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LSU Post Season Games - 1953

The NCAA made a momentous announcement November 3, 1952, that significantly affected the SEC's upcoming basketball season.

  • The University of Kentucky's entire 21-game basketball schedule would be cancelled after an NCAA investigation uncovered numerous rule violations dating back to 1948.
  • The NCAA said that some athletes received pay and some were illegally certified as eligible for participation even though head coach Adolph Rupp and his assistants knew they were ineligible.
  • A year earlier, several former Wildcat players were arrested on charges of shaving points during the NIT. While Kentucky went on to win the national championship, the door had been opened for an investigation that led to the "death penalty" for 1952-53.

With the Wildcats out of the way, the "hat" was put on LSU as the favorites to win the SEC title.

  • Harry Rabenhorst's 25th Tiger team received 115 of a possible 121 votes in the Atlanta Constitution's poll of the SEC coaches.
  • That expectation was understandable given that the Tigers were coming off a 17-7 season that ended with a loss to Kentucky in the SEC Tournament Finals.
  • Junior C Bob Pettit was entering his junior season after leading the conference in scoring in his first year of varsity play. His 25.5 ppg ranked third in the nation. The 6'9" graduate of Baton Rouge High also averaged 13.1 rebounds per game.
  • The big guy needed a guard to get him that ball, and 5'10" junior Bennie McArdle from New York City was that man. The other G was Norman Magee, a 5'10" sophomore from Port Allen.
  • Joining Pettit in the starting front line were sophomores Don Belcher (6'2" New Albany IN) and Ned Clark (6'4" Baton Rouge).
1952-53 LSU Tigers
15 Don Belcher F
21 Don Loughmiller G
22 Jim McNeily F
32 Charley Robert F
33 Bob Freshley C
34 Paul Brayman G
35 Norman Magee G
40 Bill Lee F
43 Leslie Jones G
50 Bob Pettit C-F
52 Benny McArdle G
53 Darrell Schultz G
54 Ned Clark F
55 Kenneth Bridges G
The regular season fell just short of perfection.
  • The only loss came in the sixth game at #14 Tulsa, 84-58. After averaging 30 points in the first five games, Bob was held to just 14 points. A glance at the box scores reveals there may have been some home cooking by the officials. LSU was called for 34 fouls to only 13 for the Hurricane. That led to the home team outscoring the Tigers at the charity stripe 34-12. Four LSU starters, including Pettit, fouled out.
  • LSU swept all 13 conference games, the closest calls coming in a 67-66 squeaker at Ole Miss and another one-point win over Tulane in New Orleans to end the league season since the SEC had abolished its season-ending tournament following the 1951-52 campaign.
    The Tigers' 20 regular season wins were the most in school history.

As SEC champions, the Tigers, ranked #7 in the final AP poll, received an automatic bid to the 22-team NCAA tournament. They were assigned to the East-1 regional at Raleigh NC.

  • Their first round opponent was Lebanon Valley, a school of only 450 students in Annville PA that had upset Fordham 80-67 in a play-in game in Philadelphia to reach the Sweet 16.

    Coach Marquette and his Flying Dutchmen; if the black player got in the game with LSU,
    he was undoubtedly the first black player to compete against an LSU basketball team.
  • Under first-year coach George "Rinso" Marquette, the Flying Dutchmen, an independent team, sported a 20-1 record as they faced the Tigers.
  • Playing a "race horse" game, LVC trailed only 49-43 at half time. But using only one substitute, the Dutchmen were worn down by the much taller Tigers.
  • As they had done against Fordham, LVC stayed in the game at the foul line, where they sank 30 to LSU's 13. The Cinderellas trailed by only four heading into the final period but soon fell behind by nine. They continued to fight, cutting the margin to two. But Pettit took over and scored three goals in short order.
  • With two starters fouled out and Pettit saddled with four, Don Belcher stepped up and went on "a terrific scoring spreed, hitting one shot after another with his one-hand push specialty."
  • Ultimately the Tigers, hitting 51.4% of their shots, prevailed by scoring an NCAA tournament record 89 points to win by 13.
    The record lasted only a couple of hours until Washington scored 92 in the West-2 regional.
  • Pettit led all scorers with 28 points, five more than Magee, "a bundle of perpetual motion" who fouled out early in the final period.
The victory put the Tigers in the regional final against Holy Cross, which defeated Wake Forest 79-71.

  • The Crusaders were led by F Togo Palazzi, who sank 32 against the Demon Deacons to run his season total to 585, a new school record.
  • LSU jumped to an 18-13 lead after the first ten minutes and never fell behind the rest of the way. The Tigers were coasting with an 18-point lead in Q3 until HC, helped by Clark and McArdle fouling out, staged a 27-17 Q4 rally before succumbing 81-73.
  • An important factor in the victory was Ned Clark's tight defense on Palazzi, who scored only one basket - after Clark fouled out - to go with six FTs for only eight points.
  • Pettit led all scorers with 29 points. Belcher added 17, Magee 15, and McArdle 13.

Boasting the nation's best record, 24-1, including 19 in a row, LSU traveled three days later to Kansas City for the Final Four.

  • Their semifinal opponent was Indiana, ranked #1 in the AP poll. Branch McCracken's Big Ten champs compiled a 21-3 mark, including wins over DePaul (82-80) and Notre Dame (79-66) in the East-2 regional.
  • The clash was pegged as a duel of "two of the most talented big men in the game" - Pettit and Don Schlundt. The Hoosiers' 6'9" sophomore C from South Bend had stuffed the nets for 41 points in the victory over Notre Dame. Don's 25.1 ppg average slightly exceeded Bob's 24.2.
  • IU enjoyed a height advantage in the backcourt with 6'3" Bob Leonard and 6'1" Burke Scott against LSU's M-boys, Magee and McArdle, both 5'10".

L: Harry Rabenhorst; R: Branch McCracken
A sellout crowd of 10,500 that packed Municipal Auditorium saw the Hoosiers jump to a quick lead and never be headed.
  • Pettit and Schlundt offset each other with 29 apiece. Bob's "slow-motion hook shot was the sensation of the night." Midwest writers praised his shooting, backboard work, and ability to move so well for such a big player.
  • LSU had no answer for Leonard, who threw in 22, including an 8-of-10 shooting tear in the first half. Magee had 17 as the Tigers' second-highest scorer. Scott's defense on Belcher, who canned only 10, contributed to the Hoosier victory.
  • Indiana shot a blistering 25 of 51 while LSU made only 22 of 70 for 31%.
  • Trailing 31-20 after Q1, the Tigers closed the gap by three by halftime, 49-41.
  • LSU pulled within six points at 45-39 but could get no closer, especially after McArdle fouled out.
  • But IU added five to its lead in Q3, 20-15, before LSU could also break even, 11-11, in the final ten minutes.
    After the game, LSU AD Jim Corbett said, "Everybody around here figured Indiana was an absolute cinch to win the game. Nobody gave LSU a chance. The Tigers made a good showing, won a lot of friends for the school and the Southern brand of basketball, and were very much in the ball game until Benny McArdle fouled out. Never at any time did the team look rattled or go to pieces." Jim praised the officiating, calling it the best job he had seen all year.
The Tigers squared off against Washington, 79-53 losers to Kansas, in the consolation game the next night.
  • Pettit would face another outstanding counterpart in 6'7" Bob Houbregs. The two put on quite a shootout. Bob sank 36, but the Huskies' Bob topped that by six.
  • As in the semifinal, a guard scorched the Tigers, Joe Cipriano sinking 24. The only Tiger in double figures beside Pettit was Clark with only 14. Magee had a terrible night, getting into foul trouble and scoring as many points as a dead man, missing all five FG attempts.
  • The towering Huskies controlled the backboards and scored on a number of putbacks, mostly by Houbregs.
  • UW led 18-14 after Q1, 39-26 at the half, 66-45 after Q3, and 88-69 at the end.
So LSU's greatest season to that point ended with a 22-3 record. With all five starters returning, the Tigers looked forward to defending their SEC championship in 1953-54 and earning another spot in the NCAA tournament.

Togo Palazzi


Don Schlundt and Bob Leonard


Bob Houbregs


Joe Cipriano

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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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