NCAA Division I Sports
NCAA Division I Sports
Magical Marquette never permitted mighty Kentucky to have the lead Wednesday night and sent the Southeastern Conference champions stumbling out of the NCAA Mideast Regional tournament, 81-74.
Kentucky was never able to fully overcome two early developments which enable revenge-minded Marquette to obtain a 14-point lead at 30-16.
The Warriors picked Kentucky's zone defense to pieces with sharp passing and expert shooting and jumped ahead 12-4 in the first four minutes.
The play then leveled off for a while before the Warriors went on an 8-point spree that put them up by 14 with 9:15 left in the half.
During the middle of this rally Marquette began to stall and the Wildcats went man-for man. But George Thompson quickly hit a jump shot and sensational sophomore guard Dean Meminger scored on a layup after stealing.
The Wildcats made two serious runs at the team they eliminated in the first round at Lexington last March. The first almost melted the 14-point Warrior advantage and had the Cats in contention, 36-33, at the half.
Kentucky reduced Marquette's lead to five points three times in the last two minutes. But each time the Warriors came back with free throws, Cobb hitting four and Meminger two. The scoring closed when Argento fired from the side.
Delirious fans mobbed the Marquette players at the buzzer. The Warriors won their 25th game against four losses.
Kentucky, suffering a very disappointing defeat, was shorn of its chance to gain an unprecedented fifth NCAA championship. The Wildcats have appeared in 17 tournaments and 42 games, winning 27. All are national records.
All that's left is a return match against Miami Saturday to determine third place.
For five and a half minutes the Wildcats were as magnificent as they were in the majority of their games during this 22-victory campaign. They held the Warriors scoreless and dumped in 10 consecutive points to leave the score 30-26.
Mike Casey triggered the attack with seven points, four them on zipping shots from the side.
Marquette finally regained control on a rebound shot by 6-5 Ric Cobb, who did a marvelous job on the boards throughout the fierce contest. Dan Issel's rebound three seconds before the half ended left the Cats behind by three after Marquette gave the Cats a chance by missing nine of its 11 free throws.
Kentucky's second major thrust came midway of the second half with Marquette ahead 51-41.
The Wildcats outscored their foes 12-2 with Casey and Phil Argento each sinking four points. The score was 53-53 and the Cats were even for the first time since a 4-4 deadlock.
With 11:08 to play, it seemed that Marquette's magic had been solved. But Jeff Sewell, whose outside shooting hurt UK all the way, hit one of his specialties. The next minute was a nightmare as UK lost the ball two straight times on errors, saw Thompson can a jumper then add two free throws as Larry Steele fouled out.
Casey came through with a 3-point play. But Meminger and Sewell retaliated with jump shots. Marquette led 63-56 and finally it became quite obvious that Al McGuire's Warriors were not destined to lose this one.
Kentucky did not live up to its reputation as the school's best-ever shooting team. The Wildcats hit only 40.6 per cent with an even 40 in the first half. There's no denying that Marquette's zone defense was a big factor. The Cats solved it only in the infrequent streaks and were unable to fast break.
Marquette got the good shots and hit 52.6 per cent.
For the season, Marquette had averaged only 74 points a game with a 42.8 shooting percentage. The UK defense was not adequate.
Kentucky finished the game with four starters benched on personals, only Issel remaining. But only the loss of Steele came early enough to matter and he was having difficulty hitting.
Casey, in a strong bid for All-Regional honors, led UK with 24 points as he caged 10 straight free throws. Mike Pratt scored 17, Argento 16 and Issel only 13, which was about half his season averaged. He had few close-in shots.
Thompson, who played a great game, led Marquette's scoring with 22. Meminger added 20 and had eight free throws, most of them late when he was doing a fine job of ball-handling as the Cats fouled in desperation.
Kentucky had 11 turnovers and they came in two concentrated bursts which cost the team dearly. Some terrible ball handling contributed to Marquette's feat of jumping its lead from three points to 10 early in the second half.
Tempers flared repeatedly during the final five minutes. Several players were involved in a shoving and verbal battle which had cooled off when Thompson shoved Casey from behind. This time the officials called time out and sent the players to the benches with 4:36 left. Some relatively minor incidents followed.
|George Thompson||7-16||8-13||4||1||22||Larry Steele||1-6||2-2||2||5||4|
|Joe Thomas||3-6||0-0||2||5||6||Mike Pratt||6-13||5-6||5||5||17|
|Ric Cobb||7-8||3-7||14||1||17||Dan Issel||4-8||5-7||16||2||13|
|Dean Meminger||6-15||8-13||6||2||20||Phil Argento||8-15||0-0||5||5||16|
|Jeff Sewell||7-9||1-2||3||5||15||Mike Casey||7-14||10-10||5||5||24|
|Jack Burke||0-1||1-2||0||2||1||Bob McCowan||0-2||0-0||1||4||0|
|Ron Rahn||0-1||0-0||1||1||0||Terry Mills||0-0||0-0||0||0||0|
Halftime Score: Marquette 36, Kentucky 33
Officials: Herrold and Brown
Location: Wisconsin Field House