- Monday, January 27 1969 -
Kentucky - 83 (Head Coach: Adolph Rupp) - [Ranked 5th by AP]
Alabama - 70 (Head Coach: C.M. Newton) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 41, Alabama 40
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|Louisiana State 108 - 96|||||Vanderbilt 103 - 89|
Game Writeup - by Dick Fenlon, Louisville Courier-Journal
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Shoulders slumped and head bowed, C.M. Newton walked slowly down the long corridor underneath Alabama's Memorial Coliseum that leads from the home dressing room to the visiting team's quarters.
Newton, who played for Adolph Rupp's 1951 national champions at Kentucky, was making the long, lonely trip to present Rupp with the game ball after Rupp's 800th coaching victory at UK.
It was a trip which Newton very nearly did not have to make.
Alabama, coming within an eyelash of the upset of the season in the Southeastern Conference, carried unbeaten league leader Kentucky into overtime here last night before falling 83-70.
It was the first time that Newton, in his first year as Alabama's head coach, matched wits with the Baron in a coaching duel. And it was a game that both coaches will remember for a long time.
Gary Elliott, a swift-moving, sharp-shooting 6-foot-3 senior guard, was the guy who almost spoiled Kentucky's perfect conference record.
Elliott Tough on UK
Elliott, giving Kentucky's man-to-man defense fits, scored 12 straight Alabama points in the final half, driving around Kentucky guard Bob McCowan for a goal that put 'Bama up 63-62 with 1:10 remaining.
McCowan, a substitute in for defensive purposes, matched that with a 20-footer with 40 seconds remaining in a regulation. Then, with 16 seconds left and Alabama in possession, Kentucky guard Mike Casey threw his arms around 'Bama's dribbling Randy Hollingsworth.
Only one free throw was assessed, an official judgment which Newton objected to afterward, and Hollingsworth converted it to tie the game at 64-64.
That gave Kentucky the ball out of bounds, of course, but Casey promptly gave it back by stepping out of bounds on the throw-in. Alabama called time to set up a last shot, but the play didn't work.
Tommy Suitts forced the final shot, missing it a the gun - and the game went into overtime.
With center Dan Issel pouring in seven points, Kentucky breezed home in the extra session, scoring the first six points and outscoring played-out 'Bama 19-6 in the five-minute span.
The 6-8-1/2 Issel, using his strength to good advantage - especially after 'Bama's two biggest men, 6-7 Rich Deppe and 6-9 George Harrison fouled out - scored 33 points and had 11 rebounds. Elliott had 26 for Alabama, 8 of those coming in the final half.
In Newton's mind the bear hug that Casey threw on Hollingsworth with 16 seconds left in regulation was the key to the game.
"It should have been a two-shot foul" said Newton. "Of course it was deliberate, Casey knew we weren't in the bonus yet, so it wouldn't be one-and-one. But I don't think Rupp called for it. I think Casey did it on his own."
That was confirmed by the Kentucky side.
"I was signaling for a zone," Kentucky assistant coach Harry Lancaster explained, "and Casey looked over and saw it and thought I was calling for him to foul"
Personal fouls bothered both teams. Alabama lost Deppe, a Louisvillian from DeSales High, with 13:10 left and Harrison with 2:22 left in overtime. Rupp had to bench 6-4 forward Mike Pratt for a spell in the final half, and Pratt finally fouled out with 19 seconds remaining in overtime.
Deliberate offense Clicks
The case of Kentucky's close call was 'Bama's shooting. The losers, whose overall record dropped to 4-9 and SEC mark to 1-6, entered the game with an aggregate shooting average of 39.6 per cent.
They made 29 of 61 for 47.5
After the speedy Suitts had pulled Kentucky out of its 1-3-1 zone defense midway in the first half by hitting four long-range baskets, Alabama played deliberately and well against Kentucky's man-to-man.
Newton said that Elliott was supposed to take the final shot of regulation play.
"But he tripped or fell down or something - I won't know until I see the film - getting into the high post," said Newton. "So Suitts had to take it."
A rebounding edge of 44-32 was instrumental in the victory, UK's seventh in as many SEC games this season and its 18th in a row over two seasons. UK is 13-2 overall.
Rupp's record at UK now is 800 wins and 172 losses over 38 years. That's according to the university, which includes five victories overseas in 1966 in that total. The National Collegiate Athletic Association doesn't recognize those five.
The Franklin Mint released a set of coins to commemorate Rupp's 800th career victory.
Alabama's George Harrison (#34) attempts to block Dan Issel's (#44) shot
Tommy Suitts (#10) shoots over Kentucky's Phil Argento (#13)