In a game that still elicits ear-to-ear grins, UNLV crushed Duke 103-73 in a resounding romp on April 2, 1990. The two teams did meet again in the 1991 NCAA tournament, though it wasn’t in the national championship. They met a step shy of the title game, with the Blue Devils getting a measure of revenge with a two-point victory over the undefeated Runnin’ Rebels in the national semifinals. I had hoped the Rebels would party like it was 1990, but it wasn’t meant to be. Dreams of a perfect season — and back-to-back championships — were dashed by @#$%! Duke. To this day, that 1991 game haunts me. If I were christened with the power to retroactively change the results of any five sporting events in history, that game would make the cut. I loved the high-octane, fast-breaking, über-aggressive early-’90s UNLV squads. I was in high school at the time, and I used to stay up way past bedtime to catch the UNLV games on ESPN’s “Big Monday” — games that didn’t begin until 11 p.m. my time. I wasn’t going to miss that excitement. I relished the Rebels and all their revelry. Vegas, baby!
Duke, on the other hand, made me want to— You know what? Long ago, my mother taught me to say nothing at all if I had nothing nice to say.
UNLV bedeviled Duke in that glorious 1990 game, the most lopsided final in history. I’d like to say the pictured Sports Illustrated graphic is true and history repeated itself in 1991, but when the Rebels dueled with Duke, I was the one who was blue. And, because of that...
“Nothing at all.”