It was a bookend three years in the making.
On Jan. 19, 1974, Notre Dame men's basketball did something no one did in three years — beat UCLA and coach John Wooden, 71-70. The stunner halted the Bruins' streak at 88 in a row, a stretch that is still a record in DI men's basketball. That's 1,092 days between losses.
Since the streak, no DI men's team has strung together at least 50 in a row; UNLV's 45 consecutive wins from 1990-91 has been the longest since.
The upset was a fitting end. UCLA's run started after it lost on Jan. 23, 1971 ... to Notre Dame ... on the Irish home court.
Somehow, the Irish pulled it out despite all this happening:
- No. 1 UCLA led 43-34 at the half
- UCLA star Bill Walton shot 12-for-14 from the floor for 24 points in the game
- UCLA led 70-59 with only 3:32 remaining
- The Bruins outshot the Irish 52 percent (29 of 56) to 48 percent (30 of 62)
- Besides winning 88 in a row, UCLA's average margin of victory was nearly 23.5 points per game
- During the streak, UCLA had more wins by 30 or more points (29) than single digits (17)
- UCLA's run came during a stretch where the Bruins won seven consecutive national championships
- Not only that, but from the 1966-67 through the 1972-73 seasons, UCLA had more national titles (7) than losses (5).
Here's how they did it.
Notre Dame grabbed 31 rebounds, finishing plus-9 on the glass. The Irish also forced 18 turnovers. Also, while Walton did his thing when he got the ball, the Irish limited his touches and non-Walton Bruins shot just 17 for 42, or 40.5 percent.
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Notre Dame's stars that day were John Shumate and Gary Brokaw. The duo combined to shoot 21 for 38 and 49 points. Shumate also led all players with 11 rebounds. Coach Digger Phelps also adjusted the press late, moving Shumate to the front and Brokaw deep, as the Irish needed — and started to get — steals.
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Here's a 2014 Notre Dame story remembering the scene as the Irish won and students rushed the court:
The scene was electric. One student paraded a banner that read, "Dear John Wooden, God did make Notre Dame number-one," signed Bear Bryant, in a reference to Notre Dame defeating top-ranked Alabama and Bryant 24-23 to win the football national championship for the Irish 19 days earlier. For the first time in college history, the same school ranked number one in football and number one in basketball.
Though the streak ended, UCLA returned the favor a week later, with the Bruins topping the Irish 94-75 at Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins lost two more times in the regular season and again to NC State in the NCAA tournament semifinals.
Next year, Wooden would win his 10th national title before retiring.