- Saturday, December 20 1969 -
Duke - 76 (Head Coach: Bucky Waters) - [Unranked]
Kentucky - 98 (Head Coach: Adolph Rupp) - [Ranked 1st by AP]
Halftime Score: Duke 45, Kentucky 45
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|Navy 73 - 59|||||Notre Dame 102 - 100|
Game Writeup - by Dick Fenlon, Louisville Courier-Journal
Kentucky's Late Surge Blows Duke Off Court in Sizzling UKIT Final
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The earth is round again. Grass is green. The law of gravity holds true once more.
And there has been reassuring testimony of one other verity: The University of Kentucky is back in swinging orbit as the No.-1 college basketball team in the nation.
In the opening round of the UK Invitational Tournament some faith was shaken Friday night when the undefeated and top ranked Wildcats had to use all of their ability to post a 73-59 win over a nondescript Navy team which has won one game all season.
But it was restored last night when the Wildcats, putting it all together in the final 10 minutes, crushed previously unbeaten Duke 98-76 to capture their 12th championship in the 17-year history of the UKIT.
Still, if Kentucky's form did finally hold true when the chips were down, there were two startling developments as the Kentuckians rolled to their sixth straight victory.
For a starter, there was the implausible selection of Kentucky guad Bob McCowan as the tournament's most outstanding player. Until last night, the junior guard from Dayton, Ohio, wasn't even a starter. but after scoring 16 points Friday night, he pitched in 25 last night and kept Kentucky's attack perking when the going was most difficult.
Secondly, there was the sight of Dan Issel, generally conceded to be the most outstanding center in the land, being played off his feet by a fellow most Kentuckians hadn't even heard of until this tournament began, Duke center Randy Denton.
Denton, a 6-foot-10 junior who had 20 points in the first half Friday night in Duke's 72-67 semifinal win over Dayton, scored 21against the 6-foot-8-1/2 Issel in the initial 20 minutes of the final. Worse, he outrebounded Issel 17-1 during that span as Duke fought to a 45-45 halftime tie.
So, because Issel was already in deep foul trouble, Duke was in splendid shape to score the biggest upset of the young college season, and when Issel picked up his fourth foul with 12:54 left in the game, the cards seemd to be all in Duke's favor.
Kentucky was leading just 57-53 at the time. Then coach Adolph Rupp switched UK from a man-for-man into a zone defense to protect his big man, and Kentucky began rolling and Duke fell apart.
Denton's layup with 12:11 left cut Kentucky's margin to a point. Then McCowan ripped Duke's zone for a pair of 19-footers, Issel scored two quick baskets, and McCowan, Larry Steele, Mike Pratt and Issel took turns in putting the ball through the hoop.
At this point with Kentucky leading by nine with 5:39 left, Pratt took personal charge. Hustling feverishly, he scored UK's next nine points as the Wildcats busted into an 84-68 spread with 4:08 left. For Duke, it was all over.
Losing coach Bucky Waters wisely sized up Duke's crackup afterwards.
"Kentucky went to that little zone trap and we didn't adjust very well," he said. "We had three or four turnovers and there were several easy shots we missed. When you do that against a good club you pay for it. It turned the tide."
In the end, though, it was Kentucky's outstanding shooting that proved insurmountable for the Blue Devils from Durham, N.C. For the game, UK made 53.8 percent of its shots and the Wildcats were at their best in the crucual final minutes.
"The shots they were hitting any team will give up," Water said in defending Duke's defensive effort. "Some of them were more outdoors than outside. Steele did an exceptional job. . . we didn't expect that from him. And McCowan, of course, had a great night.
Pratt's late spree enabled him to lead all Kentucky' scorers with 26 points. After McCowan's 25, Issel had 20 and Steele 17. Pratt led UK in rebounding with 11, with Issel grabbing just seven.
As he did in Friday night's game against Dayton, Denton tailed off in the final half. He added seven in last night's second period for a game-leading total of 28 and, frequently blocked-out, picked off just four more rebounds for a game high aggregate of 21.
"We though we could get the ball into Denton and we did," said Waters. "I thought he did a good job. but I was disappointed with our board play. We didn't go to the offensive board very well at all."
Kentucky ended up with just seven turnovers to Duke's 13.
"It is obvious why Kentucky is No. 1," said Waters. "I don't think they can play a more perfect game. They proved their ranking."
Mike Pratt (#22) shoots over Randy Denton
Dan Issel (#44) and Duke's Randy Denton (#31) both reach for the ball
Issel and Denton fight for a rebound