A Golden Era of Vanderbilt Hoops: 1964-69

The 1960-1969 decade was Vandy's most exciting basketball time. There's no way I could limit this to just 10 games. At least 10 home games per year were really exciting. Here goes with my list starting in 1969 and going back to 1964. Prior to 1964, I was too young to really know if the game was memorable or not. So here are my 30 favorites in this 6-year span.

1969

Vanderbilt 101 Kentucky 99 on national TV. UK had Dan Issel, Mike Pratt, Mike Casey, Larry Steele, and Phil Argento. These five could have beaten the best 5 SEC players not playing for Rupp. Perry Wallace couldn't miss that day. The Cats mounted a huge rally at the end, but VU hung on.

Vandy 85 Southern Cal 75. USC had John Lambert and Phil Westphal, and Vandy pulled off a mild upset.

Vandy 92 Kansas St. 80. Cotton Fitzsimmons was about to take the Wildcats back to the top of the Big 8. KSU had a big team, yet we outrebounded them to win the VIT title.

Vandy 97 SMU 94. SMU was the season opener for many years. SMU was the Vandy of the SWC. These games were always high scoring, nip and tuck affairs.

1968

Vandy 115 LSU 86. Scoring 60 points in the first half, The Commodores won it rather quickly. Pete Maravich scored a ton of points, but Kenny Campbell matched him point for point for a long time. Tom Hagan missed this game due to injury.

Vandy 75 Tennessee 63. By beating the Vols, Kentucky moved ahead of them into 1st in the SEC. We came out in a defense UT wasn't prepared for, and Tom Boerwinkle was ineffective. To make it sweeter, this game was on TV.

Vandy 82 Georgia 77. Bob Lienhard was built like a 6'-10" brick wall. I called him Cro-Magnon man in those days. We had nobody who could play with him inside, but our fast break ran them silly. Georgia was actually favored and still in the SEC race.

Vandy's trilogy over the Tar Heel State. In an 8 day stretch, we beat North Carolina 89-76, Davidson 81-79, and Duke 76-75. All 3 were ranked in the top 10. This is still my favorite week in Vandy history in any sport. We moved to #3 in both polls after these wins, only behind the two legendary teams--UCLA and Hosuton.

1967

Vandy 110 Kentucky 94. We were mad and took it out on the Cats on national TV. They still had Dampier and Riley, but our entire lineup was hotter. We shot over 60% for much of the game, and threatened to beat UK by 25 points. Only a last minute bench-emptying allowed UK to avoid their worst ever loss.

Vandy 117 Alabama 80. The Tide wasn't inept. Vandy played its best game of the season and ran Bama out of the gym. The fast break was as good as Loyola Marymount ever had under Paul Westhead.

Vandy 71 Auburn 65. The Tigers were in contention for the SEC title, and Vandy dashed those hopes to take move into first place by themselves.

Vandy 65 Tennessee 59. Ron Widby threw a fit in this game, as he realized he would never win at Memorial in his career. UT was favored. Vandy won to move into a tie for first.

Vandy 116 Northwestern 92. Ditto the Bama game.

Vandy 77 Florida 69. The Gators had the tallest team in college basketball history. Norm Sloan had recruited a national title contender, but he left for N.C. State. Tommy Bartlett took over and turned a 25-0 team into a 21-4 team. Vandy was terribly out-sized in this game. Florida's point guard was bigger than anyone in our starting lineup. Their 2-guard was 6-09. The rebounding margin was ugly, but the Gators turned the ball over too many times and fouled us alot.

1966

Vandy 117 Georgia 97. This was an all-time high score for us at the time. Vandy still held a slim chance at repeating as SEC champs, and the Bulldogs caught us at the wrong time. Clyde and KT had one of their better games that night.

Vandy 53 Tennessee 52. Clyde schooled Red Robbins. The Vols mounted a good comeback at the end, but we pulled out a squeaker.

Vandy 102 Wake Forest 82. This was Keith Thomas's game to shine. He was going up against his former high school teammate, who got all the accolades when they were in high school. Luckily for us, Coach Skinner knew how to spot hidden gems, and he signed KT when all the other schools virtually ignored him..

Vandy 81 North Carolina 72. UNC came in averaging 100 points a game. Dean Smith was beginning to make the Heels a great team. The Heels couldn't stop the Camel. Clyde Lee went wild in the second half.

1965

Vandy 106 LSU 69. This was the regular season finale and senior day for Snake Grace, Wayne Taylor, and John Ed Miller. LSU had one good player. Vandy had an early spurt that put the game out of reach rather quickly.

Vandy 75 Alabama 54. This game clinched a tie for the SEC title. UT was swooning at this point, and it was evident we would win the SEC crown.

Vandy 80 Florida 78. Norm Sloan's Gators were really the second best team in the league, but they didn't play with the confidence that Vandy or UT played. This night saw UF take Vandy to the wire. A loss would have put us back into a tie for first.

Vandy 91 Kentucky 90. The Cats had started to gel after some early season losses. This group would only lose four more games in the next year and a half.

Vandy 105 Auburn 77. Auburn just didn't surrender 80 points in a game in those days. They were the Princeton of the 1960's, running their patient Shuffle offense and holding onto the ball for 45 seconds to a minute on most possessions. A typical score for them was 60-55. The Tigers couldn't beat the press or stop our fast break.

Vandy 77 Tennessee 72. The Vols grabbed the lead and held onto it for most of the first half. Our full court press wore them down, and we mounted a furious comeback to win the game. We committed no fouls on the 2-2-1 zone press, and Mears was mad as a wolverine afterwards.

Vandy 60 Oklahoma State 58. This was Hank Iba's last Big 8 title team in Stillwater. The Pokes came in here undefeated and played us harder than anyone that year. Their tight man-to-man defense forced us into numerous errors. Our defense rose to the challenge, and we edged them at the end to take the VIT title.

1964

Vandy 103 Georgia Tech 89. This televised game was more like an Oakland Raiders-Kansas City Chiefs game in 1968. One big fight broke out, and there were more elbows flying than a Pistons-Pacers game. This was the last time these two bitter rivals faced each other in Memorial.

Vandy 85 Kentucky 83. John Ed Miller's last second shot from the foul line area was the most famous buzzer beater prior to Goheen in the 80's. They don't play games like this one any more.

Vandy 97 Duke 92. John Ed Miller had a game to remember. Duke was #2 and would play UCLA for the title later in the year. They had 2, 6'-10" giants in their startingfive, plus future NBA star Jeff Mullins. On the bench was future All-Pro Jack Marin. For my money, this was the most exciting single game in Vandy history.


Clyde Lee dunks. (Vanderbilt U. Photo)

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