Before Karl “The Mailman” Malone was delivering for the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA, the third all-time leading scorer in the history of the league was doing the same for Louisiana Tech.
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer helped lead the Bulldogs to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments in 1984 and 1985, including a Sweet 16 appearance in the latter year.
As the Karl Malone Toyota Bracket Contest presented by Martin Presence comes to a close with the Final Four set for this upcoming weekend, the Lincoln Parish Journal takes a look back this week at some of the Mailman’s top March Madness performances.
Houston 77, Bulldogs 69 (March 17, 1984)
Before they became two of the greatest NBA players in the history of the league, Louisiana Tech’s Karl “The Mailman” Malone and Houston’s Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon met on the collegiate hardwood in the 1984 NCAA Tournament.
Olajuwon and the No. 1 ranked Cougars met Malone and the upset-minded Bulldogs at Memphis during the second round match-up with no one outside of the LA Tech camp giving the underdogs a chance.
Houston was led by an all-star lineup that include everyone’s national player of the year in Olajuwon as well as the likes of Michael Young, Alvin Franklin, and Bernice’s own Benny Anders.
The Bulldogs stayed within striking distance the entire game, falling behind by as many as eight points on several different occasions in the opening 20 minutes of play.
Despite Malone scoring only four points in the first half and Olajuwon netting 11 points for the Cougars, Tech trailed just 34-27 at the half. Willie Simmons and Rennie Bailey combined for 15 points in the opening half to keep the Bulldogs within arms length.
The Mailman started heating up in the second half, scoring 14 points after the break, but despite holding Olajuwon to just five second half points the Cougars shot a blistering 64 percent from the field over the final 20 minutes.
Houston had a little too much as Franklin scored 21 points and Young added 16 points to lead the Cougars to the 77-69 win. The Cougars beat Memphis State, Wake Forest and Kentucky to advance all the way to the national title game before falling 84-75 to the Georgetown Hoyas and Patrick Ewing.
Malone finished with 18 points and eight rebounds while Bailey added 18 points and Simmons scored 12 points.
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