Tag: Kentucky Wildcats

Noontime’s Black History Month: The 1966 Texas Western Miners

By Matt Noonan

The Texas Western Miners celebrate a 1966 NCAA Championship victory. (PHOTO COURTESY: University of Texas at El Paso Flowsheet student yearbook/blackpast.org)

Our Black History Month celebration on the men and women that have and continue to shape the world of sports returns – we’ll be posting a few times each week, including this evening where we are honoring the Texas Western Miners men’s basketball team, which captured 1966 NCAA D-I Championship.

The Miners were a team many of us learned about in the 2006 movie Glory Road – coach Don Haskins started five African American players, who led the squad to an exciting (and very impressive!) 72-65 victory over the University of Kentucky.

The Wildcats entered the final contest of the 1965-66 school year as the favorite.

Let’s learn a bit more about the Miners, who represented Texas Western College, which is now the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP).

Getting to know the Texas Western Miners:

  • Coached by Don Haskins, who was inducted into both the Basketball Hall of Fame and College Basketball Hall of Fame, led the Miners to their first and only championship with an upset win over Kentucky.

    Texas Western started five African American players against a Kentucky program that did not integrate until the 1970-71 season. Tom Payne became the first African American to compete for coach Adolph Rupp. Payne would play just one season for the Blue and White before turning pro one year later where he spent one season with the Atlanta Hawks.
  • Prior to their 1966 NCAA Championship, the Miners made back-to-back appearances in the national postseason in 1963 and 1964. In 1964, they advanced to the the Sweet Sixteen, but lost to Kansas State. They did win, however, the Regional third place game against Creighton.
  • The Miners posted a 28-1 record during the 1965-66 season. Their only loss occurred at the end of the regular season against Seattle.

    Following their end of season setback to the Red Hawks, Texas Western rattled off five-straight wins, including a pair of overtime victories against Cincinnati and Kansas. Their win over the Jayhawks – an 81-80 victory in double-overtime – secured Texas Western a spot in the national semifinals against Utah.
  • The 1965-66 Texas Western Miners squad featured seven African American student-athletes: Bobby Joe Hill, Orsten Artis, Willie Worsley, Willie Cager, Nevil Shed, Harry Flournoy, and David Lattin.
  • As many historians and sports writers noted, the Texas Western victory over Kentucky opened the door for even more African American student-athletes to play sports at the collegiate level, not just basketball, but also football, track, baseball, and others, according to Dan Wetzel.

Articles and Links on the 1966 Texas Western Miners:

NCAA March Madness: Final Four Wrap Up

By Brian Willwerth

We started with 68 teams.We are down to two.

Gone are the Jayhawks, Patriots, Terriers, Sycamores and Orange.  All that remain are two groups of dogs: a burly bunch of bulldogs from Butler, and a hungry group of huskies from Connecticut. Butler and UConn clinched their spots in the title game Saturday night by defeating VCU and Kentucky, respectively.

We’ll start with the nightcap: a coaching matchup between Jim Calhoun and John Calipari.  The Huskies held on for a 56-55 win. Both teams struggled from the floor. The Wildcats shot just [33%] for the game, while Connecticut was just [1-for-12] from behind the arc.

Still, you can’t talk about a UConn victory without mentioning Kemba Walker. He led both teams in scoring with 18 points, while adding six rebounds and seven assists. Still, the Huskies had to hold their breath as a three-point attempt by Kentucky’s DeAndre Liggins in the closing seconds fell short. Shabazz Napier iced the game with two free-throws at the other end.  Brandon Knight led the Wildcats with 17 points.

This is Connecticut’s third trip to the final.  The last two times the Huskies were there [1999 and 2004] they won the national championship.

Their opponent will be the team that nearly won it all last year. Butler ended VCU’s “Cinderella run” with a 70-62 victory over the Rams. After weathering an early barrage of three-pointers, the Bulldogs were able to cool off the Rams’ hot outside shooters with the type of defense Butler has become known for.  Butler also controlled the glass, out-rebounding VCU, 48-32.

Offensively, the Bulldogs relied heavily on Shelvin Mack, who finished with a team-high, 24 points.  VCU’s Jamie Skeen led all scorers with 27. Butler took a six-point lead into the locker room. The game would stay tight for much of the second half. It wasn’t until the three-minute mark that Butler was able to open up a 7-point lead, a deficit the Rams could not recover from.

Butler returns to the title game for the second straight year. Who could forget the Bulldogs’ appearance in last year’s title game: that last-second heave that bounced off the rim that would’ve beaten Duke.

So it all comes down to Monday night: Bulldogs and Huskies for the national championship.  It should be one heck of a dogfight.

NCAA March Madness Day Eight Wrap Up

The Rams have surprised many, but how much father can they go?

By Matt Noonan

All right, let’s all admit it, excluding Connecticut, who truly had Virginia Commonwealth, Kentucky or Butler advancing to Final Four?

Clearly, I did not, but really, did anyone choose these three squads?

Of course, there were those who said, “I was rooting for North Carolina and UConn,” as well as other fans that stated, “I knew all along that Butler and VCU were going to meet for a date with destiny in Houston, Texas,” which is totally false.

However, the second to last weekend of men’s college basketball, which featured 16 teams has now been narrowed down to just four and once again, who could have predicted that these four schools would have earned this opportunity?

Virginia Commonwealth 71 – Kansas 61:

Virginia Commonwealth tallied 41 first half points and then added an additional 30 points during the second half en route to yet another tournament victory.

Not only did the Rams outplay the Jayhawks, but also had a member of their team that scored 26 points and his name is Jamie Skeen. Skeen made sure Kansas knew which number he was wearing, as the senior pulled down 10 rebounds, (four on offense and six on defense) and recorded two steals. Skeen also didn’t record a single foul through forty minutes of basketball, which in all honesty is quite impressive, right?

Although, despite Skeen’s impressive performance, Kansas maintained the momentum in the second half, as they limited the Rams offensive series, but also, came within striking distance to retain the lead. The Jayhawks led the Rams during the opening minutes of the first half, but Virginia Commonwealth slowly took their time and eventually stole the lead away from Kansas for good.

Kansas finished the game with three players who recorded 13 points or more, but again, their first half effort was clearly what slowed them down and allowed the Rams to easily escape with a victory.

Marcus Morris finished with 20 points and 16 rebounds, while Tyshawn Taylor added an additional 14 points, three assists and two rebounds.

The Rams run toward a NCAA championship has been exciting, but next Saturday, April 2, they’ll face a team that similar to them, still continues to struggle for respect. The Butler Bulldogs are gritty, tough, physical, as well as play true team basketball, but that can also be said about the Rams, who similar to them, have upset some impressive teams too.

Kentucky 76 – North Carolina 69:

The Tar Heels led once during the entire contest, but that was just 4-2. After falling behind by only two points, John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats took off and never surrendered the lead.

Brandon Knight scored a team high 22 points, as well as recorded seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Clearly, North Carolina had no idea of how to defend the freshman guard, but despite heading into halftime with an eight point deficit, the Tar Heels rallied in the second half, as well as came within one point of earning their second lead of the game.

Harrison Barnes played tremendous, especially down the stretch when North Carolina was attempting to do everything in their power to either tie the game or force overtime, but Kentucky’s free throw shooting proved to also be the difference during the closing minutes. As a team, the Wildcats converted [10-16] free throws, but North Carolina won the battle at the line, as they sank [12-15].

The Tar Heels clearly seemed to be baffled by the Wildcats fast break offense, yet, North Carolina’s defense played extremely well at times, as well as limited Kentucky to just seven offensive rebounds.

If one were to have looked at the box score, clearly, the single piece of paper doesn’t measure up to the actual performance, but similar to the style of Butler, Kentucky maneuvered themselves past another admirable opponent in order to reach their 13th Final Four in school history.

The Wildcats have won seven national championships and will look to earn banner number eight on April 4, but first, they’ll have to take down another top team, University of Connecticut, which certainly will be the game to watch on April 2, but in the meantime, Kentucky can celebrate like champions because they did indeed win their portion of the Eastern bracket.

NCAA March Madness Day Six Wrap Up

The VCU fans have something to cheer about, as the Rams have advanced to the Elite Eight!

North Carolina 81 – Marquette 63: North Carolina scored early and often, as well as led the Golden Eagles 40-15 at halftime, which practically sealed the deal for the Tar Heels. However, the Golden Eagles did outscore the Tar Heels during the second half, 48-41, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a 25 point deficit from the first half.

North Carolina was led by Tyler Zeller with 27 points and 12 rebounds, while teammate Harrison Barnes finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and two blocks.

The Tar Heels have advanced to Sunday’s Elite Eight round where they will play University of Kentucky in the Eastern Region Championship. The winner will advance to Houston for the Final Four on Saturday April 2, 2011.

Kansas 77 – Richmond 57: The Spiders exciting ran came to a stop on Friday, as the Jayhawks went into halftime with a 41-22 lead. Richmond would obviously fight back during the second half, but sadly, their “Cinderella Run” came crashing down in San Antonio, Texas on Friday.

Kansas was led by Brady Morningstar who tallied 18 points, as well as recorded four assists and two steals. Richmond’s Justin Harper led all scorers with 22 points and recorded nine rebounds.

The Jayhawks have advances to Sunday’s Elite Eight contest against Virginia Commonwealth.

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Besides the “obvious” winners, being Kansas and North Carolina, Kentucky upset Ohio State, 62-60 and Virginia Commonwealth continued their magical run, as they upset the Florida State Seminoles, 72-71 in overtime.

Noonan: March Madness Bracket is Busted

Sadly, Duke fell short to Arizona, which most likely "busted" March Madness brackets!

By Matt Noonan

Take a look at your March Madness bracket, how does it look? Do you have a lot of teams, such as Duke, BYU and maybe San Diego State crossed off?

How about all those who picked Rick Pitino to lead Louisville to the “Sweet Sixteen” or “Final Four,” how do you feel today?

Also, I do need to spark some controversy, so how is everyone doing in Kentucky on this wonderful Friday morning? Are you excited for the Wildcats to take on Ohio State on Friday? Will John Calipari lead his group of young men onto the elite eight?

Well, allow me to be the first to admit that once again, my bracket is officially busted, again. I had Duke repeating their exciting run from last year, but now, my favorite piece of paper from the past few days has gone out with the kitchen trash and I have officially begun the countdown for the MLB season, yet, how much baseball can I endure during the first week?

What makes March Madness so enjoyable is that every year, millions of people, no matter whether they are college basketball die-hards, co-workers or friends and family, take just a few minutes or possibly, hours, to fill out a bracket.

Even President Barack Obama has continuously shown his support for the tournament, both the men’s and women’s might I add, by filling out a bracket and allowing ESPN an all-access pass into the white house to hear what the chief and commander of America has to say about the tournament.

People like myself, Obama and even, Snoop Dogg, may not always enjoy watching our picks or predictions slip away, but what we do enjoy the most is a great game of basketball. So far, a majority of the games have been enthralling.

Who doesn’t enjoy a late three-pointer to win the game? Aren’t you a fan of a Matt Howard rebound and layup for Butler? Don’t you want to see free throws down the stretch win games?

Besides, we all know that sports fans, especially college basketball followers live for these exciting and exuberant moments.

All in all, while my bracket is indeed busted, there is always hope that one-day, I, along with all of those who picked the various games wrong, will be able to stand up and cheer after the championship is complete and say, “My bracket didn’t get busted!”

Until that day comes, I might as well sit back, relax and enjoy the rest of this college tournament.

Also, since Duke has officially been eliminated, I’ll be rooting for Jim Calhoun’s bunch, the University of Connecticut Huskies to win another NCAA Division I championship.