- Saturday, December 19 1964 -
Illinois - 91 (Head Coach: Harry Combes) - [Unranked]
Kentucky - 86 (Head Coach: Adolph Rupp) - [Ranked 8th by AP]
Halftime Score: Illinois 48, Kentucky 39
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|West Virginia 102 - 78|||||St. Louis 75 - 80|
Game Writeup - by Dave Whitaker, Louisville Courier-Journal
... Is Just Short
Deficit Cut to Single Point Before Free Throws Decide
Lexington Ky. - Maybe a "good big team" won't beat a "good little team" every time, but Illinois only had to down Kentucky once to win the U.K. Invitational Tournament - and it made the grade.
It wasn't easy, though.
Poised veteran and tall Illinois had to battle for its life in the closing stages before it could put away rallying U.K. 91-86 here last night.
Even so, coach Adolph Rupp was "immensely proud" of his Wildcats, who fell behind 29-13 after nine minutes but stormed back to come within one point of the talented Illini in the last minute.
Rupp was moved to say that "none of my teams ever showed more heart" than this Kentucky bunch, which gave away two inches per man in height. Judging from the roars of a capacity crowd of 11,500 at Memorial Coliseum, he wasn't alone in his estimate.
First Big 10 Champ
Illinois, in becoming the first Big Ten basketball team to win the prestige-loaded U.K.I.T., showed plenty of class. "They wouldn't panic," said Rupp, even though a bristling Kentucky outfit resorted to a full-court press in whittling the Illini edge to 83-82 with a minute remaining.
After Tal Brody, perhaps the finest guard to show here this season, cashed two free throws for Illinois, Terry Mobley banged a jumper to cut the edge to 85-84 with 50 seconds to go.
But coach Harry Combes' Midwesterners were equal to the challenge. They went to the foul line to clinch it, despite the taunting yells of a partisan and throaty throng.
Thoren Scores 27
The biggest man on the floor, 6-foot 8 1/2 inch Skip Thoren, was the big gun for Illinois. He corralled a game-high 27 points and 22 rebounds to support Combes' claim that he is the "finest center in America."
Said Rupp of Thoren, a performer who resembles Jerry Lucas in his moves and his feathery-soft- shooting: "He was too big for us... so was that Bogie Redmon. We didn't have much luck handling him, either."
Redmon came up with the crucial rebound on a play that Rupp "will remember for 50 years, I guess."
With Illinois leading 79-74 and Kentucky breathing fire, Pat Riley shot and missed with two minutes on the clock. The ball rebounded high and far and was grabbed off by the husky Redmon, a 6-5 1/2, 225 pounder with the build of a footballer.
Dampier Leads Cats
Illinois went down and scored on the play and "that did it," said Rupp. "We should've had the rebound," he lamented. "Mobley (U.K. guard Terry Mobley) had good position, but the ball bounced their way in the clutch."
Six Kentuckians scored in double figures, with little Louis Dampier canning 16 points. He got 14 of them in the frantic second half, too. Support came from Riley and 6-6 John Adams, with 14 each; Tommy Kron, with 12; Mobley, with 11, and little Randy Embry, with 10.
Brody, one of four seniors in Illinois' lineup, bagged 25 points to back up Thoren's 27. Bill McKeown had 19 and Redmon 14, plus 15 rebounds. Riley collared 13 rebounds and Kron 12 as Kentucky was outrebounded 60-53.
Kentucky Shooting Off
Kentucky hit only 36.2 percent of its shots the first half, Illinois 50 percent. For the game, the fighting Illini shot 48 percent, U.K. 36.6.
The win was Illinois' sixth in seven starts and likely will elevate Combes' club into the nation's top ten. Kentucky was ranked eighth in the last Associated Press poll.
Combes was proud of his championship club, too. "I'm especially proud," he said, "because I know they beat a fine ball club in Kentucky."
While Illinois used a man-to-man defense throughout, Rupp started with a 1-3-1 zone, then switched to a man-to-man when Embry and Mobley came into the lineup.
"We felt we had to start with the zone," said Rupp, "in order to protect our boys from fouling Thoren. If anything, we were outguessed in our defensive maneuvers."
Pat Riley (#42) tips off against Illinois' Bogie Redmon