With a five-point cushion, Rose and Howard went on to confidently swish six of six free throws, and Rose, Webber and Jimmy King combined on a characteristically spectacular Wolverine fast break to give Michigan its 76-72 victory.
"Who was Voskuil?" said Cincinnati's Corie Blount of the future engineer. "The guy was our fault. I guess we thought we didn't have to worry about anyone who wasn't a freshman."
In the second semifinal Indiana behaved as if it didn't have to worry about anyone who wasn't a Laettner. Every time he got his hands on the ball, which wasn't often, two or three or maybe 23 Hoosiers would bump, bang and otherwise hammer Laettner to the point that it was folly to go to him. Laettner took only eight shots and made two. "We wanted to stop the bottom and top of their offense," said Indiana coach Bob Knight, "but the top got away from us."
That would be Hurley, whose four three-pointers kept Duke alive in a first half during which it did little right and was outhustled 21-9 on the backboards. Consequently, Duke went into the locker room trailing 42-37, and could have been a lot farther behind. "We were scared. We were tired. We were still thinking about the Kentucky game," said Hill.
At halftime Krzyzewski sought to focus his players. "He said to forget about Kentucky," said Hill, "that it's not our destiny to win, it's our choice. I was surprised how intense we came out in the second half."
Hill wasn't the only one. Duke's defensive intensity simply overwhelmed Indiana. Three...four...seven...11 times the Hoosiers came down the court without scoring. Eight missed shots, six turnovers. Meanwhile the Blue Devils scored the first 13 points and 21 of the first 24. Two minutes into the second-half carnage, Knight leaped off the bench and was hit with a technical by Ted Valentine, a referee whom Knight continued to berate the rest of the game. "Chair...chair...chair," Duke's transplanted Cameron Indoor Stadium Crazies chanted, in reference to Knight's having once hurled a chair across a court. When the Blue Devils led 58-45 midway through the half, surely the end was Knigh. Or was it?
Indiana pared Duke's lead to 69-64 with 1:44 left. Then, astonishingly, this all-star gunfight came down to a shoot-out at the unknowns' corral: Duke's Marty Clark made five of six free throws, and Indiana's Todd Leary hurled in a trio of three-pointers. When Hurley, who scored a game-high 26 points, stepped out of bounds with the ball and with Duke leading 78-75 with 26 seconds to play, the Hoosiers had one last chance. With the Blue Devils pressing Leary hard, he was forced to pass off to Chris Reynolds, who in turn was forced to pass to Jamal Meeks, whose three-point attempt with 17 seconds left was off the mark.
Following Duke's 81-78 victory, Knight hardly brushed the hand of Krzyzewski, his friend and former player and assistant, before rushing to embrace Colonel Tom Rogers, a Duke aide who also used to work for Knight. "It was a tough loss. [Knight] said, 'Congratulations' and 'Good luck,' about what I expected," said Krzyzewski, who nevertheless looked dazed and forlorn in the postgame press conference.
"Coach never mentioned how special this game was to him, probably because he knew that we knew," said Hill just before switching his thoughts to the rematch with the Wolverines. "The dangerous thing about Michigan is that the freshmen know they'll probably get here again. It's like shooting two free throws. When you know you've got another one coming, the first one is easy."
That it turned out to be so difficult for the young Wolverines was as much attributable to the technology and leadership of Krzyzewski as it was to the maturity and spirit of his players. "This is the greatest year I've ever had...just incredible coaching these guys," said Coach K, who at the championship moment Monday night surely must have thought back to the week before, when Laettner lifted Duke from the precipice of certain defeat against Kentucky.