1990 Spartans, Smith Bumped By Old Nemesis - The Clock

1990 Spartans, Smith Bumped By Old Nemesis - The Clock

Crowley Sullivan

1990 Spartans, Smith Bumped By Old Nemesis - The Clock

Jud Heathcote is denied shot at elusive second trip to the Final Four due to yet another obvious March Madness clock error.

Contact @crowleysullivan

Let’s be very clear about something:

Michigan State won the 1990 Southeast Regional Semifinal/Sweet Sixteen matchup over Georgia Tech in regulation.

The problem was – and always will be – that everyone with any official oversight of the contest failed to recognize what would be a very simple call today: Kenny Anderson’s “game tying” shot game occurred after the buzzer and there isn’t any disputing this.

If played today, it would have been about a ten second second look at the replay before Jud Heathcote and his Spartans would have been on their way into the locker room instead of needing to rev it back up for an unnecessary overtime period.  That there was a brief dispute over whether Anderson’s shot might have been a three-pointer is comical in retrospect.

Let’s be very clear about something else:

Michigan State earned the right to play in the Southeast Regional Final against a Minnesota Golden Gopher squad – and Jud would have made that second (what should have been his third were it not for yet another colossal screw job at Kemper Arena in 1986) trip to the Final Four.

The 1990 Spartans blasted the Big Ten with a dominating 15-3 conference run that was led by Spartan legend Steve Smith and some sensational teammates who made this team one that lives on in the hearts of Spartans everywhere.

Smith averaged 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game throughout a season that, with a final record of 28-6, still stands as one of the all time performances in the storied history of Spartan basketball.

Smith was complemented by sharpshooter Kirk Manns who averaged 15.5 points a game, Ken Redfield with 11.6 a contest, and terrific role players like Mark Montgomery, current Izzo lieutenant Dwyane Stephens, big man Mike Peplowski, and all around contributor Matt Steigenga.

After an electric, last second Big Ten Championship-clinching win on the final Sunday of the regular season at a shiny and raucous Breslin Center, State earned a #1 seed and seemed poised for Jud’s triumphant return to that elusive second Final Four.

But the game clock operators and officials of the cavernous Louisiana Superdome had other ideas.

One could make the argument that Anderson’s shot came about a minute after the buzzer sounded.

I’m not saying that Anderson’s shot shouldn’t have counted.

All I’m saying is that Bobby Cremins has owed the entire officiating crew from this game booze, food, healthy portions of his monthly earnings, lavish Christmas gifts, fully loaded information related to any and all investment opportunities that came Cremins’s way, and a key to his family vacation home in Del Boca Vista.

Even after this obvious gaffe from the officials, Jud still got his men re-focused and State had the lead in overtime with less than ten seconds to play.

Georgia Tech smartly got the ball to Dennis Scott who managed a tough runner in the lane to give the Jackets the lead by one.  Ken Redfield actually almost drained a last heave – but, once the clock reared its ugly head in regulation yet again against Jud’s Spartans, the team’s fate was sealed and the special season came to a premature close.

Take a look and see for yourself at the final moments of regulation here.

Some elements to keep your eyes and ears peeled for:

  • Did Anderson’s shot come six seconds after the buzzer or only four seconds after the buzzer?
  • Are Greg Gumbel, Quinn Buckner and all members of the entire CBS Sports broadcast team paying any attention to the fact that Anderson’s shot came either eleven or twelve seconds after the buzzer?
  • While Bobby Cremins whines about how Anderson’s shot should have counted as a three-pointer, does he know that the shot came either nine or ten full seconds after the buzzer?
  • God bless you, Jud.

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