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
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
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
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
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
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 @
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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