Sunday, February 21, 2021

Hilltopper Haven

 From the February 17, 1969 issue of Sports Illustrated:

Down home is the place to be in the Ohio Valley Conference, especially when home is Bowling Green, Ky., where Western Kentucky plays.  In a shoot-out with Murray State for the OVC lead, the Hilltoppers scored the winning basket on a tap at approximately the same time the final buzzer sounded.  No goal, said Murray Coach Cal Luther.  The goal counts, said Referee Charles Fouty, after conferring with Timekeeper "Big Six" Henderson, a longtime Western rooter.  Luther's objection was reasonable, since the ball was fumbled, shot from 25 feet and tapped up twice, all in the last six seconds of Western's 84-82 win.

I'm very impressed at whoever it was at SI that decided to track down that much detail on this game, including the nickname of the timekeeper.  Based on my own knowledge of the rivalry between Western and Murray, I'm going with SI on this one.

But it didn't work out for Western, at least that year.  Murray won the OVC in 1969 -- the last time it would win the league until after Western decamped for the Sun Belt.  The Racers would finish second in 1971, 1973, 1977, and 1981.  They would finish either tied for first or in first in 1980, 1982, and 1983.  But they would not return to the NCAA Tournament until 1988.


  1. This is excellent--had never read it (or heard of "Big Six.")

    By the way, in 1975 world, the four-team OVC basketball tournament is scheduled for March 7-8 at Middle Tennessee State. Middle, Austin Peay State and Tennessee Tech appear to be in. Murray State, Eastern Kentucky, Morehead State and East Tennessee State are battling for the fourth slot. Western Kentucky has been ruled ineligible to participate because of some kind of jive conference penalty, but the good news is that WKU could hose the Racers' chances if they win at Murray on tonight 1975 (Saturday, Feb. 22).

    No. 7 UK is at No. 5 Alabama at 2 Central today 1975 and at Florida at 7 Monday night. After the (previously reported) loss at Tennessee last Saturday, freshman Jack Givens had 26 points and 16 rebounds in his third starting assignment of the season and the Wildcats beat Mississippi, 106-89, last Monday. Alabama is 20-2 overall and 13-1 in the SEC; Kentucky, 19-3 and 12-2.

    1. You have now definitely caught up with my life. I have a vivid memory of watching the Alabama-Kentucky game on February 22, 1975. It's one of the first UK games that I watched (mostly) from beginning to end. Alabama was loaded that year.

    2. It's amazing to be caught up with actual, first-hand memories. Being two years younger, they still come only occasionally for me, but, when they do, it's amazing. Also, it's great that I've now reached the time when real people started acquiring video recorders.