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Year
1966
Month Day
March 19

Texas Western defeats Kentucky in NCAA final

In College Park, Maryland on March 19, 1966, underdog Texas Western College defeats Kentucky, 72-65, in the NCAA men’s college basketball final—the first NCAA title for an all-Black starting five. 

“I wasn’t out to be a pioneer when we played Kentucky,” Texas Western coach Don Haskins told the Los Angeles Times years later. “I was simply playing the best players on the team, and they happened to be Black.”

Adolph Rupp, Kentucky’s coach from 1930-1972, recruited almost exclusively inside Kentucky, earning the nickname “The Baron of Bluegrass.” Like many other coaches of the era, Rupp did not recruit African American players. Later in his career, he signed 7-foot-2 Black center Tom Payne.

"It was a thrill for me—I'm kind of a young punk—and to play a game with Mr. Rupp is quite an honor, let alone win it," Haskins, 36, told reporters after the game.

Texas Western's journey to the 1966 NCAA championship was depicted in the 2006 film Glory Road. The year after winning the title, the school became the University of Texas-El Paso (UTEP).

Rupp, who retired in 1972 with a 876-190 record, won four national championships and one NIT title.

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