Nov. 7, 2007
The 1966 Runnin' Utes went 7-3 in Western Athletic Conference play, including a 97-85 victory over New Mexico that clinched the league title, in 1966. But in that game, Utah lost its power forward George Fisher with a broken femur.
Coach Jack Gardner and his staff were more than a little concerned as the Utes headed for Los Angeles and the NCAA Western Regional without a key starter. But Jerry Chambers made up for the loss of Fisher by continuing the torrid pace he had set late in the regular season. Chambers scored 40 points to lead Utah over Pacific in the opening round of the tournament.
Utah point guard Rich Tate really came alive in the NCAA Tournament as well. His 16 points helped the Utes get by Oregon State 70-64. When Tate wasn't scoring, he was feeding Chambers - who scored 33 points - the ball. Chambers was named MVP of the Western Regional.
Then, it was on to College Park, Maryland for the Final Four. The Utes didn't know it, but they were about to become part of history. The Final Four field also included national powers Kentucky and Duke. The fourth team was little-known (but not for long) Texas Western.
Utah opened against Texas Western, which made history in the championship game winning the title with an all African-American lineup. But it was Utah's Jerry Chambers who stole the show a bit in the semifinals. Merv Jackson (Utah's shooting guard) took a little pressure off Chambers, also playing well. Despite Jackson and Chambers play and a little help from Jeff Ockel, Leonard Black, Lyndon McKay, Gene Lake and Ron Cunningham, the Miners were able to come away with an 85-78 win over Utah.
Texas Western went on to beat Kentucky in the history-making title game. Utah fell to Duke in consolation play.
But Jerry Chambers set an NCAA record for scoring in a four-game NCAA Tournament, when he scored 32 against the Blue Devils. His 143 points was the most ever in a four-game NCAA Tournament. Although Utah went 0-2 at the Final Four, Chambers was named MVP of the 1966 NCAA Final Four.