1983 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament

In the last game, played in Albuquerque, New Mexico, NC State led at halftime with a score of 33–25. Houston was hampered by foul trouble that plagued star Clyde Drexler, who picked up four first half fouls. From the second halfof the Cougars came out with a second wind and based control of the match, finally taking a seven-point lead.
But, things weren’t all great for Houston. Since the game was played in Albuquerque, players needed to take care of the city’s mile-high altitude. The Cougars’ star center, Akeem Olajuwon, had problems adjusting to the environment and drained quickly, having to check out of the game multiple times so he could put on an oxygen mask and then recover. Together with Olajuwon on the seat, Houston head coach Guy Lewis determined that so as to safeguard the lead and the health of his big man at the exact same period, the Cougars had to start slowing the game down.
Once again, this allowed the Wolfpack to go back to their standby strategy of extending the match. Houston’s free throw shooting was very suspect entering the match, which worked heavily in NC State’s favour since they could rally back and even the score at 52 in the final two minutes. On what is the last Houston ownership, Valvano called for his players to back away and let guard Alvin Franklin bring the ball up the court. The Wolfpack defenders would let the Cougars employ their lag strategy of passing around. Once the ball got back to Franklin he was to be fouled immediately. With 1:05 left, the freshman was fouled and sent to the line for a one-and-one. The idea to filthy Franklin sprung from the enormity of the second; NC State believed that the comparatively inexperienced Franklin couldn’t resist the strain of going to the line with the tournament at stake and knowing fifty million viewers were tuned into watch the match. The theory was correct as Franklin failed to convert and the Wolfpack caught the rally. Valvano called timeout with 44 seconds left and drew up a play for senior guard Dereck Whittenburg through the timeout, which required the team to pass him the ball with ten seconds left on the clock so he could take the final shot.
Houston needed a defensive stop so they could find another opportunity to close out the game. Lewis made a decision to move from the man-to-man shield his team was running the whole match to a half court trap defense. The Wolfpack, who weren’t expecting the defensive adjustment, were made to deviate and began passing the ball around simply to keep the Cougars from stealing it. Houston almost obtained the turnover it had been searching for if Whittenburg made an errant pass to Gannon which Drexler nearly came away with prior to the sophomore regained control of the ball. The ball eventually wound up at the palms of guard Sidney Lowe, who lent it to forward and fellow mature Thurl Bailey at the corner.
Trying to keep the ball going, as he had been double teamed as soon as he obtained the move, Bailey looked back toward Whittenburg, that was approximately thirty feet from the hoop near midcourt. Bailey threw what Whittenburg would later call a”poor fundamental” overhanded pass which Houston’s Benny Anders, guarding Whittenburg about the drama, was in position to steal. Now, Whittenburg hearkened back to his high school days with Morgan Wootten at DeMatha Catholic High School, where he had been taught to always catch the basketball with both hands. If Whittenburg had not tried to do this in this circumstance, Anders may have gotten the steal and a game-winning breakaway layup. In college basketball at the time, the game clock continued to operate following a made field goal, and the Wolfpack probably wouldn’t have had time even to inbound the ball. As it was, Anders knocked the ball from Whittenburg’s hands, but Whittenburg quickly regained control.
The clock, meanwhile, had ticked down to five minutes and Whittenburg was standing a significant distance from the goal. Once he regained control, Whittenburg turned and started a desperation shot, later claimed by Whittenburg to be a pass, to attempt to win the game for NC State. The shot’s trajectory took it on the front of the basket at which Olajuwon was covering Wolfpack center Lorenzo Charles. As he noticed the shot, Olajuwon said he knew the shooter was going to come up short but he did not want to select the ball too early because of the prospect of goaltending. Charles took advantage of the indecision from Olajuwon and proceeded up for the air ball, and, in 1 motion, he scored the go-ahead points using a two-handed dunk. The final second ticked off the clock prior to Houston could inbound the ball, and with that, the match ended, and the Wolfpack were the national champions.

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