- Monday, March 27 1978 -
NCAA Championship (at St. Louis, MO)
Kentucky - 94 (Head Coach: Joe B. Hall) - [Final Rank 1st by AP]
Duke - 88 (Head Coach: Bill Foster) - [Final Rank 7th by AP and 9th by UPI]
|Bob Bender (*)||16||1||2||5||5||1||3||4||0||7|
Halftime Score: Kentucky 45, Duke 38
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Arkansas 64 - 59|||||LaSalle 109 - 77|
Game Writeup - by Paul Borden, Louisville Courier-Journal
Goose Leads Wildcats to 5th N.C.A.A. Title
ST. LOUIS, March 27, 1978 -- Kentucky can celebrate now. Jack (Goose) Givens, in the finest performance of his sparkling career and one of the best ever in N.C.A.A. championship game history, led the Wildcats to their fifth national title last night.
Kentucky's 94-88 victory over Duke in the final game of the 40th annual N.C.A.A. tournament climaxed a season of pressure in grand style for the darlings of the Bluegrass. "The pressure's been on six seasons, really," said Wildcat coach Joe B. Hall as he was mobbed by fans, reporters and television crews on the floor of the Checkerdome afterward.
Hall, who took over for Adolph Rupp in 1972 and lived in the shadow of the legendary coach, had spoken of the pressures of coaching at Kentucky a day earlier. He said his team, ranked No. 1 nearly every week of the season, had not taken time to enjoy any of its accomplishments -- including a 31st Southeastern Conference crown -- this year. It can now.
Givens, the No. 2 all-time Kentucky scorer, put on a tremendous show before a steamy crowd of 18,721 scoring a career-high 41 points. He hit 18 of 27 from the floor in scoring the third highest total for an individual in the N.C.A.A. final. His final-game total is topped only by Bill Walton's 44 in 1973 and Gail Goodrich's 42 in 1965, both for U.C.L.A.
"There's no finer way to go out," said Givens, who cut the last strand of the netting on the south basket to the cheers of the Kentucky throng. "I'm happy for the team and for the people of the state of Kentucky because they love basketball so much there."
Givens scored 16 of Kentucky's final 18 points in the first half, getting the Wildcats on top, 45-38, at the break. It was a whirlwind finish in the closing minutes of the first half that got Kentucky a fairly comfortable margin.
With 57 seconds left, Duke's Gene Banks, who played despite receiving a death threat before the game, hit two free throws to cut Kentucky's lead to 39-38.
The next trip down, Givens fumbled the ball in the lane but recovered to put in a jumper over 6-foot-11 Mike Gminski, who missed from underneath at Duke's end.
Givens drilled one from the corner to get it up to 43-38 as the final seconds of the period ticked away. Duke rushed the ball down the floor, but Banks was called for charging -- Givens, of course.
Givens went to the free throw line and hit both shots with three seconds left to put Kentucky on top by seven points.
"I was really ready," said Givens, "I never felt better before a game than I did tonight."
Duke, probably the youngest team ever to play in the final game with a starting lineup of a junior, two sophomore and two freshmen, hung tough, however, cutting Kentucky's lead to three in the opening minutes of the second period.
"Duke played an outstanding game," said Hall, "and we played super."
Kentucky, whose four seniors -- Givens, Rick Robey, James Lee and Mike Phillips -- had played and lost to U.C.L.A. in the 1975 championship game never faltered.
Lee got Kentucky its first basket of the second half with a hook, and after Duke's Jim Spanarkel got that basket back, Givens missed a jumper, Lee missed a follow-up shot and Givens tipped it in.
Kentucky got a little more breathing room when Duke coach Bill Foster was called for a technical foul with 17:35 to go. Foster thought Kentucky's Truman Claytor had walked under the pressure in the backcourt, but all he got for his protests was the "T" from Big Ten referee Jim Bain.
Kyle Macy, as is his custom, made both free throws, and then bounced a pass into Robey, who dunked one to give Kentucky a 55-46 lead. Kentucky stretched that margin to 12 points quickly at 60-48 and moved the lead up to 16 at 66-50 when Givens hit a follow shot and was fouled. Still, Duke refused to give in.
In fact, in the closing seconds, when Hall pulled his veterans from the game, Duke got the deficit down to 92-88 after Gminski hit a turnaround jumper. Duke called time-out with 10 seconds left to set up a press defense. But by then, Kentucky's regulars were back in the game,and the Kentucky season ended in a most appropriate fashion.
A long pass went to Lee in the Kentucky forecourt, and the big senior from Lexington eluded Duke's Bob Bender and went in for a dunk that made the final margin six points.
Free throws kept Duke in the first period. Duke ran off a string of 12 straight and trailed only 21-20 when the teams went to the bench for a television time-out at 9:41. For the first period, Duke was 20-for-21 from the line and only 9-for-23 from the field -- 39.1 percent. Kentucky, meanwhile, was 18-for-34 form the field but went to the line only 12 times and hit nine.
Banks led Duke in scoring with 22 points followed by Spanarkel with 21 and Gminski with 20. After Givens' 41, Robey followed with 20 for Kentucky. Robey also had 11 rebounds to lead Kentucky. Gminski led Duke's rebounding with 12 as Duke enjoyed a 35-32 edge on the boards.
Jack Givens Shoots and Scores
Gene Banks checks UK's Kyle Macy
James Lee with the exclamation point