This is a new IU basketball series that will focus on a specific date in Hoosier hardwood history. In addition to game notes, important facts, and highlighted pieces of IU memorabilia, there will also be a focus on pop culture facts (music, movies, TV), other sporting highlights, as well as U.S. and world events. Inspiration for this series comes from the “Random Box Score” series from soxmachine.com.
Penn State (12-6 overall, 4-3 in Big Ten play) at Indiana (15-3 overall, 5-2 in Big Ten play), February 2, 2000. Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana.
Pop Culture and Major Events
Tops of the music charts in early 2000 included “I Knew I Loved You” by Savage Garden and “What a Girl Wants’ by Christina Aguilera. Additionally, Carlos Santana’s album “Supernatural” seemed to be the most overplayed of any album in history. I seem to recall as a junior in high school in 2000 that music was flat-out awful.
Theater-goers could view Boondock Saints, Next Friday, or Disney’s revamped version of its classic with Fantasia 2000. In the sports world, Kurt Warner, who began the season as a backup to former Indiana QB Trent Green (lost to a knee injury), led the St. Louis Rams to the title in Super Bowl XXXIV.
A few weeks after the IU-Penn State game, Microsoft would release Windows 2000.
On February 13, the final original strip of the classic comic Peanuts is published, one day following the death of creator Charles Schultz.
Indiana’s 1999-2000 season outlook began in many ways the same as the previous five: uncertainty. Gone were the days of the early 1990s when Indiana was dependable to produce consistent, high-quality seasons with success in both conference and post-season play. Indiana had made a first-round exit in the NCAA Tournament in four of the previous five seasons, and had not won a Big Ten title since 1993.
Indiana’s 1999-2000 squad had gotten off to a strong pre-conference season start, the only blemish coming from Indiana State in the Indiana Classic (the Hoosiers would lose the host event for the first time in its 26-year existence). Indiana stood 5-2 in Big Ten conference play, with losses to eventual NCAA Champion Michigan State and Purdue.
Penn State had struggled to a 13-14 record overall during Jerry Dunn’s fourth season in Happy Valley. Fans were hoping that Joe Crispin would build on his solid sophomore season to emerge as a leader for the young Nittany Lions. Additionally, senior Jarrett Stephens was proving to be a force down low during non-conference play in the 1999-2000 season.
Penn State entered the contest against the Hoosiers winners of four of their last five games. Stephens, the Big Ten’s second leading scorer, had gone for 14 points and 14 rebounds in a loss to the Hoosiers on January 8th.
Indiana coach Bob Knight felt that the rematch against the Nittany Lions would go differently the second time around (Indiana would win in Happy Valley, 85-78). In any event, the game plan would be no different: “We approach each game with equal importance, whether the team is ranked or unranked,” Knight said. “Every team in this league is capable of beating anybody on a given night. I don’t gauge one more than another.”
The Starters for Indiana:
A.J. Guyton (Sr.), Michael Lewis (Sr.), Dane Fife (So.), Kirk Haston (So.), Lynn Washington (Sr.)
The Starters for Penn State:
Jarrett Stephens (Sr.), Joe Crispin (Jr.), Titus Ivory (Jr.), Jon Crispin (Fr.), Gyasi Cline-Heard (Jr.)
Entering the contest, Indiana’s size was looked upon as a major obstacle for the smaller Nittany Lions. Penn State coach Jerry Dunn inserted 6’8″ Tyler Smith as part of the game plan to deny Indiana the ball down low to center Kirk Haston.
Penn State would lead early at 8-3, but soon, Indiana would be on a 14-2 run as Haston began getting hot down low. With guard A.J. Guyton knocking down a three-pointer, Indiana would take its first lead 10-8 with under 16 minutes in the first half.
With Penn State focused mainly on Guyton (who poured in a career high 33 points in a win over PSU a year prior) and Haston, it soon became the “Larry Richardson Game.”
Richardson, who was given the unwanted nickname “Scary Larry” for his often inconsistent play, came out of nowhere to go 6-6 from the field and 2-2 from the foul line in the first half, as Indiana would lead 39-26 at the break. Despite the 13-point lead, Penn State made it clear that they would not back down.
Penn State’s unwillingness to give up was evident in the fact that the Hoosier lead dropped to just six points at the 15:23 mark. Titus Ivory, a normal three-point threat for the Nittany Lions, would knock down Penn State’s first three pointer of the game early in the second half, one of his five for the game.
But after every run by Penn State, Indiana would respond with one of its own. IU’s 13-6 run, with A.J. Guyton accounting for six of those points, kept the Indiana cushion in place.
Larry Richardson found his groove in the second half and the buckets continued to drop. Most in Assembly Hall could not believe their eyes at the performance from the Orange Park, FL product, who had mainly been a role player during his IU career.
Richardson would go for a career high 25 points and nine rebounds on a night where a slowed-down, more-focused Richardson was on the floor. It would be a big game for the IU bigs in general as center Kirk Haston would add 25 points of his own in the 87-77 victory.
Larry Richardson’s performance on McCracken Court was so appreciated by the IU faithful that a chant of “Larry, Larry” filled the crowd in the closing seconds of the game.
Penn State’s effort on the floor was nothing to sneeze at. Titus Ivory went for 20 points, while banger Stephens added 22 points and 12 rebounds. Bob Knight commented that Stephens caused issues for the Hoosiers all night: “Stephens would be a tough matchup for King Kong.”
The Indiana victory pushed their conference record to 6-2 overall with their next three contests on the road. Penn State’s loss would drop them to 4-4 in Big Ten play.
Indiana coach Bob Knight: “The thing I like about Larry is that he usually doesn’t play with the first team in practice, but he keeps at it. Sometimes he doesn’t play at all, but he’s a senior and I tell him, ‘You’re going to play.’ Sometimes he tries to do some things he can’t do. Tonight, he just got open. They put an emphasis on Guyton, so Larry scored.”
Penn State coach Jerry Dunn: “I felt we rushed things, hurried too much, in the first half. In the second half, I was very pleased with our effort. We competed, got back into the game, and showed some mental toughness.”
Penn State’s effort in their second matchup against Indiana demostrated the fire and effort that the Nittany Lions were capable of showing. However, in this case, effort would not equate to much success for the remainder of the Big Ten season. Over the course of their final eight conference games, Penn State would go 1-7, finishing the season at 19-16 overall, 5-11 in the Big Ten. A major upset victory over then 4th-ranked Ohio State salvaged some satisfaction for a season that showed so much promise at times.
For Indiana, the remainder of the 2000 season would be a bumpy ride. Over their final eight games in Big Ten conference play, the Hoosiers would struggle to a 4-4 record, finishing 10-6. A quick exit in the Big Ten Tournament (to Illinois), and the Hoosiers found themselves in Buffalo, NY facing Pepperdine as the 6th seed in the East Regional. With center Kirk Haston going down with a knee injury two minutes into the game, Indiana was never able to recover, losing to the Waves 77-57.
The month of March would not be kind to the Indiana program in general as Neil Reed, a former guard for the Hoosiers, accused Bob Knight of choking him during a practice in 1997. After a video surfaced showing evidence of Reed’s claim, Knight’s status as Indiana coach was uncertain. Knight would be placed under a zero-tolerance policy by IU president, Myles Brand.
Following an incident with an IU student in September of 2000, Bob Knight’s tenure as Indiana coach, 29 years in total, would come to an end. For the first time since 1971, a new coach would be lurking the sidelines of Assembly Hall.
Resources: sports-reference.com, Indy Star IU Basketball database, Bloomington Herald Times.