- Thursday, March 8 1973 -
Tennessee - 81 (Head Coach: Ray Mears) - [Unranked]
Kentucky - 86 (Head Coach: Joe B. Hall) - [Ranked 19th by AP]
|Jimmy Dan Conner||40||9||15||5||8||10||2||4||23|
Halftime Score: Kentucky 46, Tennessee 43
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Auburn 91 - 79|||||Austin Peay 106 - 100 OT|
Game Writeup - by Mike Sullivan, Louisville Courier-Journal
UK bounces Vols 86-81
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The students who had camped on the Avenue of Champions for up to 30 hours waiting for tickets, who set up a tidal wave of skull-drumming noise that finally immersed a valiant foe, swept over the Memorial Coliseum court like stampeding buffaloes at 9:31 last night.
Somewhere amid the milling bodies and flying game programs was a University of Kentucky team that had passed the sternest gut-tester of a long and trying season, defeating Tennessee 86-81 for the Southeastern Conference championship - UK's sixth in a row and 28th in 40 years.
Then at 9:33 p.m. a ghostly pale bespectacled man named Joe Hall bobbed above the herd of students and the cheering, somehow , grew even louder while they gave the guy from Cynthiana a victory ride.
Hall flashed his fingers in all directions for a 'V" for victory but, as the students could have told him, he gave the gesture palm-outward, meaning it was actually the peace sign.
Which is just as well, because if ever a coach and his team made peace with themselves and their followers, it was this sophomore-led UK bunch that ripped off a sizzling nine-game, season-ending win streak to snatch the SEC title from Tennessee's grasp.
Moist about the eyes and perspiring heavily, Hall was asked to put into words what it meant for him, personally, to come back against strong odd and win the SEC title in his first year as successor to Adolph Rupp.
"Well, it's he difference between winning and losing, and this is a winning season now," Hall quickly replied. "And we don't wanna stop now. We wanna keep going."
UK will go at least as far as the NCAA Mideast Regional at Vanderbilt University in Nashville next Thursday night there to meet the winner of Saturday's Austin Peay-Jacksonville game at Dayton.
The team will go because Kevin Grevey kept his scoring magic alive when it seemed the lefty's touch might finally desert him; because Jimmy Dan Conner played so hard, and so well, that even his own terrible mistakes couldn't stop him and because Jim Andrews - the 6-foot-11 senior center whose sin is being "almost great" - was almost great in a most helpful way.
"When you have to get back into a ballgame in the late going, it's tough," said Tennessee coach Ray Mears, whose club ended the year 15-9 and 13-5 in the SEC.
"We got what we wanted, got what we went after in those last few minutes, and that's all you can ask for," Mears added. "But after we got the shots, a couple of 'em wouldn't fall."
All told, Mears got 25 points from 7-foot Len Kosmalski and a combined 48 points from his slick trio of outside gunners, Mike Edwards, John Snow and Rodney Woods of Four Mile, Ky.
The Volunteers' deadly shooting - 58.1 per cent in the first half and 51.5 for the game - threw the crushing pressure back in Kentucky's face as Tennessee led by four point (65-61) with 11:07 left to play.
That's when Grevey went to war. He came out smoking after a UK timeout and stroked four jump shots in a row through the basket - one from each corner, and two from behind the top of the foul circle.
Hall wants timeout
"Right during that timeout I though maybe I was in for a bad night," said Grevey, who had averaged 31 points in UK's five previous games. "And even the shots I made, I was forcing them - pushing them up there, you know?"
Whether bugged by the pressure or cramped by Tennessee's scrappy defense, Grevey still kept pushing, and when it was over he had jammed 13 of 20 shots into the hoop and scored a game-high 28 points.
Andrews took rebounding honors with 13 and tossed in 17 points, while Conner, who nearly drove Hall up the coliseum wall with some wacky mistakes in the closing minutes, came through with 23 points and 10 rebounds and four assists.
"Coach was kinda gettin' on me." said Conner, "and that made me sort of nervous."
Jimmy Dan's weirdest play came after he had teamed up......(remainder missing)...
Tennessee's Mike Edwards (#25) looks to pass while guarded by Kentucky's Ronnie Lyons (#14) and Mike Flynn (#24)
Kevin Grevey (#35) passes the ball prior to contact with Tennessee's MIke Woods (#10) while Mike Edwards (#25) tracks the pass
Jimmy Dan Conner (#20) takes a spillwhile Kevin Grevey is in the background