Tiger Den Basketball Archives –V
Pistol Pete Invades the Big Apple - I

Howard Cosell
Howard Cosell

Georgetown Coach Jack Magee
Jack Magee

Georgetown F Art White
Art White

LSU Coach Press Maravich
Press Maravich

LSU F Bill Newton
Bill Newton

LSU F Apple Sanders
Apple Sanders

Mike Laska Chasing Pete Maravich
Mike Laska chases Pete.

LSU-Georgetown NIT 1970
Maravich vs Georgetown (above and below)

Maravich vs Georgetown in NIT


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New Yorkers couldn't wait for their first chance to see Pete Maravich in action.

  • The 1969-70 Tigers compiled a 20-8 record, good enough to earn an invitation to the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) at Madison Square Garden.
  • With the NCAA tournament consisting of only 25 teams, the NIT put together a fine field of 16 squads.

Danny Young's special article to the Times Picayune the day of the game started like this:

Basketball is only one of many entertainments in this city, but no line will be longer Sunday than the one that will form outside Madison Square Garden for the final session of the opening round of the prestigious National Invitation Tournament. Pistol Pete Maravich is the reason and basketball is his game.

The press notices that preceded the LSU All-America to the "big town" prompted managers of the tournament to set up a press conference Friday for the Tiger superstar. Some 40-50 of New York's finest sports reporters attended and Lynn Hudson wrote in the New York Daily News: "The 21-year-old king of college basketball arrived here yesterday for the 23rd National Invitational Tournament and shortly found himself surrounded by the city's full publicity paraphernalia, including the bright lights and TV cameras of the three major neteworks, a face full of microphones, and enough of a press corps to remind you of the days when there were still eight newspapers in this town."

  • It was Pete's first visit to New York City.
  • One reporter asked Pete if he had brought a lot of clothes, another way of asking if he thought the Tigers could win several games. Maravich replied:

Sure. What do you expect me to do, bring one suit and hope we lost?

  • One of Pete's questioners was Howard Cosell, who that fall would start his ground-breaking stint on Monday Night Football. Cosell asked one of his rhetorical questions. "Did anyone tell you that you remind them of Joe Namath?"
  • Larry Merchant wrote:

Pete Maravich and the Garden and the NIT are made for each other. He comes to the Garden in the best tradition of Luisetti, Mikan, Gola, Robertson and Bradley, to show the big town his stuff. He comes to the NIT, which is less a tournament than a Broadway musical these days, to do his number.

LSU's first round opponent was Georgetown on Sunday, March 15 at 1 pm EST.

  • More from Young's article:

Newspapers are filled with pictures and stories and a New Yorker can't change his television station without seeing the floppy-haired sensation. One headline read, "Pete Holds Court - Broadway Joe Style." The town is truly Maravich crazy and if LSU should happen to lose its first game it would be the biggest disappointment to New York since Namath's brief retirement from the Jets.

  • Pete acknowledged the pressure he was under.

I am in a position where I am supposed to score 40 or 50 points, do a Harlem Globetrotter act at the same time and win the game, too.

  • Because of The Pistol, the game received more media coverage than the NCAA regional finals going on the same weekend.
  • Even though it didn't normally televise college basketball, CBS aired the game nationally with its NFL announcers Jack Whitaker and Pat Summerall behind the mike. Washington radio station WGTB's coverage was carried on worldwide Armed Forces Radio.

On paper, the opening round matchup promised excitement.

  • Coach Jack Magee's 18-6 Hoyas featured a running game with strong rebounding. He started a pair of 6'6" forwards in Art White and Charlie Adrion and 6'8" C Paul Favorite. The leading rebounder, 6'7" sophomore Mike Laughna, came off the bench. A big problem for Magee was the fact that the player assigned to guard Pete, Mike Laska, was only 5'11," putting him at a 6" disadvantage.
  • Georgetown sold over 3,000 student tickets or almost 60% of the entire undergraduate population. Coach Magee:

I would be very disappointed if every Georgetown student does not make an honest attempt to get to New York to show appreciation to our team. It would be embarrassing to our players if our students took the easy way out and sat back to watch the game on TV, paying only lip service applause to our team.

  • The logistics to moving so many people in one weekend was a student-run effort. Students sold tickets to four outbound trains that weekend and dozens of buses to the game. Georgetown's New York alumni club helped defer the expense of the pep band making it to the Garden.

Press Maravich's fourth Tiger team won the most games at LSU since 1953-4, Bob Pettit's senior season, which also marked the school's last post-season appearance.

  • The Tigers averaged 94.9 ppg, fourth in the nation. Pete scored almost exactly half of that, 47.4 per game.
  • Press had assembled a strong front line consisting of three sophomores, 6'7"Apple Sanders, 6'8" Danny Hester, and 6'9" Bill "Fig" Newton.
  • As a result, the Tigers led the SEC in rebounding.

The game didn't disappoint the sellout crowd of 16,021 and the TV audience.

  • Magee surprised the Tigers by using a box-and-one D, with Laska shadowing Maravich. Playing the defensive game of his life, Mike held Pete to 20 points, the second lowest total of his illustrious career.
  • When Maravich got into scoring range, someone else, usually the other G, helped out. But that left other players open, and Pete usually found them. So the hero in the Tigers 83-82 victory was Hester, who canned 30 to lead all scorers.
  • The Pistol fired only four shots in the first half, making one, for just 5 points. However, Danny canned 21, including 14 of LSU's first 22. As a result, the Tigers led 47-42 at the break.
  • In the next day's New York Times, Leonard Koppett attributed Pete's slow start to three reasons: "his nervousness in a staggeringly over-publicized situation, Georgetown's well-executed defensive plan and, surprising, the tendency of his teammates not to make full use of him."

Pete worked harder for shots during the second 20 minutes but still found the D a challenge.

  • His only hot streak of the afternoon started with LSU trailing 60-57 with 13:17 remaining. After hitting a FT, he hit three straight one-handers for a 64-61 advantage.
  • Georgetown fought back to tie at 65, but eight straight points shot the Purple and Gold back in front. Sanders hit a short jumper, Pete made two FTs and fired two straight half-court passes to Rich Hickman for fast break layups. Hickman was the only sub LSU used.

LSU maintained a comfortable margin until the Hoyas, trailing 81-74 with 3:35 left, mounted a final push.

  • Two baskets cut the margin to three. According to Koppett, "LSU made no attempt to use up time or let Maravich dribble away the clock."
  • The Hoyas fouled Pete as he tried to dribble out the last minute, but he missed on the front end of a one-and-one. White then hit from 12' to pull within one with 0:17 showing.
  • Fouled with nine seconds remaining, Maravich sank two FTs engulfed by the screams of the Hoya fans to ice the game since the only league that incorporated the three-point FG at that time was the ABA. So a final basket by Georgetown didn't change the outcome.
  • Afterwards, Pete said about the clinching FTs:

I remember the way my dad got on me for missing the other one. So I figured I'd better make it.

The Tigers had shown that they were not a one-man team.

  • In the second best outing of the season, Hester hit 12 of 21 FG attempts and 6 of 8 at the foul line. Pete made 6 of 16 from the field, the smallest such numbers of his college career.
  • Sanders added 15 and Newton, 11. "Little Apple" claimed 17 rebounds, tops for both clubs, while Newton picked off 10 as the Tigers outrebounded the Hoyas 56-46.
  • Adrion, Laughna, and Favorite all fouled out trying to keep up with LSU's super sophs. White led Georgetown with 28, 17 more than his nearest teammate.

Press said the Tigers, and his son in particular, had "the Madison Square Garden jitters."

  • The coach, knowing that Pete had a knee injury that they wanted to keep secret, "looked as though he was emotionally drained. He just didn't move out there ike he is capable of doing." The elder Maravich added that his team wasn't used to the body contact the officials permitted but promised they would be ready for it in the next game.
  • Pete's analysis of his play was much simpler than his father's. "I stunk. I was just terrible."

But he still impressed three pro basketball onlookers.

  • During the game, Detroit coach Paul Seymour said that, if the Pistons won the first draft pick, they would probably go for Bob Lanier of St. Bonaventure or Rudy Tomjanovich of Michigan.

But this Maravich is really something. Georgetown is hounding him out there. They leave one or two LSU players open and he's hitting them with passes. Some of his teammates have to be remarkable to know when those passes are coming and to hold on to them.

  • Jim Gardner, owner of the Carolina Cougars of the ABA:

Pete has made a fan of me. He's exciting, he moves ... I think he's going to turn out to be the greatest sports personality since Arnold Palmer.

  • Pete Newell, GM of the NBA's San Diego Rockets:

He has tremendous talent. ... I think he can help any franchise, weak or strong.

Hester later told Maravich biographer Mark Kriegel:

Pete and I went out and got shitfaced that night. Apple had to carry him through the hotel lobby to the elevator.

Kriegel added:
The next day, practice was interrupted by a stranger. "Is there a Pete Maravich here?" he asked. The man drove a cab. Pete, in a high state of inebriation, had left his wallet in the backseat the night before.

LSU's victory set up a second round matchup with Oklahoma, which upset Louisville 74-73 in the second game of the doubleheader.

Continued below ...

Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich, Mark Kriegel, 2007
Pistol Pete Invades the Big Apple - II

LSU-Oklahoma NIT
Maravich shoots against Oklahoma

Oklahoma F Garfield Heard
Garfield Heard

Two days after defeating Georgetown in the opening round of the 1970 NIT, LSU took on Oklahoma for a berth in the semifinals.

Pete Maravich's second game in Madison Square Garden attracted a sellout crowd of 19,500 avid fans. A special TV hookup carried the game to Louisiana and Oklahoma and a few other states while the radio broadcast was beamed around the world on Armed Forces radio.

  • They saw the Tigers nearly blow a 17-point lead before clinching a 97-94 win over the "spirited" Sooners.
  • Although still not at his best, the nation's leading scorer gave the crowd what they came to see, scoring 37 and exhibiting his ball handling with nine assists.
  • He also repeated his performance from the opening game by hitting two clinching FTs in the final half-minute.

The Tigers built a 44-38 lead at halftime.

  • Garfield Heard, OU's leading scorer, shot only 3-for-18 in the first half. He would finish with 27 points but had to take 33 shots, as many as Pete.
  • The Tigers dominated the boards from the beginning, amassing a whopping 60-41 margin led by Apple Sanders with 19 and Bill Newton with 14.
  • Leonard Koppett of the New York Times wasn't impressed with the Pistol.

Maravich started right out obsessed with "putting on a show" and some of his spectacular moves, amazing as they were, proved simply unnecessary and led to losing the ball. The other players on his side, who haven't displayed any kind of cohesion in their two games here, didn't always help him, either.

His passing and dribbling skills, made evident in his first appearance here, also drew appreciative yowls, but his wildness and errors had more conservative onlookers shaking their heads.

Leonard Koppett, born in Moscow, is the only writer elected to both the baseball and basketball Halls of Fame.

The Tigers led 81-64 with 6:46 remaining.

  • The advantage was still 85-70 with four minutes to go when Oklahoma started pressing all over the court. Koppett:

LSU, which never slows down play when it has the ball, suddenly found itself unable to get out of its own end zone. A series of steals and fouls brought Oklahoma to within 92-86 with 1:29 left.

  • Sanders made two FTs. Then Maravich, "his leg injured in a spill but able to continue," missed the first of a one-and-one. OU took advantage to make the score 94-92 with 52 seconds left.
  • Then Maravich went into his stalling, dribbling act until fouled with 29 ticks left. Oklahoma called two successive time outs before play resumed with Pete calmly sinking both shots for a four-point lead.
  • Heard forced a shot that Sanders rebounded. Fouled immediately, Apple sank one FT, then OU made a meaningless basket before the buzzer.

LSU's front line also helped Pete with scoring.

  • Danny Hester tallied 20 while Sanders added 16 and Newton, 15. The remaining starter, G Jeff Tribbett, contributed 9. Two subs, Rich Hickman and Bob Lang, played only briefly and didn't score.
  • The Tigers won the game at the FT line, sinking 29-of-37 to OU's 16-of-21.

Once again, Pete was not pleased with his performance.

  • Told he had committed 14 turnovers, he replied, "I felt like I made 35."
  • He couldn't reveal it to the press, but his partying had continued unabated.
  • Years later, Hickman said:

I used to think he was a guy who couldn't hold his booze and didn't know when to quit. Now I think he drank to get away from real life.

The victory set up a semifinal match with Marquette which disposed of Utah 83-63.

Continued below ...

Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich, Mark Kriegel, 2007
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Tiger Basketball Den: Pistol Pete Invades the Big Apple - III

Victories over Georgetown and Oklahoma propelled the LSU Tigers into the semifinals of the 1970 National Invitation Tournament.

  • The opponent was the tournament favorite, the Marquette Warriors (decades before they changed their politically incorrect nickname to Golden Eagles).
  • Al McGuire's club sported a 24-3 record, the fourth season in which they posted 20+ victories. They occupied the eighth spot in the national rankings.
  • The Warriors prided themselves on defense, finishing 12th in the nation in that department by limiting opponents to 62.9 points per game.
  • That put them on a collision course with the Tigers, who finished fourth in scoring with a 94.8 average. LSU had scored 180 points in their first two NIT games but surrendered 176.
  • Press Maravich was expecting McGuire to throw a smorgasbord of defense against him, including man-to-man and various zone presses.
  • Asked if he was concerned about the press after his team nearly blew a 15 point lead against Oklahoma's press, the Tiger coach replied:

In the last three seasons, Oklahoma was the first team to press us and my guys weren't familiar with it.

He added:

I would say Marquette has one of the best defensive teams in the nation. I was up at 6 o'clock this morning thinking about it. They are the kind of team that stops your offense. You just can't run and fire against a team like that. They jump like kangaroos and they're quick as cobras. If we play the same kind of ball we did in our last two games, they'll run us off the court.

  • McGuire didn't plan to put G Dean "The Dream" Meminger on Pete Maravich lest his star foul out. Instead, he would start with Jeff Sewell.

Jeff is quicker than Peter. He's not as good, but he's quicker.

19,500 packed Madison Square Garden for the Thursday night game, which proved again that a good defense will usually prevail over a good offense.

  • The Tigers provided the entertainment the crowd wanted in the first half, which ended with the Warriors in front 49-43.
  • Marquette's big men, Rick Cobb and Joe Thomas, equalized the Tigers' front line of Apple Sanders, Fig Newton, and Danny Hester.
  • Sanders, along with G Jeff Tribbett got in foul trouble early, checking out of the lineup after seven minutes of play with three personals. Then Sanders returned and was whistled for a fourth with four minutes left in the half.

Marquette quickly pulled away in the second half to win 101-79.

  • With two to three men harassing him throughout, The Pistol scored only 20 points, tying his season low set in the opening round against Georgetown.
  • His 13 FG attempts was also a career low, three below his previous mark.
  • Hester led the Tigers with 24 points and 10 rebounds, while only Pete and Tribbett, with 10, were able to reach double figures.
  • Thomas and Cobb led the Warriors with 28 and 20 points respectively as five men scored in double figures, including Meminger with 16.
  • A key to the lopsided victory was Marquette's 50-34 margin on the boards, depriving the Tigers of the fast break opportunities they capitalized on all year to put up 90+ points per game.
  • Sanders lasted only 6:17 into the second half before fouling out. Newton and Tribbett later joined him on the bench, which exposed LSU's lack of depth. The 30 fouls called against the Tigers set an NIT record. Marquette was hit with 25 personals.
  • LSU shot a more than respectable 49.1 per cent (26-of-53) and hit 27 of 36 FTs. However, the Milwaukee school did even better, making 37 of 55 for 56.9% and 27-of-47 FT attempts.

What wasn't revealed at the time was that Pete had partied hard the night before the game.

  • He had cancelled an appearance on The Dick Cavett Show and gone to his hotel room with orders to the front desk to hold his calls.
  • Then someone knocked on the door with a six-pack. Copious libations were consumed.
  • As Pete recounted years later:

The party continued into the night and I got totally wasted. I drank to feel good and forget.

The result was a 4-of-13 game with 9 assists, a performance that underwhelmed his opponents.

  • McGuire: He's good, but I'd take Dean Meminger against him one-on-one up in Harlem any day.
  • Meminger: There are a lot of cats in the parks that are just as tough as Maravich.

The defeat put LSU in the consolation game Saturday afternoon against Army, which played a hard-nosed defensive style taught by its young coach.

To be continued ...

Tiger Den Basketball Archive | Top of Page

Marquette Coach Al McGuire
Al McGuire

Pete Maravich vs Marquette 1970 NIT
Pete Maravich in his floppy socks
working against Marquette.

Marquette G Dean Meminger
Dean Meminger with the NIT MVP trophy

Memorable Game – LSU - Kentucky 1978 - I

 

 

Dale Brown
Dale Brown

 

 

 

 

 

LSU G Kenny Higgs
Kenny Higgs

Kentucky Coach Joe B. Hall
Joe B. Hall

 

 

 

LSU G Jordy Hultberg
Jordy Hultberg

LSU first played Kentucky on the hardwood in 1933 in the first SEC Tournament.

  • UK won 51-38, the start of a 19-game winning streak against the Tigers.
  • Dale McCreary's 1961 Bengals finally upended the Wildcats 73-59 in Baton Rouge.
  • After 16 more losses, the Tigers won again at home 88-71 in 1972 under Press Maravich two years after Pete left for the NBA.
  • LSU beat Big Blue again in 1974, Dale Brown's second year at the helm, 95-84, again on their home court.
  • So going into their January 14, 1978, meeting in Lexington, the Tigers had never beaten Kentucky on any court outside of Baton Rouge.

Brown's 1978 Tiger team was his most talented so far.

  • LSU entered the fray with a mediocre 9-5 record but had just played its best game of the season, a 121-87 home romp over Tennessee.
UT Coach Cliff Wettig didn't appreciate Brown continuing to press late in the game. "LSU has to come back to Knoxville and I don't think we'll forget them pressing that far ahead." Dale, not worried about making friends among the SEC coaches, responded: "Hey, Tennessee got beat. Take it like a man and quit griping about the press. I know we'll be in Knoxville. What am I going to do? Get scared and cancel the trip?" Brown then pretended to dial a phone: "Please call off our trip to Tennessee." (LSU beat the Vols again on February 6, 101-86.)
  • The Tigers boasted a tall, quick front line: C Lionel Green (6-9, 200 junior), F Rudy Macklin (6-7, 205 sophomore), and DeWayne Scales 6-8, 208 freshman).
  • PG Kenny Higgs (6-0, 180, senior) ran the show with Jordy Hultburg at the shooting G position.

Higgs hailed from Owensboro KY, where he made a high school All-American team. Conflicting stories circulated about why Kentucky hadn't signed Higgs.

  • The Owensboro Sports Editor wrote that Kenny wanted to attend UK "but Kentucky had different thoughts once someone planted a rumor that Higgs was a militant."
  • Higgs said Coach Joe B. Hall begged him to sign with the Wildcats. "He started crying, telling me how much he needed another G," said Kenny.
  • Hall, who certainly wouldn't admit to begging a player to sign to the point of tears, told a different tale. "I already had guards. I didn't need guards, and I just didn't think he'd be happy in our program riding the bench."

Whatever the case, Big Blue fans berated Kenny every time he played in Rupp Arena.

Kentucky fielded a team with as much size as some NBA squads.

  • The front line featured the Twin Towers: seniors Rick Robey (6-10, 230 from New Orleans), Mike Phillips (6-10, 240). Al McGuire, who had just retired from coaching Marquette to become a TV commentator, called players that size "aircraft carriers." Others not so flatteringly called them King and Kong.
  • In the 1977 East Regional final, North Carolina Coach Dean Smith pointed at Robey and swung his elbow in the air, calling attention to what Dean considered excessive physical play. When Robey laid a hard foul on one of his guards, Smith ran almost the length of the court to berate the big C. Rick said the revered UNC coach called him "a cheap son of a bitch," a charge Dean denied. A Lexington reporter wrote that Robey "had the face of an angel and the elbows of a devil."
  • Hall was one of the first basketball coaches to use weight training. Hultberg: "They played Joe B. Hall basketball, and they punished you. They wanted to get it inside and just beat you. They had the Kentucky name and the officials were intimidated, especially at Rupp. They're never going to call a foul there."
  • Brown kept quiet about UK's caveman style before the game but would have much to say about it afterwards.
  • The colorful North Dakotan, who was 1-9 against Kentucky, did say that, unlike other coaches in the league after the undefeated Wildcats' 86-67 win at Florida, he wasn't willing to concede the SEC Championship to Big Blue.
Four 1977-8 Kentucky Starters
James Lee, Mike Phillips, Rick Robey, and Jack Givens

The usual packed house of 23,466, undeterred by a light snow, gathered at 4 pm to see their beloved Wildcats. The SEC Game of the Week crew was on hand with recently retired UCLA Coach John Wooden providing the commentary.

Continued below ...

Reference: Five: The Night Dale Brown's Bench Met the Best, Sonny Marks (2010)
Memorable Game – LSU - Kentucky 1978 - II

LSU and Kentucky met in Rupp Arena on January 14, 1978. The teams were chippy from the start.

  • The Tigers taunted the Wildcats, talking trash, pushing the ball into their stomachs, and slapping them on their behinds. Players on both sides, especially LSU's Dwayne Scales and UK's Mike Phillips, traded less-than-subtle nudges on their trips up and down the floor (Lexington Herald-Leader).
  • Midway through the first half, Scales dunked on Phillips, then pushed him to the floor. No foul was called.
  • Near the end of the half, a fight nearly erupted when Floyd Bailey collided with UK's James Lee under the basket.
  • After having his way with the UK guards the first few minutes, LSU senior G Kenny Higgs got into foul trouble. The fans threw ice at the Kentuckian as he went to the bench and gave him a mock ovation. Coach Dale Brown would have much to say about the fans after the game.
  • LSU's other Kentuckian, Rudy Macklin, also had to leave with 11:14 left with his third foul.

Since the Wildcats fielded the tallest and beefiest team in America, the Tigers could win only if they shot well.

  • Unfortunately, the visitors, who came in making nearly half their shots, hit only 28% the first half. Coach Dale Brown said afterward: I knew they were doing a good job on us, but this is ridiculous.
  • To add to the Bengals' woes, UK played what Coach Joe B. Hall called probably our best half of the year to lead 55-28 at the break. We didn't expect to beat them like that. We ran out and handled their press and that enabled us to get a substantial lead.
  • The Tigers had no answer for Phillips and fellow 6-10er Rick Robey. Despite spraining an ankle in practice three days earlier, Mike had 18 points at the half.
  • Brown tried a combination zone/man-to-man defense to no avail as the Wildcats made two-thirds of their shots.

As if it wasn't bad enough losing by 27, Brown got into an altercation with a local photographer named Ken Weaver as he left the court.

  • Accounts conflict. One says the photographer told Brown, You're gonna trigger a fight. The Louisville Courier-Journal reported that Brown grabbed Weaver's stomach, backed him against a wall and said he either wanted Weaver arrested or "just give me five minutes in a room with just me and him."
  • Brown told his side after the game: He said something to me that sounded like "kill" or "I'm gonna kill" or "your team's getting killed" or something like that. I don't know if the guy had a gun or a knife or what. I just pushed him up against the wall and asked that be be arrested. This is something I'm definitely going to follow through, even if I have to come back up here to do it.

With the issue no longer in doubt, the teams played out the string in the final 20 minutes.

  • The Tigers won the second half 48-41 to make the final tally 96-76.
  • The refs whistled 54 fouls, 31 against LSU. The Wildcats hit 30-of-39 at the FT line.
  • Phillips added only 5 more in the second half but still led all scorers with 23. Robey added 18 and F Jack "Goose" Givens netted 17.
  • Macklin, wo had only one bucket the first 20 minutes, and G Jordy Hultberg led Tiger scorers with 16. Rudy got to punctuate his return to his native state with two straight slam dunks in the second half.
  • The Tigers shot just 37% (30-82). Scales went 5-19 and sharpshooter Hultberg, 8-19. The Wildcats, by contrast, finished at 54% (33-61)

Dale both praised and criticized the Wildcats and their fans.

  • They have a great team, and I think they really have a good shot at the national title.
  • I don't particularly like the style of the University of Kentucky ... I read in Sports Illustrated last year by [Northwestern coach] Northwestern that he thinks they have brutalized the game and also read where [Vanderbilt coach] Wayne Dobbs said there's no possible way to win with the way they play.
  • I thought the officials did a very good job. That's amazing to say when you got beat 20 points ... I think Kentucky gets the game so brutalized. ... I just think they've taken away a lot of the beauty of the game.
  • When asked if Kentucky is a dirty team, Dale said: I think off the ball they are, yes. ... Now if this is chalk talk for Joe when he comes to Baton Rouge, I'm just telling you the truth.
  • I've said to some of you before, you're probably the most knowledgeable people in the world when it comes to basketball and I don't say that because I'm in Lexington. ... However, ... some things just don't belong that are going on. 90 percent of your crowd are phenomenal. They enjoy a good play, they clap. ... I think some of your fans need some criticism and I don't mean this as a blanket indictment.
  • Four years ago, a young freshman by the name of Kenny Higgs came from Owensboro to LSU. Nobody knows the true story. I've been the best defender of Kenny Higgs. I'm disappointed he had four years of not winning here. Several statements were made and I now release this to you: Kenny is an epileptic. That in itself is a major accomplishment to be able to play the game. The first year, we walked over to our bendh and you still have some sick people and they still sit behind us and it's not everybody. One of your fans got up and said, "Higgs, you idiot, we would just as soon have lepers in our program as epileptics." Now that man's sick. ... A lot of those people didn't come to enjoy the game. ... Maybe if Sirhan Sirhan and Lee Harvey Oswald would have been basketball fans, they wouldn't have been assassins.

LSU's two Kentuckians made interesting comments.

  • Higgs, who was held to 10 points and fouled out early in the second half - for the third time in his four appearances at Lexington: The fans think they bother me, but I'm used to it now. If they yell at me, that makes me feel like I'm more alive. I guess they think I'm a threat to them.
  • Macklin: We didn't give up. We hung in there and didn't quit playing. ... It will be entirely different at our place. Our crowd will stimulate us.

In the UK locker room, a reporter told Givens about Brown's comment that the Wildcats took the beauty out of basketball. Beauty is winning, Jack replied.

Recently-retired UCLA Coach John Wooden, who provided commentary for the TV broadcast, didn't doubt that Kentucky was the strongest team in the nation

But what really surprises me is their defense. They showed real strength, of course, but the way they attack and surround the ball is impressive.

Since SEC teams played a full home-and-home round-robin, the Wildcats would come to Baton Rouge four weeks later.

To be continued ...

Reference: Five: The Night Dale Brown's Bench Met the Best, Sonny Marks (2010)

 

 

LSU F DeWayne Scales
Dwayne Scales

LSU G Kenny Higgs
Kenny Higgs

Kentucky C Mike Phillips
Mike Phillips

LSU F Rudy Macklin
Rudy Macklin

Kentucky F Rick Robey
Rick Robey

Jack Givens
Jack Givens

Memorable Game – LSU - Kentucky 1978 - III

 

 

Dale Brown 1981
Dale Brown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kentucky Coach Joe. B. Hall
Joe B. Hall

 

LSU G Kenny Higgs
Kenny Higgs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kentucky C Rick Robey
Rick Robey

Part I | Part II

After losing to Kentucky in Rupp Arena on January 14, 1978, LSU won five of the next six games.

  • Included in the streak was a 101-86 romp at Tennessee, which the Vols seemingly had an extra incentive to win after taking a 121-87 lambasting in Baton Rouge.
  • The Tigers set a record for most points ever scored by an opponent in UT's Stokley Center.
  • Big Orange fans threw ice when Dale Brown stood up in front of his bench and flashed a victory sign a la Richard Nixon.
  • Tennessee G Johnny Darden: They were nasty as usual. Coach Brown has no class and it's rubbing off on the team.
  • The game extended the Tigers' streak of road victories to three after a 74-61 win at Ole Miss and 89-68 triumph at Georgia.

That cleared the decks for the return match with the Wildcats.

  • LSU sported a 13-7 record, winning 7 of 11 in the SEC. It was their best mark after 20 games since the NIT Final Four squad of 1970 - Pete Mara­vich's last season.
  • The Wildcats had finally lost a game, at Alabama 78-62 on January 23. But they continued as the #1-ranked team with a 17-1 mark .
  • The game produced the most hoops excitement in Baton Rouge since the namesake of the Center wore purple and gold. All tickets sold out two weeks in advance.
  • An overflow and possibly record crowd was expected. The top Maravich crowd had come against Kentucky in 1973 - 14,413.

Brown didn't understate the importance of the game for his program.

Anytime you play No. 1 it has a big impact. But this game seemed to create an impact earlier than any other we've played since I've been here. Winning does that.
In the past it would have taken a miracle for us to beat them. But now everyone sees a ray of hope.
This game could really help us. It could be the catalyst for something great.

He credited LSU's rapid improvement to maturity and a simplifed approach.

We were using too many defenses before and we were asking them to think too much. We've changed to a fullcourt, man-to-man pressure the whole game and that's made us better.

But Dale knew his team couldn't match up with UK physically.

If we let them get us in a physical game, we can't win. If it gets physi­cal, the U.S. Marines couldn't win.

  • He hoped Kentucky would be less aggressive on the road.

That's natural for any team when they play before 24,000 people. They lose a little confidence, a little adrenalin ... Every team has an Achilles heel. We've got to exploit theirs.
We can't be too emotional about this game, but we are shooting for the No. 2 spot [in the SEC].

Cats coach Joe B. Hall appreciated the task at hand.

LSU will provide us with our toughest road game of the year. We will have to show a lot of poise and patience and play our best to overcome their pressure defense.
I see teams we're going to play on the tube, and they don't look so tough. But then against us, they always seem to play so hard.

No Tiger craved victory more than senior G Kenny Higgs from Owensboro KY.

  • With no SEC tournament, this would be Kenny's last crack at his home state's flagship program.
  • He had endured a roller coaster relationship with LSU fans. And, in his fourth season, had to adapt his game to the young players Brown brought in.

Most people around here, if they know basketball, know I'm away from the offense we were used to three years ago. I've got to guard the other team's toughest man, then I've got to fill the lane, run the fast break - do about six things instead of the one everybody else does.
I can score. I have no problem with that. I can score 20, 30 any time I get ready to. But you've got to realize that this year I've been shooting 6-7 times a game, and that's a whole lot different from shooting 21 and 22 times like I used to.

  • As a result, Kenny's ppg dropped from 19.3 the first three years to just 12.5.
  • He still didn't regret his decision to come to LSU.

I could have gone to Kentucky. And I could've played a role, too. I look at Larry Johnson. I played against him in high school and he could do everything - shoot everything. He goes to Kentucky and he becomes a toy soldier.
When they found out I was signing with LSU, they called me and said to hold up. I said, "Hey, I don't have to hold up. I've got scholarship offers from all over the world."

  • After Kenny spurned them, UK coaches spread the word that he was a troublemaker, a brooder, a militant.

It started from Kentucky. That's just a cop-out, like the story about me being uncoachable. Heck, I played for Bobby Watson, one of the best high school coaches in Kentucky! He's the one who helped me make my decision to come to LSU.

  • Still, when Higgs started the '77-8 season with a poor game against UNO, which upset the Tigers 73-69, Brown took his starting job away. One interested observer said this:
    I'm behind Coach Brown 100 percent. I just hope Kenny learns from it. He would have had a hard time making it at Kentucky. He was kind of spoiled and he needed discipline.
    The speaker? Kenneth Higgs, Sr.
  • Three games later, Junior rejoined the starting lineup.

If I had the chance to go anywhere, I'd do it again. I've learned there's a lot more than winning, winning, winning. I had to make my own life. I didn't have my mom and dad where I could run home when I got a problem. I had to stay right here and face it man-to-man. I wasn't running away from anything.

The visitors had their own counterpart to Kenny Higgs - Rick Robey from Brother Martin High School, New Orleans. The loss of the #1 player in the state four years earlier enraged Tiger fans. But it wasn't that clearcut, as Robey explained.

If I had been a native of New Orleans, I might have had a better outlook toward the state schools. My junior year they [LSU] had signed Frank LeFevre [a 6-10 player, since quit], so they kind of shied away from me until the very end. I guess they thought they already had the big man they needed.
I think they got some alumni pressure to recruit me late, but there's a 90 percent chance I wouldn't have gone to LSU anyway. ... I'd already decided that, if basketball was going to be my career, I had to start looking at the powers. I had to go where they had good tradition, the winning way.

  • Rick had to lose weight to compete for a starting spot at UK. He dropped from a 255-260 "butterball" [his word] into the 230s.

I lost in the right places, my waist - from a 38 to 34 - and thighs. It's made all the difference in the world in playing the full 40 minutes and getting up and down the court. I found out weighing 223 in the Pan American Games how much more mobile I could be.

  • When asked about comments like former Tennessee coach Ray Mears saying Kentucky played "karate defense" and Brown accusing UK of "brutalizing the game," Rick replied: I think it's an honor when opponents have to talk about us like that. We must be doing something right. Most teams winning big play strong defense. We play a style of defense that's going to be bump, lean, shove. But no dirty shots, not trying to hurt anybody.

All the individual stories faded away after what remains one of the greatest games in Maravich Assembly Center history.

Reference: Five: The Night Dale Brown's Bench Met the Best, Sonny Marks (2010)
Continued below ...
Memorable Game – LSU - Kentucky 1978 - IV

A record crowd of 14,551 packed the Maravich Assembly Center on Saturday night, February 11, 1978, for LSU's rematch with Kentucky.

  • Students began lining up the previous afternoon for tickets. The line stretched around the Center and down the ramps to Mike's cage.
  • The night of the game, every seat was taken an hour and a half before tipoff. People stood and sat on the stairways.
  • Kentucky fans sat in the upper section wearing blue jackets and white shirts.
  • 1,000 students gathered in the practice gym underneath the main floor to watch the game on closed-circuit TV. The game would be broadcast on tape-delay on cable TV.
  • Lexington sportswriter D. G. FitzMaurice said later, It was a terrific atmosphere. It was good to see that Kentucky wasn't the only team in the SEC that could draw excited fans.
  • When the Tigers came out of the dressing room, they couldn't hear anything but the roar of the crowd and the band. Everyone screamed "LSU! LSU!"
  • Dale Brown had achieved his goal of creating Purple and Gold fans as passionate for basketball as for football. He had a premonition his Tigers would play well: There was something in their eyes during the timeouts. They knew they could win it.

LSU played a recording over the PA before the game of Kentucky native Rudy Macklin reading a prepared statement.

We have played some games away from home where we were treated rather poorly by the fans. They have thrown ice and debris at us, they have taunted us, they have even accused us of having no class. This kind of abuse has no place in athletics. All year, you have treated our opposing teams fairly and decently. Now, more than ever, please continue to do so. Please help us put a stop to the unnecessary and unsportstmanlike abuse that we have had to put up with in other arenas.

The LSU staff inserted a surprise starter.

  • Freshman Ethan Martin from McKinley High in Baton Rouge started at G instead of Jordy Hultberg.
  • Ethan was assigned to cover Wildcat court general Kyle Macy. The move also forced Macy to guard the much quicker Martin. Kyle was accustomed to taking it somewhat easy on defense to save his energy for the other end of the court.
  • Martin said, I thought I'd stay tight on him, stay up in his jock because I knew he was a good outside shooter. I knew if I would give him any day­light, nine out of ten times, he'd make that jumper.
  • The LSU coaches also hoped Ethan would force the cool Big Blue leader into turnovers. As Hultberg said about his replacement, Ethan Martin was like Sleepy of the Seven Dwarves. You thought the kid never moved, never sweated, but he was going to pick your pocket, set you up.
  • The substitution meant that LSU started five black players, undoubtedly a first in school history. It is remarkable - in a good way - that no one noticed the milestone at the time.

With their SEC supervisor in attendance, officials Bill Bennett and Burrell Crowell seemed determined to keep the game under control. (The SEC would not add a third officials until the following season.)

  • LSU F Rudy Macklin committed his first foul on the opening possession. It was the first of 65 infractions (20 more than the national average that year) whistled throughout the evening.
  • The Tigers were called for another foul and Kentucky for two in the first two and a half minutes.
  • Macy made a 10' jump shot which Martin countered with one of his own. The duel was on.

Kentucky employed the same strategy against Macklin that they had used effectively in Lexington.

  • 6-5, 230 lb James Lee tried to deny the ball from the taller (6-7) but leaner (205 lb) Louisville product.
  • Rudy liked to find his rhythm early, I've got to have that first one! With Lee on him again, he thought, Not tonight, baby. Not tonight!
  • Macklin sank his first shot to make it 7-4. It was a circus shot that he spun and threw at the basket from the corner behind the basket after saving an errant pass from going out of bounds.
  • He hit three more buckets plus a FT to complete a 3-point play to put the Tigers in front 11-9.

LSU opened a 29-22 lead with eight minutes left in the first half.

  • The furious pace continued, with the visitors pecking away at the lead until they pulled within two, 45-43 when the teams left for the locker room. It marked only the third time that season the Wildcats trailed at halftime. They split those two contests.
  • By then, both teams were already in foul trouble. Macklin and his fellow Kentuckian, G Kenny Higgs, as well as C Lionel Green sat on the bench with three fouls. Macy and LaVon Williams had a like number of infractions.
  • Brown said after the game:

On the road, you take your starters out with three fouls. At home, you leave them in. At halftime I told them, "You guys make the decision. You tell me when you want to come out." All of them chose not to come out.

After Macy opened the second half scoring with a 10' jumper to tie the game, LSU went on a 14-2 run.

  • In a space of three minutes, Higgs made two baskets, dished three assists, but picked up his fourth foul.
  • However, with 16:18 left, he fouled out. Onto the court came freshman G Willie Sims, an African-American from New York City.
  • Willie's grandmother raised him. She converted to Judaism after she married a Jewish man. So she raised Willie in the Jewish faith.
  • He played on the U.S. team in the Maccabiah Games in Israel while in high school. That helped him attract attention from the likes of Indiana, North Carolina, Marquette, and UCLA.
  • His grandmother liked Dale Brown more than Bobby Knight, Al McGuire, and Dean Smith because Dale talked about success, education, and a family atmosphere.
  • Willie had difficulty adjusting to coming off the bench that first season. However, he would spend four years as a superb Sixth Man for the Tigers.
  • After Higgs left the court for good with LSU up 12, F DeWayne Scales picked up his third and fourth fouls in less than a minute. Kentucky closed to 59-53 with 14:57 left.
  • With so many starters shackled by foul difficulty, Brown ordered the Tigers into the four corners offense to kill some time by spreading out the opponent. The four corners could just as easily kill your momentum as milk the clock. But this time it helped run a few minutes off the clock and increase the lead to 10 because Sims drove from halfcourt for two and Martin stole the ball and made a layup.
  • Macklin got his fourth foul with 10:29 left. With Brown sticking to his promise to let the players decide if they wanted to come out, Rudy committed #5 fifteen seconds later. He left with what would turn out to be a game-high 23 points on incredible 11-for-12 shooting from the floor. Macklin didn't blame the officials.

It was a well-called game. They let us play. We were just over-aggressive. They weren't ticky-tacky fouls - we hacked them. We were just so excited, we got in foul trouble.

  • Brown sent in 6'6" senior Floyd Bailey. Before a minute of playing time elapsed, he got fouled but missed both shots.
  • Bailey grew up in the northwest LA town of Dubberly in Webster Parish. He attended Central Consolidated High School where everyone was black except for one white teacher. His graduating class consisted of 15 boys and 15 girls. 10 of the 15 boys played basketball.
  • The Dragons won the title in class C composed of the state's smallest schools. Floyd averaged 30 points, 20 rebounds, and 10 blocks per game.
  • He resented the fact that Rick Robey of Brother Martin in the largest class won the tournament MVP instead of him.
  • Bailey supposedly turned down a suitcase full of money from one recruiter to sign with Dale Brown.

It was clear that, if LSU were to hold its lead, the bench would have to perform at a high level.

Reference: Five: The Night Dale Brown's Bench Met the Best, Sonny Marks (2010)
Continued below ...

LSU G Ethan Martin
Ethan Martin

Kentucky G Kyle Macy
Kyle Macy

LSU F Rudy Macklin
Rudy Macklin

 

 

LaVon Williams, Kentucky
LaVonWilliams

DeWayne Scales, Knicks

Lionel Green, Walter Campbell, Walter Bailey, Willie Sims
(L-R): Lionel Green, Walter Campbell, Floyd Bailey, Willie Sims

Memorable Game – LSU - Kentucky 1978 - V

Kentucky F Rick Robey
Rick Robey

LSU G Willie Sims
Willie Sims

Kentucky G Kyle Macy
Kyle Macy

Kentucky G Jay Shidler
Jay Shidler

LSU Assistant Ron Abernathy
Ron Abernathy

Kentucky G Truman Clayton
Truman Clayton

LSU Assistant Art Tolis
Art Tolis

Kentucky C Mike Phillips
Mike Phillips

Kentucky G James Lee
Janes Lee

As the war entered its last ten minutes of playing time, more starters got into foul trouble.

  • Kentucky's Rick Robey picked up his third and fourth fouls within a minute after Rudy Macklin joined G Kenny Higgs as fouled-out Tigers.
  • LSU led by seven when F DeWayne Scales was called for his fifth foul at the 9:11 mark. The freshman sensation had pulled down 17 rebounds which would be only two less than UK's entire starting five for the game. G Jordy Hultberg, Scales' replacement, would be lucky to garner 17 rebounds in five games.
  • Less than a minute later, Jordy took a pass from PG Ethan Martin to score inside and put LSU up 69-60 with 8:37 remaining.

Hultberg, who is still associated with LSU as a broadcaster, idolized Pete Maravich to the point of wearing floppy socks and #23 while playing at De La Salle High School in New Orleans.

Brown went back to the four corners offense he had employed a few minutes earlier.

  • But Willie Sims missed consecutive front ends of one-and-ones, allowing UK to whittle the lead.
  • When LSU turned the ball over, and C Lionel "Tree" Green collected his 4th personal with 4:21 on the clock, Dale backed off the offense that LSU fans and players alike detested.
  • Robey said afterwards that LSU's four corners aided the Wildcats. It did help us get back in it when we set the tempo and started running.

Trailing 80-70 with 3:27 left, Kentucky turned up the heat.

  • G Kyle Macy made two freebies, and Givens hit a turnaround jumper from 8'. LaVon Williams forced a jump ball, won the tip, and scored inside to bring UK within 4.
  • Macy fouled out at the 2:27 mark and was replaced by sophomore Jay Shidler, who would play a key rule.
  • Lionel "Tree" Green fouled out with 1:13 left to go, leaving G Ethan Mar­tin as the only Tiger starter still eligible. Green had scored only one point and snagged just three rebounds but served as a team leader. Tree would huddle the team up after we broke the huddle in the timeout with the coach­es, said Macklin.
  • Assistant Ron Abernathy turned to Brown on the bench and said, Well, we're just going to have to beat them without our starters.
  • Rick Mattick replaced the slender Green, whom he outweighed by 70 pounds.

The first 7-footer in LSU history, Mattick grew to be 4" taller than his 6'10" father, an All-American at Oklahoma State. Rick frustrated coaches and teammates alike with his happy-go-lucky attitude. F Floyd Bailey said Mattick was another easygoing guy that didn't work as hard as he could have to live up to his potential. With his height, he could've done some things. Very nice guy, though. We had no problem with him.

  • Robey made one of two FTs to make the score 82-81 LSU.
  • Then it was Williams' turn to foul out with just under a minute left. Sims made the first FT but missed the second.
  • Shidler found Robey open underneath with 35 seconds left to tie the game. Then LSU went back to the four corners to hold for the last shot.
  • Martin did the honors with nine seconds left but missed. Robey grabbed the rebound but, as he tried to go upcourt in heavy traffic, was called for walking. Rick said later, I thought it was a questionable call. I thought I was fouled on the rebound.
  • Sims missed a shot with three seconds remaining to send the game into OT.

Many watching the game on closed-circuit TV in the practice gym came upstairs for the OT, increasing the overflow in the Maravich Center.

  • UK made the first basket, a Givens 10-footer, to lead for the first time since the first four minutes of the game.
  • Hultberg answered with an 18' jump shot to tie it again at 85. But with 3:02 left, Martin fouled out to complete the exodus of LSU starters. Dale Brown surprisingly called on Ernie Brown, who had played very little.
  • Bailey, recalled: We were scared, nervous. We were tired, but everybody else was tired too. You gotta do what you gotta do.
  • Shidler, the Illinois state tournament record-holder for most points, made two FTs to put the Cats up 87-85 with three minutes to go. Then Robey added his name to the fouled-out list with 2:39 left. Mattick, LSU's best FT shooter, made both to tie the game at 87.
  • But Brown fouled Shidler, who hit both shots to restore UK's two-point margin.

Perhaps the key point in the extra five minutes came at the 2:05 mark.

  • Givens fouled Mattick, who made the first but missed the second. Givens rebounded and passed to Shidler. But as Jay crossed halfcourt, he mis­judged where Givens was moving and threw the ball out of bounds. The miscue enraged Hall who remembered the errant pass as a turning point years later.
  • LSU took advantage of the turnover to go ahead 90-89 on Hultberg's jumper from the corner. The Tigers would not lose the lead. in the remaining 1:40.
  • After Truman Clayton rushed a 15-footer that his coach criticized after the game, Sims snatched the rebound and took off on a breakaway. He threw up a rolling layup from the left side. Just as the ball bounced off the rim, Bailey soared high over two men in blue and stuffed it back home for a 92-89 lead. Since the 3-point shot wasn't permitted by the NCAA yet, that gave the Tigers a two-possession lead. Brown leaped to his feet and ran halfway down the court with the arms raised as the crowd went wild. Bailey later recalled: I looked at Willie and I thought, ah man, I don't need to go down there. Willie's gonna do it. But something said, "Get your rear end down the floor," and I went. The scoreboard read 1:07. LSU assistant Art Tolis still remembers the roar of the crowd years later. That game was over right then.
  • Mike Phillips hit one of two FTs to cut the lead to two. LSU rebounded and Kentucky fouled Sims to keep the Tigers from milking the clock. Willie calmly sank both with 27 seconds left.
  • After a Kentucky basket, Sims was fouled again. With no rule giving a team two shots once the opponent had ten fouls, Willie had to make the first to extend the lead to three with just 10 ticks left. The ball rolled around the rim and fell in. He missed the second, but LSU could allow James Lee to score an uncontested layup at 0:03 to account for the final score: 95-94.
  • When the horn sounded, LSU students jumped over press row and poured onto the court. Many (all male) stripped to the waist. Dale Brown danced joyfully among them.

Final stats

  • Despite missing half the second half, Macklin led all scorers with 23. Martin added 20.
  • Kentucky's leaders were Robey with 18 and Givens with 17.
  • The FT figures were mind-boggling: UK 26-36 (72.2%), LSU 25-38 (65.8%); LSU committed 33 fouls to 32 for the visitors.
  • The most amazing stat showed LSU outrebounding the Wildcats 47-29.

Post-Game

  • Brown: I don't want to sound overly positive, but I had a feeling we were going to win it, even when they got two ahead. I knew we could win it, and I would have thought that even if we had lost it.
    Still holding the victory net, he explained why he stood before the LSU student section, arms raised high, after the final horn: I just wanted to thank them. It was my way of saying "Thank you." They kept our adrenalin flowing throughout the direst parts of the game.
    Concerning the four corners O that produced mixed results, Dale said: I'm not going to dote over the four corners. We've looked like morons with it before. But a lot of guys got a lot of confidence back tonight.
  • Macklin: I love it. The people back home [Louisville] are going to see that score and see what we did to them.
  • Hall: We thought we had an excellent chance to win. I feel triply disappointed - that's worse than being doubly disappointed. We were playing against their second string.
    We just didn't have the poise. When we did have our chance, we still played in a panic.
    The critics are going to come out of the walls and mail a lot of letters, and I'm going to agree with them. It's my fault that we weren't ready. So save that postage, don't send those letters, don't work those postmen.
    You always look back a half hour after a game like this and kick yourself in the seat of the pants. It seems as if when the other team really wants a game, we roll over and let them have it.
  • D.G. FitzMaurice of the Lexington Herald: You have to give the [LSU] reserves credit. They probably didn't know enough to be scared.

Follow-up

  • The Wildcats didn't lose another game, defeating Duke for the NCAA Championship.
  • LSU finished 18-9 overall, 12-6 in the SEC, their most conference wins since Pistol Pete's senior season in 1969-70. The next year, Brown's boys won the SEC Tournament, and two years later, made the 1981 Final Four.

Reference: Five: The Night Dale Brown's Bench Met the Best, Sonny Marks (2010)

Profile: Bobby Lowther

Times-Picayne Sunday, January 13, 1946
"Sports from the Crow's Nest," Harry Martinez

Louisiana State has a boy who piloted an American B-17 over enemy terri­tory for three years. He was a college basketball star before entering the service and his years of service haven't seemed to slow him up one bit. But we've seen others try to come back and play football who simply couldn't get into shape.

Lowther has been a sensation at LSU and the Tigers are predicting that he will be an all-American basketball candidate. Not since the golden era of di­minutive "Sparky" Wade has there been a Tiger hoopster with as much polish, poise, and perseverance as that shown by Lowther in the six games he has played this season during which time the 22-year-old youth has massed 110 points to lead his team and the Southeastern Conference in individual scoring performances.

And while the surprisingly-strong LSU quintet has rolled up five victories in six games, four of which are consecutive, the former Bolton High basketeer and track star is as modest as he is brilliant.

While many potentially great hoop teams have had their visions of a champ­ionship five shattered because of the shooting predominance of one player, Lowther is a superior contrast to the "ball hog." Being a good team man, as strong on defense as he is offensively, he has many times "fed" the ball to a teammate when he himself was in a lucrative position to shoot.

Besides basketball, Lowther is an outstanding track performer. He holds the Southern AAU pole vault championsip, and despite his 6'3" 195 pound frame, holds several records in the hop, step and jump, and javelin events. He has placed in all three events in the National AAU meets.

A graduate of Bolton (Alexandria) High in 1941, Lowther arrived at Louisi­ana State as an all-state basketball player, recipient of the "best-all-around athlete" award, and desirous of making the varsity basketball and track teams.

He fulfilled his ambitions, scholastically and athletically, until the war inter­rupted his college career in the spring of 1942. Lowther joined the Army Air Corps, was commissioned, and sent to England. Pilot of a B-17, he completed his quota of combat missions, the majority of which were over Germany, and ultimately was discharged with an assortment of citations.

Donning his civilian garb, Bobby re-entered LSU last fall, and since then has been one of the most talked-about athletes on the campus.

And whether or not a Louisiana State hoopster will be selected at season's close on mythical "super" teams, the sports -minded folk from Tigertown are conscious they have a real "all-American" in their midst in the Gargantuan form of Robert Carswell Lowther.

Bobby Lowther, LSU
Bobby Lowther

Joe Adcock, Braves
Joe Adcock, 10-year 1B for
the Milwaukee Braves.

The day before Martinez's article appeared, Lowther led Harry Raben­horst's Tigers to an easy win over Ole Miss in Oxford, 53-23.
  • Bobby led all scorers with 20 while Clyde Lindsay, a football star, and C Joe Bill Adcock, 1B on the diamond, each tallied 13.
  • The Tigers had just come from Starkville where the day before they downed Mississippi State 50-30 to jump out to a 2-0 mark in SEC play.
  • The victories ran LSU's record to 7-1 at that point, the only loss at the hands of Keesler Field in Biloxi December 17.

The Tigers finished the season 18-3 with an 8-0 record in SEC play.

  • They won the first two games at the conference tournament at Lou­isville to reach the semifinals.
  • However, most of the players needed a physician's care that Friday night due to food poisoning.
  • Saturday afternoon, the Tigers started slowly but finally began click­ing and pulled away from Georgia 60-41.

That victory put LSU in the finals that night against the perennially strong Kentucky Wildcats.

  • The Tigers hadn't faced Coach Adolph Rupp's crew during the regu­lar season.
  • Lowther got into early foul trouble, after which he had to slack off in his aggressiveness.
  • The Cats won easily, 59-36, for their eighth conference championship in the 13 years of the SEC and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Several Tigers made the All-Tournament team, which was equivalent to the All-Conference team in those days.

  • Lowther made first team.
  • Adcock, who totaled a record 74 points in the four tournament games, made the second team along with G Billy Walters.
1938 SEC Tournament


Coach Harry Rabenhorst 1938-9
Harry Rabenhorst

Kentucky Coach Adolph Rupp
Adolph Rupp

Georgia Tech Coach Roy Mundorff
Roy Mundorff

B.L. "Country" Graham, Ole Miss
Country Graham

 

LSU F Jack Bushman
Jack Bushman

LSU coach Harry Rabenhorst wanted to get something off his chest as the Tigers prepared to host the 1938 SEC tournament.

  • One of the biggest questions at the national basketball meeting last year was the problem of different styles of play in certain sections of the country.
  • Then Harry gave his solution. Really, the answer is very plain - we have a rule book; then follow it. You should have no arguments if you call 'em by the book!
  • He added: Your troubles come when some officials try to change the game around, contrary to the way the rules call for it to be played. Some stress great defense - over-guarding - with the result you have baseball-score games, and they bring on this "speeding up process" in new rules. Other sectors run hog wild in giving the attack the limit in leeway. There results a breathless, free-for-all game that isn't a fair test.
  • Harry considered basketball a no-contact sport. If they want a winter football game on hardwood floors, they'll have to rewrite the rules, and then keep ambu­lances handy. We have enough men hurt as it is with the current free interpretatoin of the rules on defense. Let them go out there with no protection on that hard court and you'll start getting boys killed.

Rabenhorst's remarks were touched off by comments of Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp.

  • You can't get ten big healthy boys out there on the floor and not expect bodily con­tact. I don't mean to play a rough game, but there are too many personal fouls called. (Baton Rouge Morning Advocate writer W. I. Spencer wondered, Is it possible that Coach Rupp is building up a teeney-weeney advance alibi?)
  • Georgia Tech coach Roy Mundorff sided with Rabenhorst. There's nothing more beautiful than a game played with as few bodily contacts as possible. Rupp contacts the Middle West where they've always played a rougher game than in the South. If he thinks that type of playing improves the game, he's entitled to his own opinion.
  • Roy continued: There's lack of uniformity in the way fouls are called in different sections. There's not much difference between the South and the East but things are more open in the Midwest. Why, when a Southern team goes up there, it usual­ly says it was robbed because the referee didn't call fouls. When a Midwestern team comes down here, it says it was robbed because officials did call them. Basketball is a lot less rough than it was 15 years ago. I like our type of game better.

Most of the teams coming to Baton Rouge brought at least one football player with them, including four all-conference gridiron performers.

  • Ole Miss's Frank "Bruiser" Kinard, who made the All-American team at T, played G on the court.
  • E Bill Jordan and QB Fletcher Sims, both all-conference at their positions, started for the Tech cagers at F and G respectively.
  • One of Alabama's roundball subs was all-conference E Erwin "Tut" Warren.
  • The SEC's leading scorer in the regular season, senior Bonnie "Country" Graham of Ole Miss, also played E in the Fall.

The tourney began Thursday at LSU's "massive" new Parker Agricultural Coliseum.

  • With 13 schools in the conference but Florida and Sewanee not participating, three games were held in the afternoon to pare the field down to eight teams.
  • High school and college students could watch all games of each session for 40 cents while adults had to fork over 75 cents for general admission areas. Reserved seats at center court went for $1.10 each.
  • In the opener at 2 pm, Tennessee eliminated Mississippi State 41-34, the score being typical in that era.
  • At 3 pm (did they really finish a game in under an hour?), Vanderbilt trampled Alabama, which had two starters out sick, 50-26. The Tide went eight minutes before scoring a FG in the second half.
  • In the afternoon finale, Tulane trailed by two at halftime but doubled Georgia 30-15 in the second half to win 47-34.

The afternoon winners came back that evening when four games were scheduled starting at 7:30 pm.

  • Ole Miss edged the Volunteers 45-40.
  • LSU ran away from Auburn with its fast break, opening up a 27-12 halftime lead on their way to a 60-34 trouncing. G Red Hathorn threw in 17 while F Jack Bushman added 14.
  • But that 26-point victory fell short of what Georgia Tech did to Vanderbilt, 50-18.
  • Finally, the team everyone had been waiting to see - Kentucky. Surely the Green Wave, playing their second game of the day, would be no match for the mighty Wildcats. Not at all as coach Ray Dauber's team edged UK 38-36 on Paul Pare's FG with less than a minute to play. As Rupp feared in his pre­tourney comments, he lost two starters to the four foul limit but Dauber lost three of his regulars.

The semifinals took place Friday evening starting at 8 pm.

  • With the favorites from Lexington knocked out, the Tigers had hopes of cap­turing the crowd. But the Rebels disabused them of that notion with a 68-40 trouncing. "The amazing Mr. Graham," as one writer called Country, scored 9 FGs and 9 FTs for 27 points, an incredible number in an age when players rarely reached 20 in a game.
  • In the nightcap, Tulane's cinderella tournament ended at the hands of Georgia Tech, 44-29.

In the finals Saturday night, the Yellow Jackets forged a 32-21 halftime lead, then survived an Ole Miss rally that brought them within two points, before pulling away again to a 58-47 triumph for their first SEC basketball title. Graham scored 23, almost half his team's points. He would become Ole Miss's first All-American that year.

LSU fans could at least rejoice in the Tigers' victory in the SEC boxing tournament held at Tulane the same days as the basketball proceedings. (The pugilists drew bigger crowds than the cagers.)