- Monday, March 14 1949 -
NIT (at New York, NY)
Kentucky - 56 (Head Coach: Adolph Rupp) - [Final Rank 1st by AP]
Loyola (Chicago) - 67 (Head Coach: Tom Haggerty) - [Final Rank 16th by AP]
Halftime Score: Loyola 32, Kentucky 31
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|Tulane 68 - 52|||||Villanova 85 - 72|
Game Writeup - by Babe Kimbrough, Lexington Herald
NEW YORK, March 14 -- Kentucky's dream of winning two national basketball tourneys -- a feat never accomplished by a college quintet -- turned into a nightmare here this afternoon as the Wildcats dropped their first National Invitation engagement to Loyola of Chicago, 67-56, in Madison Square Garden.
A matinee crowd of 12,519 fans saw the Ramblers, a fighting quintet without too much finesse, battle the once-feared Kentuckians of Coach Adolph Rupp on even terms for 32 minutes and then forge to the front to pull the greatest cage upset of the year.
Although the Wildcats were well off on their shooting, missing many easy layups and set shots from out on the court, it was not their poor marksmanship from the field that dragged them down in defeat. It was at the free-throw line that Loyola won its glory.
Each team chalked up 21 field goals during the afternoon but the Ramblers sank 25 charity shots out of 34 attempts while the Cats were connecting for 14 out of 22. Strange as it might seem, the Kentuckians had 29 personals called on them as compared with 19 for the Chicago cagers.
When the battle ended, Coach Rupp had all of his "height" sitting on the bench beside him, Alex Groza, Wallace (Wah Wah) Jones and Walt Hirsch having been ousted by free-whistling Officials Matty Begovich and Jammy Moskowitz. Jones was the first to go out with nine and a half minutes of playing time remaining.
Then Groza followed him with four minutes and 45 seconds left and Hirsch trotted to the sideline 25 seconds later.
It was the same old Madison Square Garden story. At the end of the first period, when the Wildcats were trailing, 32-31, Jones, Dale Barnstable and Groza each had three personal fouls on them and Hirsch had four.
Jack Kerris, star center for the Ramblers, had four, too but he lasted out the final period without accumulating another as the Kentuckians paraded to the bench.
Immediately after the game, Coach Rupp announced that the Kentucky team would return to Lexington Tuesday by plane so the players could attend classes for the remainder of the week before coming back to New York to face Villanova next Monday in the first round of the Eastern Division of the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament.
Drawings in the NCAA were announced today. Illinois and Yale will tie up in the first tilt on next Monday's program, with the Cats and Villanova playing the second game.
Before today's battle, experts who had seen Kerris in action warned that he was a tough ball player and he proved to be just that. Making good use of a well-developed hook shot, he collected seven field goals and nine charity tosses to lead both quintets in scoring with a total of 23.
Groza, who had broken practically every scoring record in the Southeastern Conference this season, was limited to 12 points -- all made in the first half -- and relinquished high-scoring honors for the Cats to little Ralph Beard, who tallied 15.
The veteran Cliff Barker, who was outstanding for the Blue Grass five, both in floor work and shooting, equaled Groza's total with 12 points on five field goals and a pair of free throws.
This afternoon's loss by the Wildcats left the state of Kentucky without a representative in the Invitation tourney, Western's Hilltoppers having dropped a 95-86 decision to the Bradley University Braves in the first game of the day's program after holding a 50-45 advantage at the half.
There was never a time that the Ruppmen flashed the championship form that has been theirs as they sailed through the regular season with but a single loss -- to St. Louis in the Sugar Bowl -- and the SEC tournament in Louisville.
From the very beginning they lacked the fire which has characterized their play and were unable to chalk up enough consecutive points to see daylight. Time and again they took the ball down the floor, missed a shot and then lost the rebound to the rampaging Ramblers. They seemed always to be in the wrong place when the ball came bounding off the boards.
Loyola took a quick lead when Gerry Nagel connected with a long shot from the side of the court and Kerris followed with one of his special hooks. Finally, however, the Wildcats by hard work and some luck managed to pull in front to hold an 8-5 advantage at the end of five minutes of play.
From there on out it was nip-and-tuck through the first period. In the next five minutes the score was knotted at 9-9, 11-11, 14-14, 16-16, 17-17 before the Kentuckians managed to ease to a one-point advantage at 18-17 midway of the half.
But the Ramblers quickly tied it up at 18-18 on a free throw by Ralph Klaerick and then went ahead on another gratis shot by the same performer.
The count was knotted again at 20-20. Then the Cats took a three-point lead, only to have the Chicagoans comes back and tie it up again. It was all even at 23-23 and 25-25.
Kentucky went to the front again at 30-27 but Loyola tallied five points in succession to steal the advantage again while the Wildcats were collecting a single point before the intermission.
As the second half started, Blue Grass fans took on new hope when the Ruppmen tallied three straight fielders, two by Jones and one by Beard.
However, the Ramblers began to amble again and at the end of five minutes had sliced the Cats' advantage to one point, at 38-37. Midway of the second period the scoreboard showed the teams even again at 47-47, but a long shot by Beard and a free throw by Jim Line put the Cats back on top. However, the Kentucky guns were silent while Loyola chalked up six points.
With the clock showing five minutes remaining, the Kentuckians had clipped Loyola's lead to three points, at 57-54. A minute later it was down to two points at 58-56 when Line made good a pair of free shots.
But with Line's effort, the book was closed on Kentucky and the Ramblers became the giant-killers of the tournament for in the last four minutes the Wildcats failed to tally while Loyola hung up nine points to widen its victory margin to 11.
Alex Groza (15) fights for a rebound as Dale Barnstable (18) looks on
Walt Hirsch challenges a shot by Loyola starter Ben Bluitt.