In the last game, performed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, NC State led at halftime with a score of 33–25. Houston was hampered by foul trouble that plagued celebrity Clyde Drexler, who picked up four first half fouls. From the second halfof the Cougars came out with a second wind and established control of the match, eventually taking a seven-point lead.
However, things weren’t all good for Houston. Considering that the game was played Albuquerque, players had to take care of the town’s mile-high altitude. The Cougars’ star center, Akeem Olajuwon, had difficulties adjusting to the surroundings and tired quickly, needing to check out of this match multiple times so he could wear an oxygen mask and recover. With Olajuwon on the bench, Houston head coach Guy Lewis determined that so as to protect the lead and the health of his big man in precisely the exact same period, the Cougars had to begin slowing the game down.
Once more, this allowed the Wolfpack to go back to their own standby strategy of extending the game. Houston’s free throw shooting was very suspicious entering the match, which functioned greatly in NC State’s favour as they were able to rally back and even the score at 52 in the final two minutes. On what is the final Houston possession, Valvano known for his players to back away and let guard Alvin Franklin bring the ball up the court. The Wolfpack defenders would allow the Cougars employ their lag strategy of passing it around. Once the ball got back to Franklin he was fouled immediately. With 1:05 left, the freshman was fouled and sent to the line for a one-and-one. The thought to filthy Franklin sprung from the enormity of this second; NC State thought that the comparatively inexperienced Franklin could not resist the pressure of going to the line with the championship at stake and understanding fifty million viewers were tuned into watch the match. The concept was correct as Franklin failed to convert and the Wolfpack grabbed the rally. Valvano called timeout with 44 seconds left and drew up a play for senior guard Dereck Whittenburg through the timeout, which required the team to pass him the ball ten minutes left on the clock so that he could take the final shot.
Houston needed a defensive stop so they could get another opportunity to close out the game. Lewis made a decision to move in the man-to-man shield his team was running the entire game to a half court trap defense. The Wolfpack, who weren’t expecting the defensive adjustment, were made to deviate and started passing the ball around just to maintain the Cougars from stealing it. Houston nearly obtained the turnover it had been searching for when Whittenburg made an errant pass to Gannon which Drexler almost came away with prior to the sophomore regained control of the ball. The ball finally wound up in the palms of guard Sidney Lowe, who gave it to forward and fellow mature Thurl Bailey at the corner.
Attempting to keep the ball moving, as he had been double teamed as soon as he received the move, Bailey appeared back toward Whittenburg, who was approximately thirty feet from the hoop near midcourt. Bailey threw what Whittenburg would call a”poor basic” overhanded pass which Houston’s Benny Anders, guarding Whittenburg about the drama, was in position to steal. Now, Whittenburg hearkened back to his high school days together with Morgan Wootten at DeMatha Catholic High School, where he was taught to always catch the basketball with both handson. If Whittenburg hadn’t tried to do this in this case, Anders might have gotten the slip and a game-winning breakaway layup. In college basketball in the time, the game clock continued to run after a made field goal, and the Wolfpack likely wouldn’t have had time to inbound the ball. As it was, Anders knocked the ball from Whittenburg’s hands, but Whittenburg quickly regained control.
The clock, meanwhile, had ticked down to five seconds and Whittenburg was standing a significant distance from the goal. After he regained control, Whittenburg turned and launched a desperation shot, later claimed by Whittenburg to be a pass, to attempt to win the match for NC State. The shot’s trajectory took it to the front of the basket where Olajuwon was covering Wolfpack center Lorenzo Charles. As he watched the shooter, Olajuwon said he understood the shot was likely to come up short but he did not want to select the ball too early due to the prospect of goaltending. Charles took advantage of this indecision from Olajuwon and proceeded up for the air ball, and, in 1 movement, he scored the go-ahead points with a two-handed dip. The last second ticked off the clock before Houston could inbound the ball, and that, the game ended, and the Wolfpack were the winners.

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