With 16 of 68 teams remaining in the 2015 NCAA basketball tournament, there are still 15 games to be played before crowning this year's champion. My, how times have changed. On this date in 1974 (41 years ago), the tournament which started with 25 entries was down to four teams—NC State, UCLA, Marquette and Kansas—and just two games. The Saturday semifinals and the Monday finals were played in the Greensboro Coliseum.
First up on Semifinals Saturday, the Warriors defeated the Jayhawks, 64-51. Wolfpack coach Norm Sloan, using the best of coach-speak, said this of that game: “I’m sort of proud of myself for picking Marquette in that regional. I’ve been very impressed with them this year.” Sloan comments came in a press conference after State played and defeated the Bruins in the second semifinal game, knowing Al McGuire and Marquette would be his opponent Monday night. Easy choice of words for Norm.
Bill Walton, UCLA’s dominate center, scored the first two points in the second game Saturday afternoon, but the Wolfpack went up by five in the first 20 minutes only to fall back into a 35-35 tie at the half. In the second period, the Bruins jumped to an early 11-point lead, but the score was tied 65-65 with 48-seconds to go in the game. State held the ball for a final shot but couldn’t convert, sending the contest to overtime in which each team only scored two points pushing the game to a second extra period.
Again, UCLA went ahead quickly, leading by seven with 3:30 on the clock. State called time out. Wolfpack forward Tim Stoddard described what Sloan said in the huddle: “He told us to press them all over the floor and make turnovers. That’s all we could do.” State guard Monte Towe remembers Sloan saying to him, “Make something happen.” Again, easy choice of words for Sloan. In the final minutes, State pressed, created turnovers and outscored the Bruins, 13-3, to win the game, 80-77, and advance to the NCAA title game two days later.
State and UCLA each used only seven players for the 250 minutes. For UCLA, Dave Myers, Keith Wilkes, Walton, Tommy Curtis and Greg Lee played all but 14 minutes. The other two players for the Bruins were Marques Johnson and Andre McCarter. Walton led UCLA with 29 points and 18 rebounds. For NC State, Stoddard, David Thompson, Tommy Burleson, Morris Rivers, and Towe played all but 22 minutes. Phil Spence played 19 minutes; Greg Hawkins played three. Thompson led State with 28 points and 10 rebounds. Burleson had 20 points and 14 rebounds.
Read more about the game and the entire season in 1973-74 Reliving the NC State Wolfpack’s Title Run (CaryTown Press). Available in hardcover (special $10 discount offer through the 2015 NCAA tournament) and in softcover.
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