Golden Basketball Magazine
Basketball Snapshots
The articles in this series contain stories about basketball's colorful personalities.
"What a terrible way to lose a game"
The #1 North Carolina Tar Heels hosted their archrival, the Duke Blue Devils, on February 9, 1957.
  • Duke led most of the game, but in the last ten minutes the Tar Heels, the nation's only major undefeated team, took the lead and began to pull away.
  • Led by Lennie Rosenbluth's 35 points, UNC held what appeared to be a comfortable 73-65 advantage with two minutes to play.
  • But four Blue Devil FTs cut it to 73-69 with 45 seconds play.
  • That's when Duke's Bobby Joe Harris began his thievery. He twice stole the ball from Tommy Kearns and fed fellow G Bob Vernon for layups to tie the score with 24 seconds to play.

And then Harris went from hero to goat.

  • The hand-operated scoreboard at Woollen Gym (built in 1937) didn't immediately record the last Duke basket. Harris looked at the scoreboard and saw that Duke was trailing by two.
  • Even if there had been a shot clock in those days, there was too little time left to wait for UNC to shoot. So Harris fouled Kearns while trying to steal the ball in order to stop the clock.
  • As Kearns headed for the foul line, Harris glanced again and saw the adjusted score. "What have I done?" Bobby Joe muttered.
  • Kearns sank both shots with 16 seconds left. Duke had time to tie but couldn't make a basket.
  • Years later, Harris admitted: "It still bothers me. What a terrible way to lose a game."

Bobby Joe got a measure of revenge the next time the Devils visited Chapel Hill.

  • #13 Duke upset Frank McGuire's defending national champions, 91-75.
  • Trailing 36-35 at halftime, the Blue Devils played an almost perfect second half to outscore the #7 Tar Heels 56-39.
  • Harris called a timeout with a few seconds left with the game well in hand. Coach Howard Bradley demanded to know what he was doing. Bobby Joe replied: "Well, Coach, I just wanted to give them time to get the score right. They've rubbed our noses in it long enough."
  • The team sat quietly on the bench and waited out the timeout without Bradley saying another word.

Reference: Tales from the Duke Blue Devils Hardwood, Jim Sumner (2005)

Lennie Rosenbluth

Bobby Joe Harris

Frank McGuire and Tommy Kearns

John Wooden and Bill Walton

Harv Schmidt

Larry Farmer

Nick Weatherspoon

Tommy Curtis
When UCLA Came to the Sugar Bowl
John Wooden's UCLA Bruins had won six NCAA championships in a row when they came to New Orleans in December 1972 to play in the Sugar Bowl Basketball Tournament.
  • The 1972-73 edition of the West Coast juggernaut had won their first six games of the season by a minimum of 16 points. That stretched the Bruins' winning streak to 51 games
  • The undisputed leader of the Bruins was 6'11" C Bill Walton, who brought an average of 19 points and 17 rebounds into the tournament.
  • Harv Schmidt, coach of Illinois, one of the other three participants, said, Walton is one of the best power postmen to ever play the college game.
  • Joining Walton in the starting lineup were forwards Keith Wilkes (6'6") and Larry Farmer (6'5") and guards Tommy Curtis (5'10") and Larry Hollyfield (6'5").
  • Assistant coach Gary Cunningham, speaking for Coach Wooden, said, The Sugar Bowl has a strong field ... we're looking forward to the competition.

UCLA played Drake in the opening game at the Municipal Auditorium Friday, December 29, with the Illini facing Temple in the nightcap.

  • Drake coach Howard Stacey was under no illusion about his team's chances. No doubt UCLA is in a class by itself. ... We are probably a lot like UCLA in philosophy. We'll try full court pressure on defense, and we believe in the fast break offensively.
  • His squad entered the contest with a 6-1 mark, including the most recent victory over Iowa 96-80. The lone setback came at the hands of Iowa State 88-84.
  • All five Bulldog starters averaged in double figures with 6-2 G David Langston the leader with 18 ppg.

As expected, UCLA jumped out to an early lead before a crowd of over 7,000 that shoe-horned into the 1930-vintage arena.

  • The Bruins led 32-24 after 12 minutes of play. But Drake started converting a rash of UCLA turnovers - 16 in the first half alone - into points. The 18-6 run that carried into the second half propelled the Des Moines school into a 38-34 halftime lead and a 42-38 margin in the early minutes of the second half.
  • The underdogs benefitted from Coach Stacey's strategy of moving his C, 6'8" Larry Seger, to the top of the key to draw the intimidating Walton out of the middle. Seger canned five buckets on long, looping set shots from 20 to 28'.
  • After Wooden made some halftime adjustments, including switching Walton off Seger, the Bruins began firing on all cylinders. Farmer and Walton scored the first 13 points in the second half to build up a 10-point lead.
  • The Bulldogs got no closer than eight points after the first five minutes of the half.
  • Walton, who led all scorers with 29, simply overpowered Seger underneath. UCLA shot an incredible 63.5% from the floor thanks to numerous layups on the back end of steals and Walton's point blank baskets. (Dunking was prohibited by the NCAA from 1967-76.)
  • The final margin was 85-72. At least Drake had the satisfaction of holding the mighty Bruins to their smallest margin of victory so far in the season.
  • Stacey was asked what it would take to stop the agile, strong Walton. Another Walton. He is the best center I've seen in a long time, and the best I've every coached against ... including Jerry Lucas. UCLA ... kept the pressure on us and waited for the mistakes even though we stayed with them.

Illinois defeated Temple 82-77 to run their record to 6-2 and earn the right to play UCLA for the championship the Saturday afternoon.

  • G Jeff Dawson's 24 points and F Nick Weatherspoon's 22 accounted for over half of the Illini's points. Could the duo continue that production against the Bruins?
  • 'Spoon scored 18, but Dawson was held to 14 as the methodical Uclans prevailed 71-64.
  • The #1 Bruins didn't have an easy time of it but at no time did they not seem in control of the game. However, they trailed ten minutes deep into the game before pulling ahead 37-31 at intermission.
  • Nick Conner, Illinois' cat-quick 6'8" C and a Connie Hawkins look-alike, made Walton work at both ends of the court. After scoring just 10 the first 20 minutes, Bill put in 12 the second half to again lead all scorers and win the MVP award.
  • Bruins playmaker Tommy Curtis picked up three fouls in the first ten minutes of action and sat out the rest of the half. UCLA led 37-31 at the break.
  • UCLA got its patented fast-break working the second half and built up 53-37 lead in the first six minutes. The Fighting llini lived up to their name but got no closer than the final margin.
  • Wooden: I wasn't particularly pleased with our play, but I'm much happier than I was after Friday's game. It was Illinois' pressure which caused our mistakes ... They weren't mistakes of our own. They played a fine pressure defense. Their aggressiveness caused the trouble. ... Conner, as far as I'm concerned, is the most outstanding individual we've played this year.
UCLA finished the 1971-72 season 30-0 for their seventh straight national championship. They would extend their winning streak to 88 before losing to Notre Dame in January, 1973.

1972-73 UCLA Bruins after winning their 7th straight national championship

Return to Basketball Magazine

"What a terrible way to lose a game."

When UCLA came to the Sugar Bowl

Basketball Snapshots - I
First National Tournaments - I | First National Tournaments - II | Vince Lombardi, Basketball Coach | "George Mikan vs. the Knicks" | Do You Remember When ... | 1957 NCAA Chmpionship Game

Basketball Snapshots - II
The Path to 24 Seconds | Xavier McDaniel | Luisetti's One-Handed Shot | Wooden's First National Champs | The Original Celtics - from New York, not Boston

Basketball Snapshots - III
CCNY Wins NCAA and NIT | CCNY Gambling Scandal | Revenge Is Sweet

Basketball Snapshots - IV
Globetrotters-Lakers Series | Bevo Francis of Rio Grande | Memories of Loyola Field House

Basketball Snapshots - V
Baron's First Black Player | "The Greatest Upset Never Seen" | History of the Metro Conference

Basketball Snapshots - VI
Two Dies of Rick Majerus | Game of the Century | 24-2 And No Post-Season | Two-Year Experiment | 33 in a Row | Showtime Comes to Women's Basketball

Basketball Snapshots - VII
Babe Turns State Around | Ireland Turns Loyola Around | MSU Sneaks Out of the State | MSU's First NCAA Game | A Memorable NCAA Final | Drake's Best in 39 Years

Basketball Snapshots - VIII
Larry, Moe, and Babe | First NBA Game | The Hoosiers Hollywood Ignored | 1956 U.S. Olympic Team | First Black SEC Coach | When March Went Mad | The 7-0 Game | A Reed Not Shaken by the Wind

Basketball Snapshots - IX
FT Blues | Ralph Kaplowitz | Lamar Odom | Bad Times for the Lobos | Randy Smith | Sherman White | When the Magic Returned to the Forum | Great Great Lakes Team | New York Rens

Basketball Snapshots - X
Overcoat on Rim | "World Champions" before the NBA | Shipley Integrates USL

Basketball Snapshots - XI
Red, Bill, and Wilt I through VII

Basketball Snapshots - XII
1957 NBA Finals