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Oklahoma State All-Time Team Tournament: 1945 vs 1949

The tourney continues, as we get our first glimpse of arguably the most famous Oklahoma State basketball player of all time, Bob Kurland.

Once again Throwback Thursday brings some history, as Oklahoma State's first NCAA basketball champion, 1945 A&M, takes on the NCAA runners-up, the 1949 Aggies.

Catch All The Tournament Action

Introducing the 1945 Oklahoma A&M Aggies

RECORD: 27-4 (.871)
CONFERENCE RECORD: MVC...Listed as champions, but no official conference schedule was played due to WWII.
HEAD COACH: Henry Iba
KEY PLAYERS: Bob Kurland, Cecil Hankins, Doyle Parrack,

After losing 2 in a row to drop to 7-3, the 1945 Aggies went on a 20-1 run to end the season, with that only loss coming to eventual NIT champs DePaul, featuring George Mikan (college POY), who they beat in an exhibition rematch after the NCAA championship game.

The Aggies were led by Bob Kurland, the first 7 footer in the college game, and the first player to have a reputation for dunking (he also caused the goaltending rule). Kurland was actually too tall for the military, so he naturally dominated play, taking home NCAA tournament MVP honors while averaging 21.7 ppg. In the finals, Kurland had 22 of A&M’s 49 points, and was responsible for 10 or their 22 made FG’s. Cecil Hankins added 15 points. The Aggies won despite going only 5-15 from the line.

A&M eased their way to the championship, defeating Utah 62-37, and Arkansas 68-41, before dispatching NYU 49-45 for the title. The Aggies seemed to have a comfortable lead, but NYU made a run at the end, obviously assisted by A&M's poor foul shooting.

Despite Kurland's dominance, this was not a one man show. Cecil Hankins averaged 16 ppg in the tournament and was the leading scorer in the blowout of Arkansas with 22 points. Doyle Parrack averaged 8.7 ppg, and also registered a season high 16 points vs the Razorbacks.  Arkansas famously sagged on Kurland, who was "held" to 15 points, and the big man gladly dished to Hankins and Parrack, who were both on target from outside. This from the O'Colly:

"Against Arkansas, however, the big lad seemed content to pass off to teammates and remain in the background.... It paid dividends though as Hankins and Parrack were dead with their long shots."

Kurland, Hankins, and Parrack accounted for just under 78% of the Aggies points in that tournament.

Odd Fact...NYU featured future NBA star Dolph Schayes, who was only 16 at the time.

Introducing The 1949 Oklahoma A&M Aggies

RECORD: 23-5 (.821)
CONFERENCE RECORD: MVC 9-1 (.900)
HEAD COACH: Henry Iba
KEY PLAYERS: Bob Harris, Joe Bradley, Tom Jaquet, JL Parks

As presented in the preview for their wild card match up, if not for Adolph Rupp and Alex Groza, Iba would have likely had his 3rd championship in five years.

Little known among the great teams in OSU history, the '49 Aggies were 17-2 and ranked #3 nationally before dropping a Bedlam contest in Norman. They would finish 8-2 over the last 10 games, including that final loss to Kentucky. Despite Groza's MVP performance (accounted for 54% of the Wildcats points) and their own poor shooting, A&M was hanging in there until star defensive player Bob Harris fouled out within the first four minutes of the 2nd half. He was followed just a few minutes later by another of Iba's defensive standouts, guard J.L. Parks, who came into the tournament nursing a sprained ankle. While the 6-7 Harris (Iba's tallest player) struggled to contain Groza, after he sat the Aggies could only watch as Rupp's star finished with 25 points. No other Wildcat had more than five.

Match Up Preview

This game is pretty intriguing. Vertically and offensively challenged, the 1949 Aggies were likely one of Iba's best defensive units, as witnessed by their performance against Kentucky. The Wildcats featured 4 future NBA players, and were averaging 80.5 ppg in the tournament, before being held to just 46 points in the championship game.

As for the 1945 NCAA champs, while it's hard to look past Kurland, this bunch had plenty of people who could score, including Hankins. In fact, if you compare some general season scoring stats, this looks to be a tall task for Iba's 1949 squad

1945 Oklahoma A&M
POINTS OPPONENT MARGIN OF VICTORY
AVG 54.1 33.5 20.6
AVG IN WIN 56.2 32.2 24.0
AVG IN LOSS 39.8 42.3 -2.5
1949 Oklahoma A&M
POINTS OPPONENT MARGIN OF VICTORY
AVG 46.1 35.2 11.0
AVG IN WIN 48.2 33.3 15.0
AVG IN LOSS 36.6 44.0 -7.5

The key for 1949 will be what occurred in their first round match up.

Since both of these teams come from an era of no shot clocks or 3pt lines, how they adjust to the modern rules would be of great importance. The '49 Aggies caught a break, drawing another team with the same "limited" experience, giving A&M a chance to figure it out, which they did in a big way. Future NBA player Joe Bradley, who also played for the 1946 championship team, found comfort behind the arc and opened up the court for a team that may have been deliberate, but were brutally efficient in their half court sets. Another future NBA player, Bob Harris, plays much bigger than his listed height of 6-7, and he'll need to, giving up five inches to the All-American Kurland. While 1945 assuredly practiced with the new rules, playing with them in a live game will still take some getting used to, which just might give '49 A&M the opening they need to pull the upset. There's also the chance that the 1945 Aggies might be looking ahead, with the 1995 Oklahoma State Cowboys, along with Bryant Reeves, waiting in the Final Four.

One game, two great teams. Anything can happen. Cast your votes to decide their fate!