1960 Natl Championship Buckeyes Honored as OSU Destroyed Minnesota


By Hans Hetrick

When the Ohio State Buckeyes cruised to their fifth straight Big Ten win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers everyone got involved. His Royal Smoothness, Evan Turner, slid through the Gopher defense for 8 assists and 19 points. William Buford, who seems destined for a nickname—I kind of like “Slinky” Buford—put up a career best 26 points, hitting 4 of 5 from beyond the arc.

The win was just icing on the cake for a great day in Buckeyeland. THE Ohio State University stopped to honor their rich basketball history at halftime, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the greatest Buckeye team to ever lace up high tops: the 1960 National Champions.

Behind a mic at courtside, all-world color commentator and OSU alumni Clark “Special K” Kellogg was calling the game. The scarlet and gray planets were certainly aligned in Value City Arena Sunday afternoon.

Special "K"

Now for some old-timey basketball straight from the 75-55 1960 NCAA Finals victory over Cal.

Championship Game

Yeah, you read it right, Ohio State, basketball, and tradition all in the same sentence. What do you think we Ohioans do during the winter? Camp out in the den listening to Devo (Akron natives) and break down Iowa’s prospective secondary for the coming fall? Well, after watching game tape, we head for the gym and work on our jump shot.

Actually, Ohio State has a respectable program resume on the hardwood, including 10 Final Fours, 5 title game appearances, and the 1960 national championship. Ohio State’s one national championship basketball team was a monster. They were led by a group of talented “Super Sophs” that included Jerry Lucas, John Havlicek, Mel Nowell, and Bob Knight (similar to Woody Hayes’ 1969 “Super Sophs” national championship team led by Jack “the Assasin” Tatum and Rex Kern).

The Assasin

The 1960 basketball Bucks averaged a UNLV Tarkanian-like 90.4 points a game before 3-point lines and shot clocks. Each of the starting five averaged at least 11 point per game. Together, they outscored opponents by an average of more than 20 during the season, and in the 16-team NCAA tournament, the Buckeyes won all four games by 17 or more. Unfortunately, the sophomores couldn’t repeat during their junior and senior seasons (also similar to Hayes’ “Super Sophs”).

They held the top spot in the polls over the majority of the next two seasons, reached two NCAA title games, where they lost to the Cincinnati Bearcats both times. And yes, Cincinnati is in Ohio too.

The 1960 Buckeyes included four future Hall of Famers : Lucas, Havlicek, reserve guard Knight, and coach Fred Taylor. Jerry “Dr. Memory” Lucas was an early 1960’s wunderkind. Lucas possessed a photographic memory and insisted on enrolling at Ohio State on an academic scholarship, graduating in only three years. During the 1960 championship run, he averaged 26.3 points and 16.4 points a game.

Lucas boasts an amazing collegiate career; being named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year in 1961 and NCAA Player of the Year in 1961 and 1962. He also remains the only three-time Big Ten MVP. After graduating, Lucas signed a contract with George Steinbrenner’s  first foray into pro sports, the ABL’s Cleveland Pipers. (Cleveland, rarely claimed by Ohioans) The ABL and the Pipers folded before Lucas had a chance to play, so Jerry moved onto the NBA and a Hall of Fame career in which he averaged 15.6 rebounds a contest. Lucas went on to notoriety as “Dr. Memory”, writing a best seller on memory techniques and conducting seminars on the subject.

Larry Siegfried, Jerry Lucas, John Havlicek

Although Lucas captured an NBA championship with the 1973 New York Knicks, John Havlicek fared much better in the NBA. After Ohio State, Havlicek joined fellow 1960 Buckeye Larry Siegfried on Red Auerbach’s Boston Celtic dynasty teams. Havlicek retired to civilian life with eight NBA championships, and he still stands as the Celtics all-time leading scorer with 26,395 points.

If you haven’t heard Johnny Most’s immortal 1965 call “Havlicek stole the ball! Havlicek stole the ball!” lately-

The coach, Fred Taylor (Zanesville, home of the famous Y-bridge), was revered by his players, especially Knight who saw Taylor as his mentor. The two remained lifelong friends until Taylor’s death in 2002. Taylor (growing up I thought they were Fred Taylors and not Chuck Taylors) was just in his second year as a head coach when the Buckeyes won the championship.

Fred Taylors

Although he never won another NCAA championship, Taylor was at the helm for 18 glorious years of Ohio State basketball winning 7 Big Ten titles and appearing in 4 Final Fours. Taylor retired in 1976 before he turned 50, citing the gruesome melee in 1972 at Minnesota as a major reason for his early retirement.

Check out one of the greatest cheap shots of the 1970s, and yes, that guy stomped on his head. Ten bucks for the first person to spot Dave Winfield (Gopher forward)

Taylor was the focal point of the celebrations Sunday as Knight played emcee for the group. Knight who has rarely stepped onto Buckeye soil as a Buckeye played the charmer. When Coach Knight directed the audience’s attention to the rafters for the unfurling of a new banner honoring his former coach and mentor, the cover over the banner got caught for a moment and Bobby was right on top of it. “I thought there was a referee involved for a minute,” he said. I guess it’s time we welcome Bobby back to Ohio.


  1. Author Note…. communication breakdown. (Cleveland, rarely claimed by Ohioans) was intended to be George Steinbrenner (Cleveland-born, but rarely claimed by Ohioans). Cleveland’s my favorite dirty Ohio city.

  2. paulmbanks says

    ah yes, Zanesville…I drove through their during the holidays. with the gps there’s like nothing after Columbus until Zanesville, if you count that as something, and then nothing again until Wheeling, West Virginia- which is beautiful actually.

    so is west va, and parts of maryland….anyways Buford’s really playing better now. he has “league” potential, had another big game tonight, so did his royal smmothness as usual, 27 and 10

  3. paulmbanks says

    btw, this has nothing to do with your article, but a lot to do with Ohio St. basketball.

    Dallas Lauderdale can give Talor Battle a run in the race to replace Lindsey Hunter as the best basketball player with a an adult film star name in history

  4. hanshetrick says

    Dallas and Talor are great adult film names, but Greg Oden has the jump
    on them in his adult film career.

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