December 7, 1981: Murray State 56 Notre Dame 54
In his second and third years at Murray
State head coach Ron Greene had led the Racers to their most
successful back-to-back seasons in nearly a decade. And with eight
players back everyone expected the 1981-82 season to be more of the
Six of the returning players
Lamont Sleets, Glen Green, Brian Stewart, Kenney Hammonds, Walter
Davis, and Tony Slaughter had starting experience. And transfers
Ricky Hood and Mike McDuffen were starters prior to enrolling at MSU.
But after four games the Racers
were struggling and Sleets was sidelined with a broken ankle, suffered in a
loss to Southern Illinois. They were coming off of a loss at home to Arkansas
College in which they missed missed the front end
of seven 1-and-1 opportunities.
The media was less than kind.
The Ledger and Times' Jim Rector
noted, (Greene) denied the team was falling apart due to the lack
of Sleets in the lineup and he said the Racers weren't looking ahead
to Notre Dame.
Hammonds grumbled, He is giving
everybody a shot. I'm not sure why the vets don't start out on top.
I'm going to stay on top of things, that's for sure. And I try not to
be a bad example, even when I'm sitting on the bench.
Murray State was 2-2 having just lost
to an NAIA school, its best player had a broken ankle, players were
grumbling about playing time, and a trip to South Bend to play the
powerful Fighting Irish was up next. To say things looked bleak would
be an understatement.
And then, suddenly, things changed.
Greene arranged for MSU's offensive
end to be in front of the Racers' bench in the second half against
Notre Dame. Never mind that this meant the Notre Dame student section
was behind the basket they were shooting at. And the same players who
couldn't make free throws against Arkansas College were rock solid at
the line as Murray State upset the Irish 56-54.
We talked about it before the
game, Greene said. I elected to have the team in front of me
where I could talk to them.
Glen Green led the way for MSU with 15
points and after being knocked to the floor he picked himself up and and blocked
a shot by Notre Dame's Barry Spencer at the buzzer that would have sent the
game into overtime.
Bill Jauss wrote in the Chicago
Tribune that, "Notre Dame had never before lost to anyone other than a
national power in its 14 year old Athletic and Convocation Center.