When a Player Refuses to Lose

t was an uncharacteristically warm North Carolina winter in 1982. In fact, Clemson showed up in Durham on the warmest day in February– the 24th reached a touch over 80 degrees. Earlier in the season Duke had beaten Clemson 50-44 in a defensive dog fight and Clemson was hot under the collar in more ways than one. The Tigers couldn’t tolerate being beaten in their own fieldhouse. Strangely, this was the only ACC game in ’81-’82 listed as going into even one overtime.

Taylor Deserves Some Respect

Vince Taylor was one of a small number of players who served under both Coach Bill Foster as well as Coach Kryzewski-playing two years for each. Kryzewski had switched him from wing guard to point guard in 1981, but he was able to adjust to the change seamlessly. You may not see Vince Taylor’s name on elite lists of Duke stand-outs but he deserves genuine recognition. Taylor’s final year at Duke was a great one: he shot over 50% from the floor and led the ACC in points per game at 20.3.

Over Taylor’s Dead Body

It was senior day, Taylor’s last home game for Duke, and his teammates had never seen him so psyched. The game was a killer from the first minute. The score seesawed throughout and no team could establish a sizeable lead. The only other Duke player who scored significant points was Chip Engelland with 16. It became essentially a test of Vince Taylor’s will. Every time it looked as if Clemson might make a run, Taylor put out the fire with a score. Regulation ended in a tie, then the first and second extra periods ended dead even. Taylor must have given his parents fits with that stubborn streak-he simply refused to lose.

Final Minutes of a Great One

By the third overtime, Taylor had to be dog tired. He had played close to 50 minutes and connected on 16 of 25 shots. With 3:33 remaining in regulation Clemson’s Mike Eppley hit a 20-footer to tie the score at 70. Duke’s Tissaw sank one of two free throws to put the Blue Devils ahead, but Fred Gilliam countered with a jumper at 2:05 to make it 72-71. Taylor missed a jumper, then fouled the Tigers’ Vince Hamilton with 51 seconds left. However, he snagged the rebound when Hamilton missed the front end of a one-and-one. Taylor hit a final jumper with 27 seconds remaining. Hamilton tried to juke his way downcourt and score single-handedly but Taylor slapped at it and in the wild scramble Hamilton was whistled for a fatal traveling call. The game was over-Duke had won it 73-72. Vince Taylor walked off the court having scored 35 huge points in the win, along with 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals.

Steve Fortosis has been a Duke basketball fan for over fifty years. He has written many articles online about some of the greatest Blue Devil players, games, and coaches. He also writes about the unsung heroes. If you wish to contact Steve his email address is sfort1222@msn.com

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