AP WAS THERE: Texas Western beats Kentucky for 1966 title
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — EDITOR’S NOTE:
The following is a version of the game story transmitted by The Associated Press from the 1966 NCAA championship game between Kentucky and Texas Western.
Much was made later of how Texas Western’s all-black starting lineup beat the all-white Wildcats, but the game story itself was all about basketball. In one of the stories in the days that followed, Texas Western coach Don Haskins marveled that he had a chance to match wits with Kentucky’s legendary Adolph Rupp.
“It’s quite a thrill for me, a kind of young punk,” Haskins told AP Sports Writer Gordon Beard. “It’s great just playing in a game with Mr. Rupp, let alone winning it.”
Rupp would later tell reporters that his team simply did not match up physically with Texas Western.
“We weren’t shooting well and our ball handling wasn’t good,” he said. “When those two things break down, you’re in trouble.”
Now, 50 years after it was first published, the AP is making its original report from the game again available.
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Inspired Texas Western, led by the gymnastic efforts of little Bobby Joe Hill, toppled top-ranked Kentucky 72-65 Saturday night and captured the National collegiate basketball championship that Kentucky Coach Adolph Rupp wanted to add to his collection of four others.
Duke won the game for third place, beating Utah 79-77 despite a tourney record scoring performance by the Utes’ Jerry Chambers.
Hill, a 5-foot-10 backcourt man, scored 20 points, most of them in clutch situations and many on spectacular driving layups that brought to mind the hey day of Bob Cousy.
In the end, it was Texas Western’s vaunted defense and surprising poise that won the big one.
Kentucky, on the other hand, noted for its finesse and discipline under the legendary coaching of Rupp, was kept off balance throughout and was guilty of a shocking number of lapses, mistakes, bad passes and mental errors.
Texas Western, once a little mining school just across the border from Mexico, was making its first appearance ever in the national final under young Coach Don Haskins but didn’t let the pressure or the exposure before a national television audience bother it a bit.
The Miners, calmly dropped in 28 of 34 free throws and that — along with the rebounding of their strong front line — was the difference.
Kentucky led only once, and that was 1-0.
A moment later big Dave Lattin jammed in a field goal and made it a three-pointer when he converted the following four shot. The Miners never trailed after that, had a 34-31 lead halftime and led by as many as 11 points at 68-57.
The turning point came early in the second half after Kentucky had closed to within one point at 46-45. The Miners replied with six straight points — four of them on free throws — for a 52-45 lead that never was seriously challenged.
Willie Worsley, a 5-foot-6 sophomore substitute who was a surprise starter and proved to be a perfect running mate for Hill, hit on three of three foul shots in the important streak. The closest Kentucky got after that was 54-51, but a set shot by Orstin Artis, a steal and jump by Hill and a Lattin tip in made it 60-51 with 6:40 left and the Miners had it in the bag.
Kentucky simply could do no right. Rupp, who has won 747 games in his 36 years at Kentucky, has called this his finest shooting team ever. But it wasn’t when it counted.
The Wildcats, whose only other loss in 29 games was a meaningless 69-62 upset by Tennessee, was able to hit on only 27 of 70 field goal attempts — a dismal 38.6 per cent.
Texas Western was good on 22 of 49 from the floor and complemented the performance with a tenacious, disturbing man-to-man defense that occasionally developed into a full court press.
That press was best demonstrated in the early going when within a 10-second span Hill twice swiped the ball in the Kentucky backcourt and went in for easy layups.
Hill’s 20 led all scorers while Lattin contributed 16 and Artis 15 to the Miner cause. Pat Riley and All-America Louie Dampier each had 19 for the Wildcats.
Haskins, a one-time high school girl basketball coach, who has brought about a basketball revolution at Texas Western, closed out his finest season with a 28-1 record. The Miners’ only loss was to Seattle 74-72.
The AP Corporate Archives contributed to this report.