USD Men's Basketball 2001-2002

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The Blue Devils celebrate after the capacity crowd at the Spectrum witnessed Christian laettner hit the game-winningshot at the buzzer. T he image of the final 2.1 seconds is etched in our col– lective memory. Grant Hill takes the ball from the ref on the baseline, rears back and throws a football pass 75 Kentucky game is widely regarded as the greatest college basketball game ever played?

"I love the way it's been celebrated by both teams," Blue Devil coach Mike Krzyzewski said recently. "There was no loser. That has helped make that game even better because everybody came to that realization. The game is always bigger than anybody, but that game was a lot bigger than anybody." It's hard to recapture what that 1992 matchup meant to the two programs. Kentucky, long the gold standard in college basketball, had seen its program tarnished by scandal in the late '80s. Two years of probation, including a TV and tournament ban, left the Wildcats program in a state that was summed up by a Sports fllustrated cover that simply said, "Kentucky's Shame." Rick Pitino, an energetic young miracle worker, was brought in to erase that shame. It took him three seasons to build the team that would take No. 1 Duke to the edge ... and beyond. But Duke was also looking for something in 1992. The Blue Devils had enjoyed basketball success in its history. Yet, the -------

feet into the waiting grasp of Christian Laettner. Two Kentucky defenders fall away, leaving Duke's All-American room to make his move: one dribble ... the quick feint to the right ... the spin back to the left... the shot... the buzzer. .. the ball swishing cleanly through the net... the wild celebration. But Duke's victory over Kentucky in the 1992 East Regional title game is so much more than that dramatic finish. It was a clash between two of college basketball's elite programs---one arriving at the top and the other returning there after a brief absence. It was a matchup between two dynamic coaches. It was a 45-minute display of basketball virtuosity that has rarely been duplicated, played at a pace that left watchers as breath– less as the participants. And it was the final act for a quartet of remarkable young men who exemplify everything college a thletics wants to be about. Is there any wonder that even 10 years later, the 1992 Duke- BY AL FEATHERSTON

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