Want to feel old? If you’re an early Baby Boomer, it doesn’t seem that long since UCLA was an unbeatable basketball powerhouse.
But believe it or not, that was 50 years ago — a half century!
UCLA will celebrate its 1966-67 NCAA men’s basketball championship team at halftime of Saturday evening’s game against Washington State at Pauley Pavilion.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is among the team members expected to be in attendance for the ceremony, along with Lucius Allen, Mike Warren, Dick Lynn, Mike Lynn, Jim Nielsen, Kent Taylor, Joe Chrisman, Neville Sander and Gene Sutherland, along with assistant coach Jerry Norman and freshman coach Gary Cunningham.
UCLA also will pay tribute to Kenny Heitz, who died in 2012, coach John Wooden, who died in 2010, and trainer Ducky Drake, who died in 1988.
The 1966-67 Bruins were 30-0. In an era when freshmen were ineligible for the varsity, Abdul-Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor), was among four sophomore starters, along with Allen — a guard — and Heitz and Lynn Shackelford, the forwards. Warren was the only returning starter.
UCLA opened the season with a 105-90 victory over USC, with Abdul-Jabbar scoring a school-record 56 points. Abdul-Jabbar scored 61 points, which remains the school record, in a 100-78 victory over Washington State on Feb. 25, 1967.
Only four opponents were able to stay within 10 points of the Bruins, two of whom who utilized the stall tactic. Their closest game was a 40-35 overtime victory over USC, in the third of four games between the two teams. The others resulted in 15-, 24- and 28-point victories.
In the 1967 NCAA Tournament, UCLA won its West Regional games 109-60 over Wyoming and 80-64 over Pacific. The Bruins began the Final Four, played in Louisville, Kentucky, with a 73-58 victory over a Houston team led by Elvin Hayes, who would go on to be selected as one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players.
UCLA defeated Dayton, 79-64, to begin what would be an unprecedented streak of seven consecutive NCAA championships.
—City News Service