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Basketball's Week
Mervin Hyman
January 24, 1966
In a week of big games—in Palo Alto, Albuquerque, Peoria and Providence—the biggest was in Lexington, where unbeaten Kentucky met Vanderbilt and the whole SEC hung on the result
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January 24, 1966

Basketball's Week

In a week of big games—in Palo Alto, Albuquerque, Peoria and Providence—the biggest was in Lexington, where unbeaten Kentucky met Vanderbilt and the whole SEC hung on the result

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Adolph Rupp has three sure assets at Kentucky this year: good ball handling, overall speed and excellent shooting. He does not have much height, by now a normal situation at Lexington, so he worries about disaster on the boards. And he worries about his defense even more. Before the game with Vanderbilt and its 6-foot-9 star, Clyde Lee, Rupp specifically challenged his team to overcome these weaknesses—and they did.

Zone defenses have been used with some success against Vandy, so Kentucky opened with a 1-3-1, Rupp theorizing it would be best to start that way, try for a quick lead and switch to man-for-man if it became necessary. After five minutes Vanderbilt led by five points, and it was necessary. Kentucky called time, went to its man-for-man match-ups, and the challenge was on. Thad Jaracz, a 6-foot-5 sophomore with fine promise, came out against Lee, giving away four inches. But the other starters, all veterans, were supposed to help him, especially in blocking out on the boards. Though it did not show immediately, the switch turned the game to Kentucky.

Scoring behind screens off familiar patterns that depend on precise execution, rebounding and defending aggressively, the Wildcats caught Vandy and led at the half 47-42. Louis Dampier and Pat Riley had 13 baskets between them, mostly from outside, and Lee had been forced to work extra hard for his 16 points and 12 rebounds. The Commodores, playing their fourth game in eight days, looked tired and sluggish. Three minutes into the second half, Jaracz picked up his fourth foul. But 6-foot-8 Cliff Berger replaced him and continued the good job on Lee, now visibly weary from overwork. He was not moving so quickly anymore; Vandy was ignoring him and taking bad shots as well. Leading 60-55, Kentucky finally broke it open, outscoring the Commodores 12-2, and won easily, 96-83. Lee got only one basket in the first 10 minutes of the second half, just one rebound in the entire period. Eleven of his 30 points came when the game was out of reach. Kentucky shot 65% in the second half, Dampier and Riley totaled 52 points, and each Wildcat starter had at least 11 points and seven rebounds. Balance is the word at Lexington this year. The Baron has another power.


1. DUKE (14-1)
2. KENTUCKY (12-0)
3. VANDERBILT (14-2)

Perhaps they were both looking ahead, but whatever the reason, KENTUCKY and VANDERBILT barely survived earlier in the week. Georgia took Kentucky, a 13-point leader at half time, into double overtime before the Wildcats won 69-65 on sophomore Berger's free throws and Riley's layup. It was scary enough to draw a mild complaint from Coach Rupp. "This team," he said, "just does not have the killer instinct."

Vanderbilt had all kinds of trouble with Tennessee. The Vols' nagging zone defense held Lee to a single field goal and had Vandy beaten 30-22 at the half. Then Keith Thomas and Jerry Southwood went to work. They shot over the zone, and Vanderbilt managed to eke out a 53-52 victory. That was not Tennessee's only disappointment of the week. Upstart MISSISSIPPI STATE upset the Vols 75-74 in double overtime.

Duke was turning the ACC race into a runaway. The Blue Devils, after an unexpectedly close 87-85 win over Clemson on Steve Vacendak's slinky underhand layup with four seconds to go, recovered their poise to trample Maryland 76-61 and Wake Forest 101-81. Meanwhile, Duke's challengers were dropping away. NORTH CAROLINA beat North Carolina State 83-75 and then was upset by VIRGINIA 70-69 when Buddy Reams tapped in a shot in the last seconds. NORTH CAROLINA STATE, however, came back to edge Maryland 60-58 on quick Billy Moffitt's steal and layup in overtime.

There was no stopping DAVIDSON—or more specifically, its star, Dick Snyder—in the Southern Conference. With Snyder firing in 38 points, the Wildcats beat The Citadel 81-77. He got 28 more as Davidson trounced Furman 81-65. WEST VIRGINIA, just about the only other contender left, took East Carolina 98-76 and Penn State 74-64. VIRGINIA TECH, which might have challenged Davidson if it had not quit the Southern Conference to go independent, defeated George Washington 82-75.

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