1978 NCAA Final — Kentucky and Duke

By Ron Griffitts

Contributing Columnist

On March 27, 1978, the Kentucky Wildcats (29-2) met the Duke Blue Devils (27-6) for the NCAA basketball championship in the St. Louis Sports Arena in St. Louis, Mo.

The Wildcats were coached by Joe B. Hall who had taken over as Kentucky coach after Adolf Rupp’s retirement and had defeated Florida State 85-76, Miami of Ohio 91-69, Michigan State 52-49, and Arkansas in the NCAA semifinal 64-59 to get to the final.

They were led by Jack Givens (18.1 points per game, 6.8 rebounds per game), Rick Robey (14.4 ppg, 8.2 rpg) and Kyle Macy (12.9 ppg, 5.7 assists per game).

Duke got by Rhode Island 63-62, Pennsylvania 84-80, Villanova 90-72, and Notre Dame in the NCAA semifinal 90-86 and were coached by Bill E. Foster. They were led by Jim Spanarkel (20.8 ppg), Mike Gminski (20.0 ppg, 10.0 rpg) and Gene Banks (17, 1 ppg, 8.6 rpg).

The game was closely contested as UK led 45-38 at the half and even though Duke outscored them 50-49 in the second half, Kentucky led by Jack Givens’ 41 points on 18 of 27 from the field won their fifth NCAA title in school history 94-88.

The Wildcats bested the Blue Devils .574 to .492 from the field and besides Givens, Rick Robey contributed 20 points and 11 rebounds and Kyle Macy added 8 assists.

For Duke, Jim Spanarkel had 21 points, Gene Banks 22 and Mike Gminski 20 points and 11 rebounds.

Jack Givens got the most outstanding player of the tournament award and was joined by Robey, Spanarkel, Banks and Ron Brewer of Arkansas on the all-tournament team with the 6’ 11” Mike Gminski going on to spend 14 seasons in the NBA.

Jim Spanarkel played five years in the NBA before becoming a college basketball broadcaster as he was the analyst on Sunday’s St. Peters-North Carolina game.

Joe B. Hall coached for 16 seasons and compiled a 334-129 record with a .721 winning percentage.

Statistics for this article were from basketball-reference.com.

Ron Griffitts a contributing columnist for The Daily Advocate.