SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame, with Austin Carr scoring 46 points, knocked top‐ranked UCLA from the undefeated ranks, 89‐82, on Jan. 23, 1971.
The aggressive Irish led all the way except for a 47‐47 tie early in the second half.
A crowd of 11,343 saw Notre Dame hand the Bruins their first defeat of the season after 14 triumphs and end the two-year victory streak of the National Collegiate Athletic Association champion at 19.
Carr dropped in 17 field goals and 12-of-16 free throw attempts.
UCLA's Sidney Wicks, who was supposed to have a showdown with Carr as the nation's premier college player, was effectively checked by Collis Jones. Wicks went without a field goal the first eight minutes but finished as the Bruins' top scorer with 23 points.
Jones contributed 19 points in addition to his harassing of Wicks, who was so frustrated in the first half that he was withdrawn late in the period by Johnny Wooden, UCLA's coach.
In suffering their first nonconference defeat in 48 games, the Bruins trailed by as many as 13 points, 37‐24, with about five minutes remaining in the first half. Notre Dame's margin at intermission was 43‐38.
UCLA, guilty of 15 turnovers, seemed to settle down when it clawed to a 47‐47 tie with the second half a little more than three minutes old.
Bruins Keep Battling
Carr, however, kept scoring points and the Bruins were forced to battle uphill the rest of the way. Midway through the second half the Irish led by 62‐58 and with less than three minutes left in the game the Bruins still were threatening as they trailed by 82‐78.
However, Carr scored two free throws and a field goal in less than a minute and then added two free throws near the end of the game.
It was the first UCLA defeat since the Bruins bowed to Southern California on March 6, 1970, by 87‐86.
The last time UCLA lost in non-league play was Jan. 20, 1968, when the Lew Alcindor-led Bruins were beaten by Houston, 71‐69, in the Astrodome.
Wicks, held to 11 points in the first half, had to struggle for 12 more in the closing half before he fouled out trying to check Carr with 1:07 left.
Notre Dame, keyed up despite a modest 8‐4 won‐lost record, jumped ahead at the outset, leading by 11‐5 in a cautiously‐played first five minutes.
Then the pattern of the game developed, with the Irish forcing frequent Bruin mistakes and getting phenomenal shooting from Carr from every angle and point on the floor.
Although Notre Dame's 6‐ foot‐8‐inch, 235‐pound center, John Pleick, scored only nine points, all in the first half, his rugged work under the boards was a big factor in the triumph.
It was a 3‐point play by Pleick that widened Notre Dame's margin to 12 points, 35‐23, with six minutes left in the first half, and he helped Jones dominate both boards un til he went out on fouls midway through the second half.
Of the last 17 Irish points, Carr scored 15.
Wooden Lauds Carr
“Austin Carr is tremendous and today we met a team that played better than we did,” Wooden said after the game.
“We simply were outplayed. That's usually the case when you lose, and it happened again today,” the UCLA coach added.
Wooden excused the Bruins' Kenny Booker, who was assigned to guard Carr.
“We told Booker to overplay Carr on the outside and to expect help if Carr drove to the basket,” said Wooden. “Unfortunately, our big men didn't give that inside help. Carr shouldn't have gotten that many easy shots inside. It wasn't Booker's fault.”
Pleick Is Praised
Coach Johnny Dee of Notre Dame declared, “It was a hell of a win, one of the biggest ever for us.”
Both Wooden and Dee lauded the play of Pleick, who scored only nine points but helped the Irish control both boards.
“Pleick surprised me,” said Wooden. “He was very aggressive on the boards and played a fine game.”
Pleick, a senior from El Segundo, California, was passed up as a UCLA prospect, Wooden said, “because we didn't think he'd fit into our style of playing.”
Carr Reflects Back
"The other game in my career that stands out is the win over UCLA on Jan. 23, 1971, the front-end loss of UCLA's 88-game winning streak. Of course, three years later Digger Phelps had the victory at the other end of the streak.
We were struggling coming into that game, having lost two of our last three, including an overtime loss at Duquesne in the most recent game. We had a team meeting the night before and we talked about what we needed to do to beat the Bruins, who had won four straight national championships.
We jumped out 10-3 and the crowd never let up. Jon Pleick, Sid Catlett, Collis Jones and Jackie Meehan all stepped up their games and we built a 13-point lead early. A key to the game was our ability to break their press. Coach Dee did something different in that he put me in the middle to break the press. That allowed me to take the ball up the middle and have more driving opportunities.
UCLA never left that press and we never had to run many set plays because of it. Coach John Wooden always played man-to-man defense, which I liked. Four different players guarded me during that game and the final opponent was Sidney Wicks, who was an All-American and future star in the NBA. In the closing minutes I took him to the basket and had a lay-up that clinched the game. I remember him looking at Wooden and saying 'I told you not to put me on him!'
After the game the Notre Dame student body lifted me on their shoulders and we cut down the nets in the Convocation Center. It was the first time Notre Dame had beaten the top-ranked team at home and the first time, to my knowledge, anyone had cut down the nets. I will never forget that moment because that day I felt I had helped put Notre Dame basketball on the map."
— Austin Carr, taken from 100 Years of Notre Dame Basketball