- Saturday, March 20 1948 -
NCAA Eastern Regional Finals (at New York, NY)
Kentucky - 60 (Head Coach: Adolph Rupp)
Holy Cross - 52 (Head Coach: Doggie Julian)
Halftime Score: Kentucky 36, Holy Cross 28
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|Columbia 76 - 53|||||Baylor 58 - 42|
Game Writeup - by Louis Effrat, New York Times
Kentucky Topples Holy Cross, 60-52
NEW YORK, March 20, 1948 -- A Kentucky quintet that never stopped driving until the final two minutes, when victory was clinched, rode over scrappy Holy Cross, 60-52, and into the N.C.A.A. championship round last night at Madison Square Garden.
Wholly merited and earned, the triumph gave Adolph Rupp's Wildcats first place in the Eastern regional competition and qualified the Kentuckians for Tuesday night's final at the Garden against Baylor, the Western regional survivor. The Bears upset Kansas State, 60-52, at Kansas City last night.
Top-notch basketball was displayed by both sides at the Garden last night, but the Wildcats had the speed, the size and the shots. More important, they knew how to utilize these assets and, at one stage in the second half, enjoyed a 14-point margin. That the Crusaders from Worcester, Mass., fought back into contention later, cutting the deficit to four points, was indicative of their ability and determination.
In the end, however, Kentucky had what it needed to protect its advantage -- stamina. Two minutes before time ran out, the Wildcats were ahead, 57-50. The Crusaders, pressing all over the court, attempted to knock the leaders off stride, but they succeeded only in committing a half dozen fouls, all of which were waived. Poise, so vital in basketball, never deserted the Wildcats.
The 18,472 fans on hand saw more than an ordinary court struggle. Students of the game were thrilled by the individual duels that were going on, as the rival coaches, Rupp and Alvin (Doggy) Julian, master-minded every minute. Rupp's strategy prevailed because Ken Rollins and Dale Barnstable turned in magnificent jobs of defending against the brilliant Bob Cousy.
Then there was the individual battle between Kentucky's Alex Groza and Holy Cross' George Kaftan. There, again, the Wildcats finished on top, Groza outplaying Kaftan by a wide margin and tallying 23 points to annex the game's scoring laurels. And while all this was going on, Ralph Beard and Wallace (Wah Wah) Jones were running the Crusaders dizzy.
Because the Holy Cross players, vainly trying to add to a 19-game winning streak and protect an unbeaten record on the Eighth Avenue hardwood, were unable to stop Groza, Jones and Beard, it was inevitable that victory go to Kentucky. On the other hand, once it became apparent that the Wildcats had the formula to minimize the effectiveness of Cousy and Kaftan, the decision belonged, more or less, to Kentucky.
Cousy, limited to one field goal, wound up with five points, practically a shut-out for the prolific scorer whose outstanding work throughout the year sparked the Crusaders to one of their greatest records -- 25 wins and 3 losses -- up to last night. Cousy, who scored 472 points prior to this engagement, seldom was allowed room to get off his shots and much credit for a fine guarding chore must go to Rollins.
Kentucky, a 5-point favorite, lived up to its billing. From the outset, Rupp had his charged running at top speed and making the most of a fast break. But Holy Cross, with Kaftan doing a nice job, capitalized on slick ball-handling and, after three and a half minutes of the most spirited play witnessed all season, it was a 7-7 standstill.
Then the Wildcats, with Beard contributing handsomely, clicked for 5 straight points for a 12-7 lead and a headstart toward conquest. Never again did the Crusaders pull into a tie. At the half the count favored Kentucky, 36-28, and there was every indication that it might go higher.
However, following the rest period, the Crusaders came out full of fight, drove in for two quick baskets and suddenly it was a real contest again. Four points to the good, Kentucky called for a time-out. The Wildcats must have realized that Holy Cross, counting the closing minutes of the opening period, had amassed nine consecutive points.
That cessation did it. When play was resumed, the Wildcats hit for seven in a row. Jones succeeded with a one-hander, followed with a 2-pointer from the keyhole and, after a one-hander by Groza, Jones tossed in a foul shot. The Crusaders could not retrieve those points, and though they continued to battle, it was in a losing cause.
Groza's tap-ins were spectacular and the maneuvers of Beard won the fancy of the crowd, but if one were asked to point to the strongest feature of Kentucky's play, it would have to be its relentless driving. The Wildcats did a lot of digging and never tired. It was the inability of Holy Cross to cope with this power that led to defeat.
One thing is certain -- the East will have the strongest representation possible in Tuesday night's final. That's a fair-to-middlin' outfit that Rupp has assembled, an outfit which now has gained a berth in the Olympic playoffs.
Wallace Jones fights Bob Cousy for the ball while Jim Line looks on
Ralph Beard charges past Bob Curran of Holy Cross for a layup