- Saturday, February 25 1956 -
(at Montgomery, AL)
Kentucky - 77 (Head Coach: Adolph Rupp) - [Ranked 8th by AP]
|Billy Ray Cassady||0||0||0||0||0|
Alabama - 101 (Head Coach: Johnny Dee) - [Ranked 7th by AP]
Halftime Score: Alabama 43, Kentucky 40
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Vanderbilt 76 - 55|||||Georgia 143 - 66|
Game Writeup - by Benny Marshall, Birmingham News
It was Easy: Tide 101, 'Tucky 77
Harper's 37 lead it in
MONTGOMERY, Ala., Feb. 25 - The dream came true Saturday night for Alabama.
Magnificently, and unbelievably, the Crimson Tide of Johnny Dee flogged Kentucky as Kentucky had never been whipped before.
By 101 to 77, the Rocket Eight smashed this one in, masters of a night they came cooly determined to win.
It was the first time in all the wonderful basketball history of Adolph Rupp's Wildcats that an enemy had gone over 100 points against them, the highest total ever recorded against Kentucky.
George Linn sent No. 101 home 17 seconds from the finish with the crowd of more than 10,000 sin the state Coliseum screaming for a chance to sit in on history.
IT WAS 99-76, Kentucky with the ball, when Linn stole a pass, flipped the ball out ahead of him, picked it up for the dribble and went driving for a layup. He twisted, spun the ball away and it swished through quickly and easy like a dozen baskets before it in a second half which saw the Tide make a tight game a rout.
It was a 27th point for Linn, who fired it in a 52.6 percent shooting drive after intermission that made the greatest win for the greatest Alabama basketball team in history.
That 27 wasn't high. The honor of leading the assault went to a big ole Kentucky boy who got away.
Jerry Harper of Louisville, coming into the twilight of his Alabama career as an All-American man, threw in 37 points for his Crimson Tide, snatched 26 rebounds and won his 'battle of the centers' with Bob Burrow going away.
Burrow led his side with 26 points, but he had only 12 rebounds.
AHEAD BY THREE, 43-40, after a slam-bang first half, the Crimson Tidesmen let no stray balls get away once Dee set them up in his dressing room talk. Dominating the boards, fast-breaking as Kentucky folded under the incessant pressure, the Tide had it like it wanted it a full 10 minutes from the end.
With Harper and Linn went Dick Gunder, Dennis O'Shea and Leon Marlaire . . . they were there, too, practically all the way.
O'Shea had five points, lowest among the five seniors who have carried the Alabama load this season, but he was a battling demon of a defender, a ball hawking demon who wouldn't run down.
DEE, THE YOUNG man who came to beat Rupp four years ago - and did - had praise for every single one of the youngsters who made the night bright in Tide history.
What did he change in the second half to leave the visitors frustrated, out of it?
There was a tired grin, and a happy one, but . . . "We'd better save that for awhile. We're going to need it again another day."
Whatever it was, it was the answer to Kentucky ending a long Wildcat reign of supremacy over Alabama basketball.
IT WAS a struggle, and a bitter one, through the first 20 minutes.
Alabama was the team on top but Alabama couldn't shake away from an iron-fisted Kentucky defense.
THE TIDE was seven-point leader after 12 minutes at 25-18 as Marlaire, one of the smallest men on the floor, came flying through the air to tip in a rebound. The pace was vigorous, also slow.
With five minutes left in the half, Alabama led, 31-24, but a red hot streak by Burrow moved the Cats quickly into striking distance. The big Kentucky center had 12 straight points over a foul-minute span, and the 12th one put Kentucky ahead, 36-35.
Gunder hit a followup field goal. O'Shea added another, and it went on to the rest period, 43-40. It looked close, good and close . . . but, actually, it wasn't. This one was about to be real, real easy.
THREE MINUTES after the teams came back into the din and the glare of the overflowing arena, the Wildcats had forged up to 51-50.
Then . . . then . . . then. You had to see it to believe it.
Linn hit a jump shot, came back for two free throws, socked in a rebound, and it was 57-50. It had happened in the space of a minute.
Marlaire scored from far out, Linn flipped in two free throws. Gunder smacked a jumper from well out, dead center, into the hoop, and Linn had two more free throws waiting. The score, all of a sudden, was 64-50, and there wasn't much doubt left any more about the team in charge of this occasion.
With nine minutes remaining on the clock, Alabama was a 78-52 leader. What that amount to was 27 points in seven minutes for the Tide, only two for the Wildcats, and those on free throws.
It was all over but the shouting, and the crowd took handsome care of that.
ALABAMA'S final shot percentage was 44.6 on 37 field goals of 83 attempts. Kentucky hit 28 of 69 for 40.6, never solving the Tide defense in the last half.
Harper shot 17 of 33 tries from the field into the hoop where they belong, and added three of five free throws. Linn hit 15 of 21 free throws, six of 17 field goal attempts. Gunder was a 7 for 15 sharpshooter from the field.
Most points ever scored against Kentucky before this fateful Saturday night was 89 by City College of New York in 1950. The highest total yielded this season had been the 80 score by Auburn in this same vast coliseum.
THE VICTORY did not clinch the Southeastern Conference championship for Alabama, but it brought that cherished honor very close.
Next is Tennessee Monday night at Tuscaloosa. Auburn here at Montgomery Friday night follows. Then Florida at Gainesville March 5, is the windup.
Alabama's George Linn (#3) drives to the basket against Phil Grawemeyer (#44) as the referee makes a call
Alabama's Jerry Harper (#8) rebounds the ball in front of Phil Grawemeyer (#44) while Jerry Bird (#22) and Bob Burrow (#50) look on
Bob Burrow (#60) can only watch as an Alabama player scores inside