Reliving OSU Hoops Magic

Tomorrow will be “Ohio State Day” on the fledgling Big Ten Network. If you’re lucky enough to have the BTN, you can enjoy several events from a variety of Ohio State sports today along with last year’s OSU-Michigan and this year’s spring football contest.

Also on tap at 10 p.m. is the 2003 Fiesta Bowl while at 10 a.m. is the 1991 men’s basketball thriller between the Buckeyes and Indiana. Since the national championship football game is still fresh in the minds of most fans, here is a recap of the basketball game that provided one of the most exciting finishes in St. John Arena history.

In fact, here is the recap I wrote for the Feb. 23, 1991, issue of Buckeye Sports Bulletin:

Simply put, it was one helluva game.

Ohio State managed to protect its No. 2 national ranking, stay on track for its first Big Ten championship in 20 years and take dead aim at a lofty seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament with a 97-95 double overtime victory over fourth-rated Indiana.

“It was a great game,” said OSU head coach Randy Ayers. “I don’t think I’ve ever been involved in a better one. Both teams played hard for the entire 50 minutes they were on the floor. A lot of players really laid it on the line today.”

The game provided plenty of thrills for the St. John Arena sellout crowd of 13,276 and millions more in a nationwide television audience.

Like two heavyweight boxers taking turns landing hard punches, the Buckeyes and Hoosiers staged one of the most exciting college basketball matches in recent memory.

The game was tied on 22 separate occasions and the lead changed hands 21 different times, and the momentum swayed back and forth throughout the entire contest.

However, when the game was on the line, both at the end of regulation and near the end of both overtime sessions, it was the Buckeyes who rose to the challenge.

By virtue of the victory, Ohio State was able to sweep a season series from Bob Knight’s Hoosiers for the first time since 1985.

More important, the Buckeyes squeezed some breathing room between themselves and the Hoosiers in a Big Ten race that has been too close for comfort all season.

Ohio State came out of the game with a 12-1 conference mark, 1½ games ahead of Indiana at 10-2. The Hoosiers’ only two league losses have come at the hands of the Buckeyes.

Each time the game was on the line, it was sophomore sensation Jim Jackson who turned the tide for the Buckeyes.

When junior point guard Mark Baker went down early with ankle injury, it was Jackson who stepped forward to assume the point guard duties.

It was Jackson’s whirling jumper in the lane just before the buzzer that sent the game into overtime. It was Jackson’s offensive rebound and pass to senior Treg Lee that allowed Lee an uncontested eight-footer that sent the game into double overtime.

And it was Jackson who drove the lane and then dished to Lee again with 0:04 showing in the second extra period that allowed the OSU senior forward another uncontested jumper that meant the difference in the game.

Jackson wound up with lofty numbers – a career-high 30 points, a game-high 11 rebounds, six assists and one steal.

But it was the fact that the basketball was in his hands at every crucial juncture of the game that stood out more than mere numbers.

“I just have confidence in myself,” Jackson explained.

Ayers said he had run out of superlatives for his star player.

“What more can I say?” the OSU head coach asked. “Jimmy just stepped forward and showed why he’s the great player that he is.”

Watch the replay of the game, tape it, TiVo it – do whatever you have to do to see this game if you haven’t seen it before. To paraphrase ABC announcer Keith Jackson at the end of the broadcast, I trust you’ll enjoy it.


Among those celebrating birthdays today include Friends actress Courtney Cox-Arquette, former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, baseball Hall of Famers Billy Williams and Wade Boggs, Seattle Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren, actor Jim Belushi, rapper/actor Ice Cube (born O’Shea Jackson), San Francisco Giants righthander Tim Lincecum, New York Yankees lefthander Andy Pettitte, PGA golfer Justin Leonard, actor Neil Patrick Harris (“How I Met Your Mother”), Good Charlotte guitarist and keyboard player Billy Martin, Academy Award-winning actress Helen Hunt, and Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker.


** Speaking of Baker, I had the opportunity to cover Friday night’s game between Cincinnati and defending World Series champion Boston. (Maybe you didn’t know that I’m also managing editor of the publication called Reds Report.) Anyway, all of the reporters congregate in Baker’s office following the game to get his thoughts. I was struck by the fact that his office at Great American Ball Park is spacious enough but not exactly what I’d call “plush.” He had a few family photos around, an autographed photo of late blues man John Lee Hooker, nice nondescript desk, a couple of chairs, a mini fridge stocked with sports drinks … and that was about it. Certainly a far cry from the palatial digs Jim Tressel has over at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Of course, Baker can cry about it all the way to the bank. His annual salary of $3.5 million beats Tressel by a little over a million.

** Despite a truly magical back nine yesterday that included two monstrous bombs for eagle and a chip-in birdie, don’t expect Tiger Woods to win the U.S. Open today. As bad as his left knee was hurting and as much magic as Tiger used up on Saturday, it would be difficult to see how he can navigate his way around Torrey Pines for the win. Then again, maybe he can simply will his way to the victory. It seems that whenever he gets near the lead, every other golfer wilts. No matter how he plays today, though, it’s going to be tough to top what he did Saturday.

** In case you missed it, Indiana University officials confirmed last week that sophomore Jordan Crawford was leaving the men’s basketball program, leaving new head coach Tom Crean with exactly one returning scholarship player for the 2008-09 season. The lone returnee? Kyle Taber, who averaged 1.3 points per game last year.

** You might want to start making reservations for the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in 2013. First-year eligible players that year will include Brett Favre, Michael Strahan, Warren Sapp and Jonathan Ogden.

** Today is Father’s Day, a celebration that dates back only to 1908 in the United States. And believe it or not, it’s only been since 1972 that the holiday has been officially recognized in this country. Mother’s Day has been around in one form or another since the 1850s. Those of us who are fathers seem also seem to get the short end of the stick as far as gifts go. According to research, Americans were expected to spend about $11 billion this year on Father’s Day gifts. That’s about $8 billion less than what was spent for mom on her day. Oh, well. It’s the thought that counts, right? Here’s wishing all the dads out there a happy, healthy and safe Father’s Day.