The 1990 Final Four is mostly remembered now for UNLV’s dismantling of Duke in the championship game but there were two other games.
UNVL played Duke’s ACC rival, Georgia Tech, winning 90-81. Tech had Bobby Cremins and Cremins had his Lethal Weapon 3 - Kenny Anderson, Brian Oliver and Dennis Scott.
For the Yellow Jackets, the defining moment of the 1990 NCAA tournament came against Shaquille O’Neal and his LSU Tigers.
On a wide-open fast break, Scott instead opted to step back and shoot a three.
Hit it, of course. He hit a lot of them.
In the other semi-final, Duke got Arkansas. Nolan Richardson had built a powerful program.
A native of El Paso, Richardson stayed home and played for UTEP, then Texas Western, finishing two years before the Miners won the 1966 national championship.
He took over at Arkansas in 1985 and five years later had the Razorbacks in the Final Four.
Richardson billed his pressing defense as “40 Minutes of Hell,” and the endless coverage of it seemed to annoy the Duke team.
The Blue Devils didn’t have much trouble with his defense though, not with Bobby Hurley at the point. Hurley came into his own as a sophomore and helped slice Arkansas’s defense. Teammate Phil Henderson led Duke with 28. Duke won 97-83.
And 1990 was also the dawn of the Age of Laettner: for the next two seasons, Christian Laettner would alternately fascinate and infuriate the basketball public.
But this was 1990. No national championships, no rings, Duke was then a program defined by near misses.
It would take another year to change that.