Published October 10 2012
Former IUPUI star sits in return to FargoFARGO – As the legend goes, George Hill took off from the free-throw line and threw down a one-handed hammer that’s still reverberating on the rim of the Bison Sports Arena to this day.
Or something like that.
“It wasn’t that far,” said Hill, the former Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis star guard. “I can’t jump that far.”
Hill, now with the Indiana Pacers, was back in Fargo for Wednesday’s exhibition game against the Timberwolves, though he was inactive for the Pacers’ 84-70 loss. He was most likely the only player on either team who has picked up a basketball in Fargo before.
That’d be Feb. 9, 2008, a 6-degree day here with an inch of snowfall and winds gusting near 50 miles an hour to roll out the welcome mat for what turned into a red-hot barnburner.
“At the time we were coming in, we didn’t think that we would actually be able to leave right after the game,” Hill said before Wednesday’s game.
He was a senior and well on his way to becoming just the second Summit League player taken in the first round of the NBA draft. IUPUI was a contender for the league crown. NDSU was just a few years into life in Division I and headed for a middle-of-the-road finish.
For much of the night, though, the Bison had Hill’s Jaguars on the ropes, draining 14 3-pointers en route to a double-digit lead late in the second half.
“It was a crazy atmosphere,” Hill said. “We actually almost lost.”
He scored 33 points, none more emphatic than a driving left-handed dunk in the first half that left the building in awe. It was one of the best stat lines of his college career – 9 of 14 shooting, six rebounds, seven assists, and IUPUI needed every bit of it to eke out a 69-67 win.
“You can score as many points as you want,” he said. “At the end of the day you want to win a basketball game. If we would’ve lost it, it didn’t even mean anything.”
As it stood, a pair of last-second Bison 3s didn’t fall, and Hill’s team got out of town just fine.
As for this trip: “I’m happy there’s no snow this time,” he said. “It makes it a lot better.”
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Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502