By Jeff Goodman | CBSSports.com College Basketball Insider
It was John Wooden's seventh consecutive national title in the remarkable run that began in 1967, the second consecutive 30-0 campaign highlighted by one of the most dominating national championship performances in college basketball history by Bill Walton. UCLA's 1973 group came in with the baggage of the program having won six consecutive national titles. They lived up to the expectations, first beating Notre Dame in late January for the Bruins' 61st consecutive win -- which broke the mark set by Bill Russell and San Francisco back in the mid-1950s -- and then winning another championship by running the table again. Bill Walton was clearly the star of this group, but the Bruins had some pieces around him. There was forward Jamaal Wilkes, the two-time All-American; Larry Farmer, who was 89-1 in his career and averaged 12.2 points per game in 1973; and guys like Greg Lee and Larry Hollyfield, who understood their roles and performed them to perfection. UCLA wound up beating Indiana 70-59 in the national semifinals behind an unlikely source: reserve Tommy Curtis, who had 22 points. Then came the contest against Memphis State, which was tied at 39-39 at halftime before a foul-plagued Walton led the Bruins to yet another national title.
Coach: John Wooden
Primary starters: Bill Walton, Larry Farmer, Jamaal (Keith) Wilkes, Greg Lee, Larry Hollyfield
NCAA Tournament final result: Defeated Memphis State 87-66 to win the national title.
Best player: Bill Walton -- The big redhead had won 123 consecutive games heading into the final, dating back to his high school days at Helix in San Diego. The 6-foot-11 Walton averaged 20.4 points and 16.9 rebounds per game, but it was his unforgettable performance in the title game that still ranks as arguably the best of all-time. Walton was 21 of 22 from the field and finished with 44 points, breaking ex-UCLA star Gail Goodrich's 1965 title game record of 42. Walton also grabbed 13 boards in the rout of Memphis State.
Another worth noting: Jamaal (Keith) Wilkes -- While it was Walton who dominated throughout the season and in the national title game, Wilkes finished with 16 points against Memphis State and also grabbed seven boards. He was known for his smooth, silky game and wound up averaging 14.8 points and 7.3 boards as a junior. Was a two-time All-American and the 11th overall pick in the 1974 NBA Draft.
This team is one of the best of all-time because ... It had Walton, ran the table and pounded Memphis State to win the national title -- the seventh in a row for Wooden and the Bruins. The championship game victory was the program's 75th consecutive overall. These guys were dominant all year, winning 23 of the 26 regular-season games by double-digits, and then took down Indiana and Memphis State in the Final Four.
Did you know ... After winning National Player of the Year honors, Walton opted to return to school in 1974 to graduate. Walton was the College Player of the Year in 1972, 1973 and 1974 and won national titles in 1972 and 1973.