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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Great Final Four moments


Take a trip down Final Four memory lane. Here are some of our favorite Final Four moments.

March 23, 1957 -- In the NCAA finals, unbeaten North Carolina starts the game by having 5-foot-10 Tommy Kearns jump center against Kansas' 7-1 Goliath, Wilt Chamberlain. The sophomore center has an easier time with the tap than he does against the Tar Heels' collapsing defense, with 6-9 Joe Quigg playing in front of him and other defenders leaving their zone to surround him.

The strategy works, as Chamberlain is limited to 13 shots (making six) in the three-overtime game in Kansas City. Though he scores a game-high 23 points, his teammates, as Chamberlain says, "couldn't put a pea in the ocean."

Second-ranked Kansas leads 46-43 with 1:45 left in the second half when N.C.'s leading scorer Len Rosenbluth (20 points) fouls out. But the Tar Heels score three points to force an overtime. In the first extra period, each team only scores two points, with Chamberlain's basket tying the game. The second overtime is scoreless.

With six seconds left in the third overtime and N.C. down by a point, Quigg is on the foul line. Quigg nervously makes the two free throws and after he knocks away a pass intended for Chamberlain, the Tar Heels have a 54-53 victory, capping their 32-0 season.

March 19, 1960 -- Ohio State had ended the regular season ranked No. 3 in the country, while defending national champion California was rated second. But when the NCAA final is over, it is clear that the Buckeyes are No. 1. Jerry Lucas, the All-American sophomore center, succeeds on 5-of-6 field-goal attempts in the first half as Ohio State connects on 16-of-19 shots in taking a 37-19 halftime lead. The five-point underdogs don't let down in the second half and coast to a 75-55 victory in the Cow Palace in San Francisco as five Buckeyes score in double figures. Lucas is voted the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four after being the top scorer (16 points) and rebounder (10) in the biggest title-game rout in the first 22 years of the NCAA Tournament. But the job he does defensively might be his biggest contribution. Lucas has the task of guarding All-American center Darrall Imhoff, who had scored 25 points in Cal's semifinal victory over No. 1-ranked Cincinnati and Oscar Robertson. But the 6-foot-8 Lucas forces the 6-foot-10 Imhoff into 3-of-9 shooting, holding him to eight points and five rebounds.

March 24, 1962 -- In the second consecutive all-Ohio NCAA final, Cincinnati again upsets top-ranked Ohio State. The Bearcats keep their crown with a 71-59 victory in Louisville as center Paul Hogue outplays Jerry Lucas, the Buckeyes' three-time All-American, who is hobbled by a knee injury suffered in last night's semifinal.

The 6-foot-8, 240-pound Hogue, the only senior on Cincinnati's starting five, is the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player. He scores 22 points and grabs 19 rebounds in the final, compared to Lucas' 11 points (5-of-17 from the field) and 16 rebounds. Lucas' teammate, second-team All-American John Havlicek, also scores 11.

Cincinnati's disciplined starting five of Hogue, clever guards Tom Thacker (21 points) and Tony Yates, and sophomore forwards Ron Bonham and George Wilson give an iron-man performance, with no subs playing until less than two minutes remain in the game. In winning their 18th consecutive game, coach Ed Jucker's team finishes 29-2. Ohio State is 29-2, and 78-6 in the Lucas era.

March 21, 1964 -- The dynasty begins. Unbeaten UCLA, which has no starter taller than 6-foot-5, harasses Duke into committing 24 turnovers in the NCAA final. The Bruins score 16 consecutive points late in the first half to take a 43-30 lead on the way to a stunningly easy 98-83 victory before 10,864 fans in Kansas City.

Sharp-shooting guard Gail Goodrich leads the offense with a game-high 27 points and Ken Washington comes off the bench to score 26 and grab a game-high 12 rebounds. Their fast-break attack and pressing defense is led by guard Walt Hazzard, who is voted the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.

At 30-0, UCLA is only the third team to go through a season undefeated and win the national title. (San Francisco in 1956 and North Carolina in 1957 were the first two.) This is the first of 10 titles in 12 seasons for coach John Wooden's Bruins.

March 19, 1966 - Texas Western becomes the first NCAA champion to start five African-Americans, upsetting No.-1 ranked Kentucky's all-white team of Adolph Rupp in the final in College Park, Md.

Texas Western coach Don Haskins makes one change in his starting lineup: He uses three guards against the small but speedy Wildcats. Bobby Joe Hill, Texas Western's 5-foot-10 bolt of lightning in the backcourt, sets the tone early in the 72-65 victory when he twice steals the ball from Kentucky players and scores layups.

The Miners take the lead midway in the first half and never relinquish it, though Kentucky gets within a point early in the second half. Texas Western, which was ranked No. 3 going into the tournament, finishes with a 28-1 record.

Hill leads all scorers with 20 points, while 6-foot-7, 240-pound center Dave ("Big Daddy") Lattin gets 16 points and grabs nine rebounds and guard Orsten ("Little O") Artis has 15 points and eight rebounds. Kentucky's Pat Riley and Lou Dampier each score 19, though Riley shoots 8-of-22 from the field.

"I'm just a young punk," Haskins says. "It was a thrill playing against Mr. Rupp, let alone beating him."

For playing nobody but blacks in beating an all-white team, Haskins reportedly will receive 40,000 pieces of hate mail and a dozen death threats.

March 22, 1969 -- The Lew Alcindor era ends with UCLA climbing one more Mount-ain. With Alcindor scoring 37 points and grabbing 20 rebounds, the Bruins beat Rick Mount's Purdue team, 92-72, in the NCAA final in Louisville.

It is the third consecutive championship for the Bruins, who are the first team to win five NCAA titles. Alcindor is named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player for the third straight year, the only player to ever earn that achievement.

In Alcindor's three seasons, UCLA goes 88-2 -- 30-0 in his sophomore season and 29-1 in each of his last two years. While the 7-foot-2 center is performing so adroitly in the final, his father plays the trombone in the UCLA band.

March 26, 1973 -- In the NCAA Tournament final in St. Louis, Bill Walton has the game of his life. No matter how Memphis State attempts to defense him, the UCLA center finds a way to beat it.

Driving one-on-one, hitting jump shots, guiding teammates' lob passes into the basketball, Walton scores 44 points, breaking Gail Goodrich' s NCAA championship game record of 42. Incredibly, Walton misses only one of 22 field-goal attempts. (From the foul line, he is 2-of-5.)

The game is tied at 39 at halftime before UCLA, led by Walton, blows away Memphis State in the second half to coast to an 87-66 victory. Walton finishes with a game-high 13 rebounds as the Bruins win their seventh consecutive NCAA title.

"He [Walton] is about as physical a big man as I've ever seen," Memphis State coach Gene Bartow says. "He did so many things so well that we just couldn't stop him. He's super -- the best collegiate player I've ever seen. We played him wrong. We tried three or four things, but I guess we didn't try the right one. If you let him have the ball, he'll kill you."

March 27, 1978 -- Kentucky senior Jack Givens, who grew up 10 minutes from campus, averaged 17 points going into the NCAA final. Tonight, the 6-foot-4 forward busts out in a big way.

The sweet shooting Givens, nicknamed Goose because he resembles former Globetrotters star Goose Tatum, bedevils Duke's zone defense. He scores 41 points, third highest in an NCAA final, as the Wildcats win 94-88 for their first NCAA championship in 20 years. Hitting mostly on short jump shots and assorted moves by the basket, the left-handed shooter connects on 18-for-27 field-goal attempts.

"Duke was attacking our guards and left a big gap inside, so we got the ball to who was hot, and that was Givens," says coach Joe B. Hall after winning his first title.

Givens scores 23 points in the first half, including Kentucky's final 16 when it goes from a one-point lead to a 45-38 halftime advantage against the young Blue Devils in St. Louis. Givens continues his hot shooting in the second half and wins the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player award.

March 26, 1979 -- In the first meeting of two legends, Magic Johnson wins both the battle and the war against Larry Bird. Magic scores a game-high 24 points as Michigan State cages Bird and his Indiana State teammates, 75-64, in the NCAA final.

Magic also grabs seven rebounds and has five assists as he controls the game from the beginning.

The loss is the first for Indiana State after 33 victories, and the point total is a season low. With Michigan State (26-6) using a 2-3 matchup zone defense, Bird is held to 19 points, shooting just 7-for-21 from the field, and has six turnovers and only two assists. When the game's over, Bird cries, a towel pressed to his face.

Magic, a sophomore, wins the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player award, while Bird, a senior, was the College Player of the Year. This will be the last college game for both players, who will continue their rivalry in the NBA.

March 29, 1982 -- The legend begins. In the NCAA final, before 61,612 fans in the Superdome, freshman Michael Jordan hits the first of many money shots. With his tongue hanging out and his legs going straight up, Jordan's jump shot with 15 seconds left gives North Carolina a 63-62 lead over Georgetown for the national championship.

Trailing by a point and working against Georgetown's zone defense, anchored by center Patrick Ewing, the Tar Heels' first two options are to get the ball inside to either James Worthy or Sam Perkins. But with the two big men blanketed, point guard Jimmy Black spots Jordan free on the left side, about 16 feet from the basket.

"I wasn't nervous," the freshman says. "All I wanted to do was follow through right."

The victory is clinched when Georgetown guard Freddie Brown inexplicably passes directly to Worthy with seven seconds left. The win gives coach Dean Smith his first NCAA championship in seven Final Four appearances.

Worthy, not Jordan, is named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player after scoring a game-high 28 points (13-of-17 from the field) in the final. Jordan, who scores 16 and grabs a team-high nine rebounds, will win a few other awards in the future.

April 4, 1983 -- With 10 defeats, it didn't appear as if North Carolina State was going to be invited to the "Big Dance." But the Wolfpack surprisingly wins the ACC tournament and is in the NCAA Tournament. But it isn't expected to do much. Given a sixth seed, it's a 25-1 long shot to win the tournament.

But N.C. State wins five games -- three by two points or less -- to reach tonight's final against Houston, winner of 26 straight with a running, flying, dunking attack. Using slowdown tactics, N.C. State takes a 33-25 halftime lead before Houston, with Akeem Olajuwon, goes on a 17-2 tear to grab a 44-37 edge. Clyde Drexler's two free throws give the Cougars a 52-46 lead with 3:19 left. It's their last points.

The final insult for Houston comes when Lorenzo Charles slams home Dereck Whittenburg's 32-foot air ball at the buzzer, giving N.C. State a stunning 54-52 victory in Albuquerque.

"Here they are all season, bragging about their dunks, calling themselves Phi Slama Jama," says NC State's Alvin Battle, "and they get one slama in the middle of the game, and we get one jama at the end. It's real ironic, isn't it?"

And when N.C. State becomes the first team to win the national title with double-digit losses, its emotional leader, coach Jim Valvano, rushes on to the court, looking for somebody to hug.

April 1, 1985 -- Defending national champion Georgetown, top-ranked in the country, is favored by 9 points to defeat No. 8-seeded Villanova in the NCAA final. The first two games, though, were tight, with Georgetown winning 52-50 in overtime and 57-50.

The day before the championship, Villanova coach Rollie Massimino said that his team would need a perfect game to win. The Wildcats aren't perfect, but they come close. They connect on 22-of-28 field-goal attempts to set a Final Four record for field-goal percentage, converting 78.6 percent against a team that had held opponents to just 39 percent field-goal accuracy.

On April Fool's Day, the Hoyas find the joke is on them. The Wildcats' sharp shooting and smart playing enable them to upset their Big East rivals, 66-64, in Lexington, Ky.

In the second half, Villanova connects on 9-of-10 field-goal attempts. Their last basket comes with 2:37 left, a jumper by sophomore guard Harold Jensen (5-for-5) that gives the Wildcats the lead for good at 55-54.

Villanova center Ed Pinckney (5-of-7, 16 points) outplays three-time All-American Patrick Ewing, who is held to 14 points, with only two coming in the final 13 minutes. Pinckney is named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player.

March 30, 1987 -- One is a former employee at McDonald's, cooking hamburgers after he graduated from high school. The other is a former McDonald's high school All-American. Want to guess who's the hero and who's the goat in the NCAA final?

Indiana guard Keith Smart, the former Big Mac maker, cooks Syracuse's goose with a 15-foot jump shot from the left baseline with five seconds left to give the Hoosiers a 74-73 victory. Smart, after scoring just four points in the first half, pours in 17 in the second half, including a basket that pulls Indiana to 73-72 with 30 seconds left.

Then he intentionally fouls the McDonald's All American, freshman forward Derrick Coleman, with 28 seconds remaining. While Coleman has performed yeoman work on the boards, pulling down a game-high 19 rebounds, he puts up a brick from the foul line, giving Indiana the chance to win.

The NCAA title is the third for Indiana coach Bob Knight. Only UCLA's John Wooden (10) and Kentucky's Adolph Rupp (four) have won more.

April 3, 1989 -- Seton Hall is up by a point and time is running out in overtime for Michigan in the NCAA final. Rumeal Robinson is driving when referee John Clougherty calls a controversial blocking foul in the lane against Seton Hall's Gerald Greene with three seconds left.

Earlier in the season against Wisconsin, Robinson was in a similar position. But he missed two free throws with seven seconds left and Michigan lost. Tonight, Robinson, a 64 percent foul shooter, already has made 7-of-8 foul shots. Now, with a more significant game on the line, he sinks both freebies to give Michigan an 80-79 victory in Seattle's Kingdome.

This is Michigan's only NCAA championship and its coach is Steve Fisher, who had been promoted from an assistant just a couple of days before the tournament. Bill Frieder had accepted Arizona State's offer to become head coach.

It looks as if 10th-ranked Michigan will roll to an easy title when it leads by 12 points in the second half, but Seton Hall rallies behind John Morton, who scores 25 of his game-high 35 points after intermission. His three-pointer with 25 seconds left in the second half sends the game into overtime.

Michigan's Glen Rice, the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player, scores 31 points to finish with 184, a tournament record.

April 5, 1993 -- North Carolina wins the NCAA Tournament, but the final will forever be remembered more for Chris Webber's blunder.

N.C. leads 73-71 when Webber, Michigan's All-American sophomore forward, rebounds Pat Sullivan's missed free throw with 20 seconds left. Webber travels, but no referee calls it. Given a second chance, he hurriedly dribbles across midcourt, stopping in front of Michigan's bench. Then he signals for a timeout with 11 seconds remaining.

The only problem is that the Wolverines are out of timeouts.

Donald Williams hits two free throws after the technical and another two after a foul, wrapping up the Tar Heels' 77-71 victory in the Superdome in New Orleans.

After the game, Webber sits chagrined and thoroughly miserable in the locker room. "I just called the timeout and that probably cost us the game," he says.

Webber's mistake overshadows N.C.'s comeback from a 67-63 deficit to a 72-67 lead with a minute left. Williams scores a game-high 25 points, including hitting 5-of-7 shots from three-point range, and is named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player. He dedicates his performance to the ailing Jim Valvano, the former North Carolina State coach who first recruited him.





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