50 years later, UK starts tourney in Iowa again – The Courier-Journal

7 months ago Comments Off on 50 years later, UK starts tourney in Iowa again – The Courier-Journal

LEXINGTON, Ky. – If Kentucky advances to the second round of the NCAA tournament, it will face Indiana or Chattanooga on the 50th anniversary of the 1966 “Glory Road” game against Texas Western.

While the team that became known as “Rupp’s Runts” fell short of its national championship aspirations in a game known for Texas Western and its all-black starting lineup upsetting Kentucky and it’s all-white roster, the team remains among the most beloved in program history.

Now 50 years later, the current Wildcats face a similar set of storylines entering the tournament.

Both teams started their tournament runs in Iowa – the 1966 squad in Iowa City and the current Wildcats in Des Moines. Post play was a question mark for both teams. The looming presence of a regional rival in the second round attracted much attention before the opener.

The diminutive size of Kentucky’s roster was a storyline from the outset of the tournament in 1966 with The Courier-Journal’s March 11 preview focusing on the matchup between UK 6-foot-5 center Thad Jaracz and Dayton’s 6-foot-11 center Henry Finkel.

“University of Louisville center Westley Unseld, who played against Dayton twice this season and saw UK on television, predicts, ‘Kentucky’s speed will run the Flyers off the court,’” Courier-Journal staff writer Larry Boeck wrote from Iowa City.

In 1966 the buzz-worthy second-round matchup would have been between Kentucky and Western Kentucky. It would have been the first meeting between the two teams in program history.

“Despite the fact that neither team has a starter over 6 feet, 5 ½ inches tall, observers believe their quickness and shooting can produce an all-Kentucky final here,” Boeck wrote.

Indiana fans will hope there is no repeat of the disappointment of those looking toward the second round 50 years ago as Kentucky took care of Dayton with an 86-79 win but Western Kentucky fell to Michigan 80-79 in their 1966 tournament openers in Iowa.

“The Wildcats cheered on by approximately 2,000 Kentuckians in the crowd of 11,500 advanced to tonight’s regional final against Michigan,” Boeck wrote in a recap of the game. “Kentucky’s harassed Wildcats stayed alive in the National Collegiate Athletic Association eliminations when (Louie) Dampier and (Pat) Riley combined for 63 points to offset the 36-point performance of Finkel.”

While Western Kentucky was denied its shot at Kentucky, fans of the two programs banded together in a show of camaraderie that would be difficult to imagine repeating itself Saturday in Des Moines if just one of the current UK or Indiana teams lose its opening game.

With UK students on trimester break the week of the 1966 games in Iowa City, the band did not make the trip with the team to the Hawkeye State, but fans were not deprived of the chance to hear the UK fight song in the regional final as the WKU band spent a day practicing the song after the Hilltoppers were eliminated by the Wolverines.

“As Kentucky went on to defeat Big Ten champion Michigan and gain a place in this weekend’s four-team finals at University of Maryland, the Western band brassily proclaimed its support of the Wildcats,” Boeck wrote in the March 14, 1966 edition of The Courier-Journal. “And UK and Hilltopper rooters blended into one cheering section to counter the yelling of Big Ten fans at the University of Iowa Fieldhouse.”

Western Kentucky fans were spotted before the game with hastily made signs displacing their newfound allegiance, including one that read “We’re now for UK all the way.”

Even Adolph Rupp took the time to thank the Hilltoppers for their support.

“The team and the coaches appreciate the efforts of the Western band and rooters,” Rupp said. “They really helped us.”

Maybe there is hope for the Kentucky-Indiana rivalry yet.

Email Jon Hale at jahale@courier-journal.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonHale_CJ.

50 years later, UK starts tourney in Iowa again – The Courier-Journal

    Related Posts

    Rio Olympics 2016: GB cyclists miss out on medals, plus day one round-up

    3 months ago
    Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome miss out on medals but swimmer Adam Peaty sets a world record, while US shooter Ginny Thrasher wins the first gold of Rio 2016.... Read More

    UK’s National Obesity Forum slams ‘disastrous’ low-fat diet advice – The Verge

    5 months ago
    The UK’s National Obesity Forum (NOF) has come out with a scathing report this week that condemns the common advice handed down from authorities to eat a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet.... Read More

    Donald Trump is right about Nato spending, says UK diplomat – Telegraph.co.uk

    5 months ago
    “We pay so much disproportionately more for Nato,” he has complained. “We are getting ripped off by every country in NATO, where they pay virtually nothing, most of them.... Read More

    The Duchess Is Vogue’s Centenary Cover Star – Vogue.co.uk

    6 months ago
    HRH THE DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE is today unveiled as the cover star... Read More
    Real Time Web Analytics