"There must be a hundred teams in this country that I could lead in scoring," says Jackson, who is averaging 17.5 points a game. "I might even be an All-America. But I don't think much about it because I like what I'm doing and I know my role."
So it was one big healthy, happy and harmonious family that went to Lexington to play Kentucky last Wednesday. The Volunteers were 9-2 overall, 3-0 in the SEC and much more confident than you would ever expect an unranked 11-point underdog to be.
The same was not true of the Wildcats, who had struggled to win their two conference games, defeating Georgia in overtime and Vanderbilt on a basket in the last nine seconds. Clearly this was not the same team that had humiliated Notre Dame two weeks before, 102-78. "We've been celebrating ever since," said Coach Joe B. Hall before the game. "We're not playing or practicing well. We're in some kind of emotional slump."
A shooting slump was more like it against Tennessee. Kentucky shot only 27% in the first half and fell behind 32-28. The Wildcats are very good when their beefy big men can pound your head and their little men can run, but put Mike Phillips and Rick Robey, both 6'10", in foul trouble and slow the tempo and the Wildcats are in trouble.
Just how much trouble was apparent in the last four minutes when Kentucky, which had finally gone ahead, tried to protect a five-point lead. Tennessee zone-trapped the Wildcat ball handlers into mistakes, and it was the home team that needed a late basket to tie the game at 61 and send it into overtime.
King took charge in the extra period. He scored one basket while falling on his back, set up two more with nifty passes and controlled the backboards and the Volunteers had a very big win.
With some justification Kentucky blamed its 33% field-goal shooting for the loss, but Tennessee, which has now beaten the Wildcats four straight times, would hear none of it. "They didn't show me nothing," said Johnson, who out-scored King 18 to 16 and had 13 rebounds to Grunfeld's three. "It was the same as last year, when we came from 16 points down to win," said King. "We remembered it and they did, too."
Grunfeld figures that "if we can beat Kentucky, we can beat anybody," and his teammates readily agree. King says there is no doubt Tennessee would win a rematch with San Francisco. Says Johnson, "We should take everything. Can't no team stop us."