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ONE SHINING MOMENT: Jay Edwards nails the buzzer-beater vs. Michigan (1989)

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They knew each other. They trusted each other. They could have played together blindfolded. 

Jay Edwards and Lyndon Jones went through a lot together, sharing both good times and bad. Initially, they starred for the Marion HS Giants, leading the varsity team to three consecutive state championships. In Indiana, it was always a big deal to win an HS Championship. Remember the Hoosiers?

Along the way to their team’s three-peattoday known as the Purple Reign (because the school’s colors were purple and gold), the unified teammates also shared Indiana’s 1987 Mr. Basketball award. So, when on February 19th, 1989, as the closing seconds of the NCAA basketball battle between Indiana University Hoosiers sophomores and national powerhouse Michigan Wolverines were running out, it was Jones who took the ball up the court at the Assembly Hall, looking for his longtime friend, Jay Edwards.

Leading the last Hoosier charge in a great game, he ignored fans yelling ‘shoot’ automatically knowing, no matter what, because he knew who he would be looking for when the game was on the line. Jones took it right, then pulled the breaks. Suddenly, Edwards appeared to the left, in the center, after coming through the screen. Jones made a pass that ended up just in the right spot in Edward’s hands!

Even with 6’8’’ Sean Higgins in his face, Jay was spotting the basket from the perfect position. He went up and calmly released the ball just as the buzzer sounded. With a rainbow trajectory, it went in!!!

Bobby Knight, legendary Indiana University head coach, known for his harshness among IU players, as well as the members of the 1984 US Olympic team, immediately got excited and celebrated. He had confidence that this particular player could be brilliant in the clutch. That’s why he had a soft spot for this particular kid, who he would sometimes let get away with things others could not get away with.

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On the floor, Edwards had just incredible instincts and an uncanny ability to knock down any given shot. But during practices, he just wouldn’t pay too much attention listening to Knight. But, in the end, it had paid dividends for both of them - Indiana beat Michigan 76-75 thanks to Jay Edwards’ last-second heroics.

However, this fabulous buzzer-beating shot sparked a great deal of controversy across the NCAA. Before the play, TV announcer Dick Vitale said, ‘Listen to the horn’. And the horn sounded just as Edwards released the shot. However, the trouble was that by the time the horn went off, the clock already showed 00.

With tenths of a second still not introduced on NCAA clocks by that time, in the situation with 00 on the game clock, there was still supposedly sometime less than one second remaining for their team. So, in the end, it all came down to the sound of the buzzer. 

This situation was the dominant factor in the subsequent change of NCAA rules when, before the 1989-1990 season, the NCAA adopted a clock with tenths of a second on it. As a sophomore, Edwards averaged 20.0 ppg and 4.3 RPG leading the Hoosiers to the Big Ten title. Finishing the stellar 1988-89 campaign, the All-American 2nd team member opted to leave IU.

The Los Angeles Clippers drafted him as the 33rd overall pick in the 1989 NBA draft.

After appearing in a total of just FOUR NBA games and having scored a total of 7 points, this 1988/89 NCAA AP All-American 2nd team member was waived by the L.A. Clippers on March 4th, 1991. Today, 31 years later, the ‘Silk’s’ 1980s legacy continues as he still holds the NCAA record for the freshman with the highest three-point shooting percentage (53.6%)!

Basketball Network contributor Murray A. a.k.a. Marjan Crnogaj is the 1980s and 1990s basketball specialist, proud author of the Amazon.com TOP 100 basketball biography ‘Drazen – The Years of the Dragon’.

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