship and a 27-4 overall mark, until they were eventually upset by St. John's in the “Sweet Sixteen”.

Rules change


ALL-AMERICAN                                            SCORING AND REBOUNDING

Pos. Name Cl. School   Name School Pts.   Name  School Rbs.
F Larry Johnson Sr. UNLV   Kevin Bradshaw US International 37.6   Shaquille O'Neal LSU 14.7
F Billy Owens Jr. Syracuse   Alphonso Ford Miss. Valley St. 32.7   Popeye Jones Murray St. 14.2
C Shaquille O'Neal So. LSU   Von McDade Wisc.-Milw. 29.6   Larry Stewart Coppin St. 13.4
G/F Jimmy Jackson So. Ohio St.   Steve Rogers Alabama St. 29.4        
G Kenny Anderson So. Georgia Tech   Terrell Lowery Loyola-Marymount 28.5        
          Bobby Phills Southern 28.4        

Second Team

·         Stacey Augmon, UNLV

·         Keith Jennings, E. Tenn. St.

·         Christian Laettner, Duke

·         Eric Murdock, Providence



No. Associated Press UPI Coaches
2. Arkansas Arkansas
3. Indiana Indiana
4. North Carolina North Carolina
5. Ohio State Ohio State
6. Duke Duke
7. Syracuse Arizona
8. Arizona Syracuse
9. Kentucky Nebraska
10. Utah Utah
12. Kansas Kansas

Final AP Top 25

Writers' poll taken before tournament.



Before NCAAs

Head Coach

Final Record




Jerry Tarkanian





Nolan Richardson





Bob Knight



North Carolina


Dean Smith



Ohio St.


Randy Ayers





Mike Krzyewski





Jim Boeheim





Lute Olson





Rick Pitino





Rick Majerus





Danny Nee





Roy Williams



Seton Hall


P.J. Carlesimo



Oklahoma St.


Eddie Sutton



New Mexico St.


Neil McCarthy





Jim Harrick



E. Tennessee St.


Alan LaForce





Pete Carril





Wimp Sanderson



St. John's


Lou Carnesecca



Mississippi St.


Richard Williams





Dale Brown





Tom Penders





Joey Meyer



Southern Miss.


M.K. Turk


* on probation.


First Round
#1 UNLV 99, #16 Montana 65
#8 Georgetown 70, #9 Vanderbilt 60
#5 Michigan State 60, #12 Wisconsin-Green Bay 58
#4 Utah 82, #13 South Alabama 72
#11 Creighton 64, #6 New Mexico State 56
#3 Seton Hall 71, #14 Pepperdine 51
#10 Brigham Young 61, #7 Virginia 48
#2 Arizona 93, #15 St. Francis (Pa.) 80
#1 Ohio State 97, #16 Towson State 86
#8 Georgia Tech 87, #9 DePaul 70
#5 Texas 73, #12 St. Peter's 65
#4 St. John's 75, #13 Northern Illinois 68
#11 Connecticut 79, #6 Louisiana State 62
#14 Xavier 89, #3 Nebraska 84
#7 Iowa 76, #10 East Tennessee State 73
#2 Duke 102, #15 Northeast Louisiana 73
#1 North Carolina 101, #16 Northeastern 66
#9 Villanova 50, #8 Princeton 48
#12 Eastern Michigan 76, #5 Mississippi State 56
#13 Penn State 74, #4 UCLA 69
#6 N.C. State 114, #11 Southern Mississippi 85
#3 Oklahoma State 67, #14 New Mexico 54
#10 Temple 80, #7 Purdue 63
#15 Richmond 73, #2 Syracuse 69
#1 Arkansas 117, #16 Georgia State 76
#8 Arizona State 79, #9 Rutgers 76
#5 Wake Forest 71, #12 Louisiana Tech 65
#4 Alabama 89, #13 Murray State 79
#6 Pittsburgh 76, #11 Georgia 68 (ot)
#3 Kansas 55, #14 New Orleans 49
#7 Florida State 75, #10 Southern Cal 72
#2 Indiana 79, #15 Coastal Carolina (S.C.) 69
Second Round
UNLV 62, Georgetown 54
Utah 85, Michigan State 84 (2ot)
Seton Hall 81, Creighton 69
Arizona 76, Brigham Young 61
Ohio State 65, Georgia Tech 61
St. John's 84, Texas 76
Connecticut 66, Xavier 50
Duke 85, Iowa 70
North Carolina 84, Villanova 69
Eastern Michigan 71, Penn State 68 (ot)
Oklahoma State 73, North Carolina State 64
Temple 77, Richmond 64
Arkansas 97, Arizona State 90
Alabama 96, Wake Forest 88
Kansas 77, Pittsburgh 66
Indiana 82, Florida State 60

Regional Semifinals
UNLV 83, Utah 66
Seton Hall 81, Arizona 77
St. John's 91, Ohio State 74
Duke 81, Connecticut 67
North Carolina 93, Eastern Michigan 67
Temple 72, Oklahoma State 63
Arkansas 93, Alabama 70
Kansas 83, Indiana 65

Regional Finals
West: UNLV 77, Seton Hall 65
Midwest: Duke 78, St. John's 61
East: North Carolina 75, Temple 72
Southeast: Kansas 93, Arkansas 81

National Semifinals
Duke 79, UNLV 77
Kansas 79, North Carolina 73

Championship Game
Duke 72, Kansas 65

All-NCAA Tournament Team





Mark Randall




Christian Laettner




Anderson Hunt




Bobby Hurley




Bill McCaffrey





• Stanford (20-13) def. Oklahoma (20-15) to win the NIT.

• U.S. International’s Kevin Bradshaw set an NCAA record for points against a Division I team when he scored 72 in a 186-140 loss to Loyola (Marymount).

• New Hampshire def. Holy Cross 72-56 to break a 32-game home losing streak.

• North Carolina coach Dean Smith had record 24th 20-win season.  

1991 Feb 07 Bob Knight, Larry O'Brien, Tiny Archibald, Dave Cowens, Harry Gallatin & Larry Fleisher elected to NBA Hall of Fame.

1991 NBA Draft, First Round
First Round Player College
1. Charlotte Larry Johnson Nevada-Las Vegas
2. New Jersey Kenny Anderson Georgia Tech
3. Sacramento Billy Owens Syracuse
4. Denver Dikembe Mutombo Georgetown
5. Miami Steve Smith Michigan State
6. Dallas Doug Smith Missouri
7. Minnesota Luc Longley New Mexico
8. Denver (from Washington) Mark Macon Temple
9. Atlanta (from LA Clippers) Stacey Augmon Nevada-Las Vegas
10. Orlando Brian Williams Arizona
11. Cleveland Terrell Brandon Oregon
12. New York Greg Anthony Nevada-Las Vegas
13. Indiana Dale Davis Clemson
14. Seattle Rich King Nebraska
15. Atlanta (1) Anthony Avent Seton Hall
16. Golden State (from Phi.) Chris Gatling Old Dominion
17. Golden State Victor Alexander Iowa State
18. Milwaukee (2) Kevin Brooks SW Louisiana
19. Washington (from Detroit) LaBradford Smith Louisville
20. Houston John Turner Phillips
21. Utah Eric Murdock Providence
22. LA Clippers (from Phoenix) LeRon Ellis Syracuse
23. Orlando (from S.A.) (3) Stanley Roberts Louisiana State
24. Boston Rick Fox North Carolina
25. Golden State (from LA Lakers) Shaun Vandiver Colorado
26. Chicago Mark Randall Kansas
27. Sacramento (from Portland) Pete Chilcutt North Carolina


Nathaniel Archibald, Player
David W. Cowens, Player
*Lawrence Fleisher, Contributor
Harry J. Gallatin, Player
Robert M. Knight, Coach
*Lawrence F. O'Brien, Contributor
Borislav Stankovic, Contributor

A crown fit for a Duke


By PAUL ATTNER   The Sporting News


A combination of intense defense, the play of center Christian Laettner and guard Bobby Hurley and the experience gained from heartbreaking Final Four failures in four of the previous five years gained Duke the national title it needed to be rightfully proclaimed the best college basketball program in the country.

A 72-65 triumph over Kansas in the NCAA Tournament championship game Monday night at the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis climaxed an emotional, draining weekend for Duke, which had less than 48 hours to recover from its stunning victory over top-ranked Nevada-Las Vegas in the semifinals.

The Blue Devils' 79-77 triumph over the previously unbeaten Runnin' Rebels, which many had proclaimed as invincible, will be remembered as one of the great upsets in NCAA Tournament history. But the victory over Kansas is the one this generation of Blue Devils won't ever forget, not after all the ghosts created by their predecessors' travails in the Final Four.

It was always an injustice to both Duke and coach Mike Krzyzewski to be branded as a failure for not having won a NCAA championship, considering the challenge of just getting to the Final Four.

This was the Blue Devils' fifth trip to the Final Four in six years and their fourth in a row. Krzyzewski has won with true scholar-athletes and without the stigma of an NCAA investigation.

In the process, he has developed the prototype program. But he needed a championship to eliminate any doubts.

"It's never been a monkey on my back," said Krzyzewski, who thought his 1985-86 team, which was ranked No. 1 most of the season, should have won the championship. Duke lost to Louisville, 72-69, in the title game.

"Kids shouldn't play for coaches. They should play to play together and to have fun." But he conceded: "It's also nice to say we finally played well in April."

This was the youngest team he had brought to this extravaganza. It was comprised of five freshmen, three sophomores, three juniors and two seniors and it wound up grinding out consecutive triumphs using one constant defense and a lot of courage.

It took fortitude to stand up to UNLV, which had beaten Duke by 30 points in last season's championship game. It also took fortitude to survive the grinding final few minutes of the championship game, when the Blue Devils had heavy legs and nervous hands and Kansas was applying excruciating pressure.

Krzyzewski believes no team ever had played harder for 80 minutes to win two games in the Final Four. Certainly no team ever had worked harder on defense, the basis of Duke's success.

Krzyzewski wants his players to be chest-to-chest with their foes, to wear them out through frustration and turnovers.

That defense never was better than during this long weekend, when the Blue Devils seemed to contest almost every pass and make nearly every opponent's shot more difficult than it should have been. UNLV hit only 45 percent of its attempts from the field, and Kansas shot only 42 percent, including 38 percent in the second half.

It was on defense that Duke utilized its quickness, which became its major asset against slower Kansas. That also was the biggest difference between this team, which finished with a 32-7 record, and the 1989-90 club that and mental toughness.

The Blue Devils were pugnacious, much like their coach.

Duke beat UNLV on the strength of a precisely executed game plan that stripped the Rebels of their aura of superiority. The Blue Devils relied on heart and the talents of their two stars, Hurley and Laettner, to hold off Kansas (27-8).

The final triumph wasn't pretty, but Hurley and Laettner simply wouldn't allow their team to lose. In contrast, no Kansas player was able to step up his play at the end and apply a knockout punch to a reeling, tired opponent.

Not that Kansas didn't have its opportunities.

"I've never seen the lid on the basket (for us) like it was in this one," Kansas coach Roy Williams said.

The Jayhawks wanted to be aggressive and take advantage of Duke's overplaying defense by making back-door cuts and slashing to the basket. However, the Blue Devil's superior quickness thwarted those tactics.

Kansas found itself pulling up instead for short jumpers that consistently bounced around the rim but wouldn't fall. As a result, the Jayhawks didn't draw many fouls (13 to Duke's 21) and wound up trying just eight free throws to Duke's 28.

The Blue Devils' 20-4 advantage in free-throw points was more than enough to secure the victory.

It was crucial for Laettner, a junior, to at least neutralize Kansas on the boards. He hadn't recovered from the exhausting UNLV game and was visibly tired soon after the championship game began.

Laettner once went almost 22 minutes without a field goal, but he still wound up with 10 rebounds and 18 points (including 12-for-12 in free throws). And down the stretch, he was the one who came up with every big rebound to hold off the Jayhawks.

Coupled with his 28 points against UNLV, it was a performance good enough to earn Laettner the honor of the NCAA Tournament's most outstanding player.

That distinction also could have gone to Hurley, who perhaps carried the biggest burden of Duke's 103-73 championship-game loss to Nevada-Las Vegas a year ago, when he was a freshman.

Hurley was overwhelmed by UNLV's defense and attempted only three field-goals (he missed all three). He played all 40 minutes against Kansas (just as he had in the semifinal game), scored 12 points, had nine assists and committed only three turnovers despite doing most of the ballhandling.

He performed even better in the semifinal game, considering the pressure applied by UNLV's defense. His development as a 3-point shooter -- he made 5-of-8 attempts in the two Final Four games -- gave Duke a much-needed boost.

That's certainly what Duke did in its victory over Nevada-Las Vegas, which came into the Final Four with a 45-game winning streak and a goal of becoming the first team to win back-to-back titles since UCLA won the last of its seven consecutive championships in 1973.

UNLV had so much ability and played so well all season that it was considered a prohibitive favorite to repeat. In fact, UNLV had trailed only once at halftime all season -- a chilling calling card.

But Duke listened to Krzyzewski when he told the players that if they challenged UNLV and played aggressively -- something they didn't do last year -- they could win.

The Blue Devils also needed to keep the tempo at a moderate pace; counter Vegas' overplaying defense by dribbling aggressively to the basket; reduce forward Larry Johnson's effectiveness by having Laettner drop off center George Ackles to double-team Johnson; cut down on UNLV's easy transition baskets by getting back quickly on defense, and have Laettner touch the ball as much as possible on offense.

Remarkably, the Blue Devils executed that game plan almost to perfection.

The double-teaming of Johnson limited him to 13 points and forced UNLV to rely more than it wanted on its perimeter shooting. UNLV never did get its running game untracked, and it had problems handling Duke's quickness to the basket off the dribble.

And Laettner confirmed UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian's concerns about defending the Duke center by bolting to 20 first-half points. Laettner spent a lot of time around the perimeter, and Ackles wasn't comfortable covering him that far from the basket.

After racing to a 15-6 lead, the Blue Devils realized this would not be a repeat of last season's embarrassment.

Vegas, which never played as aggressively as it did in the 1990 game, had so much ability that it still should have won despite Duke's gritty play.

UNLV pecked away at the Blue Devils in the second half until a layup by Anderson Hunt, who scored a game-high 29 points, gave the Rebels a 76-71 lead. But in the middle of their surge, floor leader Greg Anthony fouled out for the first time this season.

Rival coaches thought UNLV might be vulnerable without Anthony's playmaking skills, and they were right. His absence was the final break Duke needed. Duke tied the game on a 3-point field goal by Hurley and a three-point play by Thomas Hill. Then, with 12 seconds left, Laettner made two foul shots for a 79-77 advantage.

Vegas had one last chance. The Rebels wanted Hunt to try a 3-pointer, but he was double-teamed and Johnson wound up dribbling into the front court. He had an open shot just outside the 3-point arc, but he hesitated.

"It wasn't good enough," he said later and passed to Hunt, who launched a desperate 25-foot heave just before the buzzer.

If Anthony had been in the game, he would have tried to penetrate and either dish off to Johnson inside or to Hunt on the perimeter. Without him, Anthony said the Rebels "weren't sure of our options."

"It was uncomfortable," Anthony said. Vegas never had faced a last-shot situation all season; that lack of experience haunted them.

"It really hurts," said Tarkanian, whose team was on probation the next season and not eligible for the NCAA Tournament.

It was an upset of incredible proportions, ranking with the best of the Tournament shockers, including Villanova's victory over Georgetown in the 1985 championship game.

"We had a chance to put it away when we were up five, and we messed it up," Tarkanian said. "We didn't handle it very well."

Kansas' triumph over North Carolina in the other semifinal was an upset on a much-smaller scale.

The Tar Heels were favored because of their superior depth, but their senior starters Rick Fox, King Rice and Pete Chilcutt combined for only 22 points and hit only 8-of-36 field-goal attempts.

Fox, the catalyst of the offense, made only 2-of-13 attempts in the second half as Carolina became impatient on offense and stopped working for high-percentage shots.

The Jayhawks built a 10-point second-half lead behind superb pressure defense North Carolina shot only 38 percent in the game and dominance of the backboards.

But the Tar Heels closed to 58-57 before missing four opportunities to take the lead. That gave Kansas time to regroup, and the Jayhawks the worst free-throw shooting team in the Tournament hit just enough foul shots to secure the victory.

It was a notable triumph for Williams, who had been an assistant under Dean Smith for 11 years before accepting a job in 1988 as Larry Brown's successor at Kansas. It was a sad time for Smith, who picked up a second technical with 35 seconds remaining and was ejected for only the third time in his 30-year career.

Kansas entered the championship game with consecutive triumphs over two regional No. 1 seeds (Arkansas and North Carolina) and a No. 2 seed (Indiana).

The Jayhawks' defense had been especially effective, limiting NCAA Tournament opponents to 41 percent field-goal shooting. Krzyzewski was concerned about whether his team would be able to make what he called "the emotional investment" needed to finish off its title quest, especially considering it was facing a Kansas team that was surging with confidence.

But his doubts were answered in the first half. His team shot better than expected from the floor (59 percent) -- Kansas shot only 45 percent -- and outscored the Jayhawks, 11-2, at the foul line. In addition, reserve guard Bill McCaffrey scored seven points en route a 16-point game.

Kansas was within eight points at halftime (42-34) only because of its aggressiveness on the boards; the Jayhawks scored 13 points on offensive rebounds.

The Jayhawks thought they could catch up by working harder for inside shots.

Instead, they grew more impatient in the second half.

Although Laettner was so tired he hardly could move at times, Hurley and McCaffrey were scoring so well from the outside and Kansas was shooting so inconsistently that Duke was able to build an 11-point lead with 67 seconds remaining.

The Blue Devils stumbled and staggered a bit in the final minute. Kansas reduced the margin to 70-65 with 34 seconds remaining but a dunk by reserve Brian Davis off an inbounds pass finally allowed Duke to celebrate that elusive title.

Duke cut off Kansas' rebounding superiority and its defense limited star center Mark Randall to six points in the second half. Krzyzewski allowed Laettner to rest by letting him sag back on defense and by using a zone more than he normally would have liked.

He would have preferred to finish off the Jayhawks with a man-to-man defense, but his team was too fatigued to provide the necessary energy.

But in the end, Duke had enough to end the years of frustration. Before the game, Krzyzewski told the players to try and win not for him, but for themselves. They didn't listen.

"We wanted to give coach this one," Hurley said. "He's earned it."


Copyright © 1997 The Sporting News. All rights reserved.