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At a Glance
NCAA Champion--Oklahoma A&M (31-2; coached by Hank Iba/12th of 36 seasons with Cowboys; won Missouri Valley title by five games with a 12-0 record).
NIT Champion--Kentucky (28-2; coached by Adolph Rupp/16th of 41 seasons with Wildcats; went undefeated in SEC along with LSU).
NCAA Consensus First-Team All-Americans--Leo Klier, F, Sr., Notre Dame (16.9 ppg); Bob Kurland, C, Sr., Oklahoma A&M (19.5 ppg); George Mikan, C, Sr., DePaul (23.1 ppg); Max Morris, F-C, Sr., Northwestern (17.2 ppg); Sid Tanenbaum, G, Jr., NYU (12.9 ppg).
Football connections seemed to dominate college basketball. Clarence "Nibs" Price completed a unique Rose Bowl-NCAA Tournament double when his California basketball team finished in fourth place in the NCAA playoffs with a school record for victories (30-6) one year after going 7-8. On January 1, 1929, Price had coached the Cal football squad in its 8-7 defeat to Georgia Tech in the Rose Bowl game that is famous for Roy Riegels' wrong-way run for the Bears. Oddly, Tech's coach in that game (Bill Alexander) had been in charge of the Yellow Jackets' basketball squad for four seasons the first half of the 1920s.
George Ratterman, a quarterback for Notre Dame's football team, scored the last 11 points for the Irish in a 56-47 upset of a Kentucky squad that eventually won the NIT. Ratterman averaged 8.6 points per game as a starting forward. . . . Halfback Glenn Davis, runner-up in Heisman Trophy voting for the second straight year, was a member of Army's basketball squad. He captured the prestigious football award the next season. . . . Freshman Doak Walker earned a letter with SMU's basketball team. The football halfback finished among the top three in Heisman Trophy voting the next three school years.
Rhode Island State upended Bowling Green in overtime in the NIT quarterfinals after the Rams' Ernie Calverley swished a shot from beyond halfcourt at the end of regulation. Calverley was named NIT Most Valuable Player although Kentucky freshman Ralph Beard outscored him, 13-8, when UK won the final, 46-45. Beard had played freshman football for the Wildcats, starting three games at fullback behind quarterback George Blanda.
NIT kingpin Kentucky finished with a 28-2 record although former All-American Bob Brannum and future All-American Alex Groza were serving in the U.S. Army. The captain of the Wildcats' squad was All-American guard Jack Parkinson, who served in the U.S. Air Force the next season. . . . LSU joined UK in the undefeated ranks in SEC competition. Coach Harry Rabenhorst guided the Tigers to winning league marks each of their first 12 seasons in the SEC with him at their helm.
Oklahoma A&M's Bob Kurland authored a school-record 58 points in an 86-33 rout of St. Louis. Kurland, a native of Jennings, Mo., doubled the Billikens' output in the first half on his way to powering A&M to a 38-16 lead at intermission. The victim of Kurland's outburst was Ed Macauley, then a freshman and future All-American and NBA standout. Macauley said he kept a newspaper clip of the box score in his billfold throughout his career. "Every time I thought I needed to be humble," he said. "I would look at that box score and remember I was the guy who held Kurland to 58 points." . . . Baylor (25-5/coached by Bill Henderson) joined Cal in having their winningest seasons in school history. Harvard (19-3/Floyd Stahl) had its winningest campaign until 2009-10. . . . All five starters for Oklahoma A&M were All-Missouri Valley Conference first-team selections. . . . One of the All-MVC second-team choices was St. Louis' Henry "Hank" Raymonds, who would later coach five Marquette squads to the NCAA Tournament in a six-year span from 1978 through 1983. . . . St. Louis lost to Vee Green-coached Drake. Green, in the second of two years at the Bulldogs' basketball helm, also guided the school's football squad to a 13-12 victory at Fresno State in the Raisin Bowl. . . . Harvard, which went 4-25 the previous two seasons, set a school standard with 13 consecutive victories. Its own regular-season defeat was against Holy Cross (47-42).
Purdue's Ward "Piggy" Lambert ended his 29-year coaching career with a 371-152 record. Lambert directed the Boilermakers to six Big Ten titles and five co-championships and holds the conference record for longevity. He was succeeded by assistant Mel Tabue with seven games remaining in his final season, which marked the school's first losing league mark (4-8) since 1919. "He (Lambert) loved to stress the little things," said John Wooden, a Hall of Famer as a player and as a coach who was chastised by Lambert for always driving the ball to his right until he became equally proficient driving left.
A then college-record crowd of 22,822 watched Ohio State defeat Northwestern, 53-46, and DePaul upend Notre Dame, 63-47, in a doubleheader at Chicago Stadium. The victory enabled Ohio State to clinch the Big Ten crown in the Buckeyes' regular-season finale. . . . Defending Big Ten champion Iowa won its first two games by a total of 127 points (87-25 over Augustana and 91-26 over South Dakota) and its first five outings by an average margin of 43.6 points. . . . The University of Chicago dropped out of the Big Ten after its fifth consecutive winless league record. The charter member, despite having only one all-league choice in a six-year span from 1925 through 1930 and only one selection in its last 10 seasons in the alliance, continued to boast more All-Big Ten picks with 49 than Ohio State (until 1954), Indiana (1957), Michigan (1964) and Iowa (1965) for an extended period. . . . Indiana, coached by Harry Good, was Big Ten runner-up after finishing in ninth place the previous year. . . . Marquette (11-7) reached double figures in victories for the only season in a 12-year span from 1940 through 1951.
SWC champion Baylor was winless in league competition the previous year. . . . Texas A&M posted its lone triumph over Texas (50-44) in a 16-game stretch from 1943 through 1950. . . . SMU became the third different SWC member in as many years to go winless in conference play. . . . Guy Lewis became the first Houston player to crack the 30-point plateau in a game. He later became the Cougars' all-time winningest coach and guided them to five Final Fours. . . . Kansas State lost a school-record 11 consecutive games en route to a school-worst 4-20 mark. It was the Wildcats' 15th straight non-winning season. They were 3-5 at home for their last losing record there before setting an NCAA record for consecutive home winning seasons that was extended to 50 through 1995-96. . . . Oklahoma went .500 (23-23) in two seasons without All-Americans Allie Paine and Gerry Tucker while they served in the U.S. Army.
Elmore Morgenthaler, a 7-1 center for New Mexico School of Mines, was called the "tallest player in the world" by the Converse Basketball Yearbook. The Boston College transfer scored 12 field goals in an 84-61 victory over Drury (Mo.) in an exhibition game with 12-foot baskets at Kansas City. Field goals counted for three points in the contest. . . . Bob Kloppenburg, Southern California's leading scorer with 10.9 points per game, went on to briefly coach the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers and Seattle SuperSonics. . . . Both of the PCC divisional winners went from last to first in one year (Idaho in North and California in South).
Ozzie Cowles captured his seventh Ivy League championship in his last eight seasons as Dartmouth's coach. At one point, Dartmouth won 72 of 76 home games with Cowles at the helm. None of the 11 coaches since him compiled a winning career record with the Big Green. . . . Boston College fielded its first intercollegiate basketball team since the 1924-25 season and notched a 3-10 record. . . . Connecticut's losing streak against the Coast Guard reached seven consecutive games. . . . Yale compiled a 14-1 record in Red Rolfe's fourth and final season as its coach. He became Yale's coach in 1942 after playing in the World Series with the New York Yankees earlier that year. . . . Penn's Tom "Herb" Upton, an All-EIBL first-team selection, went on to play shortstop with two American League teams for three years from 1950 through 1952. . . . Manhattan defeated Villanova 10 consecutive times in their series until losing to the Wildcats, 42-40. . . . The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (Kings Point) compiled a modest 5-11 record, but two of its victories came against Villanova (43-38) and Maryland (52-25). . . . La Salle lost its last five games to finish with the Explorers' only losing record (9-14) in a 29-year span from 1936-37 through 1964-65. . . . George Washington compiled its only losing mark (7-8) in a 25-season stretch from 1929-30 through 1955-56 (GWU did not field squads in 1943-44 and 1944-45 because of World War II). . . . Penn State's John Lawther, who previously coached Westminster (Pa.), compiled his first losing record (7-9) in 20 seasons.
The Official Basketball Guide reported that "a record-breaking crowd of 8,800 paid admissions" saw Duke's second game with North Carolina "in Duke's big indoor stadium." The Guide went on to note that "this is reputed to be the largest crowd ever to see a game in the South."
Georgia Tech freshman Jim Nolan led the SEC in scoring with 14.6 points per game. He was the fourth different individual in as many years to lead the SEC in scoring from two schools (also Tulane) that are no longer members of the league. . . . Forward Bobby Lowther became the only two-sport All-American in LSU history. Lowther averaged 14.7 points per game in basketball and also excelled in track and field, finishing second at the NCAA Championships in the javelin and fourth in the pole vault. . . . Clemson, coached by Rock Norman, defeated intrastate rival South Carolina, 47-42, for the Tigers' lone victory in a 22-game stretch of their series from 1941 to 1951. Norman previously coached the Gamecocks and two other in-state programs (Furman and The Citadel). He is the only individual to coach four different major colleges in the same state. . . . Wake Forest posted the fourth-best record in the 16-team Southern Conference after going winless in the league the previous year. . . . All-Southern Conference first-team forward John Seward of league tournament champion Duke had been a POW in Germany. Seward was an all-tourney selection in 1943 before leaving to serve in the U.S. Army. . . . Richmond registered its only triumph over George Washington in their first 20 meetings until 1954.
1946 NCAA Tournament
Summary: Oklahoma A&M's Bob Kurland was the only player for the NCAA's first repeat champion to score in double figures in any of the Aggies' three playoff games. He tallied a tourney-high 29 points in a 52-39 victory over California in the Western Regional final. Twenty-six different players appeared in A&M's 33 games, but only three scored more than five points in either of the two Final Four frays. "We are not going to play them; they are going to play us," A&M coach Hank Iba said.
Star Gazing: Sam Aubrey, who had been seriously wounded in the war, came back to be a regular for A&M although there was doubt whether he would ever walk again. Aubrey went on to succeed Iba as coach of the Cowboys for three seasons from 1970-71 through 1972-73.
One and Only: Kurland became the only player to score more than half of a championship team's points in a single tournament (total of 72 points accounted for 51.8 percent of Oklahoma A&M's output in three games). . . . The only member of the champion Aggies' roster to later play in the NBA was freshman guard Joe Bradley, who averaged 3.4 points per game. Bradley contributed 1.9 points per game for the Chicago Stags in 1949-50.
Numbers Game: Bones McKinney, who averaged 9.8 points per game as a junior center for NCAA runner-up North Carolina, was the only one of the five individuals to play for and coach a team in the Final Four in the 20th Century to average more than 5.5 points per game in the season his alma mater reached the national semifinals. McKinney, who averaged 9.8 points per game for Carolina, coached Wake Forest to the 1962 Final Four. . . . This was the only one of the first 18 NCAA playoffs through 1956 where North Carolina won a tourney game. . . . Harvard, coached by Floyd Stahl, made its only NCAA Tournament appearance in the 20th Century. . . . The Big Six (regular-season champion Kansas), EIBL (Dartmouth) and SEC (Kentucky defeated co-champion LSU in postseason tournament) did not have representatives in the NCAA tourney.
Celebrity Status: Hank Knoche, the leading scorer in the Mountain States (Big Seven) Conference with 16.4 points per game for Colorado's playoff team, became the CIA's deputy director under George Bush in 1976.
What Might Have Been: Ohio State captured the Big Ten Conference crown but was edged by national finalist-to-be North Carolina (60-57 in overtime) in the East Regional final to finish the season with a 16-5 record. The Buckeyes might have had sufficient firepower to prevent Oklahoma A&M from repeating as NCAA champion if their top two scorers from Final Four teams the previous two years had still been around. But Don Grate, a two-time NCAA consensus second-team All-American forward, signed a pro baseball contract as a pitcher with the Philadelphia Phillies prior to his senior year, and center Arnie Risen played just six games in the first semester before becoming academically ineligible and ending the season with a pro franchise in Indianapolis. Risen led the NBA in field-goal percentage three years later when he was the Rochester Royals' top scorer and an All-NBA second team selection.
Putting Things in Perspective: George Mikan-led DePaul defeated Oklahoma A&M in both 1945 and 1946.
NCAA Champion Defeats: DePaul (4-point margin) and neutral court vs. Bowling Green at Chicago (11).
Scoring Leader: Bob Kurland, Oklahoma A&M (72 points, 24 ppg).
Most Outstanding Player: Bob Kurland, C, Sr., Oklahoma A&M (52 points in final two games).
Championship Team Results
First Round: Oklahoma A&M 44 (Kurland team-high 20 points), Baylor 29 (Johnson 10)
Regional Final: Oklahoma A&M 52 (Kurland 29), California 35 (Wolfe 14)
Championship Game: Oklahoma A&M 43 (Kurland 23), North Carolina 40 (Dillon 16)