In honor of the late Frank Ramsey, let’s take look back at the 1950-51 season, which saw the Cats claim their 3rd national championship in just 4 years.
This was the pinnacle era of Adolph Rupp’s tenure in Lexington. UK had firmly established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in college hoops, winning back to back NCAA titles in 1948 and 1949. Nevertheless, the 1951 team might have raised the bar even higher.
Here are just a few noteworthy stats, from bigbluehistory.net:
-The team went 14-0 in SEC play, a record at the time for wins in conference play.
-1951 marked 8 straight regular season SEC Championships for UK. (Contributing to the modern day gap between the Cats and every other program.)
-Memorial Coliseum opened in December of 1950.
-Adolph Rupp earned a victory over his former mentor Phog Allen when UK thumped Kansas, 68-39.
-UK became the first SEC school to win national championships in both football (the 1951 Sugar Bowl) and basketball in the same year.
And excerpt from The Kentuckian sums up the season’s conclusion nicely:
Voted the best team during the season by the writers and coaches over the nation, Kentucky took its pick of the post-season tournaments, the NCAA, and justified its position by beating Kansas State, 68-58, in the finals held in Minneapolis, Minn.
Bill Spivey, the towering center, was chosen the outstanding collegiate basketball player in the country by several All-American polls. Frank Ramsey, sophomore guard, won enough votes to make the third team All-American picks and his running mate, Bobby Watson, as well as forwards Shelby Linville and Captain Walt Hirsch won honorable mention.
All in all, the 1951 team was among the most dominant teams that Adolph Rupp ever coached, and they kept the momentum of what we now dub “The Greatest Tradition in College Basketball” moving. Frank Ramsey was a key cog in the machine, which is why he the BBN will always look fondly upon his jersey in the rafters.
If you missed Jack’s story on Ramsey’s life in basketball and calling Madisonville home, take a look below: