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At a Glance
NCAA Champion--Kentucky (32-2; coached by Adolph Rupp/21st of 41 seasons with Wildcats; compiled 14-0 record in SEC to finish four games ahead of Alabama and Vanderbilt).
NIT Champion--Brigham Young (28-9; coached by Stan Watts/second of 23 seasons with Cougars; finished in first place in Rocky Mountain Conference with a 15-5 record).
New Rule--NCAA Tournament field expands from eight to 16 teams, with 10 conference champions qualifying automatically for the first time (Big Seven, Big Ten, Border, Ivy League, Missouri Valley, Pacific Coast, Skyline, Southeastern, Southern and Southwest).
NCAA Consensus First-Team All-Americans--Clyde Lovellette, C, Jr., Kansas (22.8 ppg, 9.9 rpg); Gene Melchiorre, G, Sr., Bradley (12.5 ppg); Bill Mlkvy, F, Jr., Temple (29.2 ppg, 18.9 rpg, 7 apg); Sam Ranzino, F, Sr., North Carolina State (20.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.8 apg); Bill Spivey, C, Jr., Kentucky (19.2 ppg, 17.2 rpg).
Long Island University's Clair Bee ended his 21-year college coaching career with a 412-87 record when LIU dropped its program in the wake of a fixing scandal. Star center Sherman White and two other Blackbird regulars were implicated and later prosecuted. In all, by the time the investigation was completed, 32 players at seven schools were cited in a plot to fix 86 games played at Madison Square Garden and 22 other arenas in 17 states.
White, who stashed a total of $5,500 in an envelope taped to the back of a dresser drawer in his room at the YMCA, spent almost nine months in prison for conspiracy to commit bribery. "I wish I was sophisticated enough at the time to know not to get involved," White told the New York Times. "I did scream out, but nobody listened."
Other prominent players implicated in fixing games were Ed Warner and Ed Roman of City College of New York; Gene Melchiorre of Bradley; and Ralph Beard, Bill Spivey and Alex Groza of Kentucky. Gamblers paid bribes estimated at more than $72,000.
"In the first half of the century, Bee was basketball," said Bob Knight, who was befriended by Bee when Knight was at Army and Bee at a local military school. "There wasn't a thing he did that didn't affect the game, and there wasn't a thing that affected the game that he didn't do. He was one of the most singularly brilliant minds ever involved with athletics, and one of the greatest analytical basketball minds we've ever had. He had such a clear, brilliant grasp of what had to be done. He was a coach in the truest sense of the word."
LIU was undefeated at home in its last 13 seasons, compiling an overall 225-3 record at the 800-seat Brooklyn College of Pharmacy. Bee refused to employ a zone defense at home because he thought it would give his team an unfair advantage on a court that was 24 feet shorter than regulation, putting the 10-second line at the rear free-throw line instead of at midcourt. LIU's average record in its last 16 seasons under Bee was 21-4.
The only regular-season defeat for NCAA champion-to-be Kentucky was against St. Louis (43-42) in the opening round of the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. The Wildcats also bowed to Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament final (61-57) at Louisville although the championship trophy already had "Kentucky" engraved on it. The title was the Commodores' only tourney crown in the 20th Century. The stunning victory helped spur plans to construct the on-campus Memorial Gymnasium.
Temple's Bill Mlkvy concluded the season with a school-record 73 points, including an NCAA-record 54 consecutive, at Wilkes College to finish with a national-leading 29.2 points per game. He averaged an amazing 39 field-goal attempts per game on his way to setting a school record for highest scoring average in a single season (29.2 points per game). Mlkvy, dubbed the Owl without a vowel, was also national runner-up in rebounding (18.9 rpg) and assists (7 apg). . . . Lafayette's George Davidson finished 15th in the nation in scoring with 19.7 points per game before coaching his alma mater to the NCAA playoffs in 1957. He won 62.1% of his games decided by fewer than six points in 12 seasons as coach of the Leopards from 1955-56 through 1966-67 (36-22 mark in close contests). . . . Duquesne captain Red Manning later coached his alma mater for 16 seasons from 1958-59 through 1973-74, including trips to the NCAA playoffs in 1969 and 1971. . . . Washington & Lee forward Jay Handlan, runner-up to Mlkvy in scoring (school-record 26.2 ppg), set an NCAA record with 71 field-goal attempts (30 made) when he scored a school-record 66 points in a game against Furman. Handlan, who kicked all six extra points in a football upset of unbeaten Virginia the next school year, had 49 of his points in the first half. He went on to become chairman of one of the nation's largest technical service firms.
The Southern Conference boasted four of the nation's top seven scorers and six of the top 14. Joining Handlan in that select circle were West Virginia's Mark Workman (26.1 ppg/3rd), Duke's Dick Groat (25.2/5th), South Carolina's Jim Slaughter (22.8/7th), North Carolina State's Sam Ranzino (20.9/11th) and Virginia Tech's Tex Tilson (20.3/14th).
Duke, coached by Harold Bradley, manufactured the greatest comeback in NCAA history in a 74-72 victory over Tulane in the consolation game of the Dixie Classic at Raleigh, N.C. (see accompanying box). The Blue Devils trailed by 32 points with two minutes remaining in the first half (54-22) and by 29 points at halftime (56-27). Bradley was appointed Duke's coach shortly before the start of the season after Gerry Gerard's cancer no longer was in remission.
North Carolina State won both the Southern Conference regular-season and postseason tourney titles for the fifth consecutive year. . . . North Carolina lost the first six times the Tar Heels opposed George Washington until clipping the Colonials, 66-60. . . . Clemson, coached by Banks McFadden, compiled its first winning season (11-7) in 12 years. . . . Navy, coached by Ben Carnevale, defeated Maryland for the 13th time in 14 games, 51-47. . . . Doug Atkins, a standout defensive end for Tennessee's 20-14 victor over Texas in the Cotton Bowl, averaged 9.9 points per game as a center for the Volunteers, ranking third on the basketball team in scoring. He went on to become an eight-time NFL Pro Bowl participant and member of the College Football Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame. . . . Western Kentucky (19-10), coached by Ed Diddle, had nine of its last 13 outings decided by fewer than five points.
Columbia, coached by first-year mentor Lou Rossini after Gordon Ridings was sidelined by illness, became the first team in the 50-year history of the Eastern Intercollegiate League to finish its regular season undefeated (22-0), but the Lions lost to Illinois, 79-71, in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Columbia's leading scorer was 6-4 1/2 sophomore Jack Molinas (14.4 points per game), who later served five years in prison for his role as "master fixer" in point-shaving scandals. Molinas, barred from the NBA for betting on his own team, was subsequently murdered at his home in California.
Eastern schools supplied 18 consecutive national team scoring leaders until Cincinnati moved atop the list with a 77-point average. The Bearcats captured their fifth Mid-American Conference championship in as many years since the league's inception with coach John Wiethe at their helm. . . . Eleven players fouled out of a first-round NIT game when St. Bonaventure outlasted Cincinnati, 70-67, in double overtime. NIT champion Brigham Young attempted to duplicate CCNY's feat the previous year of winning both the NIT and NCAA, but BYU was eliminated by Kansas State, 64-54, in an NCAA Western Regional final. BYU, known as the "Homeless Cats," played its home games on the University of Utah's floor while Smith Fieldhouse was under construction. . . . Rhode Island lost six of its first seven games en route to a 13-15 record for Rams' first losing season in 29 years. . . . Single-wing tailback Dick Kazmaier earned a basketball letter with Princeton. He became football's Heisman Trophy winner the next school year. . . . Finishing third in the Heisman voting this school year was tailback Reds Bagnell, a three-year basketball letterman for Ivy League rival Penn. . . . La Salle captain Jim Phelan would go on to win more than 800 games as coach at Mount St. Mary's. . . . Al McGuire, who finished among the top four scorers for national postseason teams at St. John's for three consecutive years, went on to coach Marquette to the 1977 NCAA championship. Teammate Frank Mulzoff was coach in 1973 when St. John's participated in the NCAA playoffs. . . . Barry Sullivan, Georgetown's leading scorer (16.1 ppg), became a career banker who retired as chairman of the First Chicago Corporation before returning to his hometown to serve as New York's deputy mayor for finance and economic development from 1992 to 1994. He worked at Chase Manhattan Bank for 24 years, earning distinction as the youngest Executive Vice President in the bank's history in 1972.
N.C. State (30-7/coached by Everett Case) had its winningest season in school history. Brigham Young (28-9/Stan Watts) and Kansas State (25-4/Jack Gardner) had their winningest seasons until 2009-10. . . . Bradley (32-6/Forddy Anderson) tied its school record for most victories in a single season. The Braves were riding high as the nation's No. 1 team when the fixing scandal hit. Their tainted program would not be invited either to the NIT or NCAA.
Tulane's Mel Payton (31 vs. Mississippi State) and Purdue's Carl McNulty (27 vs. Minnesota) set school single-game rebounding records. . . . Murray State made its lone appearance in the Top 20 of a final wire-service poll. . . . Penn lost its first 14 meetings with Notre Dame until defeating the Irish, 71-60. Notre Dame, which finished 13-11, dealt St. Louis (23-4) a shocking 77-70 defeat. The Irish raced to a 46-20 lead at intermission. . . . Northwestern's Ray Ragelis became the last Big Ten individual scoring champ to average fewer than 20 points per game (19.8). . . . Ohio State finished in the Big Ten basement after capturing the league title the previous year. . . . Bob Carey finished among Michigan State's top three scorers for the second straight season. Carey went on to become the leading pass receiver on the Spartans' undefeated and untied 1951 football team and a first-round draft choice of the Los Angeles Rams. . . . NIT runner-up Dayton (27-5) lost its season opener to visiting Central Missouri State, 50-47.
Texas finished in a tie for first place in the SWC despite compiling its first overall losing record (13-14) in 21 years. One of the two teams to tie Texas was Texas A&M, which posted its only winning mark (17-12) in a 20-year span from 1938-39 through 1957-58. It was the first time in 28 years that the Aggies finished atop the SWC standings. . . . Forward Ted Owens, Oklahoma's second-leading scorer with 10.8 points per game, went on to coach Big Eight Conference rival Kansas to two Final Fours in the first half of the 1970s. . . . Arizona established an NCAA record for highest rebound margin in a single game by grabbing 84 more rebounds (102-18) than Northern Arizona. The Wildcats, coached by Fred Enke, captured their sixth consecutive Border Conference championship en route to participating in both the NCAA Tournament and NIT. . . . Two-time All-Mountain States guard Ladell Andersen of Utah State went on to his coach his alma mater for 10 seasons from 1961-62 through 1970-71. He also directed BYU to the NCAA Tournament three times in the 1980s. . . . Utah coach Vadal Peterson compiled a 10-4 mark in games decided by fewer than six points although he had a losing record in that category over his 26-year career with the Utes through 1952-53 (83-92).
New Washington mentor Tippy Dye became the first coach to guide two different schools to a Top 20 appearance in a final wire-service poll in back-to-back seasons. No other mentor achieved the feat until Paul Evans in 1986 (Navy) and 1987 (Pittsburgh). The PCC champion Huskies sustained six setbacks by an average of only 4.5 points. The previous year, Dye directed Ohio State to a 22-4 record and Big Ten title. Increasing his annual salary from $7,500 to $12,500, he posted at least 24 victories in each of his first three campaigns with the Huskies.
So many players fouled out of a game against Tennessee Tech that Morehead State had only three men on the court in the final minutes. Morehead coach Ellis Johnson chose to play the remaining few minutes after referees let him participate only after he had conceded the contest. "What bothered me most," said Johnson after his club lost 90-88, "was that my players wouldn't pass the ball to me."
1951 NCAA Tournament
Summary: The scandal surrounding college basketball had not yet focused intensely on Kentucky when the Wildcats captured their third NCAA title in four years. Kansas State led at halftime (29-27) in the championship game before going scoreless for eight straight minutes after intermission. Guard Ernie Barrett, the Wildcats' leading scorer, was hampered by a sore shoulder and finished with just four points on two of 12 field-goal shooting as they went 23 of 80 from the floor. "I kept trying to get (coach Jack) Gardner to shoot my shoulder with novocaine, but in those days novocaine was not a proven drug," Barrett recalled. "As a result, he wouldn't do it. He thought it might be detrimental to my health. But I wish he'd have done it anyway. I look at the film and it was ridiculous. I was bringing the ball up the court, one arm dragging." Kentucky had edged Illinois, 76-74, in the East Regional final behind center Bill Spivey's tourney-high 28 points and Shelby Linville's decisive basket with 12 seconds remaining. In the semifinals at New York, UK was tied with St. John's before scoring the last 16 points of a 59-43 triumph. The Wildcats were the only NCAA champion to have six players finish the season with scoring averages higher than nine points per game until UCLA duplicated the feat in 1995.
Outcome for Defending Champion: City College of New York posted a 12-7 record before its last two games (against Manhattan and NYU) were canceled after a fix scandal broke. One of the games CCNY agreed to shave points in was at Madison Square Garden, where the school bowed to visiting Missouri, 54-37.
Star Gazing: Columbia, undefeated entering the tourney (21-0), blew a seven-point, halftime lead and lost in the first round of the East Regional against eventual national third-place finisher Illinois (79-71). The Lions' John Azary, half-speed because of a severe ankle injury, was outscored by the Illini's Don Sunderlage (25-13) in a battle of All-American candidates. Sunderlage finished the season with 471 points, breaking the Illinois single-season record by 138 points.
Biggest Upset: Oklahoma A&M, entering the tourney with a No. 2 national ranking, fell behind 37-14 at intermission when it was eliminated by Kansas State, 68-44.
Celebrity Status: Billy Wilson, a six-time Pro Bowl selection split end who caught 407 passes for 5,902 yards in 10 seasons (1951-60) with the San Francisco 49ers, collected two points and seven rebounds for San Jose State in a 68-61 opening-round loss to Brigham Young. . . . High jumper extraordinaire Walter "Buddy" Davis was a first five selection on the All-Southwest Conference team who helped Texas A&M make its only NCAA Tournament appearance (62-40 first-round defeat against Washington) in the first 25 years of the event through 1963. Davis, the gold medal winner in the 1952 Olympic Games high jump with a leap of 6'-8 1/2", won AAU high jump titles in 1952 and 1953 and set the then world high jump record of 6'-11 1/2" in 1953.
Numbers Game: Four teammates outrebounded Kentucky's Spivey in the Wildcats' 79-68 opening-game victory over Louisville before he averaged 16 rebounds per game in their last three tourney contests. . . . UK didn't boast a player on its roster who finished the season shooting at least 40% from the floor. . . . Arizona, after capturing seven Border Conference crowns in the previous 11 years, made its only NCAA Tournament appearance until 1976 and San Jose State participated for the only time until 1980. . . . All four seniors off Kansas State's squad were selected in the 10-team NBA draft. Also, a junior was picked the next year, while two sophomores were chosen two years later. . . . LSU's Joe Dean and Illinois' Rod Fletcher shared the highest-scoring individual output against UK with 21 points.
What Might Have Been: Columbia, third-ranked by AP, could have made more of an impact in the East Regional if key reserve Bobby Sullivan wasn't declared ineligible because he had a paper overdue. . . . Oklahoma A&M might have given Kansas State more of a struggle in the West Regional final if senior forward Norm Pilgrim, the Aggies' third-leading scorer (9.8 ppg), didn't miss the playoffs because he was a fourth-year player. Pilgrim, who played for A&M as a freshman and was a member of the Aggies' 1949 national runner-up, was eligible to play under Missouri Valley Conference rules, but not NCAA rules. . . . Kentucky, undefeated in league regular-season competition, lost to Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament final. But in the first year of automatic qualification, the conference was represented by its regular-season champion instead of its tourney winner.
Putting Things in Perspective: North Carolina State, returning the nucleus of a national third-place team, had a 29-4 record after winning the Southern Conference Tournament. But without three standouts (Sam Ranzino, Paul Horvath and Vic Bubas) ineligible for the NCAA playoffs because they were in their fourth year of varsity competition, N.C. State was eliminated in the second round by Illinois (84-70). Bubas went on to coach ACC rival Duke to the Final Four three times in four years from 1963 through 1966.
NCAA Champion Defeats: Neutral court vs. St. Louis (1-point margin in OT) and SEC Tournament vs. Vanderbilt (4). Unfortunately for Vandy, which had lost to Lipscomb in its final non-conference contest and twice to the Wildcats by a total of 57 points, only the regular-season champion advanced to the NCAA playoffs at that time.
Scoring Leader: Don Sunderlage, Illinois (83 points, 20.75 ppg).
Highest Scoring Average: Bill Kukoy, North Carolina State (69 points, 23 ppg).
Rebounding Leader: Bill Spivey, Kentucky (65 rebounds, 16.3 rpg).
Most Outstanding Player: Bill Spivey, C, Sr., Kentucky (50 points and 37 rebounds in final two games).
Championship Team Results
First Round: Kentucky 79 (Linville team-high 22 points), Louisville 68 (Brown/Naber 15)
Second Round: Kentucky 59 (Ramsey 13), St. John's 43 (Zawoluk 15)
Regional Final: Kentucky 76 (Spivey 28), Illinois 74 (Fletcher 21)
Championship Game: Kentucky 68 (Spivey 22), Kansas State 58 (Hitch 13)