In the 1979 NCAA Tournament, everything was breaking right for a DePaul team seeking to write history.
After toppling a UCLA squad that boasted seven NBA talents in the West Regional Final, Hall of Fame Coach Ray Meyer’s crew earned the program’s first-ever NCAA Final Four appearance. A national title was within reach and a collection of Chicago-bred talents led by superstar freshman Mark Aguirre set hoops-loving Chicago ablaze in Blue Demon fever.
Then, Larry Bird happened extinguished that burning fire.
In one of the most dominating individual performances in NCAA basketball history, the Hick from French Lick scored 35 points (on 16 of 19 shooting from the field), corralled 16 rebounds, and dished out 9 assists to elevate Indiana State over DePaul 76-74.
Though DePaul would spend much of the next two seasons atop the national rankings, the Blue Demons failed to advance beyond the second round in 1980 and 1981. Those defeats stung for sure, but also intensified the haunting nature of the 1979 Final Four loss to Indiana State, leaving DePaul fans to only imagine what could have been if not for a historic performance by one of the game’s all-time greats.