Indiana coach Mike Davis was shocked that, during a routine tournament meeting before Thursday's NCAA South Region semifinal, a Duke representative asked what time the Blue Devils would be playing on Saturday.
"I told my guys, "Guys. They have a great basketball team. No doubt about their basketball team. But when someone disrespects us like this, we've got to come out and fight,' " Davis said.
His Hoosiers did just that and left everyone else shocked.
IU erased a 17-point deficit and survived a frenetic final few seconds to upset the top-seeded and defending national champion Blue Devils 74-73 at Rupp Arena to advance to the region final for the first time since 1993.
"This is a great day in Indiana basketball," Davis said. "We messed up a lot of brackets. Throw 'em away."
But it was the fifth-seeded Hoosiers (23-11) who seemingly had thrown things away.
Trying so intently to get the ball inside to sophomore forward Jared Jeffries, the Hoosiers committed 16 turnovers in the first half, which is more than they had in 24 of their previous games.
Although top shooters Jason Williams and Mike Dunleavy struggled in the opening half, combining for 4-of-16, the Blue Devils (31-4) turned those miscues into 23 points to take a 42-29 halftime lead.
"I told my guys, "They lost a big lead to Virginia so just keep fighting, keep fighting and if we get it close down the end, their shot's not going to fall because our defense is one of the best defenses in the country," Davis said.
The Blue Devils still led 70-64 after Dunleavy hit a 3-pointer, but junior guard Tom Coverdale made a free throw and Jeffries got one of his nine offensive rebounds for a putback, drawing a foul from Williams. His free throw cut the deficit to 70-68.
"The bottom line is we didn't get stops when we needed to," Dunleavy said. "Give them credit.
Coverdale made two more free throws to tie it at 70 for the first time with 1:55 left, bringing the largely partisan IU crowd among the 22,338 to its feet. Coverdale followed with a short baseline jumper _ his lone field goal _ to give IU its first lead (72-70) with 1:01 to play.
"I got into early foul trouble and it really took me out of the first half, but I just wanted to keep playing good defense," he said. "I think I only shot the ball three times. My goal for this game wasn't to take as many shots as I could, it was to get it to Jared. That's how we knew we were going to win the game. But it did feel good to hit that shot."
IU increased the lead when sophomore guard A.J. Moye drew a foul with 11.1 seconds left and made both free throws.
"I told myself I was going to knock them down," said Moye, who scored 14 off the bench. "I've been in situations like that before and, believe it or not, I missed them, so that was a big motivation."
But Duke wasn't done.
Freshman guard Daniel Ewing missed a 3, but Williams got the loose ball, dribbled out to the top of key, swished a 3 and was fouled by senior guard Dane Fife with 4.2 seconds left. But as he had done in the waning seconds in losses to Florida State and Virginia, Williams missed the free throw that would have tied it.
"It's just the way the game goes. Sometimes the ball bounces your way and sometimes it doesn't," said the dejected All-American, who shot 6-of-19 to finish with 15 points.
Duke center Carlos Boozer, however, got the rebound and seemingly had an easy putback for a stunning win. That is until Jeffries stopped him.
"He put his meat hook of an arm and kind of threw me out of the way," said Jeffries, who led all scorers with 24 to go with 15 rebounds, "so when he was going up I figured, "Well, he's going to hit his shot,' so I grabbed him and got a piece of the ball."
That touched off an emotional celebration for IU at midcourt, a scene Hoosier fans haven't witnessed in a long time.
"Their kids hung tough," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "They played with tremendous determination and won the ballgame through their toughness."