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WKU To Honor 1970-71 Final Four Team Saturday


Western Kentucky University's 1970-71 team (WKU Athletics Photo)

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Western Kentucky University will recognize its 1970-71 Final Four team for its induction in the inaugural class of WKU Athletics Hall of Fame teams during halftime of Saturday afternoon’s game against North Texas.

In 2020, the WKU Alumni W-Club expanded the Athletic Hall of Fame to include great teams, not just individuals. Sixteen athletic teams make up the multi-year inaugural class of teams, including the 1971 men’s basketball squad.

Several student-athletes and staff from the team are expected to attend, while others will be represented posthumously by their loved ones.

The 1970-71 team went 24-6 on its way to a third-place finish in the NCAA Tournament, claiming the Ohio Valley Conference championship and ranking as high as fifth in the nation.

Led by consensus All-American and WKU All-Century team member Jim McDaniels with 29.3 points and 15.1 rebounds per game, the Hilltoppers defeated No. 9 Jacksonville, No. 8 Kentucky and No. 10 Ohio State on their way to the Final Four before falling to No. 19 Villanova in double-overtime in Houston, Texas. WKU went on to beat No. 4 Kansas by two in the third-place game.

The Hilltoppers were 6-2 in action against nationally ranked teams that season, adding an earlier victory over No. 4 Jacksonville, a win over No. 19 St. John's and a narrow two-point setback at the hands of No. 2 South Carolina in the championship game of the ECAC Holiday Classic in Madison Square Garden.

Student-athletes on the 1971 Final Four team included Jim McDaniels, Jim Rose, Clarence Glover, Rex Bailey, Jerry Dunn, Gary Sundmacker, Chuck Witt, Danny Johnson, Steve Eaton, Terry Davis, Ray Kleykamp, Dennis Fox, Jeff Eckel, Don Waldron, Jerome Perry and Tony Duke.

The team was coached by the late John Oldham, a former All-American guard, coach and administrator for whom the court in E.A. Diddle Arena is named. Oldham retired as head coach after the 1971 season with the highest winning percentage for a coach in program history. His assistant coaches were Jim Richards and Wallace “Buck” Sydnor.

As part of the celebration, WKU will be giving away retro “shirseys” to the first 500 fans. The shirsey is designed to look like the Hilltoppers’ jerseys from the Final Four season, including McDaniels’ iconic No. 44.


Saturday's game will tip off at 3 p.m. CT.

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