Men's Division 1 National Champion:

Year Record Winner Won Coach Outstanding Player
1946 Oklahoma A&M 31-2 NCAA Hank Iba Bob Kurland, C

With the war over, soldier-athletes came back to campuses around the country to find coach Hank Iba's Oklahoma A&M team at the top of the heap in college basketball and determined to stay there.

Big Bob Kurland, who had led A&M to an NCAA championship in '45, was back for his senior year and the Aggies, once known for their deliberate style of play, were now scoring points with a very unIba-like abandon. Paced by Kurland, who led the country in scoring (58 points in his final game against St. Louis), A&M went 12–0 in the Missouri Valley, 28–2 in the regular season and 3–0 in the NCAAs. They beat North Carolina in the final, 43–40, as Kurland, winning his second straight MVP award, outscored the Tar Heels' Bones McKinney, 23–5.

Southeastern Conference champion Kentucky won the NIT when freshman guard Ralph Beard sank a free throw in the final seconds of the championship game to beat Rhode Island, 46–45.

Like Kurland, George Mikan (a 5th year eligible) returned in '46. Mikan was an All-America again, but the 19–5 Demons didn't play in either tourney.

Consensus All-America (In alphabetical order)

  First Team

·         Bob Kurland, Oklahoma A&M

·         Leo Klier, Notre Dame

·         George Mikan, DePaul

·         Max Morris, Northwestern

·         Sid Tanenbaum, NYU

  Second Team

·         Charley Black, Kansas

·         John Dillon, North Carolina

·         Billy Hassett, Notre Dame

·         Tony Lavelli, Yale

·         Jack Parkinson, Kentucky

·         Kenny Sailors, Wyoming

NCAA Results

First Round: Ohio State 46, Harvard 38; North Carolina 57, New York University 49; Oklahoma A&M 44, Baylor 29; California 50, Colorado 44.
Regional Third Place:
Eastern: New York Univ. 67, Harvard 61
Western: Colorado 59, Baylor 44
Regional Finals:
Eastern: North Carolina 60, Ohio State 57
Western: Oklahoma A&M 52, California 35
National Third Place: Ohio State 63, California 45
Championship Game: Oklahoma A&M 43, North Carolina 40

Oklahoma A&M Leaders: Bob Kurland, 19.5; Weldon Kern, 8.2; J.L. Parks, 5.7; Blake Williams, 4.5; A.L. Bennett, 3.8.

All-NCAA Tournament MVP

Bob Kurland, Oklahoma A&M

Top 10

None. Polls began in 1948-49 season.

All-America Team








Leo Klier


Notre Dame


Max Morris




Bob Kurland


Oklahoma A&M


George Mikan




Sid Tannenbaum





Offense: Unavailable
Defense: Unavailable


Scoring: Unavailable
Rebounding: Unavailable.


• Oklahoma A&am;M became the first two-time NCAA winner, finishing 31-2. Kurland averaged 19.5 ppg, including a high of 58 vs. St. Louis in his final home game.

• Kentucky (28-2) won the NIT championship, defeating Rhode Island 46-45 on freshman Ralph Beard’s free throw.

• Future U.S. Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall played for Arizona, which lost 77-53 to Kentucky in the NIT quarterfinals.

• West Virginia finished 24-3 and in third place in the NIT, despite starting three sophomores and two freshmen.



NIT Tournament (8 teams)

All games at Madison Sq. Garden, New York

Quarterfinals Rhode Island St. 82, Bowling Green 79 (OT)
West Virginia 70, St. John's 58
Kentucky 77, Arizona 53
Muhlenberg 47, Syracuse 41
Semifinals Rhode Island St. 59, Muhlenberg 49
Kentucky 59, West Virginia 51
Third Place West Virginia 65, Muhlenberg 40
Championship Kentucky 46, Rhode Island St. 45
Most Valuable Player Ernie Calverley, Rhode Island St.

Major Conference Champions

Conference Regular Season Tournament
Big 6 Kansas (10–0) —
Big 7 Wyoming (10–2) —
Big 10 Ohio St. (10–2) —
Ivy Dartmouth (7–1) —
Missouri Valley Oklahoma A&M (12–0) —
PCC North Idaho (11–5) —
PCC South California (11–1)* —
SEC LSU (8–0)/Ky. (6–0) Kentucky
Southern North Carolina (13–1) Duke
SWC Baylor (11–1) —
*Won playoff for league championship.


Kurland keeps Aggies at top - 1946
By Joe Gergen
For The Sporting News

If Bob Kurland didn't eat, drink and breathe basketball at Oklahoma A&M, he did sleep it. That was a direct result of his accommodations on campus. The man never was far from the court on which he developed into a star.

His college career didn't begin that way. As was the case with the majority of freshmen who registered in the fall of 1942, he moved into a dormitory. But it was wartime and when the Army took possession of the building to house trainees, Kurland bunked in a room at the field house.

And that's where he lived, along with two other students, during a significant portion of his days in Stillwater. With the quarters came responsibility for cleaning up after practice and locking the doors. By the time he was a senior, Kurland could joke that he was the only three-time All-American who swept the floor.

As it was, Kurland spent so much time in the field house working to improve himself that it only made sense to spend his nights there. It saved him, he decided, 30 to 40 minutes a day. He could go directly from practice to the shower and from the shower to his room with no wasted motion.

The 7-foot center was determined to wring the most from his ability at a time when others saw no ability at all. In the eyes of many, some of them basketball people, he was a freak.

"They ridiculed him a lot when he first started to play," said Henry Iba, his coach. "It took a strong man to stand up to that."

Kurland stood up to his full height despite the jibes of others. Even Phog Allen, the esteemed coach at Kansas, referred to players Kurland's size as "glandular goons."

Kurland held his tongue. But he would show them all, on the court.

He worked on developing his motor skills and then built up his leg strength and stamina. There wasn't much he could do about his speed.

"He wasn't so good at running," Iba said, "but he had a good mind for competing."

And he progressed each year until he led the Aggies to the national championship as a junior. For those who thought they had seen the best of Kurland, he offered his senior season as silent testimony.

His supporting cast had changed considerably from 1945. Cecil Hankins and Doyle Parrack had departed. Among the newcomers was Sam Aubrey, who had been wounded in Italy during the war and had returned to school on crutches the previous spring. Aubrey, a forward, was an all-league selection in the Missouri Valley Conference, which resumed a full schedule in 1946.

Oklahoma A&M went undefeated in conference play in '46. And Kurland, playing in a deliberate offense, led the nation in total points. Against St. Louis, he set an individual major-college scoring record with 58 points.

Despite its outstanding record, and the presence of Kurland, the defending champion was not guaranteed a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Kansas, also included in District 5, had won 19 of 20 games and considered itself deserving of a place. The selection committee authorized a special playoff for the berth in the NCAA Western competition.

The game was played in Kansas City and it was no contest -- thanks to a big man who resented being called a "glandular goon" and was able to do something about it.

Kurland scored 28 points in a 49-38 victory over Allen's team. After that, the West playoffs were barely challenging. The Aggies routed Southwest Conference champion Baylor, 44-29, and Pacific Coast Conference titlist California, 52-35, as Kurland scored 20 and 29 points, respectively.

In New York, the Eastern playoffs were more competitive. For the second time in two years, Ohio State dissipated a sizable lead and was beaten in overtime in the game that decided the championship representative.

A year earlier, New York University had ruined the Buckeyes' plans. This time it was North Carolina, coached by Lt. Ben Carnevale, a former NYU player and a Navy V-12 instructor stationed at Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels won, 60-57. To reach the Eastern final, in fact, Carnevale's team had to get by NYU in the first round.

Returning to the Garden in an attempt to win a second consecutive national championship, Oklahoma A&M had become the most celebrated team in the country. The Aggies' greatest attraction, of course, was Kurland.

According to Iba, Kurland had made the very first dunk in intercollegiate competition. It occurred against Temple in Philadelphia during one of the Aggies' East Coast swings.

"We never talked about dunking the ball," the coach said. "This time, he just jumped up and did it. The official took the points away from us."

Of greater concern to basketball legislators had been Kurland's ability to deflect shots on their downward arc to the basket. He first attempted to goaltend in his freshman year against Oklahoma, which had a fine team that later would be selected for the NCAA Tournament.

"Bruce Drake (the Oklahoma coach) had a fit," Kurland said.

Noting Kurland's increased agility, Iba based his defense on the shot-rejection tactic the next season.

"He'd just pin it up on the boards," Iba said. "Teams had to worry all the time about him tipping it out of there."

Not surprising, Oklahoma A&M led the nation in defense in 1944, yielding only 28.8 points per game. In frustration, Drake called on James St. Clair, chairman of the National Basketball Committee, to witness the strategy.

"I think we knocked down only two shots that night," Kurland said. "The damage was mostly psychological."

Nevertheless, in its meeting held in conjunction with the '44 championship game, the committee voted to outlaw the practice of impeding shots on their downward flight. That was all right with Kurland and Iba, who thought goaltending was bad for basketball.

"You could always defeat it with screens or by stepping on the man's feet," Kurland said. "But psychologically, it was wrong. It got you out of good practice habits."

Even the new rule couldn't slow Kurland and his team. The Aggies won their national championship without the benefit of goaltending and now they were back in New York to claim another. For the first time, the Eastern and Western runners-up were invited to the site to play a consolation game for third place. The result was a tournament record crowd of 18,479.

Kurland rose to the occasion. In 6-6 Horace "Bones" McKinney, North Carolina had a pivotman as quick with his tongue as he was with his feet. McKinney attempted to distract Kurland with his barbs, but the big man had been ridiculed before.

The Aggies' star kept his composure and responded with his finest performance in 10 appearances at the Garden.

His hook shots in the early going kept the teams even and, when the Tar Heels concentrated their defense on him, Kurland passed to Weldon Kern for three easy baskets. The Aggies held a 23-17 lead at halftime and extended the margin to 13 points five minutes into the second half. Shortly thereafter, McKinney was charged with his fifth foul and left the game. He had scored only five points.

To North Carolina's credit, it rallied on the hook shots of John Dillon, a 6-3 forward, closing the deficit to 36-33 midway through the second half. But Kurland would not be denied. He scored his team's next seven points as the Aggies opened a 43-34 lead, which the Tar Heels whittled to 43-40 at the final buzzer.

Kurland accounted for nine of Oklahoma A&M's 16 field goals and was awarded a second outstanding player award. And the Aggies became the first school to claim a second championship, consecutively or otherwise.

Iba was particularly pleased for Aubrey, the returning serviceman. As he watched the man walk to center court to receive his championship watch, the coach beamed.

"That," he said, "is the kind of thing you remember."

The accomplishment of the Aggies guaranteed the team and its star never would be forgotten.