First LSU Basketball Victory Over Kentucky Memorable

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Drummond Starter On First LSU Team To Defeat Kentucky

By John Ventola

Long before there was Povich, there was Drummond. Maury that is.

Television journalist Maury Povich may have been a couple years older, but former LSU basketball player Maury Drummond made headlines before Povich found his niche as a television news anchor.

Drummond, an Istrouma High (Baton Rouge) basketball star in the late ‘50s, died Sunday. He was 74.

Drummond was chosen All-SEC following his junior campaign in 1961-62. Drummond

newspaper

Drummond And Five Other Louisiana Youngsters Upset Kentucky

was the former director of the Louisiana Naval War Memorial which includes the U.S.S. Kidd where he served 22 years.

Drummond and five other Louisianans proved that Kentucky could be beaten in a game of basketball fifty-five years ago. On a Friday numbered 13, January of 1961, LSU coach Jay McCreary sent an outmanned group against the Big Bad Boys of the SEC, perennial national power Kentucky. At that time, the Tigers had never beaten the Wildcats in roundball. The SEC series, started in 1933, had resulted in nineteen consecutive defeats for the Tigers, including an important playoff game with the Wildcats in 1954.

Coach Harry Rabenhorst’s talented teams of the mid-50s that featured All-American Bob Pettit, Joe Dean, and Ned Clark narrowed the talent gap of the two schools, but no one was expecting anything else but another Wildcat triumph that Friday night. After all, Pettit and his talented buddies had been gone for a few years, it was pre-Maravich, and there was minimum interest in basketball. It was just one of two sports, baseball being the other, that had to be tolerated between football seasons.

The now-named PMAC (Pete Maravich Assembly Center), initially known as the LSU Assembly Center, was still ten years away, and games were played in the old John

LSU Alex

Old John M. Parker Ag Center Was Not Ideal For Basketball

M. Parker Agriculture Center. That facility hosted annual rodeos later in that decade and would require Tiger basketballers to play their final home game in January, or early February, while finishing their schedule on the road.

The “Cow Palace” was great for rodeos, not so much for sightlines to view basketball. The portable seating was functional, but not really built for comfort. Regular sellouts did not come until Peter The Pointmaker made his appearance six years later on the freshman team (until the 1972-73 academic year, freshmen could not participate in varsity football and basketball. Others sports allowed varsity freshman after a 1968 NCAA ruling).

During Pete Maravich’s freshman season capacity crowds stayed for the frosh game only (the frosh were 17-1 that ‘66/‘67 season) before leaving at the start of the varsity game (they were 3-23 in Press Maravich’s first season at the helm).

An only child, this blogger shared my dad’s love of sports. We attended all LSU football games, and most basketball games. Baseball? Even though they won the SEC title in

LSU

Baseball Title In ’61 Followed Memorable Basketball Upset

1961 under football assistant Ray Didier, the games in the original Alex Box Stadium were sparsely attended until late in that season. Championship contention tends to do something to a fan base!

I can still remember the excitement that night 55 years ago. Drummond, a 6-7 sophomore forward, played a key part in the game. When 6-10 center Tom Conklin (New Orleans’ DeLaSalle) got into foul trouble, he switched over to the pivot and John Bailey (Jonesboro-Hodge) substituted at forward. Drummond scored nine points, and held his own rebounding. Bailey would star as a centerfielder on that ’61 baseball title team, and later signed a professional contract with the old Milwaukee Braves.

Senior Stan Jacobs (Covington), a member of the LSU Board of Supervisors since 1997, steadied the team, but it was the ball-handling and shooting of junior guard

basketball

Pistol Pete Could Not Outshoot Wildcats During His Tiger Career

George Nattin (Bossier City) and sophomore guard Ellis Cooper (Springhill) that led the Bengals to the 73-59 victory that night. Six Louisiana guys stunned Kentucky mentor Adolph Rupp with a solid performance.

The next Tigers win over the Wildcats would come ten years later in the new basketball facility. Press Maravich, then in his sixth and final year as head coach, unleashed hot-shooting guard Jeff Taylor (24 points) and senior forward Bill Newton (31 points) to defeat Rupp’s team handily, 88-71.

Pete Maravich and his Posse never defeated Kentucky during his three-year varsity stint, but not because of a lack of production from Pete. In his last game at John M. Parker he tallied 64 points, but Kentucky center Dan Issel countered with 51 points and had better support from teammates.

My LSU basketball memories are many, but few compare to that Friday the 13th in 1961. Thanks Maury. RIP.

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ByJohn


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