Today in Texas History – January 20

From the Annals of Roundball – In 1968, Houston ended UCLA’s 47-game winning streak with a 71-69 victory at the Astrodome before 52,693 fans. The so-called “Game of the Century” was the first basketball game played in the Eighth Wonder of the World and set a NCAA attendance record. It was also the first NCAA regular season game broadcast nationwide in prime time through a syndication package.

Houston and UCLA had met the previous season in the semifinals of the 1967 tournament with the Bruins winning 73–58 and moving on to win the national championship for the third time in four years.  Houston Coach Guy Lewis wanted a rematch and sold the game to UCLA’s John Wooden as something that would be good for all of college basketball.

The biggest match-up of the game featured Center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor) for the Bruins against Forward Elvin Hayes of the Cougars.  Although they did not play directly against each other, Hayes did block 3 of KAJ’s shots bringing cries of “E” from the crowd.  KAJ had suffered an eye injury the week before and turned in the worst performance of his college career.  The two teams would meet again in the NCAA tournament semi-final.  UCLA exacted revenge stomping the Cougars 101 to 69 and going on to beat North Carolina in the final.

Sports Illustrated cover from Pristine Auctions.

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