The Greatest Series: Top Performance No. 2

The Greatest Series: Top Performance No. 2

All you have to do is mention the name Keith Smart and every Indiana fan knows what individual performance we're talking about. But it was more than just Smart's shot to beat Syracuse. It was his final 12 minutes of the game that ranks as one of IU's Greatest individual performances.

Each day, AllHoosiers.com has a new installment in "The Greatest" series that will chronicle some of the top players, teams and performances in Indiana basketball history.

The first top 10 countdown will look at some of the top individual performances in IU history. Go to the premium message board and weigh in with your own votes for what some of the top individual efforts have been in IU history.

NO. 2: ALL YOU HAVE TO SAY IS KEITH SMART AND IU FANS KNOW WHAT PERFORMANCE IS COMING

You've seen ‘The Shot' a hundred times if not more. Keith Smart takes a few dribbles and hits the little jumper in the closing seconds of the 1987 national championship game to lift IU to a 74-73 victory over Syracuse.

If you're an Indiana basketball fan, you had to know that Smart's shot would make the top performance list.But it was really more than just that shot. It was Smart's game against the Orange in the national championship game in New Orleans than earned him a spot.

Syracuse led 52-46 with 12:12 to play when Smart was re-inserted into the game. Jason Hiner, in the IU Basketball Encyclopedia, used a quote from Bob Knight talking about how Smart played in that final 12 minutes.

"Keith Smart made as many big plays in critical situations as anybody I've ever seen,'' Knight was quoted as saying at the time.

No one could argue with that.

Smart immediately broke down the defense and dished the ball at the last second to Daryl Thomas for a dunk that capped a 6-0 run and tied the game. Then he had a twisting layup that put IU on top. After Syracuse went back ahead, Smart again scored on a driving layup to tie the game at 61 all.

It seemed like Syracuse continued to have an answer but so did Smart. Again, after the Orange had gone ahead 70-68, it was Smart that found a seam in the defense and drove for a reverse lay up to tie it.

Syracuse scored to make it 72-70 and then hit one of two free throws to up the lead to 73-70. The second free throw was missed though and Smart grabbed the rebound and raced up the floor. He pulled up and hit a 10-foot jumper to get the Hoosiers to within a point at 73-72 with 30 seconds to play.

The rest, as they say, is history. Derrick Coleman would miss the front end of a one-and-one and IU went down the court without using a timeout. Smart's infamous game-winner went through the net with 5 seconds to play and the Hoosiers had claimed their fifth national championship.

Steve Alford led the Hoosiers with 23 points but Smart had 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting and five rebounds for Indiana.

In terms of a massive number of points as has been the case in many of the top performances here, Smart didn't have those numbers. But on the biggest stage, in the biggest moment, Smart had one of the biggest individual performances in IU history.

Stay tuned for the No. 1 selection in "The Greatest" series tomorrow at AllHoosiers.com. And then Monday or Tuesday we'll begin the second top 10 countdown in "The Greatest" series of IU hoops.

In order to stay up with previous installments in the series, here are the links to previous stories in the countdown:

Top Performances: No. 10

Top Performances: No. 9

Top Performances: No. 8

Top Performances: No. 7

Top Performances: No. 6

Top performances: No. 5

Top Performances: No. 4

Top Performance: No. 3

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch

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