The Pentagon should have such defense. Relentlessly aggresive in a college basketball game that could have passed for guerrilla combat, Kentucky beat Indiana tonight, 69-58, when its defenders shut out the No. 1-ranked Hoosiers for 12 minutes of the second half.
"When you wake up your crowd with defense, that's a sign you're on the right way," said Joe Hall, the Kentucky coach. The 23,798 spectators at Rupp Areans awoke with an explosion-roar late tonight. Ears may never be the same. Indiana certainly wasn't.
It happened with five minutes to play. Once behind 13 points in the first half. Kentucky led, 65-23, when Indiana admitted its frustration with two cockeyed, no-chance, forever-homely shots. At the sight of the unguided missiles, the Kentucky zealots beat their last-furlong-of-the-Derby screams and turned to thoughts of bourbon. The basketball was over.
It had been tied at 53-all with nine minutes, two seconds to play. It had been a war in sneakers, with 50 fouls called, maybe 100 missed. Only the brave ran patterns through these defenses.
But for the next 7:18, Indiana could not score a point agains a Kentucky defense that would limit Hoosier All-Amderica Mike Woodson to four-of-18 shooting (zero for eight in the second half).
When Indiana finally scored, Kentucky had built a 66-53 lead. Only 1:44 remained. Kentucky, ranked No. 5, had won its seventh straight game after a season-opening loss to Duke. For Indiana, playing on the road for the first time, the loss was its first in five games.
Hall said the game's turning point came in the first half. Kentucky trailed, 32-23, when reserve forward Charles Hurt -- the ninth man in the game for Hall's ultra-deep team -- slammed down a dunk off a fast break.
"That ignited our crowd," Hall said.
For decades under Adolph Rupp and now for Hall, the Kentucky crowds fill arenas with wall-to-wall sound. The sound is so dense it seems an act of ineffable skill for an opponent to complete a pass during the cheering.
Kentucky scored eight straight points, unanswered, in exactly one minute. Suddenly, Indiana led only 32-28, and the game was on.
More important than Hurt's stuff -- the losing coach, Bob Knight, didn't even mention it -- was the foul trouble of Indiana freshman guard Isaiah Thomas. He runs the team both ofensively and defensively. He sat down with three fouls when Indiana led, 24-12, with 7 1/2 minutes to go in the first half.
Without Thomas, Indiana had no offense. And he fouled out with 6:43 left in the game. Indiana trailed only 57-53 then. Without Thomas, the Hoosiers scored only one more field goal.
"For us to win, we have to have Isaiah in the game," said Woodson.
Thomas, an uncommon 6-footer who Knight says will be the best player he ever coached, had outplayed Kentucky All-America Kyle Macy in his first-half work.
But when Thomas picked up his fourth foul in the second half, Macy won the game with intelligent floor play (he went one-on-one against the freshman, twice scoring layups that pulled Kentucky from 53-51 behind to a 55-53 lead it never gave up).
"Macy took over the game when it was in the 50s," Knight said.
Of Macy's team-high 12 points, eight came in the second half, six of those in the critical last eight minutes.
If Hall liked the crowd and neutral eyes though Thomas' foul troubles more decisive, there was yet another factor of importance: Kentucky's depth.
They call this team the "Buzzin' Dozen" because everybody can play. The 13th man off the bench tonight may have won it for Kentucky. That was Jay Schindler, a long-range shooter who hit five of seven from downtown Paducah.
"Depth mades Kentucky a good team," Knight said.
By using everybody in Kentucky save for Phyllis George, who's expecting, Hall can order his men to play that give-up-your-body defense forever.
Indiana shot 25.9 percent the second half, 34.7 percent for the game. Kentucky hit 42.6 percent.