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Jeff Kolpack, Published November 08 2012

Former Bison basketball players recall last big upset win, as No. 1 Indiana awaits current team

Fargo - When North Dakota State takes the Assembly Hall court next Monday against No. 1-ranked Indiana, the head coach of the Hoosiers will not be a stranger to the Bison. He’s 0-1 against them.

Tom Crean was the head coach at Marquette in 2006 when NDSU shocked the eighth-ranked Golden Eagles 64-60. Afterward, Crean went up to NDSU guard Mike Nelson, shook his hand and offered some encouragement.

“He said, ‘Sorry, I should have recruited you. You should have come here,’ ” said Nelson, from Madison, Wis. “That was nice to hear from him.”

The win came at a four-team Marquette tournament that had NDSU playing Princeton in the first round. It was a game where the Bison were trailing in the second half, which was when the Marquette fans in attendance starting cheering for NDSU.

In a timeout huddle, then-Bison head coach Tim Miles asked his players to listen to them.

“I told them, ‘You know why they’re cheering for you, right?’ ” Miles said.

The fans wanted an NDSU win so the Bison would face Marquette the following night. Miles said the Eagles fans wanted a chance to beat NDSU because it’s something the University of Wisconsin couldn’t do the previous year.

“So I told them, ‘You better give them what they want,’ ” Miles told his team.

They did. The 57-50 win over Princeton set up the clash with No. 8 Marquette, which earlier in the season defeated Duke. NDSU rode 26 points from Andre Smith and 19 from Nelson to hand the Golden Eagles their first loss.

“Andre had an amazing game,” said former Bison guard Ben Woodside. “I remember the locker room scene after the game – it was bananas. Then I remember thinking we just beat nationally ranked teams in back-to-back years.”

NDSU won at No. 15 Wisconsin in 2005-06 when Nelson and Woodside were freshmen.

The Indiana sports information office said Crean would not be available to talk about NDSU until Sunday.

Crean’s game with Marquette isn’t the only connection to NDSU. IU associate head coach Tim Buckley was a finalist for the Bison head coaching job in 1997 that went to Ray Giacoletti. Buckley is a graduate of Bemidji (Minn.) State.

The Hoosiers game, obviously, represents the highest ranked opponent in NDSU history. It’s the first time since 1979-80 that Indiana has started the season on top.

The Hoosiers open against Bryant University (R.I.) tonight. Crean is in his fifth year with Indiana and rebuilt a program that was decimated because of NCAA sanctions.

“His trademark is he’s a tenacious recruiter and an excellent coach,” Miles said. “He gets them to play unbelievably hard.”

Miles is beginning a rebuilding job of his own this year at the University of Nebraska. At the Big Ten Conference media day, he stood next to 7-foot Indiana center Cody Zeller.

“He’s big and he’s athletic,” Miles said. “He’ll be a tough matchup.”

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia