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It's right over here. Some cheerleaders found the body. Pretty tore up. Can't figure it. See all those championship rings. Looks like some Hoosiers got hold of him and hit him with the St. Louis arch a couple of times, shot him full of jump shots, beat him on the boards and tore his arms off when he tried to handle the ball. Anybody seen ol' man UCLA lately? Lots of people had it in for him, you know.
Even John Wooden would have had to check the dental records to identify what was left of UCLA last week. His old team looked as if it had been staring down both barrels of a shotgun when Indiana pulled the trigger. The blast shattered a dynasty.
Indiana humbled the Bruins and humiliated their new coach, Gene Bartow, a tough blow for a man already burdened with the problems of replacing Wooden and sustaining the UCLA magic that has produced 10 NCAA championships in the last 12 years. It was billed as a grand beginning to the college basketball season, but it turned into a showcase strictly for Indiana. The Hoosiers owned the game from start to finish, gaining a measure of solace for their defeat at the hands of Kentucky in last year's NCAA tournament. Indiana had been 31-0 before that loss, and for the past eight months the Hoosiers have been impatiently waiting to make up for it. When UCLA was left for dead, Indiana had its vindication and then some. The Hoosiers astonished a sellout crowd of 19,115 in the St. Louis Arena and a nationwide television audience with an 84-64 victory in a non-contest that was not even as close as the score.
When Indiana lost last year, Forward Scott May played with his left arm in a cast. This time he was sound, and his performance lent credence to the Hoosiers' argument that if May had not been hurt, they would have been national champions last spring instead of UCLA. He scored 33 points, including nine straight shots in the second half as Indiana pulled to a 26-point lead. May had plenty of help, particularly from Kent Benson. The hulking junior center dominated the inside play and exemplified the frenzied Indiana approach. After 10 minutes he and his teammates were so exhausted that they needed to call a time-out. Hustle is the Hoosiers' thumbprint, and it has never been more apparent than in this game. They got every loose ball and rebound they had a chance for—and some they didn't.
The play reflected contrasting pregame attitudes. UCLA viewed this as little more than just another opener. Its problems of adjusting to Bartow's system and working some freshmen into the lineup go far beyond the game with Indiana. The Hoosiers approached the game with the fervor of crusaders. Bartow grumbled over devoting so many drills to preparing for an opening game when he should have been getting to know his players. Indiana was practicing twice a day and talking to no one. A friend called Benson early Thanksgiving evening and asked what he thought. "I have to go to bed," he answered.
A sign of how richly Indiana's dedication would pay off came early last month in its game against the touring Soviet national team. Winning by 16 points, the Hoosiers looked marvelous, especially on defense; it appeared that the Russian guards needed a passport to get the ball over the half-court line. And in a series of intrasquad scrimmages around the state, May demonstrated that his arm was healed completely by averaging more than 30 points. There was one moment of concern when he slipped and wrenched his knee near the end of a workout in Fort Wayne. Coach Bob Knight was so shocked that he canceled the rest of that exhibition, but May's injury turned out to be minor, and legions of Hoosier fans immediately resumed buying bumper stickers and buttons that proclaim: WE'RE NO. 1.
Meanwhile, UCLA and Bartow were growing apprehensive. The Bruins played a desultory game against the Australian National team a week before the St. Louis extravaganza. They did not even shoot their free throws well. Their backcourt play had been particularly lackluster, and Bartow turned up at UCLA's next practice in an exasperated mood. He had a sore throat, an upset stomach and a briefcase full of unanswered questions. "We're not near where we should be," he said. "It looks like we may not be set at guard before mid-December. Sometimes I think I should just go ahead, make a decision and stick with it. Woody Hayes already would have this decided, right or wrong."
Part of the dilemma Bartow faces was epitomized by an incident that occurred several days before the game against Indiana. UCLA Assistant Coach Lee Hunt was walking through the athletic department when someone wished him good luck for the season.
"We'll be all right," answered Hunt with a measure of sarcasm, "if we win them all."
The man paused for a moment, then said, "Yeah, for 10 years."