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Duke's 1966 Near Miss

Could the Blue Devils have beaten Texas Western?

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During halftime of the Duke-Virginia Tech game, Duke honored the 1966 team which made it to the Final Four but lost to Kentucky. 83-79.

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Kentucky got to play Texas Western and became the poster child for segregated basketball, so it worked out okay for Duke.

But could Duke have beaten Texas Western?

Al Featherston is better equipped to make this argument, but we think maybe so.

Duke lost to UK by four with a very sick Bob Verga about 22 points under his average. For those who don't know, Verga was a brilliant outside shot, right up there with JJ Redick in the Duke pantheon. But no three pointers.

Texas Western beat Kentucky 72-65, but this team was the famous Rupp's Runts, with no starter taller than 6-5.

We'd have been interested to see how Duke's Mike Lewis would have done against Big Daddy Lattin, who had no real competition inside from Kentucky.

Duke also had Jack Marin, who had a solid NBA career, and Steve Vacendak, who was a gritty guard.

There's no way to ever know of course, but with a healthy Verga, Duke might have done it. Duke was a great offensive team in 1966.

Against Kentucky, Lewis had 21 points, Marin 29 and Vacendak 17. Verga shot just 4-7 and scored just four points.

Incidentally, to get to the Final Four, Duke had to beat Syracuse and some guy named Jim Boeheim. Boeheim had 15 points but Syracuse lost, 91-81.

Syracuse great Dave Bing was limited to 10 points on 4-14 from the floor.

And Verga? He shot 10-13 for 21 points, and we're guessing there weren't too many layups.