1958: A Wildcat - Jayhawk Game for the Ages
Let's revisit that game by stepping back in time and enter the KU basketball home where 17,000 were on hand for the meeting between 14-1 K-State and 12-2 Kansas.
It was earlier in the season at the Big Seven Holiday Tournament that the second-ranked Jayhawks cruised to a 79-65 victory over No. 3 K-State in Kansas City's Municipal Auditorium.
Of that game, Hayden Abbott reflects, "I remember that game because I was back in the Muehlebach Hotel with some type of virus, and by halftime, Bob (Boozer) was back at the hotel with me with the same bug."
During the week, Abbott recalls, "Tex came into practice and literally told us that he had a dream on how we could beat KU. I was going to be at Wilt's (Chamberlain) belt buckle, while Bob (Boozer) and Jack (Parr) would be on each shoulder. Tex said if Wilt goes to the bathroom, it was going to be with this triangle around him."
Now, let's call a quick timeout, because the memories of these Wildcats in their late-70s today isn't what it used to be, and even a box score of the game was tough to come by.
Boozer, at 6-foot-8, called the defense a 1-3-1 with the 6-foot-9 Parr in front of the 7-foot-2 Chamberlain, while he played behind the KU giant.
"Tex created a brilliant defense that created a sandwich around him," said Parr.
Don Matuszak said of the defense, "Roy DeWitz was on Ron Loneski, Boozer was behind Chamberlain and Parr was in front of him, and Hayden and I zoned the other three guys."
Perhaps it was a combination of those defenses, but for sure, as Boozer said prior to his death last year, "The defense worked to perfection."
Well, maybe not perfection as Chamberlain did score 25 points, but that was six under his season average of 30.1 points per game.
Boozer scored 32 in the game, while Parr and Abbott added 15 and 13, respectively. While Chamberlain had 14 rebounds, DeWitz pulled down a game-high 15.
K-State held a 41-28 lead at the half with Matuszak recalling, "We ran at every opportunity in the first half, but then Tex wanted to slow it down in the second half, and we almost slowed it down too much."
Reports say that K-State ran 2:33 off the clock at the end of regulation, but missed the shot to leave the game tied at 60-60.
Abbott didn't remember the stall, but did say, "We did have a motion offense where we really weren't looking to score."
The first overtime was a defensive struggle at 5-5, which included a pivotal blocked shot by Parr on Chamberlain that was whistled as a jump ball.
In a day where they really did have jump balls, Parr proudly recalls, "I got the tip and then Abbott finished the play."
"I turned and drove right at Wilt and flipped the shot off the backboard and it went in," Abbott said. Laughing, he added, "People tell me Tex was up shouting, 'No, no, no, no-no-no-no ... great shot!' Had it not gone in, I might have never played again."
The shot moved the game into the second OT when K-State's free throw shooting took over with Parr making seven in a row after Boozer had fouled out.
Asked if he ever wanted to tell Coach Winter that he was willing to guard Chamberlain straight up, Boozer was quick with a "...no, no, no, no... don't even go there. I didn't have that cocky attitude. We were a team."
Plus, Boozer said, "He was 7-2 and I was 6-8. When he got you in the low post, you were dead. When he went to dunk, you made sure your hand was out of the way because he was going to break it. From the waist up he had the body of a weight lifter."
Matuszak remembers dining in Lawrence after the game and returning for a pep rally in Ahearn Field House: "Students exceeded curfew that night!"
Already crowned Big Seven Champions, K-State would lose its final two games of the season to Nebraska and to Kansas in Ahearn Field House, 61-44.
"We had already won the conference so I'm guessing it was a mental lapse, and we just went into a funk waiting for the (NCAA) tournament to start," said Abbott. "I know Tex wasn't real happy."
K-State, 22-5 for the year, defeated Cincinnati and Oklahoma State in the NCAA Regionals, but then the third-ranked Wildcats lost to Seattle and Temple in the Final Four staged in Louisville, Ky., to complete the 1957-58 season.