Feb. 27, 2008
UCLA will honor the 40th anniversary of its 1968 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship, on Saturday, March 8, when the Bruins host California in the final home game of the 2007-08 season in Pauley Pavilion (12:30 pm on ABC).
The team will be honored with a pregame reception and halftime ceremony. Ten members of the team plus the coaching staff are expected to attend. The team will also receive championship rings that afternoon (they received watches in 1968).
Under the direction of legendary Bruin head coach John Wooden, in his 20th season, it was UCLA's second straight NCAA title and the Bruins' fourth in five years (1964-65-67-68) under Wooden. Led by junior center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Lew Alcindor) and guards, junior Lucius Allen and senior captain Mike Warren, the team recorded an overall 29-1 record, including a perfect 14-0 mark in conference play (AAWU/Athletic Association of Western Universities). UCLA averaged 93.4 points per game, No. 2 in school history. The 1967-68 season was the first year that the dunk shot was eliminated during games and pre-game warm-ups (it remained in effect through the 1976-77 season).
The Bruins' only loss that year was at Houston 71-69 on Jan. 20, 1968 in the Astrodome. Known as the "Game of the Century", it pitted the No. 1 Bruins against the No. 2 Cougars, coached by Guy Lewis and led by Elvin Hayes. Hayes had 39 points, 15 rebounds and connected on the winning free throws with 28 seconds remaining. UCLA was not at full strength in the game, as Abdul-Jabbar had 12 rebounds, but managed only 15 points (4-18 attempts from the field). He was hampered by a left eye injury (corneal abrasion) suffered during UCLA's victory at California on Jan. 12 (because of the injury, Abdul-Jabbar was hospitalized at UCLA's Jules Stein Eye Institute, wore an eye patch and missed the previous two games before the Houston contest). At the time, the game set an attendance record (52,693) and it was the first nationally televised college basketball game on cable television. The loss snapped UCLA's overall 47-game winning streak and extended Houston's home-winning streak to 49.
But two months later (March 22, 1968), the Bruins would emphatically revenge the defeat to Houston, beating the Cougars 101-69 in an NCAA Final Four semi-final contest at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. Abdul-Jabbar (also with 18 rebounds), Allen and senior Mike Lynn all scored 19 points each as the Bruins, playing a diamond-and-one defense against Hayes (junior Lynn Shackelford was the "one"), roared to a 53-31 halftime lead. Hayes was held to just 10 points, with only five rebounds. The next day, UCLA won the 1968 NCAA Championship, beating Dean Smith's North Carolina Tar Heels, 78-55 on March 23. In that game, the Bruins were led by Abdul-Jabbar's 34 points as he was named the Outstanding Player of the Final Four for the second consecutive season. The UCLA-North Carolina meeting was the only time John Wooden and Dean Smith coached against each other.
Along with Abdul-Jabbar, Allen and Warren, also starting for the Bruins in 1967-68 were forwards, senior Mike Lynn (10.3ppg) and junior Lynn Shackelford (10.7ppg). All five starters scored in double figures, led by Abdul-Jabbar's 26.2 ppg (No. 4 on the UCLA single-season chart), Allen's 15.1ppg and Warren's 12.1ppg. Abdul-Jabbar also led the team in field goal percentage (.613, 294-480) and rebounding (16.5, his 461 total rebounds is No. 4 on the UCLA single-season chart). UCLA's top players off the bench included junior guard Ken Heitz (5.3ppg), junior forward/center Jim Nielsen (4.6ppg) and junior guard Bill Sweek (3.6ppg).
For the second consecutive season, Abdul-Jabbar earned National Player of the Year and All-American honors. Allen and Warren also earned All-American honors and Abdul-Jabbar and Warren were first-team All-Conference selections.
1967-68 UCLA Bruins Men's Basketball Team Roster
No. Name Pos. Ht. Class Hometown (High School)
33 Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem (Alcindor, Lew) C 7-1.50 Jr. New York City, NY (Power Memorial)
42 Allen, Lucius G 6-2 Jr. Kansas City, KS (Wyandotte)
22 Heitz, Ken G-F 6-3.50 Jr. Santa Maria (Righetti)
35 Lynn, Mike F 6-7.50 Sr. Covina (Covina)
34 Nielsen, Jim F-C 6-7 Jr. Van Nuys (Grant)
30 Saner, Neville C 6-6 Sr. Manhattan Beach (Mira Costa)
53 Shackelford, Lynn F 6-5 Jr. Burbank (Burroughs)
24 Sutherland, Gene G 6-1 Sr. La Crescenta (Crescenta Valley)
45 Sweek, Bill G 6-3 Jr. Altadena (Pasadena)
44 Warren, Mike G 5-11 Sr. South Bend, IN (Central)
Head Coach - John Wooden
Assistant Varsity Coach - Jerry Norman
Freshman Head Coach - Gary Cunningham
Trainer - Elvin "Ducky" Drake
Head Student Manager -Frank Adler
Assistant Student Manager - Bob Marcucci