- Tuesday, March 23 1948 -
NCAA Championship (at New York, NY)
Kentucky - 58 (Head Coach: Adolph Rupp)
Baylor - 42 (Head Coach: Bill Henderson)
|James 'Red' Owen||2||1||2||0||5|
Halftime Score: Kentucky 29, Baylor 16
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Holy Cross 60 - 52|||||Louisville 91 - 57|
Game Writeup - by Louis Effrat, New York Times
Kentucky Defeats Baylor in N.C.A.A. Final at Garden
NEW YORK, March 23, 1948 -- Kentucky's Wildcats, at no time in jeopardy, easily conquered Baylor, 58-42, last night at Madison Square Garden and romped to their first N.C.A.A. basketball championship. Off to an early 17-point lead, Adolph Rupp's powerhouse completely outclassed the Bears from Waco, Texas.
The second smaller turnout of the season, 16,174, witnessed this one-sided East-West final, in which Baylor's strategy -- slowdown and stress possessions -- succeeded only in holding down the score. Baylor, lightly regarded at the outset of the Western Regionals, qualified for the title clash with a pair of upset victories over Washington and Kansas State, but last night ran out of surprises.
Perhaps the best way to describe Kentucky's thirty-fourth and certainly most important triumph of the campaign is to report that form held up. Nearly every pre-game prediction pointed to the size, speed and depth of the Wildcats from Lexington and figured that these would determine the outcome. They did, too, even if Coach Rupp, who wanted to win this one above all others, saw little need to turn to his bench. He did not substitute until 6:30 of the second half, by which time the decision was just about clinched.
Alex Groza, the tallest man on the floor, was the high scorer for Kentucky and the game. His 14 points were two more than Ralph Beard tallied and four more than Bill Johnson made for Baylor. The latter was unable to handle Groza's height and most of the rebounds were dominated by the 6-foot 7-inch center who was voted the outstanding player of the tournament.
But Groza was far from being the only Wildcat in a starring role. Beard, an irrepressible digger; Ken Rollins, an all-around ace; Wallace (Wah Wah) Jones, a dependable workhorse, along with the steady Cliff Barker -- all contributed handsomely toward a victorious cause.
That Baylor, because of Kentucky's height advantage, would resort to a deliberate style of attack, was anticipated. The Bears, reluctant to risk forfeiting possession, attempted to make certain that ever shot be a clear one and from close range. As a result they had taken only one chance in the first four minutes and six in the first seven and a half, not one finding the target.
Thus Kentucky enjoyed a 13-1 spread -- Jim Owen caged a foul shot at 5:25 -- and Baylor followers foresaw a rout.
Finally, when the clock showed 7 minutes and 35 seconds gone, Don Heathington dribbled in with a lay-up and the Texans, on their seventh attempt from the floor, achieved their initial basket.
However, this was not repeated often enough to lighten Baylor's burden and at 12:35 Kentucky's lead was 17 points at 24-7. This shrunk slightly to 29-15 at the intermission and later the Bears rallied to cut the deficit to 9 points, but the Wildcats packed too many weapons and triumphed going away.
Kentucky, obviously superior in all departments, was most impressive during the early stages. One 2-minute spurt netted 7 points as Jones, Rollins and Groza excelled.
The Wildcats were driving hard and harassing the Bears at every turn. Thereafter they performed commendably enough, but their rallies were intermittent and the Kentuckians did not again look that superb.
Probably the reason for this letup was lack of incentive. They were en route to victory and knew it, and no end of grimaces from Rupp on the bench sufficed to reawaken them. Baylor, on the other hand, did not have the power to take full advantage and suffered its sixth setback of the year.
In victory, Kentucky attempted a total of 83 shots, clicking with 23, as compared to 15 out of 64 for the losers. Both teams automatically qualified for the Olympic trials which get underway Saturday afternoon at the Garden.
Third place in the competition went to Holy Cross, despite an early 16-point lead, staggering to a 60-54 victory over Kansas State in the preliminary encounter.
Jim Line (#25) tries to intercept a ball from Baylor's James Owen (#5)
Alex Groza (#36) taps in the ball over Baylor's Bill DeWitt
Baylor forward Bill DeWitt attempts a layup while trailed by Cliff Barker (#23) who fouled him. Looking on include Kentucky's Alex Groza (#36), Wallace Jones (#27), Ken Rollins (#26) and Baylor's James Owen (#5)