The next morning Hall arose at dawn to shoot pheasant, which later turned up under glass at a family dinner along with wild rice, vegetables, applesauce-nut bread and pecan pie. Some kind of training table. While packing away the repast, Hall scoffed at the idea that the current 'Cats are as big and strong as Kentucky's bruising national champions of 1978. "We're a bunch of ballet dancers compared to that team," he said. Across the table Hall's son-in-law, Mike Summers, an assistant on Kentucky's football staff, laughed and said, "Coach, your guys' ability in the weight room embarrasses our football team."
Across the border the Indiana forces appeared as flexible as Kentucky's, with an ample supply of both little whippets and big whoppers. Hoosier Coach Bobby Knight said he wasn't going to consult hypnotists or lose sleep preparing for Kentucky. He knew which lineup he'd, need. "Players don't come here to play pipsqueak schools," he said, relishing the challenge of meeting an archrival like Kentucky. "This is the kind of game we're all here for."
Bowie wasn't there for much of the first half. Whistled into early foul oblivion, he played only 5� minutes, but Turpin came off the bench again to hold his own—as did freshman Tricky Dicky Beat, a Minniefield clone—and Kentucky led 37-33 at halftime.
After the intermission Knight installed his tall tandem of Ray Tolbert and Landon Turner along with good-shooting Ted Kitchel up front, but it was the outrageously talented guard, Isiah Thomas (20 points, five assists and five rebounds for the afternoon), who was directly responsible for the Hoosiers' first 14 points of the second half. The Book of Isiah read three assists, three baskets and two steals, and suddenly Indiana was ahead 47-42, and later 54-48. "We were always afraid Isiah would explode," Bowie said of his Olympic teammate.
But the 'Cats' offensive rebounding—they won the boards 37-28—and depth was too much. Only one Kentucky starter was in the lineup for most of a 10-point spurt that gave the Wildcats a 58-54 lead. Bowie finally returned to play middleman in Kentucky's 1-3-1 zone, but with the game tied at 62 and a little over two minutes remaining. Thomas spied Tolbert breaking for the basket alone and directed a perfect alley-oop pass to somewhere near the rings of Saturn.
"When I turned around, the ball was in the air and so was Ray," said Bowie. "I thought, 'Oh no, it's one of those days. This one's coming down.' "
But alley oops! Tolbert's dunk attempt crashed off the rim and was grabbed by a shocked, not to mention extremely lucky, Bowie.
Tolbert's miss meant that now Kentucky had a chance to break the tie. Hurt and Kitchel exchanged nerveless baskets, but with 48 seconds to go, Thomas, who must be forgiven a mistake a week, fouled Minniefield. How could Thomas have known that Minnie, who had been playing like a mouse, would calmly step to the line and make both free throws for a 66-64 lead? Or that the Hoosiers, who were expertly working the ball for a good shot and another tie, would then pass it to Turner in an area where he could be so badly Hurt?
After the Kentucky reserve forward had snatched the ball away from Turner, kicked it to Minniefield and, thereby, inflicted another Big Hurt on the Big Ten, the man who starts in front of Hurt said he wasn't surprised at all.
"Charlie and all the other young kids aren't so young anymore," said Verderber. "What will surprise me is if we ever lose."