Baron Adolph Rupp, who modestly admits that he wants to be remembered as the greatest basketball coach who ever lived, had his cake (see right) and ate it, too, after Kentucky whomped Georgia 108-55 for Rupp's 600th victory in his 29 years at Lexington. The once-beaten Wildcats, running, screening and defending like so many cats on a hot tin roof, warmed up for the milestone by polishing off Georgia Tech 94-70 and then, once past it, added more icing to the Baron's hunk of pastry by skipping blithely past Florida 94-51 for their 17th win. While some may dispute Rupp's standing as the best ever, one thing was sure: it would take a lot to beat his talented Wildcats, even in the rough-and-tumble SEC. Observed Auburn Coach Joel Eaves after watching the Georgia Tech game: "Kentucky is the only team in the nation you have to use a fast-break defense against."
But Auburn and Mississippi State, both of which must still face Kentucky, weren't conceding a thing. Auburn had some anxious moments when Vanderbilt made a good-sized run at the Tigers in the final minutes. However, Henry Hart came to the rescue with four straight points and the SEC leaders won 64-61 for their 25th straight. Memphis State's Jim Hockaday held Mississippi State's Bailey Howell to two field goals and 10 points, and the Maroons barely survived 53-52 in a nonconference tussle. But both State and Howell, who scored 30 points, recovered neatly to put down LSU 78-71.
North Carolina and North Carolina State, the best in the ACC, spent a pleasant weekend in Charlotte, N.C. after two weeks of exam-fighting in the classrooms. North Carolina rolled over Clemson 60-46 and State beat South Carolina 63-53 on Friday, then traded opponents for a Saturday double-header. The result was just about the same, as the Tar Heels made the most of their height and hustle to defeat South Carolina 62-50 while the Wolfpack outclassed Clemson 69-54.
February 9, 1959
West Virginia, sporting a new four-man zone press defense with a chaser and its usual elusive Jerry West, harried George Washington almost to death before winning 77-67 and then beat William and Mary 82-76 for its 44th in a row in the Southern Conference.
The ball was bouncing in all directions for Illinois and Michigan in the Big Ten, but Michigan State found a way to defense Joe Ruklick's looping hook shots after a rough first half and eventually killed off pretender Northwestern 81-72 to grab a firm hold on first place.
Illinois, with visions of joining the Spartans at the top, faltered badly to lose to Minnesota 81-70 and Purdue 102-81, while Iowa did in hopeful Michigan 78-74. But Indiana, despite a severe blow when veteran Bob Wilkinson was declared ineligible, and Purdue, seemingly over its early jitters now that Harvey Austin and Bill Greve have shaken off injuries, were still very much alive.
Cincinnati, with Oscar Robertson his usual magnificent self, remained in command in the Missouri Valley. However, the Bearcats were busy peering over their shoulders at second-place Bradley and St. Louis. Bradley defeated Detroit 77-63 and Toledo 68-55 in nonleague games and then outhustled Tulsa 86-72. St. Louis, first stop for touring St. John's, beat the unsuspecting Redmen 72-63 with Bob Ferry's rebounding and an octopus defense, later turned on Houston 71-47 for its 11th straight. St. John's had even more reason to wonder why Indians leave home after bowing to so-so Loyola of Chicago 95-85 in overtime.
Kansas State routed Iowa State 78-55 to continue as top dog in the Big Eight as Colorado bumped Kansas 66-64 to take over second place; Marquette came back from a layoff to beat Louisville 66-62 for its 12th in a row; Evansville ended Steubenville's 36-game winning streak 108-84.
While St. John's was sadly learning the facts of life in the Midwest (see left), some of its eastern neighbors were making time at home. St. Bonaventure, beaten only once, overhauled Villanova 82-76; NYU, bolstered by the playmaking of newly eligible Stan Groll, surprised Holy Cross 64-62; Fordham overwhelmed Wagner 93-67 and Seton Hall 93-69; Navy conquered Columbia 67-54 and Temple 66-53; Army beat Albright 60-42 and Columbia 101-80; Connecticut's Yankee Conference leaders defeated Maine 72-61.
The Ivy League got back into motion, and Dartmouth quickly moved up to share the lead with Princeton. After skimming past independent Boston U. 64-62, the Indians went for bigger game and trapped Brown 71-59, as Captain Rudy La Russo scored 28 points and dominated the boards. Meanwhile, Princeton contented itself with whipping Rutgers 75-48 in a nonleague game.
The PCC dribbled along at low speed with idle UCLA precariously hanging on to first place. Washington, on the rise after a poor start, manhandled Stanford 72-52, while the Indians and Oregon State took turns beating Oregon. Stanford bombed the Ducks 57-49; State used the last of Lee Harman's 28 points—a free throw—to win 58-57.
Denver, surprisingly enough, found itself all alone hard on the heels of Utah in the Skyline Conference. Beaten only by the Utes, Denver drubbed New Mexico 97-66, and Brigham Young shoved Utah State down a notch, 77-54.
Idaho State, all but decimated by Education 77 (see page 22), dropped a bit in losing to Oklahoma City 58-51, but proved it could still field a team with Rocky Mountain pennant fever. ISC twice bopped Adams State, 113-59 and 90-37, and prepared to head off runner-up Colorado State as the glow returned to the eyes of the lately crestfallen Bengal backers.
Fresh from victories over Idaho State and Regis, Oklahoma City invited unsuspecting Florida State to help celebrate the opening of its spanking-new field house, then demonstrated that hospitality ends at the door. The fancy-shooting Chiefs streaked up and down court, wound up scalping the Seminoles 103-75 for their 15th triumph.
SWC-leader TCU put down SMU 72-60, only to find Baylor and Texas Tech breathing down its neck. The Bears continued to prowl upward in the conference standings, drawing Arkansas out of a tight zone with a semistall to beat the Razorbacks 65-58; Tech parlayed some good outside shooting and an aggressive defense into a 57-46 win over slipping Texas A&M.