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Kentucky's strategy against the Hoosiers was the antithesis of Indiana's measured game plan. Hall told his players to run and shoot. "If you miss the first five, take five more," he said. Flynn, who scored 22 points to go along with an excellent floor game, Jimmy Dan Conner (17 points) and Kevin Grevey (17 points) used ammunition as if the game were being played at the O.K. Corral. Robey, Phillips, Bob Guyette and Danny Hall played bump and grunt with Benson, who was magnificent—33 points and 23 rebounds—but no longer intimidating. And freshman Jack Givens led a wave of reserves that came off the bench to wear down Indiana.
Even the refs played a part in the Wildcat game plan. During a critical late stretch, they called several fouls on Indiana for setting illegal picks that helped propel Kentucky into a 10-point lead with 4:02 remaining. But the game and emotions were far from played out. The Hoosiers struggled to within two points before Kentucky finally managed to run out the final seconds.
Afterward the tone was conciliatory. Knight congratulated Hall and praised the Kentucky effort. The winners followed his lead. " Benson came up to me, crying and everything, and said he hoped we went all the way," said Robey. "It takes a man to do that. He gave his blows and I gave mine, but we're not enemies."
Louisville's fans have maintained all season that the Cardinals needed some strong enemies to snap them out of their lethargy. Since the NBA already was booked, the Cards had to wait until last week to show what they could do.
Louisville blasted through the strongest and best-balanced regional, using the methodical attack of a woman knitting socks. Knit one, purl two, then hit the open jump shot.
Earlier in the season, Cincinnati's young team had lost to the Cardinals by only eight points, and the Bearcats had matured to win 16 straight games thereafter. But Louisville's patience took them right out of the game. The Cards, led by Junior Bridgeman on his way to a 20-point game, coolly built a 17-point lead in the first half and refused to rattle when Cincinnati closed to within nine in the second period. As usual, everybody on the bench played except the trainer.
Meanwhile, Maryland was manhandling Notre Dame. Terp freshman Brad Davis' hurry-up offense wrecked the Irish. When Davis was not scoring, he was drawing the defense to him and passing off for easy baskets. "We can't let Davis get that penetration," said Louisville Guard Phillip Bond. "If I can guard him without anybody helping me out, we should be able to control them." Bond came through, scoring a career-high 23 points, holding Davis to eight and keeping Louisville together in the early going when Bridgeman and Allen Murphy were playing like Frick and Frack.
Everybody was ready to take UCLA's temperature after the Bruins' performance against Montana in the opening round in the West. UCLA survived by only three points to prove conclusively that it can win even when it does not play well. Not surprisingly, Wooden decided it was time for a talk. "I told them we were in sudden death now and that we had to show some real intensity," he said. "The only fierce competitor on the team is David Meyers. The rest of them are all kind persons."
More important than the lecture was Wooden's decision to excuse sophomore Forward Marques Johnson from running in practice. Johnson suffered a hepatitis attack last fall and has been slow to regain his strength. He showed up in fine fettle indeed for the Western title game against Arizona State.
The Sun Devils had made the finals by defeating Nevada-Las Vegas 84-81. Against UCLA, Arizona State planned to put pressure on the ball. The strategy went awry when the Sun Devils slipped into early foul trouble and were forced to play three guards against the Bruins' inside game. ASU's lack of height became doubly critical because Johnson was playing so well. The soph scored 20 points as the Bruins plowed to a 46-36 first-half lead. "We were ready to play," said Johnson, who finished with 35 points and 12 rebounds as UCLA won the way it used to—laughing. Asked to explain the team's uneven performances, Guard Pete Trgovich, who scored nine of UCLA's last 12 points to save the Montana game, responded, "We don't respect some teams enough."