On Throwback Thursday, we are featuring two 1900's teams that are too often overlooked in OSU's rich basketball history. Up first, we have the 1949 Missouri Valley Conference winners, the Oklahoma A&M Aggies. Trying to steal the win against them are the 1965 Big Eight Conference champions, the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Let's get started, shall we?
Catch All The Tournament Action
Catch All The Tournament Action
Introducing The 1949 Oklahoma A&M Aggies
RECORD: 23-5 (.821)
CONFERENCE RECORD: 9-1 (.900)
HEAD COACH: Henry Iba
KEY PLAYERS: Bob Harris, Joe Bradley, Tom Jaquet, JL Parks
Henry Iba's Aggies finished the regular season with a 20-4 record, only losing once in Missouri Valley Conference play. In the postseason, A&M defeated Nebraska 53-35 in NCAA district play. They then proceeded to defeat Wyoming 40-39 on a game-winner by Junior Cowboy Jack Shelton, setting up for a Final Four match with the Oregon State Beavers. In that contest, the Aggies cruised past the Beavers 55-30, aided by their stifling defense.
After that point, the Aggies were on their way to Seattle, Washington to play in the national championship against reigning champion Kentucky. Going into the game, one of the main story lines was how the Aggies' defense would fare against a potent Wildcat offense. Up to that point in the tournament, the Wildcats averaged 80.5 PPG in a two-game span. On the other side, the Cowboys just came off of a commanding win over Oregon State, and to this day, the Beavers' 30-point performance remains the fourth lowest point total in Final Four history. The much-awaited contest also featured the marquis matchup of Aggie center Bob Harris and Wildcat star Alex Groza. Harris was a Second-Team All-American and his team's leading scorer. Groza was a three-time All-American and his team's leading scorer. Both were collegiate studs and both would play professionally in the following season. Joe Gergen, author of the book The Final Four, explains the end result like this:
"Oklahoma A&M, the nation's stingiest team, had triumphed in the Western playoffs at Kansas City . . . Oklahoma A&M center Bob Harris was a standout against the West Coast team, scoring 23 points and dominating the middle. Aggies coach Henry Iba, the high priest of defense. believed the 6-7 Harris was the man to contain Groza. He was wrong . . . Groza used superior quickness to beat Harris to the baseline, fouled out the defender early in the second half, and scored 25 points in his team's 46-36 victory . . . Kentucky thus became the second institution to win consecutive NCAA basketball championships, fittingly at the expense of the first back-to-back champion.
Even though the Aggies fell short against Kentucky, their championship talent was undeniable. Many players on that team went on to play professionally, and the 1948-'49 season finished off a magical decade for Oklahoma A&M basketball.
Introducing The 1965 OSU Cowboys
RECORD: 20-7 (.740)
CONFERENCE RECORD: 12-2 (.857)
HEAD COACH: Henry Iba
KEY PLAYERS: Garry Hassmann, Larry Hawk, James King, David Wright
The '64-'65 season was filled with many team accomplishments, but coach Iba reached a number of personal achievements. This was Iba's eighth and final NCAA tournament, and each of his tournament teams made (at least) the Elite Eight every year. That '64-'65 season was also the year when Coach Iba won his 700th game; to this day, there are only 19 other coaches who can boast at least 700 wins in their career. Here's a snippet from The Daily O'Collegian on Mr. Iba's impressive milestone win against in-state rival Oklahoma:
"Everyone knew it was coming eventually, and Monday night was it. Oklahoma State basketball coach Henry Iba finally won his 700th game, and a convincing win it was. The Pokes were red-hot as they scrambled their way to a 23-point win over arch-rival Oklahoma before 7,000 howling fans in Gallagher Hall. . . The win made Iba one of only three active coaches in the nation who have 700 wins."
This Cowboy squad itself had no shortage of talent. Gary Hassmann, OSU's leading scorer, was a member of both the scholastic Big Eight team and the scholastic All-American team. While Hassmann was a huge asset for the Pokes, none was more important than their All-Conference forward James King. King, an eventual Detroit Piston draftee and Olympic Basketball member, was what the Tulsa World described as "Iba's last superstar and perhaps the best all-purpose player in OSU history." King and Hassmann led their team to first place in the Big Eight Conference and a spot in the NCAA tournament. In the Midwest semifinals, the Pokes defeated the Houston Cougars 75-60, but lost to Wichita State in the regional finals 54-46.
Because the shot clock wasn't added to the college game until 1985, both teams could play their trademark styles. Iba was known for his delay offense, which he certainly instilled in his '49 squad. The team in '65 used a little more tempo, and had more games upwards of 60-70 points. The battle between the Cowboys' potent offense and the Aggies' rugged defense would be a sight to see. From a player's perspective, no matchup would be more significant than the Aggies' Bob Harris against the Cowboys' James King. Harris and King not only had similar size, but similar styles as well. How would King's offensive arsenal fare against one of the more talented Aggie defenders? Which style of play would be more effective? Which team would ultimately come out on top? That's for you to decide.
Vote for who you think would win in the poll below, and feel free to make your case in the comments!