While most of the nation's leading college teams were still maneuvering for conference titles, three major independents—Villanova (16-1), Dayton (16-3) and Detroit (15-3)—jumped the gun, announced that they would play in New York's season-end National Invitation Tournament. This is the earliest signing in NIT history and is a direct outgrowth of the struggle between NIT and NCAA tournament sponsors for the top-rated clubs. The NCAA, which will not make its selections until the regular season is over, has one big advantage—major conference champions must play in the NCAA tournament, or none at all.
A sure bellwether of St. John's fortunes is the state of Coach Joe Lapchick's sensitive stomach. Last week Lapchick had that wrought-up feeling. The Redmen again were among the best in the East. Tony Jackson was back on target with his jump shot, sophomore Center Leroy Ellis had learned to make the most of his 6 feet 9 inches underneath the boards and sophomore Playmaker Ivan Kovacs was proving to be a skillful ball handler and shooter. St. John's overwhelmed Syracuse 85-68 in Madison Square Garden, outhustled Niagara 79-71 for its sixth straight.
Villanova, giving New York fans a preview of its many talents, overcame harassment by Manhattan and rioting by its overenthusiastic fans, beat the Jaspers 62-55 for Coach Al Severance's 400th victory. But it wasn't easy. Little Guard Jimmy Huggard found a hole in the Manhattan defense, saved the Wildcats from possible embarrassment by scoring 22 points, six of them in the last few minutes. Two nights later Villanova beat Siena 63-38.
Hardly showing the effects of a two-week layoff, NYU had its fast break in good working order, defeated Duquesne 67-58, Pitt 77-66. Providence romped over Niagara 68-43, Brown 65-54, Colby 60-37 to run its winning streak to 10. Holy Cross's Jack Foley, who can—and does—shoot with anyone, led the Crusaders past Villa Madonna 99-78, Boston College 80-68. LaSalle's crafty Coach Dudey Moore pulled off the week's biggest surprise when his Explorers caught St. Joseph's with its defenses drooping, upset the Hawks 80-73 to take over the Mid-Atlantic Conference lead.
Harvard gave Dartmouth's Ivy League chances a boost by upsetting Cornell 79-78, then the Indians helped themselves by outrunning the Big Red 83-79. But Coach Doggy Julian began to worry about Princeton, which beat Yale 69-60 and moved into second place.
Navy rallied to beat Temple 84-72 but lost to Duke 58-48; Manhattan edged Syracuse 62-61; Seton Hall walloped Lafayette 93-68 to give Coach Honey Russell his 300th win; unbeaten Maine (13-0) beat Connecticut 65-64, led Yankee Conference. The top three:
1. VILLANOVA (16-1)
2. NYU (11-2)
3. ST. JOHN'S (12-5)
Cincinnati's Oscar Robertson may not be the most exuberant college player of his time, but last week he became the most prolific. Serenely aloof to the excitement around him, Oscar piled up 36 points while leading the Bearcats past Drake 96-61 to break Frank Selvy's three-year major-college record (2,538), then hoisted in 29 more in a 67-55 win over Houston to snap the four-year mark (2,587) held by Wake Forest's Dickie Hemric. After 76 games and 2,600 points in less than three years, Robertson permitted himself a subdued puff: "I'm glad I did it."
Bradley, Missouri Valley co-leader with Cincinnati, had its troubles in the West, finally escaped with close victories over Seattle 83-80, Gonzaga 80-68. Back home in their comfy Peoria gym, the Braves crushed North Texas State 101-61, but faced a trying problem: how to find a replacement for talented Bobby Joe Mason, who last week completed his college eligibility. Meanwhile, St. Louis' burly 6-foot 10-inch Bob Nordmann began to throw his 270 pounds around, helped the Billikens beat Wichita 75-67, Tulsa 83-56.
The chase was about over in the Big Ten. There was simply no stopping Ohio State. Against Michigan, the reserves took over, humbled the Wolverines 99-52. Against Northwestern's slowdown the varsity ran away to a 77-58 win. Minnesota, unseasonably hot a week earlier, was cooled off by Michigan State 84-63. Indiana, showing signs of coming alive, out-scored Northwestern 76-58, Wisconsin 97-85, but the Hoosiers' title chances were hurt by three early-season losses.
Colorado, perked up by the accurate-shooting Wilky Gilmore, knocked off Iowa State 70-55, Big Eight leader Kansas State 65-50. Dayton got another good game from Gary Roggenburk (23 points) and trimmed Miami of Ohio 72-60; Detroit managed to get by Marquette 65-58 but fell before Toledo 69-61. The top three:
1. BRADLEY (17-1)
2. CINCINNATI (17-1)
3. OHIO STATE (15-2)
With a loud W-a-a-a-r E-a-g-g-1-e! and a late flurry of points, Auburn downed Georgia Tech 48-45 and halted for a moment the Yellow Jackets' rush to their first Southeastern Conference title in 22 years (see page 42). Four nights later, back on its home court, Tech was back on the track, befuddled Tulane with a full-court press and Coach Whack Hyder's favorite spread offense, tumbled the Green Wave out of contention 74-55. With Dave Denton working off a high post for 21 points while Roger Kaiser shot over a harried defense for 15 more, Tulane never had a chance. Admitted Tulane Coach Cliff Wells: "If I can't win the championship, I would like to see Georgia Tech take it. I'm tired of having Kentucky use the rest of us in the league as a stepping stone to a national reputation—and if Adolph Rupp has to lose it, it couldn't happen to a nicer guy." But Kentucky was still in the fight. Even without ailing Bill Lickert and scholastically indisposed Bennie Coffman, the Wildcats got enough outside shooting from Sid Cohen and Dick Parsons to hold off Mississippi 61-43.
North Carolina's Atlantic Coast leaders, strengthened by the return of Doug Moe, last year's sophomore star, tied up Maryland with a tight zone, got 48 points from Lee Shaffer and York Larese, whipped the Terps 75-66 before 14,000 at College Park. Right behind the Tar Heels came Wake Forest, whose sophomore Center Len Chappell helped the Deacons beat Duke 80-63, then dropped in the basket that edged Maryland 65-64.
George Washington, making good use of the hot hands of Dick Markowitz and Jon Feldman, shocked Virginia Tech 105-90, knocked the Gobblers out of the Southern Conference lead. However, the Colonials couldn't maintain the pace, went the way of most flesh at Morgantown as Jerry West led West Virginia to an easy 101-79 triumph. Earlier in the week, West scored 39 points as the Mountaineers swamped VMI 101-71 to start a new winning streak. The top three:
1. WEST VIRGINIA (18-2)
2. GEORGIA TECH (17-3)
3. NORTH CAROLINA (10-3)
Texas A&M split a pair of games on the West Coast, beating San Francisco 69-65, losing to Santa Clara 66-55, came home to find it had to share the Southwest Conference lead with SMU. The Mustangs got there by outfiring TCU 79-73 and overtaking Arkansas 72-70 on Kim Nash's jump shot in overtime. The Aggies kept pace by drubbing Texas Tech 89-59. And only one game behind the leaders was Texas, a 98-77 winner over TCU.
New Mexico State's eight-game winning streak was broken by UCLA 66-56, but the Aggies took over first place in the Border Conference when Arizona State knocked off West Texas State 104-85. The top three:
1. TEXAS A&M (14-2)
2. SMU (12-4)
3. NEW MEXICO STATE (15-4)
USC's hopes of battling California for the Big Five title exploded in one mad weekend at Los Angeles. First, Stanford's "panic five" second-stringers ran the Trojans into the boards and the Indians won 82-71 when junior Forward John Hendry scored 11 points in the second overtime. Then, much-beaten Washington buried the weary men of Troy 59-49.
Now only UCLA, which beat Stanford 67-54, has a hope of catching Cal. But its chances seem slim. Big Five coaches, after watching Cal rally behind Darrall Imhoff and Earl Shultz to trounce Washington 68-53, nodded in solemn agreement: the Bears were better than ever.
Utah State and Utah moved almost effortlessly toward a Skyline showdown Feb. 27 in Logan. The league-leading Aggies clobbered Denver 99-69, crushed New Mexico 86-59. Utah polished off Colorado State 86-76 to take second place, stayed there with a 93-71 win over Wyoming.
St. Mary's got a lift from Veteran Tom Meschery, who played in a boxer's headgear to protect his jaw, fractured last December, rolled over Pepperdine 74-69, Loyola 60-51 to grab the lead in the West Coast Athletic Conference. The top three:
1. CALIFORNIA (17-1)
2. UTAH STATE (17-2)
3. UTAH (17-2)
Philadelphia's Wilt Chamberlain and the Celtics' Bill Russell made the big news in the NBA last week. Chamberlain flipped in 43 points against Syracuse, became the third player in NBA history to score more than 2,000 points in one season (the others: George Yardley, 2,0001 in 1958; Bob Pettit, 2,105 in 1959). By Sunday, Chamberlain had 2,093 points, was ready to break Pettit's mark in Detroit Tuesday night. Russell, who has been stirring restlessly in Chamberlain's substantial shadow for most of the season, shrugged off a slight charley horse, plucked off a record-breaking 51 rebounds against Syracuse to reassert his claim as pro basketball's finest defender.