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A Look Back At 1991

Duke's upset of UNLV was one of the great moments in college basketball history.

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Christian Laettner was the dominant player on Duke's back-to-back title teams.
Christian Laettner was the dominant player on Duke's back-to-back title teams.
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Duke has had a lot of great moments over the Krzyzewski era but some naturally are greater than others. And not many of them are greater than the win over UNLV in 1991.

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Duke has been so powerful that people tend to forget the absolute and total whipping UNLV laid on them in 1990.

It was really awesome and we don't say that lightly. Duke was pretty damn good; Vegas ran over them like a possum on the road.

So the '91 game was always going to be intense, at least from Duke's point of view.

Some things have been more or less forgotten: K didn't show the team video of the first game. That team had a lot of strong personalities and it didn't look like a team for the ages at first. In fact, a lot of people have probably forgotten that UNC whipped Duke's butt in the ACC Tournament in '91.

And a lot of people have probably also forgotten (or never knew) that after that whipping, Coach K told his team, flat out, that they would win the national championship.

The scene in Indianapolis was unforgettable. Dean and Roy played in the first game, with Smith getting tossed on technicals at the very end.

The Duke, UNC and Kansas fans had a lot in common. The Vegas group was the odd lot.

Our favorite was an elderly lady - probably in her '80s -  who wore pumps, a tight black leather skirt and a T-shirt that read "the NCAA Don't Know Diddly" - a take-off of a Bo Jackson/Nike commercial of the day.

When the Vegas kids came in, the entire gym sort of...hissed. It was way worse than being booed. It was obvious in their body language.

And it had been obvious during the week that they thought it would be an easy win. Stacy Augmon was asked about it at one point and said something like "Larry Johnson hits a dunk. Boom! Anderson Hunt hits a three! Boom. Greg Anthony steals and goes in for a dunk. Boom!" And figured that would just about be the end of it.

Vegas was simultaneously very tight and wildly overconfident - a bad combination.

The game itself was phenomenal. Yes, Vegas was tight, but that was a great team.

When Bobby Hurley hit his famous three down the stretch, we knew Duke wasn't going away. And when Larry Johnson had the ball on UNLV's last possession, and passed, well, it was a long three from a faltering team.

And then it was over. We still remember watching Hurley leap into the air.

The best part of the game was an older guy - probably over 70 - running from the floor to the top of the bottom bowl, high fiving everyone along the way as a cheer of 34-1! 34-1! 34-1! erupted.

We only have one regret.

Before the game, some overconfident Vegas guys were selling Undefeated and Back-To-Back T-shirts for $20.00.

After the upset, they were marked down to $5.00. Should've bought and framed one.

It's a bit late now, but the Vegas players are still upset about it.