Most of the times McGinnis was stopped, he stopped himself—by traveling, by taking unconscionable shots, by missing free throws. Much of his game looked as if it still belonged on the schoolyard court. He would put up a jump shot and then, instead of following in hard in case he missed, he would cock his head oddly to the left and take a couple of bouncy steps in the same direction, almost like a bowler trying to help his ball with body English. Despite all his faults and sophomore mistakes, McGinnis scored 38 points and showed enough raw power, speed and talent to scare almost any defensive man this side of UCLA's Sidney Wicks.
Kentucky, making more shots and far fewer mistakes, led at halftime 44-38. McGinnis' scoring and a tough pressure defense helped put Indiana ahead by seven points with 5� minutes left, but in their hurry the Hoosiers got too fast for themselves and let unflappable Kentucky off the hook. A traveling violation here, a sloppy pass there, were all the Wildcats needed to regain the lead.
Indiana junior Rick Ford tied the game at 80-80 with two free throws, and a few seconds later he managed to corner Kentucky's Mike Casey. Jump ball at Kentucky's end of the court with five seconds to go.
Ford outleaped Casey and tipped the ball to teammate John Ritter, who dribbled past a Kentucky man and set himself for a desperation heave toward the Hoosier basket, 65 feet away. As it should in a heroic finish, the buzzer sounded while the shot was in the air. The ball did not carom off the glass backboard. It did not tantalize anyone by rattling around the rim. It just dropped through like a rock, causing a mild quiver in the net and a much larger one in Adolph Rupp's heart. The crowd roared, and some pompon girls raced onto the court to hug Ritter—but hold everything. McGinnis, behind Ritter's back, had called time out before the shot. No basket, time-out Indiana. Three seconds were left when play resumed and Indiana threw the ball in from out-of-bounds in the backcourt. Ritter was able to fire another mortar shot, but this time it was far short. Overtime.
Tom Parker's left-handed sharpshooting kept Kentucky ahead throughout the five-minute extra period. A McGinnis jump shot brought Indiana to within one point, 94-93. With a few seconds to go, McGinnis drove in for a layup through heavy traffic in the key, but the ball slipped out of his hand as he leaped up and he blew the shot. Parker's last free throw made it 95-93.
"I think they can win the Big Ten," said Rupp.
"We've got to win the Big Ten," said McGinnis.
"It was a whale of a game for the spectators, but not much of one for the coach," said Watson in his quiet locker room. Then he glanced at the mimeographed stat sheet, which showed that Indiana had outrebounded Kentucky 62-55 ( McGinnis had 20). He estimated that if Downing had played, the rebounding edge would have been much more pronounced.
As the disappointed fans filed out of the field house, there was talk of a possible rematch. If the Hoosiers win the Big Ten championship and the Wildcats win the SEC, they could meet in the Mideast Regional of the NCAA tournament, when the two teams presumably would have a full quota of healthy tailbones and thumbs.