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Pete Maravich's Career at LSU - Sophomore Season

Pete's Freshman Season

After a year in limbo (freshman team), Pete Maravich could play varsity ball for LSU in 1967-68.

  • His father-coach Press Maravich hoped that 6'8" sophomore Randy Lamont from Warren IL and 6'3" junior Ralph Jukkola, also a midwesterner from Dayton OH, would provide the rebounding the Tigers would need to compete in the SEC.
  • Press: Rebounding is critical to us. It could well determine the outcome of a closely contested ball game. A few key rebounds here and there really make a difference in a close game. Not only must we have the basketball if our fastbreak is to amount to anything but we've got to keep the other team from taking the second and third shot.
  • The other two starters would also be Pete's teammates from the freshmen team: 5-11 Jeff Tribbett and 6-0 Rich Hickman.
    Tribbett, a 6' G from Lebanon IN where he fed future All-American Rick Mount, hadn't expected to start at any college as a sophomore. Just dumb luck, he recalled. It just so happened that we walked into such a horseshit basketball program.

Press's second LSU squad did not have a tough act to follow.

  • The 1966-67 Bengals won only three games against 23 losses.
  • Now the fans could come to the Parker Ag Center later and pack the place for the varsity game.
  • All season tickets were sold and the remaining tickets for the opening game were also gone.
    At Press's urging, LSU formed a pep band and a team of pom-pom girls for home games.

Pete Maravich embarked on another record-breaking season.

  1. December 2, 1967: Tampa
    One of the three teams the Tigers defeated the year came to Baton Rouge as the sacrificial lamb in LSU's 97-81 victory. Pete sank 20 of 50 FG attempts (the latter being a school record) and eight of nine FTs for 48 points. One stat, though, must have concerned Press. The visitors outrebounded his boys 57-53.
  2. December 4: @Texas
    Pete scored 21 points in each half to lead the Tigers past the Longhorns, 87-74, before a "packed house" of 6,000. LSU received 19 points from its bench.
  3. December 9: Loyola (N.O.)
    The Wolfpack were thoroughly outclassed 90-56 as Maravich scored 51. The Tigers had already equaled their entire win output of the '66-67 season.
  4. December 15: Wisconsin @Milwaukee
    The Tigers suffered their first loss as Big Ten favorite Wisconsin won in the last half minute 96-94. After the Badgers went ahead on two FTs with 18 seconds left, Jeff Tribbett missed a 15' jumper with 0:03 on the clock. LSU had fought back from an 83-70 deficit with 8:31 left.
  5. December 16: Florida State @Milwaukee
    The Seminoles rolled up the highest point total in their basketball history in defeating LSU 130-100 in the consolation game of the Milwaukee Basketball Classic. Maravich's 42 points led all scorers. The game was tied at 77 before the Tiger defense fell apart, especially after Jukkola fouled out with six and a half minutes remaining.
  6. December 19: Ole Miss
    The Tigers returned to Baton Rouge and to the win column in their first SEC game. The Rebels fell 81-68. "Skinny Pete" popped in 46 as LSU used a "rugged" all-court press.
  7. December 22: Mississippi State
    Fans sat in the aisles to watch the Tigers tame the Bullodgs 111-87. Maravich, who endured a cold first half with only 16 points, erupted for 42 in the final 20 minutes to break Bob Pettit's school scoring record in an SEC game.
  8. December 30: Alabama
    The Tigers sat alone atop the SEC standings with their third straight conference win, 81-79 before an overflow crowd of 10,000. Pete scored only 30 points, 17 below his average.
  9. January 3, 1968: Auburn
    The Tigers brought their famous shuffle and almost pulled off an upset, but the homestanding Tigers prevailed by four points. Pistol Pete scored all but 21 of LSU's 76 points. No other Bengal had more than seven.
  10. January 6: @Florida
    LSU's first road SEC game resulted in their first conference defeat. C Neal Walk scored 39, seven more than Pete, to spark UF's 97-90 victory. Averaging 39 shots a game, Maravich was held to only 22 by Mike Leatherwood with just nine falling through the nets. The Pistol didn't hit his first FG until 8:22 remained in the first half.
    One of the spectators in Gainesville was a former assistant coach under Press, Les Robinson. He recalled: Press wasn't the same coach I knew at N. C. State. He had already become obsessed with Pete's numbers. He had gone from being one of the greatest coaches in the game to the coach of the greatest player in the game. That's the only criticism I have of Coach Maravich: he loved his son too much.
  11. January 8: @Georgia
    Pete poured in 42 points, and the Tigers needed almost all of them to hand the Bulldogs their first SEC defeat 79-76 and snap their six-game winning streak. The nation's leading scorer hit only 14 of 38 shots from the field. The attendance at Stegeman Coliseum, which officially held 11,000, was given as 14,200 - the largest basketball crowd in the state's history.
  12. January 11: @Tulane
    5,500 fans jammed the Tulane Gym (listed seating capacity: 4,400) to the rafters and watched in amazement as the player they came to see tallied 52. The officials called 45 fouls in the 100-91 Tiger triumph. Rich Hickman added 18.
    The Tigers pregame routine gave Pete a chance to show his repertoire of moves as he fed each player going to the basket. Tulane's top scorer, Johnny Arthurs, recalled: You were never supposed to look at your opponent during warm-ups. But there we were, watching Pete put on a show.
    Pete Finney wrote in the New Orleans States-Item the next day: I've never seen a righthanded player throw a lefthanded behind-the-back bounce pass going full speed on a two-on-one fast break - and hit the outside man in stride for a layup.
    The proud papa, Press Maravich, told a Time magazine reporter: I get to the point where I don't coach him. I just watch.
  13. January 24: Clemson
    After taking a break for exams, the Tigers hosted the ACC Tigers. Bud Montet started his Morning Advocate article like this: The Clemson Tigers found out how to defend LSU's sophomore whiz, Pete Maravich, but couldn't find the formula to best the Bengals as the local "Whiz Kids" whizzed to a 104-to-81 victory ... Clemson's secret weapon was referee Don Wedge and umpire T. D. Norris who fouled the pride of the Tiger fans out with 12:27 left in the game. Pete left the court with 33 points and the Bayou Bengals ahead 69-54. The irate fans littered the floor with paper cups, ice, and other debris. When Wedge called a technical foul on LSU because of the crowd, the noise got louder. A half dozen state policemen escorted the officials from the court at the end of the game.
  14. January 27: Kentucky
    The 10-3 Tigers hosted #9 Kentucky. How would Adolph Rupp's perennial SEC powerhouse defend the Pistol? The answer was "not well" but it didn't make any difference. Pete had to work hard to get 52 points but it wasn't enough as the Wildcats shot 57.8% from the floor on their way to a surprisingly easy 121-95 victory.
  15. January 29: Vanderbilt
    The next visitor to the Ag Center was Roy Skinner's #7 Commodores. Coach Press had told his son to curtail his interviews because "he's getting mentally haggard." The "flop-haired" sophomore threw in 54, but it wasn't enough to overcome Vandy's balanced scoring in LSU's second straight home loss, 99-91. A key factor in the victory was the fact that Lamont, after scoring 14 in the first half, went scoreless in the second.
  16. February 3: @Kentucky
    The Cats celebrated "Adolph Rupp Day" by beating the Tigers for the second time in eight days, although by a smaller margin, 109-96, than in Baton Rouge. To answer the question that fans always asked in those days, How many did Pete score? 44, one below his average. Tribbett contributed 16. LSU chopped away at UK's 56-38 halftime bulget but fell one point short. Kentucky won the game in the first half, cutting it to eight with 6:02 to go but getting no closer.
  17. February 5: Tennessee
    The #6 Vols held LSU to a paltry 67 points, their lowest total of the season, in handing the Bengals their fourth straight defeat. Pete had to work hard to get 21 points, far below his average of 45.1. UT gained an insurmountable lead in the first half when they shot 51.4% to LSU's 28.6 to forge a 46-29 lead.
    Tennessee coach Ray Mears recalled: Press wanted Pete to be his glory boy, so I studied Pete. I put in a lot of time figuring out how to give him trouble. He put two physical defenders on Pete and even a third if necessary. You didn't have to worry about the other guys.
  18. February 7: @Auburn
    With eight games still to play, Maravich broke Pettit's record of 785 points in a season. With the game deadlocked at 32-32, Pete started the second half by scoring LSU's first 25 points en route to 49. But it wasn't enough as Auburn carved out a 74-69 win. Writers searching the NCAA record book were speculating that Pete was on pace to top Frank Selvy's game average of 41.7 set in the 1953-54 season.
  19. February 10: Florida
    Desperate to break their five-game losing streak, the Tigers clawed the Gators into OT. As in Gainesville earlier in the season, LSU had no answer for Walk, who scored 38. With Pete topping that figure by nine, the Bengals prevailed 93-92. Hickman contributed 22.
  20. February 12: Georgia
    Twelve missed FTs came back to haunt the Tigers, who lost by five (78-73). With LSU trailing 43-34 at the break, Pete staged a one-man charge by scoring eight straight FGs in 4:36. But that wasn't good enough to catch the Dogs. Maravich ended with 51 of his team's 73 points.
  21. February 17: @Alabama
    The largest basketball crowd in SEC history, 14,500, packed brand new Memorial Coliiseum (built with the profit from Bear Bryant's football teams) to watch the Pistol, who didn't disappoint them as he rang up 59 points to break his own SEC record. The Tigers spoiled the party by capturing the win, 99-89.
  22. February 19: @Mississippi State
    The LSU traveling circus rolled into Starkville to perform before an overflow crowd of 5,500. After scoring only 13 in the first half, Pete managed 21 in the final 30 minutes, and the Tigers won 94-83. 6'7" Steve Shumaker, a transfer from an Iowa JC, came off the bench to help with rebounding. The Associated Press report of the game included this passage: Excitement was added to the game by disturbing flashes from a photographer's camera when Maravich shot free throws. LSU Coach Press Maravich walked from the bench to the photographer and talked to him several times. Then the referees talked to both coaches and team captains and agreed to have the photographer stop taking pictures.
  23. February 21: Tulane
    The Advocate's Bernell Ballard started his report on the home matchup with the Greenies this way: Pete Maravich - LSU's Wonderful Wizard of Ahhs - poured in 55 points, became the first sophomore to score 1,000 points in a season in NCAA history, boosted his season total to 1,039 points, and led LSU to a 99-92 victory over Tulane before a packed audience of 8,800 cheering fans at the Cow Palace. The LSU Student Government Association presented Press Maravich with an award for "bringing basketball back to LSU."
    Coaches across the country had heard of the exploits of Pistol Pete, but not all sang his praises. Here's how an Associated Press article began:
    Is Pete Maravich a budding superstar, or is he simply the fastest gun in the west, north, east and south?
    College basketball coaches across the country are divided in their opinions of the ability of the floppy-haired basketball scoring sensation from Louisiana State University. Some coaches sing the praise of the teenager, whose point-making antics suddenly have caused basketball to rise from the depths to challenge football in popularity at the LSU campus. Many others, however, say Pistol Pete doesn't even rate as first-team all-conference, let alone being considered an All-American.
    Pete's critics point to his field goal shooting percentage as the real barometer of the boy's ability. "He's not even hitting 40 per cent," said one coach, who wishes to remain anonymous. "I have six guys on my team that could average over 40 points if they shot as much as Maravich." ...
    "A lot of people say Pete shoots so much because he has to carry the load due to not having much help," said another coach. "But if you'll study the statistics you'll see the rest of the LSU team is averaging well over 50 per cent from the field." ...
    "The only fault I see in Pete is that he shoots too many shots when he doesn't really have a shot," said another coach. "He undoubtedly has a world of ability and could be a bonafide All-American if he shot, say about 20 times a game. His scoring average would drop, but his percentage would jump.
    One pro-Pete coach cited special defense cooked up for Pete as the big reason the rest of the LSU team has such high shooting percentages. "Look at Ralph Jukkola ... He was a 41 percent shooter last season and is hitting over 65 per cent and leading the nation this year. Pete has set him up for numerous crips.
  24. February 24: @Ole Miss
    The sellout crowd of 8,500 that packed the Rebel Coliseum got what they came for - a chance to see amazing Pete in action and a victory by the home team. Maravich (40) and Hickman (31) combined for 71 points, but Ole Miss came from behind in the last minutes to pull out the 87-85 victory.
  25. March 2: @Tennessee
    Finishing the season on the road as always because of other events in the Ag Center, the Tigers lost to the Volunteers 74-71. Despite being held to a season-low 17 points, Maravich went into the NCAA record books twice. He clinched a better season average that Selvy's 41.7 and his 981 FG attempts broke the previous high of Bill Mlkvy of Temple in 1951. Pete fouled out of the "bitterly fought contest" with 8:02 remaining. The call brought Papa Press onto the floor to lodge a stern protest with referee Bill Henderson, who assessed a technical foul. UTthen scored a two-pointer on the ensuing possession. Those three points turned out to be the difference in the final score as the remaining Tigers cut down 63-49 to three. For the first time all season, Pete was not LSU's high scorer. That honor went to Jukkola and his 22 points.
    Maravich averaged 19 points against Tennessee his sophomore season and 45.8 against everyone else.
  26. March 4: @Vanderbilt
    11,094 showed up in 16-year-old Memorial Gym and its raised floor. With Lamont out with an injury, the Commodores outrebound LSU by an astounding 73-42 margin on their way to an easy 115-86 triumph. Vandy took charge midway through the first half by outscoring the visitors 31-3. Maravich scored 42 points, 30 of them in the second half.

Pete ended the season with a 43.77 ppg average - a modern NCAA mark for future stars, including himself for two more years, to shoot for. However, he failed to pass Selvy for total points in a season, falling 71 points short (1,209 to 1,138).

The Tigers finished the season 14-12 to give LSU its first winning record since 1961-62.

Maravich made every All-America team.

  • He was named to the United Press International All-America team along with Elvin Hayes of Houston, Lew Alcindor of UCLA, Wes Unseld of Louisville, and Calvin Murphy of Niagara.
  • The Associated Press and National Association of Basketball Coaches teams had Larry Miller of North Carolina in place of Murphy but agreed with the UPI on the other four.
  • The Basketball Writers Association listed Pete on its ten-man team.


Ralph Jukkola


Jeff Tribbett


Rich Hickman


Neal Walk


Jukkola fights for rebound against Kentucky


Mike Leatherwood


Roy Skinner


Adolph Rupp


LSU @Kentucky action


Ray Mears

Read Curry Kirkpatrick's article on Pete in the March 4, 1968, Sports Illustrated.

Return to Basketball Magazine

Tiger Den Basketball Archives – I
Tiger Firsts: Basketball Team | LSU National Champs | Joe Adcock | Pistol vs UCLA | Eddie Palubinskas | Dazzling Debut: Chris Jackson | Tiger Firsts: Final Four | Dale Brown Takes Over

Tiger Den Basketball Archives – II
BR Sports Academy | Four Little Points | Harry Rabenhorst | Shaq's 30-point SEC Game | Maravich's Freshman Circus | First AP Poll Ranking | The Dark Knight Strikes | Ricky Blanton | Tigers Are Back!

Tiger Den Basketball Archives – III
"Most Bizarre Set of Circumstances I Ever Saw" | Joe Dean | The Cow Palace | Still Playing at 41 | Pioneer | "It's the socks, Pete!" | Largest Deficit Overcome | Maravich Is for Real

Tiger Den Basketball Archives – IV
"Little Giant" | Shaquille O'Neal | Pete Breaks His Own Mark | What a Difference a Day Makes | When Lexington Went Wild over Beating the Tigers | Superdome Sizzlers

Tiger Den Basketball Archives – V
Pistol Pete Invades the Big Apple
Memorable Games: Kentucky 1978
Profile: Bobby Lowder
1938 SEC Tournament

Tiger Den Basketball Archives – VI
First Visit to the Big Apple
Don't Look Ahead
Profile: Bob Pettit I, II, III, IV
Pete's Farewell
Redemption

Tiger Den Basketball Archives – VII
Season in Time: 2005-06

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