For years, when the topic of Texas Western’s “upset” of Kentucky comes up, to impose some sort of hoops veneration it would seem apparent, I have lorded over those listening, my attendance in Cole Fieldhouse that night.
Then, as I did just the other day in this space, I’ll offer that I do not recall any buzz at the time about the all black starting lineup for the Miners vs. the all white squad of the Wildcats. I certainly don’t remember seeing any Confederate flags in the gym, as fictionalized in a recent movie about Don Haskins and that championship team of his.
I do remember whom I went to the game with, some frat brothers. I do remember that three of us went to a museum that afternoon in D.C. — the Phillips Collection, where I stood mesmerized by Renoir’s “Luncheon at the Boating Party” — while the our pal went to play the ponies at Pimlico.
I recall seeing Louie Dampier and a couple of teammates walking around the team hotel that afternoon in shirts and ties.
But, but, but . . . I recall very little about the actual games that weekend — it wasn’t yet called the Final Four — and how they were contested.
The games were contested in an honest to Betsy basketball facility, the then home of Maryland’s Terrapins, seating 14, 250.
#1 ranked Kentucky beat # 2 ranked Duke in one semi-final. I do recall that sophomore Larry Conley was sick with the flu, and Adolph Rupp let him take himself out and put himself back in the game.
Texas Western beat Jerry Chambers and Utah in the other semi, of which I have zero recall.
As for the championship game itself, my only memory is seeing Bobby Joe Hill strip Louie Dampier a couple of times in succession, and realizing UK was toast.
Now, it all gets cleared up.
ESPN, actually living up to its assertion as The World Wide Leader, is televising a replay tonight (Wednesday 3/30) at 7:30 EDT.
I can’t wait.
So locked in am I that I downloaded the box score.
Some of the stats are fascinating.
UK lost the battle of the boards by only two, 33-35.
Kentucky fired 21 more FG attempts than Texas Western, 70, but only connected on 27 for 38% shooting. The Miners were 22/49 from the field, 45%.
The Cats committed 11 more fouls than the victors. The disparity at the line was striking. UK was 11/13. Texas Western hit 28 of 34. That’s +17 at the charity stripe in a seven point 72-65 Miners’ W.
There were only ten assists total between the teams, six by the Wildcats. Dampier and Pat Riley each tallied 19 for UK. Conley was the only other Wildcat in double figures with 10.
Bobby Joe Hill scored 20 for Texas Western, Orsten Artis, 15, and David “Big Daddy D” Lattin, whose grandson will be suiting up for the Oklahoma Sooners this weekend, netted 16, while snaring 9 rebounds.
Through the half century since the game, we’ve read and debated its cultural significance, the racial aspects attendant, and the legacies of Rupp and Haskins.
Tonight we get to see, and consider, the game itself.
— Seedy K