With the holiday jousting over, most of the nation's major-college teams settled down to the serious business of battling for conference titles. But some of the favorites were still having their troubles. After little more than a month of play only three teams—Ohio State, Mississippi State and Eastern Kentucky—were still unbeaten.
Villanova's Jack Kraft, the high school coach who succeeded retired Al Severance, was just as puzzled as anyone. His Wildcats, even with a superb jump-shooter in Hubie White, hardly figured to make much of an impression this year. But Kraft concentrated on teaching defense, sophomore Guards Wally Jones and George Leftwich perked up a fitful attack and Villanova won its first 11 games. The Wildcats easily pushed aside Seton Hall 99-67 for No. 12, but then the bubble burst at Morgantown, W. Va., where visiting teams almost never win. West Virginia's fast break and Rod Thorn's long set shots (for 29 points) scattered the Wildcat zone defense and the Mountaineers won 88-82.
All in all, though, it was a gratifying week for Philadelphia teams. Temple's silky-smooth little men refused to panic when they trailed St. John's by seven points. While 6-foot-4 Russ Gordon harassed 6-foot-10 LeRoy Ellis, the hustling Owls pecked away until they had a 46-45 lead with 5:11 to go. Then, Playmaker Bruce Drysdale plunked in six straight points for a 52-51 victory. St. Joseph's rallied in the last six minutes to beat NYU 59-55 and La Salle gave Manhattan's city slickers a lesson in ball-handling and whipped them 76-69.
January 15, 1962
Duquesne, too, was making a bid for national prominence. The Dukes turned little Willie Somerset loose for 29 points against St. Bonaventure and trounced the Bonnies 73-52. Jack Foley's shooting carried Holy Cross past Dartmouth 80-48 and Connecticut 79-70; Penn defeated Princeton 64-56 in an Ivy League opener. The top three:
1. VILLANOVA (12-1)
2. DUQUESNE (9-1)
3. TEMPLE (9-1)
It was beginning to look like a Kentucky year in the SEC. Georgia Tech's pressing defense gave the Wildcats some fretful moments, but only until brilliant sophomore Cotton Nash found the range. Nash poured in 35 points and Kentucky won easily, 89-70 Meanwhile, Mississippi State barely made it past Auburn. Mesmerized by the Tigers' interminable shuffling, State finally pulled out a 51-48 victory on Doug Hutton's fall-away shot with six seconds to play.
N. C. State, after 25 days of idleness, wasted little more time throwing the ACC into utter confusion. Attacking and defending diligently, the Wolfpack upset Duke 61-60 when John Punger lofted in a 15-foot jumper with four seconds left. The result left North Carolina, a 99-80 winner over independent Notre Dame, in first place. The top three:
1. KENTUCKY (10-1)
2. MISSISSIPPI STATE (10-0)
3. DUKE (9-2)
The Big Ten learned first-hand what it had been hearing from others: Ohio State's Buckeyes were as magnificent as ever. While Jerry Lucas decoyed on offense and hogged the rebounds, sharpshooter John Havlicek methodically pumped in 27 points, and Northwestern succumbed 85-62. Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Indiana also won, but the Buckeyes were hardly worried.
There was just no stopping Cincinnati in the Missouri Valley. St. Louis tried it with a slowdown, but sub George Wilson came off the bench to score 15 points and the Bearcats won 62-47. Tulsa had even less to offer and lost 72-43. But Cincinnati still has to face Bradley—at Peoria. The improved Braves lured Wichita into their "snake pit," hit the Shockers with 45 points by Rich Williams and Chet Walker and beat them 70-63.
The biggest surprise was in the Big Eight, where Colorado showed almost no respect for Kansas State's national ranking and upset the Wildcats 75-61 at Boulder. The top three:
1. OHIO STATE (11-0)
2. CINCINNATI (11-1)
3. KANSAS STATE (10-2)
The SWC was running true to form. While the preseason favorites were busy knocking each other off, SMU and Rice took turns beating TCU and Baylor and snuggled together in first place. Texas Tech started impressively enough with a 77-66 win over Texas, then lost to Texas A&M 70-61. Arkansas set down the Aggies 64-59 to run its winning streak to nine, but the Porkers ran out of steam against Texas and lost 73-59.
Arizona State, back home after a poor road trip, was still the best in the Border Conference. The Sun Devils ran over West Texas State 97-67 and Hardin-Simmons 110-50. The top three:
1. TEXAS TECH (7-2)
2. TEXAS (8-3)
3. ARIZONA STATE (9-3)
Skyline coaches are fond of pointing out that Utah has "nothing but Bi ly McGill." But the Utes may not need any more to win the title. Last Saturday, Utah State put its biggest and most muscular stars—Cornell Green and Darnel Haney—on the elusive McGill. He still scored 40 points, and Utah beat the Aggies 77-72.
California, with little more than a prayer and some hopeful strategy, was no match for USC. The Bears managed to slow down Troy's fast break but their collapsing zone failed to bother Big John Rudometkin, who escaped often enough to pile up 50 points, and Cal lost twice, 68-41 and 79-52. But USC has a wary eye on improved UCLA, which beat Washington 72-57 and 75-63.
Santa Clara's efficient but unexciting zone defense had impatient fans yowling, but the Broncs still defeated cautious San Francisco 50-35. The top three:
1. USC (11-2)
2. UTAH (11-2)
3. SANTA CLARA (12-1)