By 1991, Mike Krzyzewski had established Duke as one of the best programs in the country but it had not become iconic. Duke made the Final Four in 1986, 1988, 1989 and 1990, and getting blown out by UNLV in that one.
There was a sense that Duke was good but not good enough.
But Duke was different too. In 1990, Duke took on UNLV with Bobby Hurley, Christian Laettner, Alaa Abdelnaby, Robert Brickey and Phil Henderson.
In 1991, Duke started Laettner and Hurley again but would also have Grant Hill and Antonio Lang and would use Thomas Hill, Billy McCaffrey and Marty Clark a lot. Greg Koubek would eventually move into the starting lineup.
We wanted to take a look at this game because of the classic matchup between Bobby Hurley and Kenny Anderson but we didn't realize that Grant Hill didn't play, presumably due to injury or illness.
That makes the 41 point beatdown even more impressive. Yes, Duke won 98-57 over a very good ranked ACC team. With UNLV undefeated in the desert, we’re not sure that anyone other than Mike Krzyzewski realized that Duke was putting together a team for the ages.
Interestingly, Hill did play in Atlanta later that season and a good thing since Duke needed late points from him to win.
By the way, watch the jump ball here. A great bit of Laettnerian subterfuge.