- Saturday, March 24 1951 -
NCAA East Regional Finals (at New York, NY)
Kentucky - 76 (Head Coach: Adolph Rupp) - [Final Rank 1st by AP]
|C. M. Newton||0||0||0||0||0||1||0|
Illinois - 74 (Head Coach: Harry Combes) - [Final Rank 5th by AP and 4th by UPI]
Halftime Score: Illinois 39, Kentucky 32
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|St. Johns 59 - 43|||||Kansas State 68 - 58|
Game Writeup - by Louis Effrat, New York Times
Kentucky Quintet Defeats Illinois in Final, 76 to 74
Gains N.C.A.A. Eastern Title After Trailing by 39-32 -- 28 Points for Spivey
The National Collegiate Athletic Association's Eastern regional title basketball clash between Kentucky and Illinois went right down to the wire at Madison Square Garden last night.
With the issue deadlocked, 74-74, the eleventh tie in the game, and only seventeen seconds to go, Shelby Linville caged the field goal that sent Adolph Rupp's Wildcats to a 76-74 triumph and a trip to Minneapolis for Tuesday night's championship finals against the Western victor.
But before the Wildcats, the No. 1 college quintet in the nation, could be certain that the decision was theirs, they, along with 16,425 fans, had a breath-taking spell. For, as the seconds ticked away, the Fighting Illini, living up to their famous nickname, gave it one, last, desperate whirl.
Having called time out, with twelve seconds left in one of the most exciting court struggles of the season, Illinois was still alive. The Big Ten kings discussed their strategy, which was to get the ball over to Don Sunderlage, their best dribbler, and for him to maneuver into scoring position.
Hook Shot Off the Ear
No more than five seconds remaining when Sunderlage had penetrated to within ten feet and to the right of the basket. It was now or never and Don, who already had tallied 20 points for his team, attempted a hook shot, off his right ear, as it were. It seemed as if everyone in the arena had stopped breathing while the ball was in flight. But the ball lacked sufficient carry and caromed off the rim and bounced to the court. A brief, spirited scramble resulted and with it came the final buzzer.
Underdog Illinois, which also goes to Minneapolis, but merely to play in the third-place consolation round, did an excellent job, but missed by the proverbial whisker. Defensively, the Illini held up extremely well and their floor shots were commendable, but the foul shooting of the Midwesterners was "off." They flubbed 13 of their 35 penalty tries, three in a row at a crucial stage, and, in the end, that brought their downfall.
A 7-point, 39-32 halftime lead made the Illini look good. They were boxing out the opposition underneath the boards and making the night generally difficult for Messrs. Bill Spivey, Frank Ramsey, Bobby Watson and company. In fact, Kentucky, despite the 7-foot Spivey, were weak in the rebound department through the opening period. However, the Wildcats, though speedy and resourceful, were guilty of repeated misses from close range.
But that was in the initial half. Following the intermission, Spivey became a terror underneath both baskets and it was his ability to capture rebounds that altered the complexion of the battle. In all, Spivey collected sixteen rebounds, top individual in this phase of the game as well as in individual scoring, 28.
The Big Man Fouls Out
Spivey fouled out with slightly less than three minutes to go. Cliff Hagan had been banished earlier and Lucian Whitaker, a powerful little "spot" player later. And with Spivey sidelined, Illinois had a great chance. Kentucky had a 1-point edge at the time and within a half-minute made it 72-69 on a jump-shot by Linville.
Here the trailers fought back as Ted Beach dropped in a foul and Irv Bemoras found the range with a long set. The clock showed exactly fifty seconds left. At 19:22, Linville jumped successfully again, only to see Sunderlage drive in with a lay-up at 19:31, bringing about the eleventh deadlock.
It seemed overtime was in the making. But suddenly Ramsey, a tremendous performer, spotted Linville alone in the keyhole in front of the Kentucky basket. Like a flash Ramsey whipped the ball to him teammate, who rang the bell with a short-range jump-shot. Then it was that Sunderlage followed with the desperate, but futile hook that missed.
Spivey's 28 points made him the big gun. Sunderlage netted 21 and Rod Fletcher of Illinois, one of the unsung heroes of the Midwesterners, collected 20 points.
Bill Spivey shoots