Aug. 3, 2011
Bill Justus attempted 398 free throws during his three-year career at Tennessee. He made 338 of them. However, two of them were especially well known.
The Big Orange traveled to Starkville, Miss., on March 6, 1967, to play Mississippi State with the SEC title on the line. In the day when only the conference champion went to the NCAA Tournament, the Vols had everything to gain - and everything to lose.
Eighth-ranked Tennessee jumped ahead early but couldn't pull away. Midway through the first half, however, it appeared the Vols were primed to do so. UT led the Bulldogs 24-17 at the 10-minute mark of the first half. The Vols would lead by as much as 11 before State came roaring back.
MSU's center, Dave Williams, scored 10 in the closing minutes of the half to cut UT's lead down to four, and the Bulldogs trailed 40-36 heading into the locker room. The four-point deficit would be a game-changing factor in the second half.
Mississippi State tied the game at 56 with 5:34 remaining. With 28 seconds to play, Justus lined up and sunk a free throw that gave the Vols a two-point lead. But it didn't hold, as State's Gary Washington tipped the ball in with .07 left on the clock, tying it at 64 and sending the game to overtime.
For a game of this magnitude, one overtime simply would not do. After tying at 66, then 72, the Vols and Bulldogs headed to a third overtime with the SEC champ still undetermined.
With just 10 seconds remaining, the game was still gridlocked at 76. A fourth overtime seemed inevitable. Then Bill Justus got fouled and headed to the charity stripe.
The Adrenaline Kid, as he was often called, was cool as ice that day. With .07 on the clock, he sank two free throws, sealing a well-earned win and the 1967 SEC Championship.
As the second shot swished through the net, longtime Voice of the Vols John Ward announced to Tennessee fans that their Vols would be bringing home some hardware from Starkville.
"Wrap it up, tie it in Orange and White, and send it to Bill Justus, care of Gibbs Hall, Knoxville, Tennessee!"