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Jack Givens: Loss at LSU turned out to be key to UK winning 1978 national championship

Jack Givens, left, and James Lee (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Jack Givens still believes Kentucky regular-season 95-94 overtime loss at LSU made the difference in UK winning the national title that year.

Kentucky had lost its first game of the season about three weeks earlier at Alabama and then lost at LSU when all five LSU starters fouled out in what former LSU coach Dale Brown still calls one of his most remarkable victories.

“As you can imagine, coach Hall was not real happy with us after that game. The next game we played at Ole Miss and we accused him of being crazy but he showed it that night,” Givens said. “The first half I think he made like 35 substitutions.

“If I glanced at bench and he didn’t like the way I glanced, he got me out. James (Lee) might dunk with one hand and coach Hall would think he should have dunked with two hands and would get him out. He just killed us. At halftime we were ahead, but he screamed at us. He never used real profanity. He used fake profanity — James called it coach profanity.

“It’s hard to look at game where coach just ripped you as a positive but from that day on many days the coaches come to practice and we would already have practice going. They didn’t say a word. They knew our mind was set on winning.

“A coach would stand up to say something and coach Hall would grab his arm and tell him to sit down. He knew we were on a mission and trusted us to lead the team, and we did.”

1 comment

  1. Great memories of a great championship team

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