NEW YORK — Avid shoppers, the Bruins left Manhattan with everything they had come for. They beat Bob Knight, held Steve Alford to 16 points, got the game's MVP for Reggie Miller, an all-tourney berth for Nigel Miguel and the championship, itself.
Now it's going to be 11 banners fluttering in Pauley Pavilion, 10 NCAAs and the one from the National Invitation Tournament they won Friday night, defeating Indiana, 65-62, before 12,454 at Madison Square Garden.
"We took a little bite out of the apple Wednesday night," Miller said. "We took the whole core tonight."
"Dec. 22," announced UCLA Coach Walt Hazzard, the date St. John's routed his team in the same arena. "We told you we were coming back. Here we are!"
What had he said?
"You'll see us again," Hazzard said. "Yeah, I said you'll see us again."
So maybe he said it kind of quietly that day, but there they are, 21-game winners in Hazzard's rookie season, closing with 8 straight and 12 of 13.
They were even on their way to winning handily Friday, with a nine-point lead and 1:57 left. Then they were forced to spend the rest of the night working on their in-bounds repertoire, again. They were up to one five-second violation and two timeouts called to prevent more violations, and Indiana was within 62-60, when Corey Gaines hit Miller running a fly pattern for a dunk in the closing seconds.
The Hoosiers scored once more, and the Bruins got the ball in once more, to Brad Wright, who was fouled at :01. Wright threw both arms in the air.
Miguel: "I told Brad--he had kinda started celebrating--make one of these free throws before you start celebrating."
Wright did. He made the first one and retreated to midcourt, where he high-fived every Bruin on the floor. He went back, missed, the last second clicked off, and the Bruins were champions.
They went into Friday's game a slight underdog and spent most of the first half trailing, by as many as six points. The Hoosiers were gumming up UCLA's inside game, and the Bruins were lukewarm from the perimeter. Knight said later he thought the Hoosiers were in position to pull it out, "but they got a three-point play out of our offense."
That was Miguel's, stealing a pass, sprinting to the other end and throwing down a quick dunk before Steve Eyl knocked him into the basket support.
Then Miguel got up, took a walk to ease the pain in his right elbow, stepped up to the line and made the free throw. The Bruins were down, 26-25. A moment later, Montel Hatcher threw in a long jumper and tied it.
The Hoosiers came back and grabbed a 35-31 lead in the second half. Then came Miller time.
Knight had just moved his trusty utility man, Dan Dakich, onto Miller. Dakich is listed at 6-5, looks 6-4 and has a little paunch. He specializes in coming off the bench, looking improbable and making clutch jump shots.
This time, he gave up a lot of them. Miller burned him for 10 points in a hurry, two long jumpers, a dunk off a Wright pass, another long jumper and a turnaround 15-footer. When he was done, the Bruins had the lead for good.
"They played off me the second half," Miller said. "I wasn't hitting my shot in the first half. I just had to show them . . .
"I was surprised (about Dakich). I had a height advantage. He was playing off me."
With the Bruins ahead, 44-38, Knight had a heated courtside talk with Delray Brooks and Stew Robinson. Soon he had Robinson, a senior, sitting, and a lineup of Alford, Uwe Blab and three freshmen. One of the freshmen was Joe Hillman of Glendale Hoover, who threw a pass that Hatcher intercepted and took in for the layup that gave UCLA a 57-48 lead. Bob works in mysterious ways.
With 1:57 left, the Bruins still led by nine points, but Knight's freshmen rallied. Forward Kreigh Smith stole the ball and scored on a layup. Blab fouled out, but Brooks scored after another steal.
Then came the in-bounds problems. Alford cut it to 62-60, coldly stepping up and knocking in an 18-footer after having missed his last three shots and 8 of the 14 he'd taken until then against Miguel and Hatcher. The Hoosiers were alive until Miller got that step behind Smith and Gaines found him alone in the secondary. Next year, though, the Bruins are going to have to work on that short-passing attack.
"What does this mean?" Miguel said later, with the net still draped around his neck. "It's great for recruiting. It's great for his (Hazzard's) personal ego, 'cause he's a first-year coach. Everybody said, he's coming from Division II, it'll take him a while to adjust. But, hey, we're the champions. Nobody can take that away from him . . .
"You go to practice every day, you see those banners. You look--wow! You see how Coach Hazzard, Coach (Sidney) Wicks, Coach (Andre) McCarter look at them, like, 'Hey, I left that there.'
"Now, the three seniors (Wright, Miguel and Gary Maloncon) have left something."