Greatest UK Player Ever Tournament: Jack Givens vs James Lee

Greatest UK Player Ever Tournament: Jack Givens vs James Lee

Matt Jonesabout 14 years


Article written by:Matt JonesMatt Jones
jack_givens.jpegjames_lee.jpeg The tournament continues and the matchups....well, some of them arent that close. Case in point, the one from last night, where Cotton Nash pounded our man Nazr Mohammed into submission, defeating him 5-0 with the fan voting producing the highest discrepancy yet in the tournament. Nash moves on and completes the first round of the Adolph Rupp Bracket. The second round will see these matchups: Dan Issel Jim Master Pat Riley Mel Turpin Rick Robey Alex Groza Antoine Walker Cotton Nash Continuing with the first round, we move to the Tubby Smith Bracket, which looks like this: Tubby Smith Bracket (1) Jack Givens (16) James Lee (8) Wayne Turner (9) Wah Wah Jones (4) Keith Bogans (13) Jamal Magloire (5) Winston Bennet (12) Jim Andrews (6) Johnny Cox (11) Jeff Sheppard (3) Cliff Hagan (14) Sean Woods (7) Ed Davender (10) Deron Feldhaus (2) Tony Delk (15) Patrick Sparks As you can see, lots of interesting matchups of players and contrasting styles. We begin with the only two teammates to draw each other in the first round, Jack Givens vs James Lee. Givens 2 Jack Givens: We often talk in this tournament about eras and folks who greaw up in certain eras favoring certain players. Chances are if you are in your late 30s or 40s, you likely would argue that Jack Givens was one of, if not the, best player in UK history. "The Goose" could do it all, pass, rebound and play defense....but man could he score. Part of some of the first groups of players to get to play four years, Givens took a year to hit his stride, but beginning in his sophomore season, he became virtually unstoppable. He was second team All-SEC his sophomore year and then First team All-SEC the next two years. His Senior year found him to be one of the best players in America as he finished Second Team All American and led the Cats to their first national championship in 20 years. In that Tournament, the Goose went from a great player to a legend, scoring 41 points against Duke, the highest number ever for an NCAA championship game. His performance has been called one of the top 5 in NCAA history and established the Lexington native as a legend for all time. He finished his career 3rd in scoring (without the three point line) and 12th in rebounding. At a time when Kentucky fans were nervous and demanding a national championship, Givens gave it to them and thus his #1 seed in this tournament. Lee 2 James Lee: The unfortunate soul who must face the Goose is the "Freight Train" James Lee. The Train and the Goose had careers that intersected from the playgrounds when they were kids to the national championship game in 1978. Like the Goose, Lee is from Lexington, Kentucky and grew up playing high school basketball against the Goose. Lee's career was that of a steady player who had a knack for finding key baskets in key situations. Throughout his time at Kentucky he hit clutch shots and did the little things it takes to be a winner.....all the while showing overwhelming athleticism and getting dunks that would make all but Dirk Minniefield shake their head in wonder. His senior season saw Lee receive accolades as Third Team All-SEC and get noticed on the national level. But more importantly, he became the key igniter of the run that led UK to its victory in the title game. When Duke had the lead in the second half and UK couldnt buy a basket, Lee scored six straight points and gave Kentucky a lead that they would never relinquish. Lee has been called one of the most athletic players in UK history, but it was his key buckets at the end of the 78 Championship game that makes Lee a UK legend. So there you go, the Goose and the Freight may be a bit of a mismatch, but use the comment section to make your pick and to tell us your memories of two of the key members of one of Kentucky's 7 Championship Teams.

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