On March 21, 1964 in Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri the UCLA Bruins met the Duke Blue Devils for the NCAA title. It was the first final since 1959 that featured two teams that had not been in the previous year’s game.
UCLA 29-0 and looking for an undefeated season was coached by legendary mentor John Wooden who was seeking the first of ten NCAA finals victories. They were led by Gail Goodrich 21.5 ppg 5.2 rpg, Walt Hazzard 18.6 ppg 4.7 rpg, Jack Hirsch 14.0 ppg 7.6 rpg, and Keith Erickson 10.7 ppg 9.1 rpg.
Duke was coached by Vic Bubas who spent ten seasons as the Blue Devils’ coach. Known for his aggressive recruiting methods he was one of the first coaches go after high school players in their junior year as opposed to waiting until their senior year.
His team featured Jeff Mullins 24.2 ppg 8.9 rpg, Jay Buckley 13.8 ppg 9.0 rpg, Hack Tosin 11.8 ppg 7.6 rpg and Jack Marin 7.9 ppg 4.7 rpg. Mullins, Marin, Goodrich, Hazzard and Erickson would all go on to play in the NBA.
Duke 26-4 dispatched Villanova 87-73, Connecticut 101-54 and Michigan 91-80 to reach the final game and scored 84.1 ppg and allowed opponents 69.1 ppg.
UCLA defeated Seattle 95-90, San Francisco 76-72 and Kansas State 90-84 and averaged 86.3 ppg while allowing 71.3 ppg.
Duke would have to stop the UCLA fast break with their rebounding and inside play and through the first quarter of the game did that leading 30-27 but as often in championship games a player comes from out of nowhere to lead his team to victory.
At that point Wooden inserted sophomore guard Kenny Washington into the game and he led the Bruins on a run that gave them a 50-38 halftime lead as they outscored Duke 23 to 8 after he entered the game.
And although Duke played better in the second half UCLA won 98-83 with the 6’ 3” Washington scoring 26 points on 11 of 16 from the field and 4 for 4 from the free throw line and pulling down 12 rebounds for the Bruins while his seasonal average was 6.1 ppg and 4.2 rpg.
Doug McIntosh added eleven rebounds off the bench for UCLA.
The team stats favored UCLA as the field goal percentage was .474 to 444, rebounds 43-35, turnovers 19 to 24 and free throws 32-28.
Walt Hazzard got the tourney Most Outstanding Player award but it was Washington that made the difference in the title game.
UCLA would be back the next year and Duke would return in 1978.
It was the first of UCLA’s ten titles in twelve years with the Bruins also getting to the Final four two other years, 1962 and 1974. Wooden never lost an NCAA final.
A native of Indiana he spent 29 years as a college head coach, 2 at Indiana State and 27 at UCLA compiling a 826-664 record and a .804 winning percentage with four undefeated 30-0 seasons, an 88 game winning streak and ten NCAA titles and twelve final four appearances, including seven NCAA titles in a row from 1967 to 1973.
Ron Griffitts a contribution columnist for the Daily Advocate