1992: Laettner & Duke Beat Kentucky Some have called it the best NCAA Tournament game ever. It just may be. Kentucky and Duke met in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia in the regional final on the way to the Final Four. Both teams tussled back and forth, to and fro, through the game's 40 minutes of regulation. Duke took a 50-45 lead to halftime, but Kentucky, of course, would storm back. Down by as many as 10 points in the second half, they battled bacto send the game to OT.
In overtime, UK and Duke exchanged the lead six times while losing the ball without a shot only twice. With the clock winding down, the Wildcats took a 103-102 lead thanks to the determination of senior Sean Woods. Woods, who had given Kentucky its first tie of the second half when he nailed just his eighth 3-pointer in 36 games, used a head fake to elude Duke point guard Bobby Hurley and then sunk a 10-foot bank shot with Blue Devils center Christian Laettner in his face with just 2.7 remaining. But Laettner, who made all 10 shots he took in the game and scored 31 points -- including Duke's last 8 points in the final frame -- would be the hero on this night. Duke called timeout to set up the final play as 17,878 fans at The Spectrum created able chaos. UK coach Rick Pitino chose not to front Duke in-bounds man Grant Hill, sending his defense back and placing two players around Laettner. Hill launched a baseball pass to the leaping 6-foot-11 Laettner, who split two defenders, dribbled, turned around and shot a 17-foot fadeaway dagger into the hearts of Kentucky and through the hoop from the top of the key.
When the jubilation cleared the court and the opponents stepped back to take in the carnage, the only pity was that either team had to lose after such a performance. Duke shot 65 percent from the field on the evening, UK 57 percent. Laettner left Philadelphia as not only a hero, but with the most career tournament points in NCAA history. While the Wildcats went home wondering what they could have done differently, Duke advanced to the Final Four and defeated Indiana (81-78) and then Michigan and its Fab Five freshmen (71-51) for the NCAA championship. It was the second title for the Blue Devils in as many seasons.