1959 College Basketball Recap
Ten years after leading an unheralded San Francisco team to the NIT championship, coach Pete Newell did the same thing in the NCAAs, this time with California.
Newell's defensive-minded Golden Bears, led by 6-10 Darrall Imhoff and 6-5 Bill McClintock, went 20–4 during the regular season, held the opposition to 51 points a game, and were ranked No.11 by AP. At the Final Four in Louisville, they had to play Oscar Robertson and Jerry West on consecutive nights.
Cal beat Cincinnati in the semifinals, 64–58, holding Robertson and the Bearcats 26 points below their per game average. In the final, West scored 28, but the Bears won 71–70.
West was named tournament MVP, the fourth straight year the honor went to a member of a losing team. The other three were Hal Lear of Temple and two future L.A. Lakers teammates of West's—Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor.
The country's top two teams at the end of the regular season, Kansas State and Kentucky, were knocked out of the NCAA tournament in the regionals—No.1 K-State by Cincinnati in the Midwest final and UK by cross-state rival Louisville in the Mideast semifinals.
Finally, No.3 Mississippi State (24–1), the SEC champion, refused an invitation to the NCAAs because it was an integrated event.
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