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Pete Maravich's Career at LSU - Junior Season

The two unanimous selections on the coaches' preseason All-SEC basketball team for 1968-69 were Pete Maravich and Florida C Neal Walk.

  • The coaches also agreed that Kentucky, as usual, was the team most likely to win the conference title.
  • The Wildcats received all but one first-place vote, Tennessee garnering the other - presumably from UK coach Adolph Rupp, who entered the season with the best winning % among coaches with at least 270 victories (.821 percentage to the .757 mark of UCLA's John Wooden).

Press Maravich welcomed back four of his five starters from 1967-68.

  • Gone was 6-8 C Randy Lamont, who would be replaced by another 6-8 player, Danny Hester. 6-7 junior Dave Ramsden also helped the rebounding corps.
  • Pete's other three cohorts returned - 6-0 Gs Rich Hickman and Jeff Tribbett, and 6-3 F Ralph Jukkola.
  • Hickman's 13.2ppg for the '67-68 seson was the highest average after Pete's 43.8. Jukkola had contributed 11.8 and led the team with 8.7 rebounds. Pete, at 6-5, was the second leading rebounders with 7.5 per contest.
  • Before the season began, the Pistol said he wasn't going after a repeat of his NCAA scoring title. "Let someone else have it. This year, I'm going to specialize in ball handling."

The schedule was challenging, with two conference games before Christmas.

  1. December 2, 1968: @Loyola
    He began his quest to overtake Bob Pettit as the school's all-time leading scorer with 52 points as the Tigers coasted, 109-82. Dan Hardesty started his account of the game in the Baton Rouge State Times Advocate like this: It's started again - the virtually impossible task of finding words to describe what Pete Maravich does on the basketball court. The Pistol, who played all 40 minutes, shot 22-of-34 from the field. Papa Press called it the greatest individual performance I've ever seen on a basketball court. In the last minutes, Pete treated the capacity crowd of 6,594 to some tricks that, according to Press, I didn't even know he could do. Charley Powell, one of seven Negro players on the Wolfpack team (as Hardesty felt constrained to point out), led the home team with 22 points. Hickman added 27 to the LSU total.
    This was the only game Pete played for LSU that I attended.
  2. December 7: @Clemson
    Press returned to the campus where he spent six years building the Clemson basketball program while Pete was in grade school. In fact, three players on the Clemson team were teammates of The Pistol on school and biddy squads. 9800 screaming fans watched the visiting Tigers squeeze past the ACC Tigers 86-85. The nip and tuck affair was not decided until the final minute when Pete sank both ends of a one-and-one. He seemed to be pressing in his return to his former stomping grounds, making only 10 of 32 FG atttempts. The final two FTs, which broke Pettit's school mark of 17 in a game, gave Pete 38 for the game. LSU won at the foul line, converting 28 freebies to Clemson's 15.
    A report out of Lexington KY said that Adolph Rupp would not swap his star Mike Casey straight-up for Pete Maravich. However, the same day UCLA Coach John Wooden called the Pistol as good a passer as anybody who's played the game.
  3. December 14: Tulane
    The Tigers hosted their archrivals from the Crescent City for their home opener. Press called the Green Wave, with three senior starters and five more fourth-year men on the bench, one of the best teams LSU would meet all season. Coach Maravich's praise proved to be well-founded as the visitors won a double-OT thriller 101-98 on John Sutter's follow-up basket a second before the final horn to silence the raucous crowd of 9,000 in the Parker Ag Center. The contest was marred by a free-for-all with 2:48 left in regulation time. The fracas began when Billy Fitzgerald shoved Jukkola, who passed the post on the Greenie to ignite a wild melee that required several sheriff's deputies to bring it under control. Pete finished with 55 - 20 FGs (on 48 attempts) and 15 FTs (with five misses). The Tigers were done in by their poor performance at the free throw stripe in OT, missing seven-of-nine, including all four in the second extra period.
  4. December 18: Florida
    LSU had to go OT for the second game in a row but this time escaped Gainesville with a 93-89 victory. Neither team scored in the first minute and 23 seconds of the extra stanza until Pete sank a driving shot off a steal and pass by little Rich Lupcho. Dave Ramsden got a layup a few seconds later, then Pete sank two FTs, and Ramsden added a FG for an eight-point lead with a minute left. That was enough to withstand a Gator flurry as the clock ticked down. Maravich ended the night with 45 points (17-of-32 from the field, 11-of-15 FTs). His fellow unanimous All-SEC preseason selection, Neal Walk, fouled out with 4:13 left in regulation after scoring 34.

    Rich Lupcho in a typical position, on the floor after a loose ball
  5. December 21: Georgia
    The Bulldogs left Baton Rouge with their first loss of the season, 98-89. LSU ovecame a seven-point deficit in the final 10 minutes led by - who else? - Pete Maravich with assistance from "hustling" Dave Ramsden. Pete canned 47 while Ramsden threw in 15 and turned in a fine effort against UGa's 6-11 Bob Lienhard. The Tigers shot a sizzling 56.3% of their FG tries. The Pistol, accused of shooting too much last season, sank 18 of 33 from the floor.
  6. December 27: Wyoming @Oklahoma City
    The Tigers left the day after Christmas for the eight-team All-College Tournament, the nation's oldest holiday festival (33 years). Bill Strannigan's 7-0 Cowboys featured a balanced scoring attack that had five players scoring in double figures twice and four tallying 10 or more two other times. 5500 fans traveled through a snowstorm to watch the Pistol's Traveling Road Show - 1500 more than the hometown team drew in its game that afternoon. Pete got off to a cold start, missing his first five shots and three FTs before hitting 10 of 11 jumpers to help LSU go to the locker room with a 47-42 edge. Strannigan assigned his top scorer, Harry Hall, to guard Maravich but that resulted in Hall committing four fouls before the break, then fouling out with 10:55 left in the game. With Ramsden leading both sides with 17 boards, LSU added a point to their advantage in the back-and-forth second half to win 84-78. Pistol's final totals read 14 FG, 17 FT, 45 points.
    After the game, Press Maravich mentioned an incident that happened on his way into the arena. A lady dropped a penny at the coach's feet. He picked it up and put it in his pocket. He quickly explained that he was a coach and hoped the penny would bring him good luck. He gave her a nickel instead. Assistant coach Jay McCreary told the head man, "Look, you can have the penny. Just give me that son of yours."
  7. December 28: @Oklahoma City
    The Tigers broke open a tight game late to take a 101-85 winners' bracket contest against the host Stars before a near-capacity crowd of 8850. After being held to 37 points to trail by one at intermission, LSU poured in 64 in the second 20 minutes. Pete scored "only" 40 but had help from Tribbett with 25 (a career high) and Hickman with 24. Coach Press gushed, "That has to be the best half I've ever seen an LSU team play. Tribbett played his finest ballgame, and Ramsden and Jukkola hit the boards real well." The Bengals topped the 50% mark in shooting for the second straight night, hitting 52% to run their record to 6-1. OCU coach Abe Lemons, one of the wittiest characters in basketball history, had only this to say about Pete: "He's the greatest."
  8. December 30: Duquesne @ Oklahoma City
    After resting on Sunday, LSU took on Duquesne in the championship game. The Dukes from Press's home area of Pittsburgh upset nationally-ranked St. Bonaventure in the semifinals. Press proclaimed, "It's to our advantage to be an underdog. I'm glad Duquesne is picked to win." The#15 team in the AP poll carried a big height advantage into the contest. G Jarrett Durham had played ball on the same high school team with Rich Hickman in Aliquippa PA (Pete's birthplace). Most of the 9,000 fans who jammed State Fair Arena to set an attendance record cheered for the Tigers during a sizzling game that went down to the wire. The first half ended with LSU holding 48-46 advantage. But Duquesnequickly jumped out in front when play resumed and gradually increased their lead to 11, 75-64, with eight minutes to go. That's when Pete took over, scoring 18 of LSU's last 22 points, the other four coming on four pressure-packed FTs by Danny Hester. The Tigers finally pulled ahead 90-89 with 2:05 left only to have the Dukes retake the lead with 45 seconds on the clock. Shortly afterward, Hester sank two FTs to make it 92-91 LSU. Then Pete intercepted a full-court pass and was fouled with 0:07 left. He sank both, points 52 and 53, to ice the 94-91 victory. The box score showed 28 points at the line for the Tigers to just 11 for the Dukes. To no one's surprise, the Pistol won the MVP award after leading the tournament in scoring with 138 points. The champion Tigers had no one else on the all-tourney first team, but Hickman made the second team.
  9. January 4, 1969: @Alabama
    The Tigers didn't have much time to enjoy their title as they faced three straight SEC road games. First came the Crimson Tide, whose program was being rebuilt by C. M. Newton, a player/disciple of Adolph Rupp. A crowd of 10,146 plus a regional TV audience watched the home team hold off repeated comeback bids by the Tigers in the second half. LSU outscored Bama 43-39 in the second half, but that wasn't enough to overcome the 46-39 halftime deficit. Pete connected on 19 of 49 FG attempts - well below his .484 shooting % coming into the fray - for 42 points. But the next highest Bengal was Hester with only 12.
  10. January 9: @Vanderbilt
    The Commodores "held" Pete to 38 points on 15-of-30 FG shooting while their Tom Hagan canned 32 to sparked the 94-92 victory before 11,000 in Memorial Gym. Hagan, who had only 12 points at the half, sank seven straight FTs in the final five minutes to offset Pete canning LSU's final eight points. But the biggest factor for the Dores was their 46-29 rebounding advantage and the 22 turnovers they forced. Press Maravich was upset by a technical foul called on him with 1:40 left in the game and LSU trailing 88-85. Pete went up for a layup but officials ruled that the shot was blocked. In a radio interview afterward, Press said, I would get a thousand technicals like the one at the end of the game. That was ridiculous. They knocked Pete to the floor and those two guys gave Vanderbilt the ball.
  11. January 11: @Auburn
    The Blue and Orange Tigers handed the Purple and Gold Tigers their third straight loss, 90-71, before 11,166 in Auburn's new Memorial Coliseum. LSU was hampered by the loss of Tribbett to an ankle injury late in the first half. Once again, the Bengals were outrebounded badly, 50-30, and Pete received little help in the scoring column with no one else adding more than six points to his 46. A two-week break for semester exams came a good time for the ailing Bengals.
  12. January 25: Kentucky
    Of all opponents to meet to end a three-game losing streak, the mighty #5 Wildcats were the worst choice. Add the fact that the Tigers were minus two starters, Tribbett (ankle sprain) and Hickman (bad back), and you have a recipe for disaster. However, it's hard to call the 108-96 that considering the situation. To make matters worse, Pete played with a painful growth on his heel which caused him to move gingerly in the early going. He nevertheless managed to sink 52 points, 32 in the second half. But the Tigers' bugaboo, rebounding, bit them again as the Cats, led by Dan Issel's 17, took down 62 to LSU's 46. Ramsden contributed 24 points and 14 points to LSU's cause. The Tigers trailed 45-35 at the break after shooting just 29.8% from the floor.
  13. January 27: Tennessee
    The Tigers went from the fire into the frying pan with the Volunteers in town. After holding Pete to his lowest totals in his sophomore year, 17 and 21, the Vols' physical defense again put the clamps on him. Pete scored a mere 21 points (8 FGs, 5 FTs) to hand LSU their fifth straight loss, 81-68. Coach Maravich came off the bench numerous times to argue with the officials. The game was interrupted in the last minutes when the crowd pelted the playing floor with ice and other debris. With less than a minute to play, the officials called a technical foul against the Bengals for the fans' behavior after Maravich was called for his fifth foul. That brought another deluge of ice and paper cups. The refs were escorted off the floor by local deputies "amid the hoots and catcalls of the fans who showed their displeasure by throwing debris until the officials left the playing area." UT Coach Ray Mears described his "Chinese defense" as a zone with two men concentrating on Maravich. "It takes more than one guy to stop him."

    Ramsden and Jukkola vs Tennessee
    Despite the clamp down by Tennessee, Pete easily led the nation in scoring with a 44.2 average.
  14. January 31: Pittsburgh
    Enjoying an advantage for a change in height, speed, shooting, and quickness, the Tigers ended their losing streak against the Panthers, 120-79. With an SEC game the next night, Press gave his starters (except Pete) some rest and benchwarmers a chance to enjoy themselves. Maravich scored 40 with 11 assists but, as the margin increased, began to take "all sorts of wild chances with his passing and shooting" to finish with 15 turnovers. Altogether, the ragged game produced 39 turnovers. The Tigers made 17 layups, mostly on fast breaks after stealing the ball.

    Pete surrounded by Pitt defenders.
  15. February 1: Ole Miss
    The SEC losing streak reached six thanks to a heartbreaking 84-81 OT loss to the Rebels. With Pete playing with a twisted knee, Senior F Ken Turner outscored him 36-31 to spark the road win. The regular game ended 77-all as LSU's Rusty Bergman lost a race with the final buzzer by a split second on what could have been the winning dunk.
  16. February 3: Mississippi State
    Playing their third game in four days, the Tigers finally scored their third SEC victory with a 95-71 thumping of the Bulldogs before just 7,500 in the Ag Center. For the second time in the season, all five LSU starters scoredin double figures. Pete led, of course, with 33, followed by Tribbett (18), Hester (17), Jukkola (14), and Ramsden (13).
  17. February 8: Alabama
    With a much-needed four day respite, the Tigers got revenge on the Tide for the loss in Tuscaloosa before 9300, the largest home turnout of the season. LSU started strong, building a 17-point lead with 4:10 left in the first half. But the visitors fought back, and LSU had to go to a stall offense in the final six minutes to preserve the 81-75 victory. Bama tied the score twice in the second half at 71 and 73. Playing with a strained knee, wrenched back, and bad heel, a battered, limping Maravich tossed in the two go-ahead points from the foul line on his way to 38 points. Down the stretch, the Tigers sank 8 of 10 freebies. Ramsden went 7-for-7 on FGs to finish with 16 points.
  18. February 10: @Tulane
    Wearing a "bandage longer than his list of records wrapped around his knee and hobbling on an ailing ankle," Pete scored 66 points but it wasn't enough as the Tigers fell to the Green Wave for a second time, 110-94. The performance erased Bob Pettit's 60 points against Louisiana College in 1954 as the highest total for an SEC player in a non-conference game. Coach Maravich, unhappy with the scheduling of Tulane in the midst of the SEC campaign, summed up the loss this way. Our defense fell apart. Completely apart. Any time you score 94 points in regulation time, you should have enough points to beat anybody. ... When you're not keyed up for a game, it shows most on defense.
  19. February 12: @Florida
    The Gators turned the tables on the Tigers from the December loss in Baton Rouge, 95-79. In the first game, LSU shot a sizzling 58% from the floor to the Gators' 37.55. But in Gainesville, UF hit 48% to 31% for the Tigers. Pete scored 50, and he set SEC records for both FTs shot (27) and made (22). No other Tiger canned more than 9. As in December, Neal Walk tallied 34 but added 22 rebounds.
  20. February 15: Auburn
    LSU gained another revenge victory over a team from Alabama, 93-81. Maravich tallied 54 to become the first player in NCAA history to score more than 2,000 points in his first two years of eligibility. The consummate showman, Pete sank a backhanded shot at the halftime horn for his 30th point of the game to reach the 2,000 plateau. In addition, he surpassed Pettit's career total.
    The pregame clash between the LSU and Auburn freshmen provided encouraging news for Pete's senior year. C Apple Sanders poured in 53 points and helped the Bengals outrebound the visiting Baby Tigers by a whopping 74-36.
  21. February 17: Vanderbilt
    The Commodores earned their second two-point victory of the season over the Tigers, this time 85-83, "in a wild contest that found the Bengals' scoring star, Pete Maravich, being ushered out of competition with 1:52 left in the game." The expulsion came after Pete tried to drive along the baseline to the basket when he was knocked to the floor out of bounds. Instead of calling a foul, Umpire Joe Caldwell awarded the ball to Vandy. The Tiger star jumped up and accosted Caldwell and "squared off" as if to throw a punch against the official, who called a technical foul and ejected Pete. Vanderbilt led 84-81 at the time and, without their leader, the Tigers could not overcome the deficit despite the fact that the Commodores finished the game making just one FT in six attempts. Pete's 35 points moved him ahead of Bailey Howell's career scoring mark of 2,030 for Mississippi State.
  22. February 22: @Kentucky
    The Tigers battled "an erratic" Wildcat five for 25 minutes before being undone by their own floor errors and falling 103-89. The Tigers led 47-46 at halftime in what was believed to be the first-ever halftime lead by LSU in Lexington. The key to that accomplishment was the rebounding work of Hester, Ramsden, and Jukkola which gave the Bengals a 26-23 advantage at the break. But Dan Issel led the Cats to a domination on the boards in the second half to finish with a 63-55 advantage. Pete sank 45 points (21 FG, 3 FT) to leave him just 34 points short of becoming the first NCAA player to score 1,000 points in two different seasons.
  23. February 24: @Tennessee
    The SEC's paired scheduling sent the Tigers to Knoxville two nights after their visit to Lexington. A standing-room-only crowd of nearly 13,000 saw the Vols' "Chinese defense" once again bottle up the nation's leading scorer, holding Pete to 20. The Tigers may have played their worst first half ever, sinking only nine of 30 shots, while the Volunteers could not miss to race to a 49-24 lead. The Tigers reduced the deficit by only one point in the second half of the 87-63 loss.
  24. March 1: @Ole Miss
    The hardluck Tigers suffered their fourth straight defeat thanks to Ken Turner's jumper at the final buzzer, 78-76. Led by Pete's 49 points, LSU led most of the second half. A big factor in the defeat was the visitors shooting just three FTs in the second half while Ole Miss made 12-of-16. So LSU lost despite making eight more FGs than their hosts. With the game tied at 76 with 2:30 remaining, LSU went into its delay game until Press called time with 0:17 left. The strategy backfired when the ball was knocked out of Hickman's hands to give the Rebels possession. After a timeout, Turner's shot from the corner went cleanly through the net as time expired.
  25. March 3: @Mississippi State
    At 11-13 for the season, the Tigers had to win their final two games on the road to break even. They took care of business against the Bulldogs, 99-89, for their first SEC road win of the season. Needing to average 52 points in the last two contests to duplicate his scoring average of his sophomore year, Pete beat that goal by three. The Maroons "battered him around quite a bit" to keep him from shooting. Hester grabbed 22 rebounds to help the Tigers gain a rare edge in that department, 54-42.
  26. March 8: @Georgia
    Aided by playing two OT periods, Pete broke his own national season scoring record with 58 points in the 90-80 triumph. The Tigers erased a 59-44 deficit as Pete scored 13 straight in a surge that deadlocked the game at 70. Another goal at the buzzer stunned the Tigers, this one by Jerry Epling, but it only tied the game at 72. The first OT ended 78-all when Pete flipped in a basket with six seconds left. Then he scored eight straight points in the second OT while the Bulldogs tallied just two FTs.

Pete ended the season with 1148 points, ten more than in 1967-68.

  • His FG % increased from .423 to .444.
  • He also registered 23 more assists.
  • With better board men on his front line, his rebounds declined by 26 to 169.
  • Considering the injuries that plagued him, it was by all measures

Not surprisingly, Maravich made every All-America team.

  • His cohorts on the AP squad were UCLA's Lew Alcindor, Spencer Haywood of Detroit, Jo Jo White of Kansas, and Rick Mount of Purdue.
  • The AP article called Pete "a harsh critic of his own performances." This year, I think I've played only about three good games. Last year, I told my dad I played only two good games. ... Actually, I have shot a lot less this season. I've hit a better percentage and broken my assist record. All in all, I guess it's been a pretty good year.


Adolph Rupp


Neal Walk


Dave Ramsden


Rich Hickman


Charley Powell


Pete dribbles against Georgia.


Georgia action


Dan Issel


Press Maravich in the ear of the official


Jukkola vs Pitt


Bergman and Ramsden vs Pitt


Pete shoots against Ole Miss.


Ken Turner


Three Bulldogs defend Pete.


Danny Hester vs Miss. State


Rusty Bergman drives against Bama.


Ramsden vs Alabama

 

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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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