- Saturday, March 5 1960 -
Pittsburgh - 66 (Head Coach: Bob Timmons) - [Unranked]
|Mike Ditka (*)||31||4||13||1||2||2||3||9|
Kentucky - 73 (Head Coach: Adolph Rupp) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 37, Pittsburgh 24
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Tennessee 63 - 65|||||Virginia Military 72 - 56|
Game Writeup - by Ed Ashford, Lexington Herald-Leader
Wildcats End Season with Unimpressive 73-66 Win over Pittsburgh
Kentucky's Wildcats closed out their second "most losingest" basketball season last night with a 73-66 triumph over the Pittsburgh Panthers in a game that had been scheduled in the hope that would serve as a warm-up contest for the Wildcats between the end of the Southeastern Conference season and the opening of the NCAA Tournament. But a pair of late-season defeats - to Auburn by one point with five seconds to play and to Tennessee by two points with six seconds left - reduced the season's finale to the status of just another nonconference game.
A crowd of 9,000 basketball fans in Memorial Coliseum saw Coach Bob Timmons' Panthers slice 12 points off a 19-point Kentucky lead in the last 11 minutes of play.
Bill Lickert led Kentucky's attack with 21 points and was the only Wildcat to go the entire 40 minutes. He hit nine of 15 shots from the field and three or four from the free throw line.
The triumph gave Kentucky a final record of 18-7, the school's worse since the 1940-41 team finished 17-8. These are the only season's during Coach Adolph Rupp's 30-year career that his teams have lost more than six games including tournament and other post-season play.
Pittsburgh wound up 11-14, and suffered its fourth consecutive loss to Kentucky dating from the first meeting of the two teams here in December 1935.
Last night's game marked the final collegiate appearance of three Wildcats and two Panthers. Performing for the final time for Kentucky were center Don Mills and guards Sid Cohen and Bennie Coffman. Pittsburgh's seniors bowing out were center John Mills and guard Bill Mauro.
Kentucky's seniors provided 30 of the Wildcats' points: Cohen contributing 13, Mills 10 and Coffman seven. The later did not play during the first half.
Pittsburgh's Mills and Mauro each had 12 points but the leading scorer for the visitors was junior John Fridley with 17 points. Reserve Mike Ditka scored nine points and Dick Falenski racked up eight. Don Steinhart had four in a reserve role while starter Bob Sankey, handicapped by an ankle injury, suffered a week earlier in Pitt's overtime victory over Penn State, was limited to two points and saw little action.
For Kentucky, Carroll Burchett and Dick Parsons each chipped in eight points with reserves Jim McDonald and Larry Pursiful rounding out the Wildcats' scoring with three each.
The game wasn't really as close as the final score would indicate. With four minutes to go the Wildcats were on top by 15 points and shortly thereafter Rupp removed his three seniors, who were given a standing ovation as they went to the bench.
The Panthers closed the gap to respectable proportions in the remaining minutes but Kentucky never was in danger. Fridley closed out the scoring with a 40-foot hook shot that became airborne a fraction of a second before the horn and the fans roared when in plunked through the nets.
Kentucky led by 18 points in the first half and at one time in the second period had a 19-point margin, - at 56-37. The Panthers refused to fold, however, and twice in the last half cut the gap to eight points before a Kentucky spurt put the game beyond recall.
Kentucky was red-hot at the start, hitting seven of its first nine shots at the basket in pulling away to an early decisive lead. The Wildcats ran the score to 8-0 in the first two minutes of play on baskets by Cohen, Lickert, Burchett and Mills before Sankey scored Pittsburgh's first points on a rebound shot after two and one-half minutes of action.
After Lickert and Fridley had traded baskets to make the score 10-4, the Wildcats boosted their lead to 10 points on a corner shot by Parsons and two free throws by Lickert.
At this point Kentucky's shooting cooled off a bit, but Pittsburgh was unable to find the range either and the Wildcats steadily increased their advantage to 18 points - at 28-10 - their biggest margin of the first half.
Pittsburgh, limited to three field goals in the first 14 and one-half minutes by Kentucky's tight man-to-man defense, outscored the Cats 12-3 during a four-minute period near the end of the half. This sliced Kentucky's margin to 31-22. In the last minute and a half of the period the Wildcats racked up three field goals while limiting the Panthers to a pair of charity tosses, making the halftime score stand 37-24.
After the first five minutes, Timmons made frequent changes in his lineup in an effort to hit on a combination that could stick close to the Ruppmen.
One of his substitutes, 6-3 junior Darwin Smith of Pikeville, ....unreadable.... his fifth foul with 4:35 remaining in the half.
The Panthers' marksmanship was a little better in the second half and although they lost Falenski on fouls with 13:37 remaining they kept the pressure on until the end.
Kentucky wound up with a 43.5 shooting percentage on 27 fielders in 62 tries. Pittsburgh hit at a 34.8 clip, connecting on 23 of 66. The Wildcats had a 47-38 bulge in rebounding with Mills grabbing 13 and Burchett 12. Fridley and Mills led Pittsburgh with 13 and 12 respectively.
Fridley's sensational toss at the game's end was set up when the Panthers' John Mills lost one of his contact lenses for the second time during the game.
Time was called with three seconds on the clock. After the lens was found Pitt put the ball in play at midcourt. The ball came in to Fridley near the center line. He bounced it once, wound up and let go.
One of the biggest cheers of the night came when Coffman, who started the second half, pumped in a jump shot after 3:43 had elapsed. Coffman, who was UK's leading scorer at midseason, had seen little action during the final month. The maddest person in the gym was this same Coffman a few minutes later when he missed an open layup after stealing the ball at mid-court.
Big Ned Jennings, who was injured in the Vanderbilt game Feb. 16, was a surprise substitute in the closing minutes. The 6-9 junior, who had missed the Auburn, Alabama and Tennessee games, failed to score however.
In addition to his scoring, ably to the Cats' victory by making five clean steals, three of which were turned into baskets.
With no championship or tournament berth hinging on the outcome, the crowd was one of the smallest of the season. Most of the vacant seats, however, were in the student section.
The triumph gave Rupp a career record of 626 victories and 113 defeats, dropping his lifetime winning percentage from 85.154 to 84.709.
Dickie Parsons fights a Pittsburgh player for the ball
Pittsburgh forward Bill Mauro reaches for the ball behind UK's Carroll Burchett (#40)
Pittsburgh's Mike Ditka makes a move against Kentucky co-captain Don Mills