This 1979 NBC men’s basketball Game of the Week between the USC Trojans verses the Texas Longhorns features two teams that entered this game with records of 10 – 4. The Longhorns were coming off an impressive N.I.T. Championship the year before to end the 1978 season….while returning four starters. with C Gary Goodner being the only player to depart…..as F Phillip Stroud would quite aptly replace the powerful Goodner down on the block.
Bone Daddy has always commented after having seen many of Texas’ practices at Gregory Gym during the 1979 basketball season….for that was the time when he would take video recorded games of future opposing teams whose games were aired live on network television and satellite channels….as he would record these games and take the cassettes to Coach Abe Lemons…..was well known to have his starting five all during any normal practice session…..while assistant coach Barry Dowd would take the remainder of the players for his team…..and the same was seen in games….cuz Abe trained his starters to go the whole game with limited substitutions, mostly due to foul trouble….for the starting five’s stats for this successful season are an indication of this approach by Lemons to the game…as 6’1″ G Jim Krivacs averaged 17.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists….and 6’2″ G Johnny Moore averaged 10.2 pts 4.4 rebs 6.2 asst….while 6’4″ F Ron Baxter averaged 11.7 pts 6.6 rebs 2.6 asst….when 6’7″ F Tyrone Branyon averaged 18.1 pts 6.9 rebs 1.6 asst….as these four were all returning starters from the year before….and the 6’7″ F Phillip Stroud averaged 9.5 pts 8.8 rebs 2.2 asst….so, talk about balance on offense….plus after two years of running Abe’s unique “match-up zone” defense….and you had a dang fine basketball team that came to play every night during their 21 – 8 season….while winning the Southwest Conference with a 13 – 3 record.
The USC Trojans also came into this mid-season match-up with a 10 – 4 record….while featuring one of the best big men in the country in 1979 in 6’9″ F Cliff Robinson 18.8 pts 11.6 reb 1.6 asst….6’8″ F Purvis Miller 12.7 pts 6.8 reb 1.2 asst….6’3″ G Don Carfino 10.6 pts 1.8 reb 2.4 asst…. 6’2″ G Steve Smith 10.7 pts, 1.5 reb, 2.0 asst…6’6″ F Maurice Williams 6.9 pts 2.7 reb 1.7 asst and 5’10” G Dean Jones 6.1 pts 1.4 reb 4.8 asst….so, this was a potent USC line-up that took the floor against the Horns for this NBC Game of the Week.
The best part of the whole video is the halftime interview between bartender Al McGuire and Coach Abe Lemons…..for it is classic McGuire and classic Lemons….as there have never been two bigger characters….who were also great coaches.