Big E Explodes In Wichita To Win The Midwest Regional

After an opening-round win over Loyola, the top-ranked Houston Cougars traveled to Wichita for back-to-back games in the 1968 Midwest Regional. UH beat #9 Louisville, 91-75, in a game that featured First-Team All-Americans Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld.

UH’s 1-3-1 defense stifled the Cardinals all night. Big E’s offense and rebounding and Don Chaney’s defense sparked a 25-3 run to put the game out of reach early. Houston forced 22 turnovers and kept the ball away from Unseld enough to get the win.

“Chaney just tore us apart,” Louisville coach John Dromo said as he shook his head. “He really tore us apart.”

Elvin finished the game with 35 points and 24 boards. His future Washington Bullets teammate Unseld had 23 points and 22 rebounds.

Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes

“That son-of-a-gun is fantastic, the way he kisses the ball off the backboard,” Dromo said about Elvin. With the win, UH reached 30-0 for the first (and only) time in school history.

“The difference in the game was our defense,” Guy V. Lewis said. “We played as well defensively as we did against UCLA. In fact, I feel we played as well all over as we can play, even though our shooting was a little off.”

The Kansas City Times may have gotten their math wrong but Bordman nailed the lede.

Don Chaney takes the ball down the floor / Wichita Beacon


 

At 8:30 the next night, UH routed TCU, 103-68, in an all-Texas Regional Final. Elvin scored 39 points and pulled down 25 rebounds, sending the Coogs to their second-straight Final Four. In two nights in Wichita, Hayes had 74 points and 49 rebounds.

Against the Frogs, Ken Spain had 16 and 16 while Theodis Lee had 16 points and seven boards. The trio of Hayes, Spain, and Lee combined to outscore the Horned Frogs (71-68) and tie them in rebounds (48).

The carnage started early for TCU: the Cougars led 15-0 before Horned Frog coach Johnny Swaim called timeout. Cougar fans in Wichita chanted, “We want a shutout! We want a shutout!” until TCU finally scored.

“It would take five Lew Alcindors to beat Houston,” Swaim commented after the game. “That’s a fabulous team, and they play intelligently. Elvin Hayes and Don Chaney really psyche you in that defense.”

The win over the Horned Frogs was UH’s 31st-straight win and 42nd in the last 43 games (only loss: to #1 UCLA in the 1967 Final Four).

Elvin gets, uhhh, fouled – Fort Worth Star-Telegram

In a stretch beginning after the Game of the Century and through the TCU game, UH scored 100 or more points in 12 of 14 games and over 90 points in all 14 games. After getting a big shot of confidence in the Game of the Century, Elvin went for 30 points and 20 rebounds in 10 of the next 14 games.

Elvin’s 30 & 20 Games After The Game of the Century

DateOpponentPointsRebounds
1/29Fairfield4825
2/10Centenary5037*
2/15Miami (Fla)3424
2/22UT-Arlington4421
2/24Valparaiso62*27
3/2Virginia Tech5127
3/4West Texas St3921
3/9**Loyola4927
3/15**Louisville3524
3/16**TCU3925

*school record
**NCAA Tournament

In a two-week stretch in February, Hayes set the school record for points and rebounds in a game. And 54 years later, neither has been broken.

Elvin Hayes led the Whose House cheer before the 2020 Tulsa game / photo by Mario Puente

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