NCAA champion 1951

Third national title in four years as scandal breaks over Big Blue

December 23, 2009 

  • 1950-51 roster

    No. Player Pos. Yr. Ht. Wt. Hometown

    6 Cliff Hagan C So. 6-4 200 Owensboro

    7 Guy Strong G Jr. 6-0 165 Irvine

    11 Shelby Linville F Jr. 6-5 200 Middletown, Ohio

    13 Paul Lansaw G Jr. 6-1 178 Middletown, Ohio

    16 Lou Tsioropoulos F So. 6-5 200 Lynn, Mass.

    18 Dwight Price F So. 6-2 175 Lexington

    19 Walter Hirsch F Sr. 6-4 180 Dayton, Ohio

    20 Lindle Castle G So. 5-11 165 Winchester

    30 Frank Ramsey G So. 6-3 185 Madisonville

    32 Lucian Whitaker G Jr. 6-0 170 Louisville

    35 C. M. Newton G/F Jr. 6-2 190Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

    36 Read Morgan F Sr. 6-4 200 Milwaukee

    38 Bobby Watson G Jr. 5-10 155 Owensboro

    66 Roger Layne C Sr. 6-7 185 McKamie, Ark.

    77 Bill Spivey C Jr. 7-0 230Warner Robins, Ga.

  • Record: 32-2

    Coach: Adolph Rupp

    Starters: Lucian "Skippy" Whitaker, Shelby Linville, Bill Spivey, Frank Ramsey, Bobby Watson

    NCAA finals: Beat Kansas State 68-58 (Spivey 22 points, Cliff Hagan 10 off bench)

    Average margin in NCAA Tournament: 9.8 points (four games)

    Team's legacy: Team sent two players (Ramsey, Hagan) to the Basketball Hall of Fame; would've sent three (Spivey) were it not for a point-shaving scandal.

    From Ramsey: "At that time, he (Rupp) was recruiting most of us out of small towns. We weren't real sophisticated. He convinced us that if we played his system and played it well, we would be successful. And he was right."

Before scandal broke, Rupp's program was rolling at such a level that he replaced the Fabulous Five-era players with a team that was, arguably, more talented.

The program's success in the late 1940s led to the construction of Memorial Coliseum, and the Cats christened the new facility with a 14-0 home record en route to the 1951 NCAA title.

In this era, Kentucky didn't recruit. Top players recruited Kentucky. The best from around the South and Midwest would come to Lexington to try to win favor and a scholarship from the great Rupp. The center on that 1951 team, 7-foot-1 Bill Spivey, was the product of one of those tryouts.

Spivey might have become the greatest of all UK hoops stars had he not been implicated in a point-shaving scandal (though, unlike Ralph Beard and Alex Groza, he always denied all involvement) and had his career cut short.

In the NCAA finals in Minneapolis, Cliff Hagan played despite a fever, and the Cats got 22 points and 21 rebounds from Spivey to beat Kansas State 68-58.

Herald-Leader staff report

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