Although the season was barely two weeks old, the casualty list resembled a roster of the nation's top 10. Kentucky, Wake Forest, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Indiana, Kansas, Kansas State, Utah and Utah State had already been beaten, and it seemed probable they would soon be joined by other highly rated clubs.
It was like old times in New York's Madison Square Garden after St. John's and Seton Hall met and conquered two of the Midwest's best. For a while it appeared that Kansas' sniping defense and the shooting of talented 6-foot-8 Wayne High-tower, who scored 29 points, would be more than St. John's could handle. But sprightly Tony Jackson squirmed away from Hightower often enough to score 17 points and control the boards, and the Redmen earned a 66-54 victory. Seton Hall, demonstrating a sure touch under new Coach Richie Regan, simply had too much persistence and skill for a Cincinnati team that missed Oscar Robertson more than it cared to admit. Playmakers Al Senavitis and Ken Walker outslicked the Bearcats with their dexterous ball handling while quick Art Hicks (22 points) and Hank Gunter (18 points) outshot them, and Seton Hall won 84-76.
Meanwhile other Eastern leaders were having their troubles. St. Bonaventure, after stretching its home-court streak to 94 by beating Villa Madonna 93-73 at Olean, N.Y., was scared to death by Eastern Kentucky. But Guard Whitey Martin and hot-shooting Tom Stith (28 points) rallied the Bonnies for a 78-69 win. Providence, tossed into a tizzy by the controlled offense and tight defense of St. Francis (N.Y.), squeaked by the Terriers 44-42. Holy Cross trounced St. Anselm's 74-48, but barely beat Yale 52-51. St. Joseph's (Pa.), unable to control Dayton's brilliant Gary Roggenburk, who flipped in 20 points, lost to the unbeaten Flyers 67-65.
For five years, West Virginia confidently lured foes to Morgantown, certain that it was unbeatable at home. But last week The Citadel successfully fought off a nagging zone press and broke the Mountaineers' 44-game winning streak, 83-80. Now Virginia Tech is the team to beat in the Southern Conference. The Gobblers, led by sharpshooting Chris Smith and Bucky Keller, rolled over Richmond 76-54 and Davidson 105-59.
It is going to be an interesting winter in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Duke, making good use of its height off the boards and sophomore Art Heymann's 27 points, cracked the Penn Slate zone for a 69-46 victory, then outhustled West Virginia 66-64. Dick Kepley, operating efficiently at the high post, and newcomer Jim Hudock, who filled a corner expertly, helped North Carolina roll over LSU 77-61 and Virginia 81-47. North Carolina State held off late-challenging Clemson to win 70-67 and thumped The Citadel 88-71. Maryland, after beating George Washington 80-68, invaded the Big Ten to defeat Minnesota 64-53. Wake Forest bowed to West Virginia 80-73, but the Deacons got some amazing set shooting from Alley Hart (13 for 15) and Billy Packer (9 for 16) and beat Penn State 84-78.
There was still some doubt about Kentucky, even after the Wildcats survived a shaky start to outscore Notre Dame 68-62. But Georgia Tech looked as formidable as ever. While Alan Ness concentrated on holding SMU's Steve Strange to nine points, Roger Kaiser, Tech's superb shooter, scored 25 to lead the Jackets past the Mustangs 67-64.
The Big Ten, except for Ohio State which beat St. Louis 81-66 and swarmed over Army 103-54, was barely able to keep its head above water. Outlanders Wichita, Maryland, Butler, Drake, Missouri and St. Louis knocked off Northwestern, Minnesota, Michigan and Iowa, but Detroit pulled the biggest surprise. Although fresh from a startling 70-68 triumph over Utah State; the Titans hardly figured to upset an Indiana team which had manhandled Kansas State 98-80. However, Detroit carried the Hoosiers into double overtime and beat them 81-79 on Tommy Villemure's corner set shot.
While Cincinnati's defects were showing in the East and St. Louis was breaking even in the Big Ten (the Billikens defeated Iowa 61-55), Bradley kept on winning. The Braves overwhelmed the California Aggies 102-65 as Chet Walker scored 50 points and finally solved Butler's zone defense to win 71-65.
Most of the Southwest Conference teams scattered throughout the South and West over the weekend, and there was a sneaking suspicion that they did this to escape Oklahoma City's frontal attack on the great state of Texas. The swift Chiefs began the week by beating TCU 73-71 when Fred Moses' 55-foot baseball throw, flung in desperation, bounced off the backboard and into the basket at the final buzzer, prompting Coach Abe Lemon to-observe dryly: "Ya gotta have plays like that to win." Two days later, Larry Jones and Sophomore Gary Hill picked apart Texas' zone with set shots and the Long-horns succumbed 53-49. Then the Chiefs switched to the Border Conference and walloped Hardin-Simmons 82-59.
Los Angeles hospitality, often lavish, was downright miserly when NYU came to town. First, USC mistreated the Violets 86-68, then UCLA bounced them around 93-69. However, Kansas State was more fortunate. The Wildcats, after bowing to the Bruins 83-73, started faster against the Trojans and won 65-57. Up north, there were signs that California may be in for some slack times. The Bears needed every bit of their defensive tenacity to struggle past San Jose State 43-39, and St. Mary's 51-43.
After some shabby play which started them off with two shocking losses, Utah's Redskins finally began to run. Triggered by Billy McGill's booming passes and assortment of hooks, dunks and outside plunkers, the fast break overwhelmed Evansville 132-77, Baylor 83-69 and TCU 101-55. Utah State, back home after a second loss to Nebraska 65-60, won from South Dakota State 91-79.