- Monday, March 24 1947 -
NIT Championship (at New York, NY)
Kentucky - 45 (Head Coach: Adolph Rupp)
Utah - 49 (Head Coach: Vadal Peterson)
Halftime Score: Utah 27, Kentucky 21
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|N. C. State 60 - 42|||||Indiana Central 80 - 41|
Game Writeup - by Louis Effrat, New York Times
Utah Upsets Kentucky in N.I.T. Final
NEW YORK, March 24, 1947 -- Midnight still was an hour away, but the clock was wrong -- as wrong as all the experts who predicted that Utah didn't have a chance against mighty Kentucky in the final of the tenth annual National Invitation College Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden last night.
For at 11 o'clock last night, the Utes, who back in 1944 were called the "Cinderella team," completed their upset victory over the Wildcats, 49-45.
With this unexpected conquest of an all-powerful court aggregation that had won thirty-four of thirty-six games, Utah's undermanned and certainly underestimated squad sealed for all-time its right to exclusive ownership of the "Cinderella" tag.
The Utes came from nowhere to win in 1944, and some may have felt they were lucky to have reached last night's final. But some sixty minutes before the legendary hour of midnight, they didn't ask the Cinderella team to try a golden slipper for size. It was a crown and it fit perfectly.
Utah, it will be recalled, survived the first round by virtue of a 45-44 triumph over Duquesne. Against West Virginia in the semi-finals, the Utes prevailed, 64-62. Last night, four points divided the finalists, so that an overall margin of 7 points brought to Utah its second National Invitation Tournament championship.
There was little of the sensational connected with the final, but Utah's performance against a heavily favored, high-scoring group that looked like a cinch to annex its second successive N.I.T. diadem, won the admiration of 18,467 fans.
Undoubtedly, Coach Vadal Peterson had instructed his men to slow down the pace and stress possession at all times. The Utah plan of battle never deviated although the Wildcats tried to force the Utes into faster action. The Utes knew what they wanted to do and did it -- handsomely.
Vern Gardner, the blond bombshell who was named the most valuable player in the tournament, did an excellent job for the winning team. He captured most of the rebounds, fed the ball to his teammates and still found time to share, with Arnold Ferrin, individual scoring honors. Each made 15 points.
Little Wat Misaka, American-born of Japanese descent, was "cute" fellow intercepting passes and making the night miserable for Kentucky. Leon Watson and Fred Weidner, the other two starters, and Lyman Clark, the lone substitute, who did everything asked of him, also came in for applause.
And what of Kentucky ? The Wildcats did not play poorly, but they did not match Utah's all-around superiority. Trailing at the half, 27-21, Adolph Rupp's lads three times were confronted with 7-point deficits. They rallied to within one point of the leaders, 45-44 with little more than three minutes remaining. If Utah was destined to crack, this was the spot.
But Ferrin caged a twisting, underhand lay-up. Wah-Wah Jones caged a Kentucky foul that brought the Wildcats a point closer, but not close enough. The Utes held the ball as the precious seconds ticked away.
Obviously, the 2-point lead was sufficient, but five seconds before the end, Ferrin spied Gardner underneath and alone, so he fired the pass that produced the cushion.
Alex Groza and Jim Line, the freshmen with the southpaw one-handed shot, counted 12 points each for Kentucky, but Ralph Beard was limited to a mere point by Misaka. They say Kentucky goes as Beard goes. Last night he just didn't go.
Alex Groza scraps with Utah's Wat Misaka and Arnie Ferrin (#22) for the ball while Wah Wah Jones (#27) looks on
Alex Groza makes a move
Utah's Vern Gardner (#33) grabs a rebound over Ken Rollins while Alex Groza (#36) looks on.