- Saturday, March 26 1983 -
NCAA Mideast Regional Finals (at Knoxville, TN)
Kentucky - 68 (Head Coach: Joe B. Hall) - [Final Rank 12th by AP]
Louisville - 80 (Head Coach: Denny Crum) - [Final Rank 2nd by AP and 2nd by UPI]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 37, Louisville 30
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Indiana 64 - 59|||||Louisville 65 - 44|
Game Writeup - by Frank Litsky, New York Times
Kentucky Loses, 80-68
KNOXVILLE, Tenn., March 26 -- When Jim Master's soft 12-foot jump shot went through the basket with one second left in regulation time today, Kentucky had tied Louisville, 62-62, and Louisville could have folded. Instead, Louisville's clutching, pressing defense and record-breaking accuracy helped it run off the first 14 points in overtime, and the Cardinals raced to an 80-68 victory.
The game was the Mideast Regional final of the National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball championship. The triumph sent Louisville into the Final Four in Albuquerque, N.M., where it will play Houston or Villanova Thursday night. Those teams meet in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday in the Midwest Regional final.
The Louisville-Kentucky game was a highly emotional battle for the capacity crowd of 12,489 at the University of Tennessee's Stokely Athletics Center. Though the Kentucky and Louisville campuses are only 70 or so miles apart, the teams had not met since 1959 in this tournament and had not met in the regular season since 1922.
The final wire-service polls of the regular season ranked Louisville second in the nation, Kentucky 10th and 12th. The New York Times computer poll, announced before the tournament began, had Louisville No. 1. Louisville was the 1-1/2-point favorite over Kentucky because it could be so explosive. It could also be lethargic. Here, it was both, but the explosiveness of its guards - 6-foot-3 inch Lancaster Gordon and 6-5 Milt Wagner - carried the day.
The day started badly as Louisville missed 16 of its first 20 shots. Meanwhile, Kentucky was scoring from the perimeter as Derrick Hord sank field goals from 15, 20 and 18 feet and Master connected from 18, 20 and 20 feet.
Louisville, trailing by 23-10, remembered how it had overcome a 16-point deficit against Arkansas in Thursday night's semifinals. Here, Louisville closed the gap to 37-30 at halftime, though it seemed to be playing in a fog. But in the locker room, Coach Denny Crum soothed his Louisville team.
"I told them," he said, "that Kentucky was playing as good as they can and we were only down by 7 points. So we could beat them, but we would have to tighten our press."
Louisville plays a pressing man-to-man defense, often from one end of the court to the other. In the first half, it allowed Kentucky to get the ball in play and then tried to trap the Wildcat players at halfcourt.
In the second half, Louisville turned to what Crum called "a denial-type press." The idea was to make Kentucky's big men rather than its guards handle the ball on the theory that big men are not so quick.
"It was a more intense press," said Crum, "and it got us back in the game. It gave us scoring opportunities and it denied opportunities to them."
"That tighter press took its toll on Kentucky after the Wildcats had opened a 43-32 lead with 16 minutes 38 seconds remaining in regulation. Within two minutes, Louisville had outscored Kentucky, 12-2, and trailed by only a point. With 11:40 left, Gordon led a fast break and put Louisville in front at 50-49 for the first time all day.
Gordon scored three more field goals in three minutes as Louisville opened a 58-53 lead. Then Louisville's passing became sloppy, and Kentucky tied it at 60-60 on Hord's 3-point play with 3:18 remaining.
Until then, Master and 6-11 Melvin Turpin had scored all of Kentucky's 20 second-half points as the Wildcats found much of their game shut off. But a bad pass gave them possession with 2:22 remaining in regulation.
With 17 seconds left, Dirk Minniefield slipped away from Gordon, ran a back-door play and laid up the ball, only to have Charles Jones of Louisville tip it away. Gordon got the ball and drove in for a layup that gave Louisville a 62-60 lead with 10 seconds left.
Kentucky called time out and tried to set up a shot for Turpin near the basket. Louisville had Turpin covered, but its defense made one costly error.
"They put three guards in the game and we had two," said Crum. "I should have called time out. Master sneaked down the sideline. On of our forwards should have picked him up, but no one did."
So Master made the game-tying shot, and Coach Joe B. Hall of Kentucky said later, "I could see a great look in our team's eyes."
The look disappeared soon after the five-minute overtime began. Gordon hit a 10-foot baseline jumper, then stole the ball and sank a layup on a 2-on-1 break, then two free throws, then an Alley Oop pass from Gordon, then two more free throws. After that 14-point splurge, nothing mattered.
Despite its poor start, Louisville shot 59.6 percent (34 of 57) from the floor. In the second half, including overtime, it made 22 of 27 shots for 81.5 percent, a school record. As Crum said: "I don't think we ever played any second half or overtime any better than today."
Gordon (11 for 21) scored 24 points, Wagner (7 for 10) had 18 and Rodney McCray (7 for 7) had 15. For Kentucky, Turpin (8 for 13) had 18 points, nine rebounds, three steals and one blocked shot. Master (9 for 13) also scored 18 points.
Sportswriters covering the semifinals and final here named all-tournament team of Scooter McCray (Rodney's brother) and Gordon of Louisville, Turpin and Master of Kentucky and Darrell Walker of Arkansas. Gordon was named the outstanding player.
Crum put the game in perspective by saying: "Kentucky shot 56.1 percent and got beat. They were beaten by a good team."
Melvin Turpin challenges a shot by Lancaster Gordon
Louisville's Rodney McCray scores
Melvin Turpin (#54) grabs the ball