- Monday, February 14 1938 -
Marquette - 33 (Head Coach: Bill Chandler)
Kentucky - 35 (Head Coach: Adolph Rupp)
|J. Rice Walker||1||2||6||2||4|
Halftime Score: Kentucky 18, Marquette 18
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Alabama 28 - 21|||||Xavier 45 - 29|
Game Writeup - by Neville Dunn, Lexington Herald
Sensational Long Shot by Red Hagan Gives Kentucky 35 to 33 Triumph over Marquette Five
Goals Comes in Final Seconds
A shot from near mid-floor propelled by the sweat-begrimed hands of Joe (Red) Hagan in the last 15 seconds of play gave the University of Kentucky Wildcats one of their most brilliant basketball victories in history last night at the U.K. gymnasium.
Fired with a prayer, the leather ball gathered the hopes of 4,000 frantic fans as it sped toward the basket. Striking the bankboard at just the proper angle, the ball zipped into the net and the pent-up excitement of as big a crowd as Kentucky's inadequate gymnasium could accommodate suddenly roared out the windows, to apprise all within hearing distance that Kentucky had won.
The score was 35 to 33.
It was no average basketball team that Kentucky humbled last night. It was Marquette, and Marquette came to Lexington hailed as one of the best -- if not the best -- basketball team in the country. Marquette had defeated Butler, had conquered Notre Dame's magnificent Ramblers, had swept Michigan State, Chicago and other leading teams of the Middle West off the boards. Marquette was too good for Kentucky, so the fans hereabouts thought. Kentucky wouldn't have a chance. Still, a miracle might happen; the unexpected might take place. Kentucky might win.
Packed to Capacity
And that thought brought the fans to the gymnasium in droves. An hour before the scheduled start of the varsity game, while the freshmen and Cumberland college quintets were playing a preliminary every ticket had been sold. Some fans climbed into the rafters, some onto the window sills.
And they saw the miracle.
Red Hagan was a lad of destiny last night. He felt it, and so did all those fans who saw Red, a devout Catholic, kneel in the middle of the floor, bless himself, mumble a prayer, and then bless himself again. A few seconds later, Red fired the shot that sent the Marquette Catholics home defeated.
It was in answer to a command that Hagan fired the ball at that precise moment. He said so after the game.
" A voice said to me," declared the battle-flushed Kentuckian, "Shoot Hagan, and it will go through the net. I shot and it went through."
The crowd swept down on the floor and carried Hagan triumphantly to the showers. His eyes were misty, and so were those of many of the fans, and of Coach Adolph Rupp and of all the other players. Kentucky had longed for that victory to the point that their longings hurt.
Drives Nail in Floor
Among the first to run to the center of the floor after the bell ended the drama of two superb basketball teams fighting as if their lives depended on their victory was Gov. A.B. Chandler. His face flushed with excitement, the governor called for a hammer and a nail, and on the spot from which Hagan had released the winning shot, he drove the nail into the floor. It will remain there as long as the floor itself remains, a monument to the supreme effort of a red-headed Irishman who wouldn't give up.
There have been close, exciting basketball games on the Kentucky floor previous to the Kentucky-Marquette tilt. The opening game last night for example went one overtime period before the undefeated Kentucky freshmen could whip the undefeated Cumberland College quintet, 45 to 41. But few games have so aroused the fans; have so seen the Wildcats fighting tooth and toe-nail against odds.
Marquette figured to beat the Wildcats, and perhaps in a series they still could beat the Wildcats. The visiting sharpshooters were as cool and collected a bunch of collegiate performers as Kentuckians ever saw in action on the hardwood. They made every play deliberately, according to a pre-conceived plan. Most of their points as a result came from shots immediately under the basket. They lost no motion, made few careless passes. They played like men with ice water in their veins. Wouldn't they ever break; wouldn't they ever show their excitement ?
A Deliberate Team
It didn't seem so, as the game went on and they overcame a Kentucky 10-point lead and went into the lead themselves. It didn't seem so as Kentucky tied the score, then went ahead, then dropped back, then went ahead, then dropped back, then tied the score.
But the men of Marquette were men of flesh and blood after all, and it was Hagan's electrifying shot that proved it. For six seconds after Hagan's ball zipped into the basket, Marquette went wild. The Wisconsin robots tore down the floor like warriors run amuck. They fired and rebounded three times, each shot coming perilously close, before the Wildcats could wrest away the ball.
A second later the ball bounced out of bounds and Marquette called time out. The time-keeper told the teams that only nine seconds remained. But what drama was packed into those last nine seconds !
Marquette took the ball again and drove toward the goal. Just as a pass in close second seemed sure to reach its mark, little Bernie Opper stepped into the gap, intercepted the ball and flung it far down the floor to Hagan. Tubby Thompson, the Kentucky center, was only a jump behind and he and Hagan zoomed down on Quabius, the Marquette guard. It was two on one and the Marquette lad didn't have a chance. He chose Hagan to guard. Hagan flipped the ball to Thompson, who whirled, leaped into the air and put the ball into the basket.
Goal Didn't Count
That seemed to settle it, but Marquette grabbed the ball and flung it the entire length of the court. All the while Referee Dan Tehan's whistle was blowing. He ruled that Thompson had traveled on the shot - which he had - and made Marquette take the ball out of bounds. The basket didn't count.
But Marquette lost valuable time and just as it reached mid-floor with the ball, the game ended. As a final challenge to Kentucky, a Marquette player flung the ball side-armed toward the goal, hoping that if it went through, the referee would rule it a score, but the ball missed the net by a wide margin.
The throbbing excitement of the final 15 seconds of play followed the setting of the stage in as dramatic a play as the fans had seen. Just before Hagan's winning goal, Hagan and Curtis, the latter a Kentucky forward, had drawn Marquette out of position, but as Curtis lunged toward the basket with the ball, Cafne, a Marquette forward, drove Curtis to the wall. Curtis was given a free throw but - he missed. The score was then tied 33 to 33. A moment later, Mickey Rouse, Kentucky guard, made his only foul of the game, against Quabius. But Quabius missed too and the fans howled their delight.
Just before Curtis missed his free throw, Kentucky had had a chance to win when Thompson was fouled by Hesik. But Tubby missed the free throw as Hesik left the game on four personals. These fruitless scoring chances made Hagan's shot all the more sensational.
Play Smart Ball
Kentucky never played smarter basketball than it did last night. The Cats had to if they were to stay in the running with the Marquette machine. The Cats made few mistakes, carefully considered every move, deliberately planned their attack.
But Marquette was more than a match for Kentucky's drive to get in close and as the game wore on, more and more Kentucky fired at the basket from out in the floor. Here the marksmanship of Hagan, Opper and Rouse counted. They hit the basket when Kentucky needed two-points.
The Wildcats, keyed to the sky and ready to play their best game of the season, tore into Marquette like a cyclone at the start of the tilt and scored seven points before Marquette tallied. Then rapidly the Cats ran their lead up to 9 to 2, then 11 to 3, then 13 to 3.
Dineen Is Poison
And at that point, Marquette came to life. Coach Bill Chandler sent a pink-faced Irish lad named Dineen and a swarthy youngster named Cafne as substitute forwards. It was Dineen who did the damage and in quick succession he made two free throws, then three straight crip shots, then one more free throw to put Marquette only one point behind, 13 to 12. Hesik tossed in a long shot a moment later and for the first time, Marquette was ahead, 14 to 13.
A shot by Rouse put the Cats ahead again, then Sokody counted for Marquette, then Goodman on a free throw for Kentucky, then Hesik and Graf on a free throw and crip for Marquette. Seconds before the half ended with Kentucky trailing 18 to 16. Rouse flipped in another long shot and the score was tied at 18 to 18.
The score see-sawed throughout the second half, with Marquette on top most of the way. The biggest gap that Marquette was ever able to put between it and Cats, however, was four points.
The score was tied three times in the second half, the last being just before Hagan's inspired shot.
Coach Rupp surprised the fans and probably Marquette by starting Capt. J. Rice Walker, Jr., at center. Walker had been understudying for Thompson most of the season but he was in last night's starting lineup and he played probably the best defensive game of his career. Later when Thompson went in, the Indiana boy came through with three points when they were needed.
Every Wildcat who broke in the lineup, including Goodman at forward and Combs at guard, played their hearts out. None was an individual star but all were a cluster of them.