- Thursday, March 9 1961 -
SEC Playoff (at Knoxville, TN)
Kentucky - 88 (Head Coach: Adolph Rupp) - [Final Rank 20th by AP]
Vanderbilt - 67 (Head Coach: Bob Polk) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 44, Vanderbilt 30
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Tennessee 68 - 61|||||Marquette 72 - 88|
Game Writeup - by John Bibb, Nashville Tennessean
No Tomorrow for Cats Since Late in January
KNOXVILLE - "There has been no tomorrow for us since way back in January."
That was Adolph Rupp's way of expressing his praise for the Kentucky basketball team which last night mauled one of the finest Vanderbilt teams in history by 21 points and moved into the NCAA championships for the 12th time.
"These kids have had their backs to the wall since they lost to Georgia Tech. They've met every sort of challenge and to my way of thinking, they're as good a team now as our last national champions (1958)." Rupp said after inviting "these newspaper fellows" into his noisy, happy dressing room.
"Concerning the Vanderbilt game, I must confess I had no idea that it would be this sort of game. I had anticipated a two or three-point show, never dreaming we would dominate play as we did."
The Baron, who still is having trouble with his back and disappeared with his doctor for a treatment before going to the Wildcats quarters, designated his out-court shooters (Larry Pursiful, Ned Jennings, Roger Newman, Bill Lickert and Dickie Parsons) as the men who turned the tide.
"When they forced us to shoot outside, and we hit, that opened the way for us to begin driving on them and when that happened it gave us our working margin inside, which we used effectively," Rupp explained.
Jennings, the Cats' tremendously improved center, also drew plaudits from Rupp: "I now believe he's the best big man in the Southeastern Conference. I think he proved it against Vanderbilt."
Jennings made 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, leading both clubs on the boards.
Pressed again in the interview to compare this team with his last NCAA champs, Adolph chortled:
"Let's put it this way, fellows. This team has come back from the cemetery, even after a lot of folks had already started shoveling the dirt on us. I'm pretty doggoned proud of them. Sure, they're coming along just like '58."
That broke up the post-game conference.
Vandy's coach Bob Polk was equally complimentary of the Wildcats. "Those guys have come a long way this season," he said. "I'm confident they'll win the NCAA if they play like they did tonight against us. They're red-hot."
Polk pointed to the 11 floor mistakes, the poor-first half shooting and Kentucky's sizzling shooting (50 per cent) as the factors which combined to develop the rout.
Asked if he anticipated any such one-sided game, Polk sighed:
"Well, it's bound to happen when one team hits 50 per cent and the other 28. It's a tough way to end it (the season) but we've had a great year."
Ned Jennings (#10) grabs one of his 12 rebounds