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Runaway!
Curry Kirkpatrick
April 09, 1990
UNLV beat Duke 103-73 in the most lopsided NCAA title game ever
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April 09, 1990

Runaway!

UNLV beat Duke 103-73 in the most lopsided NCAA title game ever

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Regardless of the adversity—how many game suspensions for things like bench-clearing fights, academic probations and nonpayments of hotel-room minibar tabs plagued UNLV?—Tark the Shark's sometimes raunchy Rebels have done just that all season. And in the tournament finale, this lovable rogue of a coach got his team so focused and so fraught with emotion that it treated proud Duke as if it were just another UC Irvine or Cal State-Fullerton. At the end, a heartwarming scene: The so-called thugs of Vegas circled their bald little coach as he hugged each and every one of them—Elmer Fudd congratulating all the cwazy wabbits.

"We want to win this championship bad," Johnson had said on Sunday, "so that the NCAA guys will have to stare at that trophy on Coach's desk while they ask all those questions during the next investigation."

But that's for later. After Monday night's victory, the Runnin' Rebels quickly donned T-shirts inscribed in honor of their mentor: SHARK TAKES HIS BITE. They had already ordered others for back home that would do justice to themselves. Those shirts would read THE NICE GUYS on the front and FINISHED FIRST on the back.

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