A Loaded Pistol is a Dangerous Weapon

Saturday Vanderbilt faces a critical matchup in Baton Rouge, La. when they face the co-SEC West leading LSU Tigers. Between 1968 and 1970 the Commodores faced LSU six times and not only faced a very good Tiger team but also one of the great players in the history of the game in Pete Maravich.

In baseball, there are records that appear to be out of reach. Cy Young's 511 career wins, Walter Johnson's 110 shutouts, John Chesbro's 41 regular season wins post-1901, and Owen Wilson's 36 triples in a season are quite safe for now. One record is definitely not breakable. Johnny Vander Meer's consecutive no-hit games will never be broken, as no pitcher will ever throw three-in-a-row. 

In basketball, Wilt Chamberlain's 50.4 average in the 1961-62 NBA season looks to be unbreakable. In college basketball, we have "The Pistol." Pistol Pete Maravich arrived at Louisiana State University in the fall of 1966. As a freshman in 1966-67, his LSU baby Bengals won all but one game (Tennessee); Pete drew more fans to the preliminary game than the anemic Tiger varsity drew. He averaged more than 43 points per game on the freshman team. Certainly, he couldn't do that on the varsity, could he? Yes, he could, as he actually averaged 44.2 points per game in his three-year stay. In addition to his great scoring acumen, The Pistol was the greatest showman the game has ever known. Watching him play was like having two tickets instead of one. You saw a basketball game and a magic act (ball handling and passing) at the same time. 

As he began his sophomore campaign in December of 1967, LSU was actually picked to jump from the bottom of the league and compete for the SEC title for three years. The Tigers never lived up to their billing, but Maravich set marks that look to be unbreakable. Since he graduated in 1970, only one player has averaged over 40 points per game for just one season, and that was Johnny Neumann the very next year. With today's lower scoring in basketball, we rarely see somebody score 30 points per game. This looks like an unbreakable record. 

Let's take a look at the six times Maravich played against the Commodores. They were all exciting games. 

January 29, 1968 @ Baton Rouge 

Maravich's Tigers had just played Kentucky for the first time. The Wildcats would go 6-0 against LSU in Pete's three years. Maravich tossed in 52 points against Kentucky in the losing effort. The loss dropped LSU's second place SEC mark to 5-2 and 10-4 overall, while Vandy came into this game at 5-3 (tied with Florida and Kentucky for third) in the league and 13-3 overall. The loser of this game might be too far behind leader Tennessee (7-1) to seriously stay in the race. 

Coach Roy Skinner assigned Bob Warren the responsibility of guarding Maravich. Warren had single-handedly destroyed Mississippi State in the previous game with a 19-point, 17-rebound performance. Warren started the game at one forward along with Bo Wyenadt. Bob Bundy started at center, while the starting guards were Tom Hagan and Kenny Campbell. For the time being, Perry Wallace was the sixth man; with the ability of most of the starters to play multiple positions, Wallace could sub for any of the five starters in this lineup.  

The four starting screeners for LSU were guards Rich Hickman and Jeff Tribbett, center Randy Lamont, and forward Ralph Jukkola. Jukkola actually could toss the ball in the basket form anywhere in the scoring zone. Jukkola was the prime recipient of Maravich's five assists per game. 

A sold out crowd of 9,000 filled LSU's Parker Coliseum to watch two of the NCAA's top scoring teams. From the outset, both teams took less than 10 seconds running their offenses. Maravich started out on fire, scoring on baseline jumpers, drives down the lane, and mid-range jumpers. Vandy played a switching man-to-man defense, but The Pistol could not be stopped. All five Vandy defenders tried to keep an eye on Maravich, but he was too good to be stopped. In the meantime, the center Lamont was the beneficiary of several Maravich misses, putting three offensive rebounds back in the hoop; LSU shot out to a small early lead. 

For the Commodores, it was a team effort on offense that kept the game close throughout the first twenty minutes. The outside shooting of Campbell, Hagan, and Wyenadt complimented the inside moves of Warren and Bundy. Vandy fought back to tie the game and take the lead at 16-13. LSU tied the game at 27-27 halfway through the period, and then took the lead a moment later. Vandy fought back and regained the lead just before halftime. The pace was lightning quick as both teams attempted more than 40 shots in the first half. Maravich hit a runner at the first half buzzer to tie the score at 53-53. The Pistol scored 29 points in the opening 20 minutes, and Lamont added a surprising 14. 

In the second half, Coach Skinner moved Wyenadt over to guard the unstoppable number 23 for LSU. Maravich continued to score most of the Tiger points, but his shooting percentage began to tail off. The two inches smaller but two years older Wyenadt gave Maravich a little room, and the 6-05 sophomore found a little difficulty penetrating and decided to pull up and fire outside bombs. Many of them missed. 

With the Maravich misses came Vandy rebounds. This Vandy team was one of the very best fast breaking teams in SEC history. Once Campbell, Warren, Hagan, and Wyenadt were running in the open court, they could score points quicker than the statisticians could mark their scorebooks.  

Vandy quickly took command of the game early in the second half. A two-minute spurt sent the Commodores on a 10-0 run to take a 64-56 lead. Four minutes later, the lead climbed to 72-60. Once down double digits, Maravich began forcing shots. Many of them went in, but even more missed their intended target. In the second half, he missed 18 times, and added four turnovers. 

Down the stretch, LSU was forced to foul in an attempt to get back in the game. For one of the few times all year, Vandy hit less than 70% of their free throw attempts. The Tigers crawled back within single digits, but Vandy was never seriously in danger of losing the game. The multitude of missed free throw tosses prevented the Goldmen from topping the century mark. Still, Vandy won 99-91. 

Maravich scored 54 points for the game, but he did it on 22-57 shooting from the field for 38.4%. He added six rebounds and three assists. Lamont never scored a second half point, ending with the 14 first half points. LSU took 89 shots and hit 38. 

Vandy's balanced scoring saw three players top 20 points, while all five starters recorded double figure games. Wyenadt recorded a double-double with 25 points and 13 rebounds. Hagan narrowly missed a double-double, finishing with 24 and nine. Campbell, using the fast break as his principle weapon, added 21. Bundy took seven shots and made seven baskets; he finished with a double-double with 14 points and rebounds. Warren added 11 points and eight rebounds. As a team, The Commodores hit 41 of 86 shots and pulled down 63 rebounds (to 51 for LSU).  

March 4, 1968 @ Memorial Gym 

Vanderbilt's season ender meant the final game for four seniors. Playing for the last time at Memorial Gymnasium were Bob Warren, Bo Wyenadt, Kenny Campbell, and Gene Lockyear. A badly sprained ankle suffered a week earlier had ended the season for Tom Hagan, so Perry Wallace, Warren, and Bob Bundy started up front, while Wyenadt moved from forward to guard and joined Campbell in the backcourt. The Commodores' record stood at 11-6 in the SEC and 19-6 overall.  

LSU had faltered since moving into second place in the conference in mid-January. The Tigers limped into this game with a 7-10 conference mark and 14-11 overall. Starting center Randy Lamont was injured and did not dress for the game. Joining Maravich in the lineup were Jeff Tribbett, Ralph Jukkola, Rich Hickman, and Chuck Legler. With Vandy starting four forwards, the rebounding edge surely figured to favor the Commodores. 

The opening few minutes of the game saw LSU bolt out to a quick lead. With the Commodore defenders concentrating on stopping Maravich, the seldom-scoring Hickman found himself open in the corner baseline; Maravich drove into the lane and spotted Hickman, who hit for eight quick points. LSU led 14-6 just a little more than five minutes into the game. Halfway through the opening period, LSU still led by five at 24-19. Maravich began scoring inside and outside, and Jukkola found the range.  

The changing of the momentum started at this point and lasted for the rest of the half. Warren started the spurt with a baseline runner. After an LSU miss and Wallace rebound, Warren scored off the fast break to cut the lead to one. Next, Wyenadt scored on a fast break basket and was fouled. He sank the free throw, and Vandy led by two. Another missed LSU shot and Wallace rebound, sent Campbell streaking on the fast break. He was fouled and hit both shots to make the score 30-24. The Tigers got a free throw to break the 11-0 spurt, but Vandy responded with two quick baskets to go up by eight. LSU began to tire, and the Commodores methodically added to their lead. 

Most of the Commodore points in the last 10 minutes of the first half came on lay-ups and free throws; Vandy hit 28 of 46 shot attempts for 60.9%. After scoring 19 points in the first 10 minutes, the Commodores reeled off 41 points in the next 10. Wallace's spectacular hooking lay-up at the buzzer gave Vandy a 60-37 lead. Maravich wasn't the game's leading scorer at the break. His 14 points were six less than Vandy's Campbell who hit for 20. 

The second half was relatively quiet, as Vandy maintained a 20+ point lead throughout. The Commodores took 46 more shots in the final stanza and hit exactly half of them, while LSU's field goal percentage continued to go south. Wallace cleaned the boards at both ends, and the reserve senior Lockyear came into the game to continue the board dominance. 

Coach Skinner began to remove his seniors for individual ovations with more than five minutes to go. Reserves Art Welhoelter, Dan Due, Bill Lafevor, and Hal Bartch joined Lockyear in the lineup down the stretch. Vandy topped 100 points with six minutes to go. Welhoelter hit a hot streak in the closing minutes, breaking into double figures. Slowly, four of the reserves scored at least two baskets. One player had yet to score; Bartch had refused to shoot. In fact, he hadn't scored a point all season long. As the final minute ticked away on the scoreboard, it looked like he would go 0 for the season. With just six seconds to go, and Vandy leading 114-86, Jukkola fouled LaFevor. The Tiger was displeased with the call and slammed the ball to the ground. Even with six meager ticks left in the season, this was a no-no. The referee whistled Jukkola for the technical foul and awarded one foul shot to Vanderbilt. The Commodore starters persuaded Coach Skinner to let Bartch take the shot.  

Hal went to the foul line and set his feet about shoulder-width apart. He bounced the ball four or five times and slowly aimed at the rim. He released the ball a tad flat, but the ball ran out of gas just over the rim. SWISH! It was good. The student section went wild, as if Bartch had just hit the game-winner. Laughing, Bartch raised one finger in the air. Vandy won 115-86. 

Maravich hit 17 of 41 shots and eight free throws for 42 points. The rest of the Tigers combined for 18 of 48. Hickman added 21, and Jukkola tossed in 12. LSU's 39% shooting gave Vandy plenty opportunities to run the fast break, leading to a final shooting mark of 51 of 92 for 55.4%. Campbell added 11 second-half points for a career high 31. Warren scored 20 and Wyenadt had 16. The fourth senior Lockyear added just six points but pulled down nine boards. Two sophomores also hit for double digits. Wallace was Vandy's big star with 18 points and 20 rebounds, while Welhoelter hit for 10 on five long jumpers. The final rebounding stat went big in Vandy's favor. The Commodores grabbed 73 missed shots to LSU's 42. The win ended the black and gold season at 20-6, the fourth 20-win year in a row (Vandy was the NCAA's only team in this four year stretch to win 20 games every year). 

January 9, 1969 @ Memorial Gym 

The Tigers and Commodores met early in the 1969 conference race with second place on the line. Both teams sported 2-1 league marks. Outside of conference play, LSU had bested two top 10 teams, Duquense and Wyoming, in the All-College Tournament. The junior Maravich had improved his shooting touch, and he came into the Vandy game averaging close to 47 points a game. Joining him in the lineup were Guards Jeff Tribbett and Rich Hickman, Forward Ralph Jukkola, and center Dave Ramsden. Bulky forward Danny Hester, a junior college transfer, showed promise. 

Vanderbilt came into this game at 8-3 overall. In the three losses, the opponents scored 100 or more points. Coach Skinner worried that LSU would do the same. The Tigers had just whipped Georgia, one of the three teams to defeat Vandy. Skinner's starting lineup included Perry Wallace at center, Bob Bundy and Thorpe Weber at forward, and Rudy Thacker and Tom Hagan at guard. The bench saw considerably more action than in past seasons. The top reserves were Van Oliver, Les Yates, and Ralph Mayes. 

A sold out crowd of 11,000 filed into Memorial Gym anxiously awaiting the scoring dual between Maravich and Hagan. Many figured they would see a 50-point performance. Those who came early got their wish. In the freshman contest, baby Commodore Tom Arnholt popped in 51 points in a 110-70 slaughter over MTSU's frosh. 

Vanderbilt opened the game in a 1-2-2 zone defense, and Maravich didn't get many openings. The Commodores built a slim lead throughout the early stages, and held it for 14 minutes. Leading 38-31, The Commodores went ice cold. Meanwhile Maravich took command for the next few minutes. He hit multiple baskets, but it was his passing acumen which led the Tigers on a 12-0 run. The Pistol penetrated the seams in the zone and then fired blind passes to Tribbett, Jukkola, and Hickman. All three enjoyed a brief hot hand, and LSU went into the locker up 51-47 at the break. 

The Commodores hit only 18 of 46 shots for 39.1% and committed 12 turnovers. They trailed by only four thanks to a huge advantage on the boards and a free throw stat of 11 of 13. Hagan took only five shots in the half, hitting three. 

Vandy quickly tied the score at 51 apiece at the start of the second half before LSU regained the lead. Vanderbilt's zone defense was holding Maravich at bay, but his excellent passing skills placed the ball in the hands of his zone-busting shooters. Tribbett, Hickman, and Jukkola succeeded in moving the lead back to eight points (73-65) with 11 minutes to go.  

At this point, Coach Skinner took the Commodores out of the zone and went man-to-man with Hagan guarding Maravich. While The Pistol took him inside and scored a few baskets, the rest of his teammates disappeared. Maravich tried to force a few passes, and they turned into Commodore steals. This allowed the Goldmen to run their patented fast break. Hagan and Weber took advantage of some openings and began to shoot Vandy back into the game. Tommy Gun couldn't miss. He hit six straight baskets, as Vandy pulled to within one point. Trailing 82-81, Vandy's defense forced another Maravich turnover. Hagan ran the break and hit the streaking Bundy on the right side of the lane. Big Bob jumped and fired a short bank shot to put the Commodores ahead for the first time since early in the contest. 

The lead switched hands a few times with a couple of ties. With the game knotted at 83-83, Hagan missed his only second half shot. He picked up his own rebound and fired it again for the go-ahead-for-good basket. A minute later, with Vandy leading 88-85, Maravich drove the lane for what looked to be an open lay-up opportunity. Hagan drove from behind and knocked the ball out of bounds in front of the LSU bench. Tiger Coach Press Maravich, who was always wound like a tight spring, thought his son had been fouled. When the referee raised his hand with an open palm and not a closed fist, the elder Maravich went berserk. He ran out on the floor and appeared ready to grab official Joe Caldwell, before his assistant restrained him. The ensuing technical foul was his second of the game. In those days, there were no limits on the amount of technicals that could be called. In fact, Maravich once got hit with seven T's in one game. Part of his problem was his addiction to caffeine. He sometimes drank up to 40 cups of joe a day! 

LSU made one final mad dash attempt to come from behind. The Tigers forced a couple of turnovers, but they had to foul at the end. Hagan and Thacker, both hitting over 90% from the charity stripe, each connected for two, and Vandy won 94-92. 

Maravich was the game's high scorer, but it was his season low. He hit 15 of 30 from the field plus eight free tosses to finish with ONLY 38. He also committed seven turnovers. After Vandy went man-to-man, Tribbett couldn't buy a basket. He finished 8 for 19 and added a free throw for 17. Ramsden scored 13 and Jukkola added 11 points, but none in the final 10 minutes. 

Hagan finished the second half 8 for 9 and wound up with 32 points. Weber, who scored three fast break lay-ups ended up with 21. Bundy had a so-so shooting night for him, but he controlled the boards. he finished with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Wallace added 12 points, with three of his baskets coming from 15 feet away from the hoop. He was slowly becoming a complete player. 

Vandy hit 19 of 27 second half shots to finish 37 of 73. They went 20 of 23 at the charity stripe. They committed 22 turnovers, many on fast break attempts, but the black and gold dominated on the glass. The final rebounding stat was 47-32 in favor of the good guys. 

February 17, 1969 @ Baton Rouge 

By the time Vanderbilt made the return trip to Baton Rouge for the second LSU game, both teams were out of the SEC race. After winning 11 out of their first 14 games and sitting tied with Kentucky for first place at 5-1, the bottom fell out for the black and gold. The team lost the services of Bob Bundy, and Tom Hagan suddenly couldn't buy a basket. The always strong rebounding stopped being an asset, while the turnovers mounted up. As a result, the Commodores lost six games in a row to fall into the second division. Two nights earlier, Vandy stopped the skein when substitute Les Yates, a chubby and jovial 6-03 forward from Elizabethtown, Kentucky, came off the bench at Tuscaloosa and took eight shots in about 22 minutes of action. He made eight shots, and Vandy beat Alabama 89-74 to improve to 6-7/12-9. 

LSU lost their next four SEC games after losing in Nashville in January, but the inserting of junior power forward Danny Hester into the starting lineup had worked wonders for the Bengals. They won three of their next four including an impressive blow out over Auburn two days earlier, in which the Pistol hit for 54 points. Pistol Pete was only six points shy of breaking Bailey Howell's career scoring mark in the SEC. 

In beating Alabama on the road, Coach Skinner saw four sophomores and Hagan playing most effectively. So, he started the youngest lineup in his tenure. The senior Hagan joined sophomores Dave Richardson, Yates, Thorpe Weber, and Ralph Mayes. Rudy Thacker, Perry Wallace, and fifth sophomore Van Oliver became backups. 

Vandy opened the game in the same 1-2-2 zone that they tried in the first meeting, with Weber paying extra attention to Maravich. The defensive strategy worked even better this time, as Maravich couldn't get open early. He tried to force a few early shots, and they missed the mark. 

Vanderbilt started cold, but as the game progressed the shooting percentage increased. The Commodores grabbed the lead midway through the first half and held onto it. Vandy led 46-42 at the break. 

In the second half, Maravich kept firing, and most of the shots went awry. Hester found his way to the ball on four misses and got the offensive put backs. LSU took the lead and appeared headed to victory. Then, the Commodores woke up and fired up the fast break machine. Hagan and Thacker hit a stretch where everything they threw up went in. With four and a half minutes to go, Hagan sank a jumper to put the Commodores back on top 79-77.  

Once ahead, Coach Skinner ordered a stall. Hagan scored again when he drove into the middle of the paint for a short jumper. Maravich countered with a basket to make it 81-79. LSU began to foul, and for one of the few times all year, The Commodores were off the mark from the charity stripe. A couple of misses by Weber and Mayes gave LSU a chance to tie, but the Commodore defense came up with big stops.  

With two minutes to go in the game, Vandy led 84-81, when Maravich took the ball and drove down the lane to the baseline. As he tried to hook around Weber, referee Joe Caldwell, the same official from the game in Nashville, caught The Pistol's foot touching the line. He whistled Maravich for the turnover. Pistol Pete couldn't believe the call. He thought he had been fouled all night with few of them called. Now, he was being called for the tip of his shoe touching the line. He threw the ball down and pointed his fists at Caldwell like he was going to bust him one in the chops. Caldwell immediately called a "T" on Maravich. That made Maravich even more mad and he got up in Caldwell's face and began to drop "F-bombs" into the face of the official. Caldwell gave him the thumb, kicking him out of the game. The crowd responded by throwing debris on the floor. First, it was ice. Then, it was hot dogs. One fan threw a AA battery, nearly hitting a Commodore.  

Unfortunately, the free throw woes continued. The technical foul was missed, and on the following possession, Hagan missed the front end of a 1 and 1 attempt. Ramsden hit a bucket to cut the lead to 84-83. Again, Hagan was fouled, and he missed for the second time. LSU rebounded and missed at the other end. Weber rebounded and drew a quick foul. He mad the front end but missed the bonus to make it 85-83 with 20 seconds left. LSU got the ball and took a timeout with 17 seconds to go. 

LSU Coach Maravich called for the ball to be passed to Ramsden in the high post who would then hit the driving Hester in close. Vanderbilt's defense wouldn't allow the pass to the post, and with time running out Richard Hickman found the ball in his hands about 17 feet away from the hoop. He fired in desperation with Ralph Mayes getting a hand in his face. The ball missed as the buzzer sounded. Vandy escaped with an 85-83 win. 

Maravich scored a new season's low, hitting only 14 of 33 and five freebies for 33 points. He added eight rebounds and eight assists before getting the boot. Hester played brilliantly, scoring 18 points to go with 14 rebounds.  

Hagan outplayed Maravich. He connected on 11 of 19 from the field and 9 of 11 at the foul line (the two misses came in the final seconds) for 31 points. He also gathered in nine boards and dished out six assists. Thacker scored 17 points and contributed five assists. Weber with 15 and Yates with 12 were the other double figure scorers. 

December 11, 1969 @ Baton Rouge 

Vanderbilt fans looked to the 1969-70 season as one in which the Commodores would rebound and contend for the conference title. Five sophomores, regarded as the number one recruiting class from 1968, made their varsity debuts. 7-04 center Steve Turner, 6-07 forward Chris Schweer, 6-06 forward Glen Butler, 6-02 guard Tom Arnholt, and 6-01 guard Jimmy Conn comprised this fabulous five. Returning to the squad were seniors Perry Wallace and Art Welhoelter, and juniors Thorpe Weber, Les Yates, Van Oliver, Dave Richardson, Ralph Mayes, and Rudy Thacker.  

All 13 players were capable of contributing, and this baker's dozen of revolving 'Dores could score points quickly. The problem with this team is they gave up points just as quickly. While they were a monster on the boards, turnovers continued to be a bugaboo. 

The season opened with easy wins over The Citadel and Ole Miss. The Commodores went on the road to Los Angeles to face a tough Southern Cal team with Paul Westphal and John Lambert. The Trojans handed them a 108-89 defeat. On the way home, the Goldmen stopped off in Dallas and got into a run and gun affair with SMU, winning 104-99. They arrived in Louisiana sporting a 1-0 conference mark and 3-1 record overall. Coach Skinner started Turner, Wallace, Weber, Arnholt, and Thacker. 

For LSU, this was also a rebirth of sorts. Press Maravich welcomed two super sophomores in wide-body center Al "Apple" Sanders and Bill "Fig" Newton. Danny Hester returned to make it a titanic trio up front. Maravich, who added 20 muscular pounds to his frame, moved to guard with Jeff Tribbett, while former starter Rich Hickman became the sixth man.  

With the inside force now wearing purple and gold, Coach Skinner knew he could no longer play a box and one on Maravich or try a loose zone with all players keeping an eye on number 23. He sent the Commodores out playing straight man-to-man. In the opening minutes, the strategy seemed to work. In the opening four minutes, Vandy led by one or two points. Their last lead came at 8 to 7. Maravich came down the floor with the ball and stopped 30 feet or more away from the basket. Arnholt had begun the game guarding the superstar, and he waited just beyond the top of the key for The Pistol to start the offense. Instead, Maravich fired from 30+ feet out; the ball swished through the net for a 9-8 LSU lead. It only got worse from there for the black and gold. 

That made bomb pumped Maravich full of adrenaline. A few seconds later, he came down the floor and fired from almost 35 feet. Again, he hit nothing but net. This forced Arnholt, then Thacker, then Mayes, then Conn, and finally Weber to attempt to guard him the moment he crossed mid-court. Maravich beat every one of them for baskets. When two or more Commodores tried to gang up on him, he easily spotted the open teammate. Hester, Sanders, and Newton had little trouble scoring once they received a bullet from The Pistol. 

LSU quickly assumed a double digit lead. Vanderbilt had no answers to the Tigers' rhetorical question, "Who can stop Pistol Pete?"  

Vandy trailed 35-24 with less than eight minutes to play in the half, when LSU kicked it up another notch. Bam! The Tigers reeled off 13 quick points, many on Maravich long bombers to double Vandy at 48-24. 10,500 partisan Parker Coliseum fans yelling in unison made this game sound like a football game up the street. When the halftime buzzer finally sounded, Vandy trailed 58-41, barely outscoring Maravich who already had 37 points. 

The second half was anti-climatic. LSU quickly pushed the lead back into the twenties and kept it there the rest of the night. Maravich kept firing, scoring his 59th point with two minutes to play. He took one final outside shot in the last minute, and it went through. He became the first SEC player to top 60 (it wouldn't be the last time for him). The Tigers won 109-86, the most points ever scored against Vanderbilt up to that time. 

Maravich's 61 points came on 26 of 54 shooting from the field and 9 of 10 at the foul line. Under today's rules, at least 15 of those made shots would have counted for another point. Pistol Pete pulled down 10 rebounds and dished out five assists. Sanders added 13 points and 17 rebounds, while Hester produced 12 points and 10 boards. LSU took 94 shots from the field and hit 45.  

One Vanderbilt player played well. Wallace scored 18 points and pulled down 13 rebounds and held his own defensively on the inside. Three other Commodores added double figure scoring. Arnholt hit for 16, Thacker for 15, and Weber tossed in 11. The normally strong rebounding team met its match in the Tigers, with LSU winning the battle 61-48. 

February 14, 1970 @ Memorial Gym 

For the only time in the Maravich years, this game was the SEC TV Game of the Week. Vanderbilt was struggling with its worst record in more than a quarter century. The Commodore log stood at 5-7 in the conference and 9-11 overall. They had lost four straight close games after placing the sole loss on Kentucky. 

LSU stood at 7-3 in the league and 14-6 overall. Although Kentucky at 10-1 was in the driver‘s seat, second place was up for grabs. Georgia led the Tigers by 1 1/2 games, while Auburn was tied with LSU for third. A good finish would send Maravich and company to the Big Apple to play in the NIT. 

Coach Skinner faced a predicament. He knew the man-to-man defense wouldn't work against Maravich; just a week earlier, Alabama tried guarding him man-to-man, and he torched them for a record 69 points. Coach Skinner also knew the zone could be exploited by the three big guys. All three frontcourt starters were averaging double figure rebounds per game (Sanders 14, Hester 11, and Newton 10). He decided to stop Maravich and take his chances with the other three. 

Starting Turner, Wallace, Weber, Arnholt, and Conn, Vandy came out in the 1-2-2 zone they had used before against LSU. Maravich couldn't get an open shot, but he didn't pass up many chances to shoot. For the first nine minutes, every one of his attempts missed the mark. Enough of the misses fell into the hands of a player wearing purple, and when Sanders, Hester, or Newton had the ball it went back in the bucket.  

The teams shared the lead throughout much of the first half. A close in bank shot by Turner tied the game at 36 all with less than three minutes to go until the break. Newton then scored consecutive baskets for LSU to put the Tigers up four. They never trailed the rest of the day, taking a 48-42 lead into the locker. 

Maravich took 20 shots in 20 minutes, and missed 16 times. The damage had been done by Hester with 17 points and seven rebounds and Newton with 16 points and 13 boards. In compiling 33 points, the dynamic duo had missed only three shots. 

Maravich returned to form in the final stanza, and with it Vandy's hopes were dashed. He tossed in 28 second-half points, as LSU cruised to a double digit lead and kept it the rest of the day. Vandy tried to mount charges, but the guards committed a turnover for nearly every point they scored.  

All three of LSU's big men fouled out late in the game, but by that time, the Commodores were too far behind. No last-minute heroics were forthcoming, as LSU won 99-89. 

Maravich ended with 38 points on an awful 14 of 46 shooting day. Hester scored 23 and Newton added 22. They combined for 19 of 26 shooting. Sanders added 10. The three big guys all reached double figure rebounds as well (Newton 17, Sanders 14, and Hester 11). 

Vanderbilt had four players reach double figures. Wallace and Conn scored 19 each, Weber hit for 17, and Arnholt added 13. Wallace hauled in 17 rebounds, while Turner contributed 15, as Vandy actually won the rebounding battle 64-59. What hurt the Goldmen were 29 turnovers and a 39.5% shooting percentage. 

In six games, Pistol Pete Maravich scored 278 points against Vandy for an average of 46.3. Vandy won four out of the six games. The average score in these six contests was 95-93 in favor of Vandy. All six games were sell outs, and the fans got their money's worth. 

Pistol Pete enjoyed a 10-year career in the NBA with the Atlanta Hawks, the New Orleans/Utah Jazz, and the Boston Celtics. He averaged nearly 25 points per game and led the league in scoring in 1977. On January 5, 1988 (the eve of Vanderbilt's game at LSU), he collapsed and died from a massive heart attack while playing a pickup basketball game.  

If you are making the trip to LSU to watch Vanderbilt Saturday afternoon, take a side trip over to the John M. Parker Agriculture Center. It is a round building located off Highland near Nicholson. If you can venture into the coliseum, you will see where the Pistol fired all his shots. 

Note: Information and statistics for this story came from the Nashville Banner, Nashville Tennessean, and the LSU athletic Website. 

Next Week: Vandy brings home a big trophy from Louisville

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