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Jack Givens: UK’s 1978 title team was “selfless” in part because it was experienced team

Jack Givens, left, and James Lee signed autographs for fans Saturday at the Ohio UK Convention. (Larry Vaught Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

FRANKLIN, Ohio — Watching highlights of Kentucky’s 1977-78 championship season at the Ohio UK Convention Saturday literally left Jack “Goose” Givens with goose bumps.

Of course, most of the Kentucky fans attending the annual UK convention have the same reaction when they recall Given’s 41-point effort against Duke in the 1978 title game.  However, Givens once again made sure everyone understand his teammates deserved as much credit for his huge game as he did.

“An experienced team makes sure if you are hot, you get the ball,” Givens said. “All those guys sacrificed to make sure I could continue playing the way I was playing .”

He noted the way guards Kyle Macy and Truman Claytor passed the ball to him or how Rick Robey, Mike Phillips and James Lee were always looking for him after they got a rebound.

“We were selfless. We didn’t mind giving the ball up if somebody was having a good game. It could be me or anyone else. If you were hot, you were getting the ball,” Givens said.

He also understood how valuable his teammates that didn’t start were and wasn’t shocked when reserves Dwane Casey, Fred Cowan and Lavon Williams all played so well in the NCAA Tournament first-round game against Florida State. Coach Joe Hall was unhappy with how his team played the first half and benched starters Truman Claytor, Rick Robey and Givens to start the second half and also did not start sixth man James Lee.

“The guys we worked against in practice every day were as tough as anybody,” Givens said. “Coach Hall knew what he was doing. He knew Freddie would play hard. He knew whoever Lavon guarded would needed two weeks to recover. He had confidence in those guys, and so did we. That’s just how our team was.”

 

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