Title ‘Back Home Again In Indiana’

Title ‘Back Home Again In Indiana’

IU 69, KU 68!

by George Bolinger, Daily Herald-Telephone

March 19, 1953

Kansas City, March 19 – Indiana University’s battling Hurryin’ Hoosiers, whom Coach Branch McCracken once admitted “might win a few games this season” and whom the experts said were “a year away from greatness,” today rule the entire domain of college basketball – wearing their second-in-history National Collegiate Athletic Association crown.

From the March 19, 1953 Bloomington Daily Herald-Telephone

The Hoosiers, who recently took the “Champ out of Champaign” in defeating Illinois for the Big Ten title – the first step towards the coveted NCAA honors – last night took “Kansas out of Kansas City” as they edged the run-and-steal Jayhawks by the slimmest of margins, 69-68, to duplicate a finals victory over K.U. that had brought the first championship in 1940.

The setting was the same. In beautiful Municipal Auditorium here. But the score was vastly different. Indiana had won that first one by a decisive 60-42.

This time Coach Phog Allen, who claimed his team was living on borrowed time, didn’t see his credit run out until the last possible second – when a game-ending shot by a Jayhawk sub, Jerry Alberts, fell a few inches short.

Indiana’s only three defeats of the year had come by a combined margin of five points and eight seconds and Hoosier hearts, some 350 strong, were in Hoosier throats as Alberts cut loose. Some of the loyal I.U. followers haven’t swallowed yet.

When the ball ricocheted from the near edge of the rim as the final horn sounded, pent-up emotion broke loose on the I.U. bench. Players hugged their teammates and literally crawled over each other to reach McCracken, the “Big Sheriff” who had again captured the “Big One” and returned with the loot.

As in nearly all contests this year, Indiana was led by its great sophomore, Don Schlundt – but this one was more of a team victory than any game along the line.

Schlundt tallied 30 points, including 9 of I.U.’s 10 in the last period. But Bobby Leonard canned the winning free throw (as well as 11 other points); Charlie Kraak turned in the greatest game of his career, when it was needed most; Burke Scott was a dervish all over the floor, and contributed six vital points early; and Dick Farley came up with his usual great but ensuing performance on both offense and defense.

Subs Play Big Role

A quartet of subs spelled the starters, especially when the threat of too many fouls got Indiana into trouble early in the game. And each – Dick White, Phil Byers, Jim DeaKyne, and Paul Poff – contributed a healthy share to the slim victory.

It’s hard to estimate the value of crowd support. But I.U.’s comparatively tiny following never let the Hoosiers feel that they weren’t backed to the hilt. The 350 augmented by the few other non-Kansas fans here, did the job of ten times their number.

The pressure was all on Indiana, the nation’s No. 1 team. The pre-game favorite, and the object of scorn by the partisan crowd.

Technicals Assessed

From the March 19, 1953 Bloomington Daily Herald-Telephone

The pressure told, too, with the Hoosiers being assessed three technical fouls for futile bursts of temper over what they considered unjust decisions. Kansas converted two of the technicals into points and received possession of the ball twice, scoring baskets each time.

But when all of the returns were in, it was Indiana on top by the small, but ever so final margin of a point.

The disinterested spectator – and there were a few here – couldn’t have asked for a more dramatic game. The score was tied 14 different times. Indiana had the lead 10 times, and the Jayhawks were in front nine times.

Indiana’s longest lead was only three points. The Hoosiers trailed by as much as six points, and several other times were five and four in arrests.

The game was packed with great plays and great playing.

Kraak surprised the Jayhawks with his offensive work as he grabbed 12 points in the first half. Working with finesse beneath the basket, he scored a lay-up and two tip-ins and added six free throws as he drew Jayhawks into five fouls.

Leonard absolutely chilled everyone in the auditorium with a last-second shot from mid-floor to end the third period that arched tremendously high above the floor, then zipped through as the horn sounded.

Kansas had held the ball for almost a minute, before shaking A.H. Born loose for a basket with seven seconds left. Leonard nullified this with his towering effort.

The Jayhawks’ Dean Kelly earned his all-tourney berth on his defensive job against Leonard. He held him to a lone basket in the first half. Leonard hit nine points in the third period, but trailed off to a free throw in the last ten minutes.

A Significant Foul!

As fate would have it, Dean Kelley fouled Leonard on the game-deciding play – and it was only his second foul of the contest. It was only Leonard’s second free throw.

1953 NCAA champion Hoosiers.
Photo Courtesy: Indiana University Archives

Allen Kelley, Dean’s younger brother, played the part in the Kansas attack that Kraak played in Indiana’s. He hit four baskets in the initial period, later adding 12 more points for a surprising total of 20.

The main theme of this game, as expected, was a scoring duel between Schlundt and Born. The Kansas star collected 25 in the first three periods, then was held to a free throw in the fourth, before fouling out with 5:36 remaining. This was a crippling blow to the Jayhawks, but they hardly showed it.

Schlundt, who missed four and one-half minutes of the second period, had 21 in the first three quarters and the first nine I.U. points in the fourth. His total of 30 gave him 123 for the four NCAA games, a 30.8 average.

Schlundt established a free-throw record for four games, cashing 49 as compared to Clyde Lovellette’s 35 last year. I.U. made a team free-throw mark for four games, collecting 108 to top the 80 made by Illinois last year. And I.U. posted a total score mark of 310, snapping the 307 made by Washington this year (completed in the consolation tilt tonight).

The opener featured another great scoring duel between the Huskies’ talented Bob Houbregs, who scored 42 points to 36 by Louisiana State’s Bob Petit. Petit was about all L.S.U. had, as the Huskies annexed third place with an 88-69 victory.

Missed Lovellette’s Mark

Houbregs accounted for a four-game field-goal record with 57, and he barely missed (by two points) tying Lovellette’s record 141 points.

Tempers flared late in the third period when a mixup in the official scoring had Born, Kansas, only tall players committing his fifth personal foul.

After Coach Allen and the Kansas bench had stormed the scorers, and press and radio men backed his contention, officials changed Born’s violations to four.

McCracken got into the controversy claiming the fouls were on the official books and couldn’t be changed. He stormed, “Your books show five fouls. Born should be out. We’re your guests and you have no right to rob us.”

The score stood 53-52 for Kansas when the rhubarb developed and it was just about that close throughout the furiously played game between the hard pressing teams.

Indiana led 20-19 at the quarter, the score was tied 41-41 at the half and the Hoosiers were in front 59-58 at the three-quarter mark.

Born, with more local backing than Schlundt or Houbregs was named the outstanding player of the tourney. However placed at forward on the all tourney team, along with Houbregs, Schlundt with Leonard and Dean Kelley the guards.

Box score

Indiana (69)Player fg ft pfKraak, f 5 7 5DeaKyne, f 0 0 1Farley, f 1 0 5Schlundt, c 11 8 3White, c 1 0 2Leonard, c 5 2 2Poff, g 0 0 0Scott, g 2 2 3Byers, g 0 0 0TOTALS 25 19 21

Kansas (68)Player fg ft pfPatterson, f 1 7 3A. Kelley, f 7 6 3Davenport, f 0 0 6Born, c 8 10 5Smith, c 0 1 1Albert, c 0 0 1D. Kelley, g 3 2 2Reich, g 2 0 1TOTALS 21 26 17

Score by quartersIndiana 21 20 18 10 69Kansas 19 22 17 10 68Free Throws missed: Indiana - Kraak, 3, Schlundt, 3, Leonard 2, ScottKansas - Patterson, A. Kelley 2, Born 2, D. Kelley 2