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Elite Eight Battle Between Duke and Kentucky in 1992 was a Classic Thriller 0

Posted on March 24, 2022 by Chris Kent

I

t was a game that epitomized March Madness. The 1992 East Regional Final of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament between Duke and Kentucky was as thrilling a game as one can imagine. Basketball pundits and fans everywhere witnessed a game for the ages. It was an instant classic packed with as much drama as a play on broadway in New York City.

Actually, it was played in Philadelphia, PA at The Spectrum and featured the east region’s top two seeds. On Saturday March 28, 1992, the Blue Devils and the Wildcats battled in a game that is remembered as a theatrical masterpiece. Veteran broadcasters Verne Lundquist and Len Elmore called the game for CBS Sports and did a masterful job. With a trip to The Final Four on the line, the two nationally ranked powers went back-and-forth much of the game leading up to a frantic, thrilling, and dramatic finish.

Having just fallen behind by one point on a Kentucky basket after which they used their final timeout with 2.1 seconds left in overtime, Duke inbounded the ball under the Wildcats’ basket. Sophomore forward Grant Hill prepared to make the long inbounds pass which was nearly the full length of the court. The call by Lundquist sounded like this:

“There’s the pass to Laettner…puts it up…(Buzzer sounds) Yessssssssssss!

Hill’s long inbounds pass was caught by 6-11 senior forward/center Christian Laettner just outside the top of the foul line where he made a turnaround jumper as time expired. Echoes of Lundquist’s call have lingered on for decades since this fabled play.

Christian Laettner makes a turnaround shot to beat the final buzzer lifting Duke over Kentucky in the 1992 East Regional Championship Game of the NCAA Tournament. The win sent the Blue Devils to their fifth straight Final Four. Click on the above photo to watch a replay of this full game, one of the best basketball games ever played.

Ecstasy resulted for the Blue Devils while Kentucky was left in anguish. Laettner’s basket, a swish, lifted Duke to an improbable 104-103 win and sent the Blue Devils to The Final Four for the fifth straight year. Wildcat senior forwards John Pelphrey and Deron Feldhaus, each standing 6-7, defended Laettner on the final play. Pelphrey made a reach for the ball before backing off to avoid fouling for Kentucky. Feldhaus was closer and raised both arms up on Laettner as he took the epic shot.

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