In this week’s edition of the “The Cut”, we present to you the 1977 Tennessee Volunteers. Historically, Tennessee has been known for its exploits on the football field, along with the success of Pat Summitt and the women’s basketball team, but the 1977 Volunteers men’s basketball squad was one of the greatest teams to ever grace Rocky Top.
The 1977 Tennessee Volunteers were coached by legendary coach Ray Mears, and featured stars Ernie Grunfeld and Bernard King. The two players, both hailing from New York City, were two of the most decorated players to ever play college basketball. During their time in Knoxville, King and Grunfeld were known under the moniker of “The Ernie and Bernie Show”. Tennessee had a record of 78-29 during their time on campus, including 2 NCAA tournament appearances.
The 1977 edition of the Tennessee Volunteers finished the season with a 22-6 record, along with a share of the SEC regular season title. Unfortunately, their season was ended in the 1st round of the NCAA tournament by the Syracuse Orangemen. While the Volunteers ultimately did not win a national championship, they still made a profound impact on history as we remember the “Ernie and Bernie Show” to this day. Grunfeld and King are two of the three players to ever have their numbers retired by the Volunteer program.
The “Ernie and Bernie Show” was one of the most dynamic duos to ever play college basketball. In his three years at Tennessee, King was awarded the SEC Player of the Year award every year, along with being named a first team All-American all three years as well. Grunfeld finished his Tennessee career as the school’s all-time leader scorer, and was awarded SEC Player of the Year in 1977. Both King and Grunfeld went on to be drafted in the first round of the 1977 NBA Draft.
The 1977 Volunteers wore white and orange uniforms with “Tennessee Volunteers” on front of the player’s jersey with the player’s number in between the Tennessee and Volunteers. The shorts were standard white and orange shorts with accents of orange, white and baby blue along the trim. The color scheme resembled the current Tennessee Lady Volunteers uniforms. The player’s number was featured on the left leg of their uniforms.
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