TOP PHOTO: Ron Widby drives for points for the Tennessee Vols. (PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE SPORTS INFORMATION)
By Jim Freeman
KNOXVILLE, TN (WLAF) – The tickets were colored in that LSU purple for the last Tennessee home basketball game of the 1967 season. Doc Freeman showed them to me on Monday and asked if I’d like to go to the game? I barely slept a wink the rest of the week and couldn’t wait to tell my buddy Marty Byrd the next day at school.
LSU made a stop at Stokely Center on Saturday, March 4, 1967. The Tigers were the doormat of the SEC with a 1 & 16 record and had only three wins on the season. LSU was coached by Press Maravich with Ray Mears leading Tennessee.
It was my first-ever time attending a college basketball game. What a game or games and what a keepsake of a memory.
Ron Widby was already my favorite Vols football player, and I even had a number 11 jersey to prove it. On this night, Widby left no doubt why he was the best basketball player in the SEC.
Number 52 had quite the night against LSU. Dad and I kept saying during the game that he sure was scoring a lot. When the game was over, the PA announcer read off the stats and called out that Widby had scored 50 points; a new single-game scoring mark for Tennessee. Additionally, he had 17 rebounds.
How lucky was this 10-year old to get to go to this game? How fitting was it for Widby to set the record in his last home game as a Vol?
It just so happened that night that the player who would go on to become the most prolific scorer in college basketball history played in the freshman game that night. Pistol Pete Maravich and his LSU Tiger frosh team were undefeated. However, in what would be the last home freshman game of the season, the Vols won! As I watched the Pistol miss a game tying free throw in the final few seconds of the game, little did I know that he was so upset that he walked all the way back to the hotel after the game.
The game tickets might have been purple for that last home game, but the season was all orange as Tennessee claimed the SEC title with a triple overtime win at Starkville over Mississippi State the next week. It was the Vols first SEC championship in more than 20-years as Tennessee finished the season 21 & 7 and 15 & 3 in the SEC. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 12/28/2020-6AM)