The 1990 NCAA tournament was one with plenty of drama and in my mind the coming out party for Coach K and the Duke Blue Devils future despite the finish of the tournament. I’m going to start with the Elite 8 matches and go from there all the way to the final.
In the East region in East Rutherford, New Jersey the #1 seed Connecticut Huskies and DukeBlue devils faced off against each other in an instant classic. The game ended up going to overtime and the Blue Devils prevailed 79-78. Alaa Abdelnaby had the game of his life with 27 points and 14 rebounds while Bobby Hurley had 8 assist to lead Duke.
In the Midwest region in Dallas, Texas there was a bit of a shocker on who was representing the elite 8 matchup. 10 seed Texas Longhorn took on the 4 seed Arkansas Razorbacks in another game that proved to be a thriller. L. Howell for the Razorbacks starred with 21 points and 9 rebounds and gave the Razorbacks the edge in front of a pro Longhorns crowd in their home state of Texas.
In the Southeast Regional in New Orleans, Louisiana there were a few upsets as well. Georgia Tech took on the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the Elite 8. The Gophers upset the 2 seed Orange from Syracuse and Georgia Tech beat the 1 seed Michigan St Spartans. Again this ended up being another great game that led to Georgia Tech winning by 2 points and advancing onto the Final 4 to take on the UNLV Rebels. Two monster games for each teams leading scorers as Denis Scott led the Yellow Jackets with 40 points and Willie Burton led the Gophers with 35.
Finally in the West regional in Oakland, California, the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels were on an absolute mission. UNLV won a close sweet 16 game and against a 12 seed and ended up taking on an 11 seed in Loyola Marymount who was a huge Cinderella story in this tournament. There was no close matchup in this game as UNLV blew out Loyola 131-101. Despite a great game by Bo Kimble who led Marymount with 42, Stacey Augmon and Larry Johnson paced with Runnin’ Rebels to victory.
In the final 4 the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels beat Georgia Tech by a final of 90-81. UNLV really started to catch fire at this point in the season. Stacey Augmon led the Rebels with 22 points. In the other semi final the Duke Blue Devils defeated the Arkansas Razorbacks by the final of 97-83. This set up the dream match of UNLV and the Dukies.
UNLV in the finals proved to be too much for Duke and blew out the Devils by the score of 103-73. UNLV was on an absolute terror the final couple games of the season. Anderson Hunt played a gareat game for the Rebs leading all scorers with 29 points. Phil Henderson led the Devils with 21 points.
Your 1990 NCAA men’s basketball champions were the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels, however the Duke Blue Devils announced themselves to the nation and were primed for a nice run of their own in seasons to come.