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NAIA Men's Basketball Tournament Top 75 Moments

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January 26, 2012
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College Basketball's Toughest Tournament will celebrate its 75th anniversary when the Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship tips-off in Kansas City, Mo., at historic Municipal Auditorium, March 14-20, 2012. To countdown to the official celebration, the NAIA will roll out one top tournament moment each day leading up to March 20, the night of the Championship final game. 

Icons such as John Wooden, Harry Statham, Terry Porter, Earl "The Pearl" Monroe, Lloyd B. Free, Lucious Jackson and Jack Sikma have their careers trace back to the NAIA. See where their stories rank and be a part of college basketball history this March.

Visit to learn more about the 2012 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship, including ticket information,

Check back often as the NAIA counts down the top 75 moments in Division I Men's Basketball. We look forward to seeing you in March for the 75th Anniversary celebration.

Men's Basketball Tournament Top 75 Moments


2001 – Faulkner (Ala.) claims its first-ever men’s basketball championship with a 63-59 victory over Science & Arts (Okla.). Tournament MVP Paul Little scored a game-high 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Eagles to the title. Faulkner becomes the first No. 10 seed to win the NAIA title since seeding began in 1966 and just the eighth double-digit seed up to that point.


1996 – Freshman Marc Bishop hits an off balance 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift Findlay (Ohio) to an 68-65 win over Harding (Ark.).


1969 – Bill Grigsby announces play-by-play at the NAIA National Championship for the 18th time. Grigsby, who would later be inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame, also served as radio play-by-play announcer for the Kansas City Chiefs and became a Kansas City icon. He passed away in February 2011, and a special moment of silence was made in his honor during the 2011 tournament.


1975 – Tournament moves to brand new Kemper Arena in the stockyards district of Kansas City, Mo., and remains there until the NAIA departure to Tulsa, Okla., for the 1994 tournament.


2007 – Oklahoma City rolls into its second-consecutive title game and comes away with a 79-71 triumph over Concordia (Calif.) to win the fifth national championship in school history.


2005 – John Brown (Ark.) completes its Cinderella run to a national championship victory with a 65-55 win over Azusa Pacific (Calif.). Junior guard and Tournament MVP Brandon Cole scores a game-high 25 points to lead unseeded John Brown to the title. The championship was a first for the Golden Eagles.


2002 – All 31 games of the national tournament are televised live on local cable television. This was the first time in the tournament’s history that all tournament games were on live television.


1984 – Terry Porter leads Wisconsin-Stevens Point to the championship game, falling in overtime to Fort Hays State (Kan.), 48-46. Porter claimed MVP honors, scored a tournament-best 125 points and went on to become an NBA All-Star and NBA head coach.


1966 – Oklahoma Baptist storms to a NAIA basketball title, 88-59, over Georgia Southern, led by 6-foot-8 Al Tucker and his 41 points and 17 rebounds. Tucker finished the tournament with a total of 182 points and was a unanimous Tournament Most Valuable Player selection. That scoring amount was second most in a single tournament.


1965 – Kenneth Wilburn led Central State (Ohio) to an 85-51 victory over Oklahoma Baptist in the title game to close out a perfect 30-0 season. Wilburn averaged 18.0 rebounds per game in the tournament, third most in NAIA history.


1967 – St. Benedict’s (Kan.) wins the 30th Annual NAIA National Championship by defeating Oklahoma Baptist, 71-65. St. Benedict’s had to overcome Al Tucker’s 47-point effort as it countered with its own star in Darryl Jones. Jones led all players in the tournament with 62 rebounds and a 12.4 average.


1964 – Rockhurst (Mo.) causes a stir in Kansas City by winning the 1964 national championship over Pan American (Texas), 66-56, which was led by two-time tournament MVP, Lucious Jackson, 66-56. Rockhurst’s most memorable game during their championship run, however, was a 76-74 victory over Indiana Central in the second round as Dick Hennier hit a buzzer-beater while falling out-of-bounds to win the game. Kansas City newspapers detailed downtown rush-hour traffic jams due to the volume of interest in Rockhurst’s tournament run. Unofficial policy was adopted to avoid scheduling Rockhurst during rush hour.


1960 – After winning three-straight NAIA National Championships (1957-59), Tennessee A&I falls in the 1960 semifinals. During that run, Tennessee A&I won 18-consecutive tournament games, which set a record that still stands today.


1939 – San Diego State’s (Calif.) Milky Phelps becomes the first collegiate basketball player to employ a one-handed jump shot.


1992 – Ron Berkholtz serves as one of 12 officials at the national tournament despite nearly losing his life two months earlier. While working a January 13 game, a player ran into Berkholtz, who then fell to the ground. The fall crushed his elbow into eight pieces and caused Berkholtz’s heart to stop beating. He made a full recovery, but still sported a seven-inch scar on his arm as the 1992 tournament began.


2003 – Matt Laur single-handedly puts his stamp on the 2003 NAIA Player of the Year award, helping McKendree (Ill.) eliminate Science & Arts (Okla.), the defending national champion. Laur just missed a triple-double with 37 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists in the 105-98 victory.


2003 – Concordia (Calif.) claims the NAIA National Championship with an 88-84 overtime win against Mountain State (W.Va). Sophomore center Tanner Luster scored on a layup with 37.1 seconds left in OT to break an 84-84 tie and propel the Eagles to the title.


2004 – Mountain State (W.Va.) tops Concordia (Calif.), 74-70, in the national championship game in a rematch of the previous year’s national title in which Concordia won. With NBA scouts in attendance, Mountain State’s Zach Moss, a 6-foot-7 senior forward and NAIA National Player of the Year, notches a game-high 22 points. The title was the first and only for the Cougars.


1963 - Tournament Most Valuable Player Lucious Jackson leads Pan American (Texas) to an improbable 72-63 national championship victory over Western Carolina (N.C.). The 6-foot-9 Jackson and the Broncos pulled off a monumental upset in the semifinals by stunning top-seeded Grambling (La.), 90-83. Grambling was led by the tournament's leading scorer and future Hall of Famer, Willis Reed, yet Jackson stole the show by scoring 132 points and grabbing 93 rebounds in five games on his way to MVP honors. Later, Jackson would earn an Olympic gold medal and win an NBA championship.


1954 - Clarence "Bevo" Francis, college basketball's biggest breakout star from Rio Grande (Ohio) - who scored 116 in one regular-season game and 113 in another - comes to Municipal Auditorium in 1954, creating a frenzy for tickets. After selling out all of the game programs about an hour before tip-off, officials allowed standing-room only tickets to be sold, and still turned away a huge crowd gathered in the Municipal lobby, all hoping to get a glimpse of Bevo.


2011 - McKendree's (Ill.) legendary coach Harry Statham coaches his final NAIA Tournament game. Earlier, during the 2009-10 season, Statham became the first men's coach at any four-year institution to win 1,000-plus games in his career. He wrapped up his NAIA career with 1,043 coaching wins, as McKendree joined NCAA membership for the 2011-12 season.


2009 - Unseeded Rocky Mountain (Mont.) defeats Columbia (Mo.), 77-61, in the first national championship game between two unseeded teams. The Battlin' Bears become the first basketball National Champion in the state of Montana.


1957 - Southeastern Oklahoma's Jim Spivey scores 43 points in a 92-73 championship game loss against Tennessee A&I. In the semifinals, the Tournament MVP notches 53 points after rattling off 46 points in the quarterfinals. Spivey ended his four-year tournament career with 386 points, which ranks fourth-most in history.


2008 - Oklahoma City's Kameron Gray becomes the first player in 36 years to win back-to-back Tournament MVP awards as his team wins back-to-back national championships. Kentucky State's Travis Grant earned the award in 1971 and 1972.


1950 - Nate DeLong, who notched the second-highest individual single-game scoring output in tournament history with 56 points in a 1947 game, finishes his NAIA career. DeLong led River Falls Teachers College (Wis.) to four-straight conference titles and three trips to the national tournament.


1948 - The Honorary Coach program begins. Under the program, an honorary coach is assigned to each tournament qualifier in an effort "to make certain that all 32 teams feel relaxed and at home, despite the fact that they may be hundreds or thousands of miles from their own homes." The tradition continues today. 


1949 - Emil Liston dies.  Liston was the heart, soul and driving force behind the creation and growth of the tournament.


1940 - After launching the first all-collegiate National Basketball Championship in 1937, Emil Liston and fellow college coaches and Athletic Directors officially organized and created the National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball (NAIB).


1947 - Marshall's (W.Va.) fast-break system brought the Municipal Auditorium crowd to its feet as the Thundering Herd became the first team in the tournament to score 100 points in a game when they defeated River Falls (Wis.), 113-80. Marshall would eventually win the school's first men's basketball national title.


1993 - All-Americans Roger Huggins and Andy Gardner transfer to Hawaii Pacific after their former school, Hawaii Loa, closes. Huggins and Gardner team up with fellow All-American James Williams to lift Hawaii Pacific to an 88-83 win over Oklahoma Baptist in the national title game. That was the first and only title for Hawaii Pacific.


2011 - Georgetown (Ky.) becomes the first school to make 30 tournament appearances, while becoming the first school to make 20-consecutive trips.


1970 - The NAIA decides to return the dunk for the 1970-71 season. An announcement of this change in the NAIA basketball rules was made by Jim Gudger, head coach at Western Carolina (N.C.). In years prior to 1970, dunking was outlawed in high school and collegiate basketball because of the domination by tall players.


1987 - ESPN and the NAIA agree on a new five-year contract to broadcast the semifinal and national championship games each year. The deal comes on the heels of a successful 1987 debut for the tournament on ESPN. An estimated 1.5 million homes nationwide tuned into the first-ever ESPN telecast of the NAIA Men's Basketball National Championship Tournament.


2011 - Larry Lady attends his 60th-consecutive tournament.  During those years, Lady has attended as an Honorary Coach, game official, Supervisor of Officials, Tournament Committee member, radio color commentator, fan, Conference Commissioner and sponsor.


2000 - Georgetown (Ky.) survived a four-overtime game with Biola (Calif.), 118-108, to advance to the national championship game to face top-seeded Life (Ga.), where Georgetown fell, 61-59. The four overtimes were the second most in tournament history.


1997 - Head coach Roger Kaiser leads Life (Ga.) to a national championship 23 years after coaching NAIA member West Georgia to the 1974 national championship.


1941 - Milky Phelps, the tournament's first bona-fide star, leads San Diego State (Calif.) to a national title win over Murray State (Ky.) after back-to-back runner-up championship finishes. Phelps died in World War II shortly thereafter.


1971 - Less than seven hours after returning to campus following a quarterfinal loss to eventual champion Kentucky State, Grambling's (La.) Charlie Anderson died as a result of injuries suffered in a car accident. Anderson, the victim of a hit-and-run accident, passed away just thirty two hours after the quarterfinal defeat in Kansas City, Mo. He averaged 18.3 points per game and 17.8 rebounds per game during the 1970-71 season and recorded the game-winning basket in Grambling's overtime victory over Glassboro State (N.J.) in the second round of the tournament.


1945 - The tournament resumes one year after World War II cancelled the 1944 event. Sixteen teams competed in 1945 and the full and current 32-team format was played out in 1946.


1943 - Fulfilling a pre-tournament agreement, players from Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) marched to the local blood bank to donate blood to the armed forces following a 50-30 loss to Cape Girardeau State (Mo.) in the tournament's opening game. The two sides had agreed that the loser would donate blood.


2011 - Unseeded Pikeville (Ky.) defeats the defending national champion, defending runner-up and the tournament's No. 1 seed on its way to the national title. After defeating No. 1 seed Robert Morris (Ill.) in the quarterfinals, the Bears came back from 15 points down in the second half of the semifinals against Martin Methodist (Tenn.) and won it all in an overtime game, 83-76, against Mountain State (W.Va.). Trevor Setty was named Tournament MVP after going for 32 points and 17 rebounds in the title game.


2008 - With a 75-72 victory over Mountain State (W.Va.), Oklahoma City repeats as national champion and wins its sixth national championship overall - the most for any school in the tournament's first 75 years. Three other schools have claimed three National Championships: Tennessee A&I, Kentucky State and Life (Ga.).


2011 - Buck and Betty Farmer celebrate 65-consecutive years of attendance at the NAIA Tournament, and also surpass 2,000 NAIA Tournament games.


1986 - Southeastern Oklahoma's Dennis Rodman drops in 46 points to go along with 32 rebounds in a single tournament game. That rebounding total is tied for most in a single game in tournament history. Rodman would go on to win six NBA World Championships with the Chicago Bulls and later be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.


1988 - Rodney Johns' 19-foot jumper with 3.0 seconds left capped a career-high 41-point night and gave 11th-seeded Grand Canyon (Ariz.) an 88-86 victory over Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) in overtime of the national championship. With that effort, Johns sealed Tournament MVP honors.


1994 - The NAIA national office, along with the men's basketball tournament, moves to Tulsa, Okla., in 1994 where they have an eight-year run (1994-2001), before returning to Kansas City and Municipal Auditorium for the 2002 tournament. The event has been played at Municipal Auditorium since 2002.


2003 - Dillard (La.), who entered the game with a losing record, pulls a huge upset of the tournament's No. 1 seed, Houston Baptist (Texas). Despite sinking the game-winning basket to propel his team to the stunning upset, Dillard's Eric Bell calls teammate Jaamal Jones the real hero. Jones, who had been called into military duty in early March and was not with the team, was expected to be sent to Iraq at any moment. "He called when we were in the locker room," Bell told The Kansas City Star. "He's a big part of us. He's our heart."


1990 - Phil Hutcheson of David Lipscomb (Tenn.) becomes the top scorer in collegiate basketball history on March 16, 1990, in tournament quarterfinal action in Kansas City, Mo. With a first-half, eight-foot hook-shot in the lane against Pfeiffer (N.C.), Hutcheson surpassed the scoring record of 4,045 career points, previously held by Kentucky State's Travis Grant. The game was stopped and Hutcheson, who would end up with 4,106 career points, was presented with the game ball. His record stood until 1994 when John Pierce, also of David Lipscomb, broke it on the way to 4,230 career points.


1985 - Ron Morse, averaging only 3.6 points per game on the season, lifts Fort Hays State (Kan.) to an 82-80 overtime national championship victory over Wayland Baptist (Texas) with a 15-foot game-winning buzzer-beater. Morse, the unlikely hero, is the son of Fort Hays State head coach Bill Morse. The title was the second in-a-row for the Tigers.


1977 - The 40th Annual NAIA National Basketball Tournament is televised for the first time as College Sports, Inc., of Houston, Texas, carries select tournament games.


1976 - After Coppin State's (Md.) 6-foot-11 Joe Pace hits a 25-foot buzzer-beater to defeat Marymount (Kan.) in the semifinals, he goes for 43 points, 12 rebounds and six blocked shots in the title game victory over Henderson State (Ark) on a badly sprained ankle. His performance earned him the Tournament MVP honor, a feature in Sports Illustrated and his ticket to the NBA.


1996 - Georgetown (Ky.) makes an emotional run to the 1996 National Championship game in honor of its dying coach, Jim Reid, who is battling cancer. Happy Osborne coaches in the interim and later becomes head coach. Reid dies less than a month after the tournament. The Tigers eventually lost to Oklahoma City in the title game, 86-80.


1950 - Indiana State defeats East Central (Okla.), 61-47, in the title game of the NAIB National Championship. Indiana State's Clarence Walker wins the title two years after becoming the first African American player to compete in the national championship.


1944 - What was believed to be the only copy of the original basketball rules still in existence was presented to NAIA Executive Secretary Emil Liston by Jack E. Naismith, the son of Dr. James Naismith. The 6x7-inch book contained score sheets and diagrams for goals.


1964 - Richard M. Nixon, who later became the 37th president of the United States, was given the NAIA's Outstanding Alumnus Award at the Tipoff Banquet in Kansas City, Mo. Nixon played football at Whittier (Calif.) of the NAIA, prior to receiving a degree from Whittier in 1934.


1946 - Phog Allen of the University of Kansas was allowed to hold an exhibition with 12-foot baskets just prior to the national championship game. It was believed to be the first and only 12-foot game at the collegiate level.


1972 - Kentucky State's Travis Grant scores 60 points against Minot State (N.D.) in 1972, breaking the individual single-game scoring record, a mark that still stands today. His 27 made field goals also set a game best and he would finish that 1972 tournament by breaking the all-time tournament scoring record for both an individual tournament (213) and career (518).


2010 - Oklahoma Baptist defeats Azusa Pacific (Calif.), 84-83, for the national championship in a game that takes an extra minute for the game officials to confirm. Trailing by one in the final seconds, Azusa Pacific All American Dominique Johnson fires a shot that falls short. The rebound kicks to sophomore teammate Marshall Johnson, who immediately throws up a shot. While the ball swished through the net, it is waived off as officials determine that the ball was still in Johnson's hands as the buzzer went off - about .3 of a second shy of winning the national title.


1953 - Due to injuries, foul trouble and the absences of pro baseball players Jerry Lumpe and Norm Siebern (who had to report to Spring Training), Southwest Missouri State defeated Indiana State, 84-78, in the semifinal game despite only four players playing the final minutes. Coach Bob Vanatta's Bears introduced the four-corner offense in the victory and went on to defeat Hamline (Minn.), 79-71, for their second-straight National Championship.


1948 - The University of Louisville (Ky.) wins the tournament by defeating legendary coach John Wooden and his Indiana State team in the title game. It would end up being Wooden's only loss in a national championship game at any level. Louisville later becomes the only college or university to win an NAIA, NIT and NCAA Division I National Championship.


1978 - Grand Canyon (Ariz.) defeats Central State (Ohio) in quarterfinal action in five overtimes - a tournament record that still stands today. Grand Canyon would eventually go on to win the national championship over Kearney State (Neb.), 79-75.


1987 - As the tournament celebrates its 50th Anniversary, ESPN televises the NAIA Men's Basketball Tournament for the first time, with Dick Vitale serving as the color commentator for both semifinal matchups as well as the national championship game.


2006 - Texas Wesleyan's Ben Hunt hits a running 3-pointer as the buzzer sounds to defeat Oklahoma City, 67-65, for the national championship. Hunt's buzzer beater gave the Rams their only tournament title, while ultimately keeping Oklahoma City from becoming the third team in tournament history to three-peat, as the Stars went on to win the 2007 and 2008 National Championships.


2007 - After three buzzer-beaters and four overtimes in the tournament semifinal, Concordia (Calif.) outlasts Robert Morris (Ill.), 124-119, as the Municipal Auditorium crowd gives both teams a rousing, standing ovation. That game was the second longest in tournament history, and the exhausted Eagles from Concordia fell the following night to Oklahoma City for the national championship.


1939 - Dr. James Naismith, founder of the game of basketball and the NAIA Tournament, passes away. In his will, he designates that the Maude Naismith Trophy, of which he personally designed, will be presented to the national champion of (what becomes) the NAIA National Championship.


1956 - The governor of Louisiana threatens McNeese State (La.) to pull out of the tournament if historically African American schools were allowed to participate. Delta State (Miss.) had already pulled out, citing lack of "protection" from playing against historically African American schools, yet McNeese State ultimately goes against the governor's wishes and defeats historically African American power Texas Southern to win the national championship.


1937 - Central Missouri State Teacher's College becomes the tournament's first national champion with a 35-24 victory over Morningside (Iowa).


1945 - Pepperdine (Calif.) star Nick Buzolich stops shooting in the second half of a tournament game where he was about to break the all-tournament scoring record. Buzolich told his coach, Al Duer, that he wouldn't break the scoring record out of respect for his former teammate, Pete Fogo, who was serving in World War II in France. Fogo earned a Purple Heart while serving the United States. 


1999 - Unseeded Life (Ga.) overcomes a 26-point second-half deficit and defeats Mobile (Ala.), 63-60, with a game-winning buzzer-beater in the title game in Tulsa, Okla. The win gives Life its second overall national championship (1997), and eventually the Running Eagles went on to win the 2000 national title.


1972 - Kentucky State wins its third-straight NAIA National Championship in 1972, becoming only the second school to three-peat in NAIA Tournament history and only the third school in college basketball overall to three-peat, a fact that remains to this day.


1959 - Tennessee A&I, led by star guards Dick Barnett and John Barnhill, wins its third-straight NAIA National Championship, becoming the first school to three-peat in American college basketball history.  Barnett was named as the tournament's MVP for the second-straight year.


1957 - Tennessee A&I wins its first NAIA National Championship by defeating Southeastern Oklahoma 92-73, becoming the first historically African American school to win a national championship in the United States.


1952/53 - At the 1952 tournament, the National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball (NAIB) voted to allow historically African American schools an automatic qualifier, and at the 1953 tournament, these schools began participating. It was a major barrier that guys like Tennessee A&I head coach John McLendon spent several years trying to get approved. 


1948 - Clarence Walker, reserve guard for head coach John Wooden's Indiana State Sycamores, broke the color barrier in collegiate basketball by becoming the first African American to participate in a college basketball national championship at any level on March 9, 1948, at Municipal Auditorium.


1937 - Emil Liston, Dr. James Naismith and Frank Cramer see their dream become a reality when the nation's first National Collegiate Basketball Tournament is played at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo. The 75th annual event this year is the longest continuous national college basketball tournament in the country.

Championship Information

NAIA DI Men's Basketball Championship