St. John's Coach Joe Lapchick is now sure there is no place like home. While his slick Redmen ranged around their plush new gym in Jamaica like a bunch of happy warriors, 6-foot-10 LeRoy Ellis diligently plucked the boards clean and scored 31 points as St. John's beat Canisius 81-68. But things were different on the road. In Chicago the Red-men tried to match muscles with Loyola in a rough-tough game and came off second best. Ellis got 32 points, but four starters, including LeRoy, fouled out, Willie Hall and Loyola's John Crnokrak were ejected for fighting, and St. John's lost 92-82.
Seton Hall Coach Richie Regan doesn't care where his team plays—as long as brilliant sophomore Nick Werkman, the nation's No. 2 scorer (33 per game), is there to fling the ball at the hoop. Slipping deftly away from his defenders, Werkman scored 33 points against Scranton, added 49 more against St. Peter's, and Seton Hall won both games 120-100 and 101-78. However, Werkman had competition. Holy Cross's Jack Foley, the nation's No. 3 scorer (31.5 per game), flipped in 47 points as the Crusaders beat Niagara 83-80 for their eighth straight.
Meanwhile, Villanova and Duquesne improved their already impressive records. Villanova's slithery Hubie White sifted through Memphis State's loose defenses for 30 points, and the speedy Wildcats ran the Tigers silly, 109-84. Duquesne put La Salle in a hole with 10 straight points at the start, Mike Rice and Willie Somerset kept the Explorers there with some nifty shooting and the Dukes won 80-66.
Providence was still struggling. The Friars barely made it past Canisius 58-56 when Jim Hadnot hooked in the winning goal with seven seconds to go. Temple, too, continued to have its troubles. St. Joseph's caught the Owls napping and beat them 53-49. In the Ivy League there were signs that Princeton was ready to make its move after the fast-breaking Tigers beat weakened Penn 93-81. The top three:
1. VILLANOVA (15-2)
2. DUQUESNE (14-2)
3. ST. JOHN'S (11-4)
With examinations over, the deep thinking shifted back to the basketball court in the ACC. Duke's Vic Bubas put his Blue Devils into a man-to-man pressure defense to upset Wake Forest's patterns and pull Len Chappell outside. Despite this well-conceived strategy, Chappell scored often enough to give the Deacons a 60-59 lead with six minutes to go. Then Duke's talented Art Heyman went to work. He pushed in nine points, handed off for two more and finished with 26 as the Blue Devils won 82-68 to tie idle North Carolina for first place. North Carolina State, strengthened by Playmaker Ken Rohloff's return to eligibility, turned loose a fast break against Clemson and beat the Tigers 80-64.
While first-place Kentucky rested in the SEC, Mississippi State warmed up for the chase by beating little Northeast Louisiana 89-79. Auburn showed that it can run as well as shuffle. The Tigers used their defense to Stop Georgia Tech 52-40 in a nonconference game, then shocked Georgia with a helter-skelter attack to win 83-47. Unpredictable Tech bounced back again, this time against Tennessee. Mike Tomasovich tipped in a rebound with eight seconds left in overtime, and the Jackets won 66-65.
West Virginia continued its relentless march through the Southern Conference despite some bad moments at Norfolk, Va. With Rod Thorn held to 11 points, the Mountaineers had to scamper even faster than usual to beat William & Mary 70-61. Now only Furman has a chance to catch West Virginia. The Paladins caught Virginia Tech looking ahead to the game with West Virginia and upset the Gobblers 89-83.
In other games, Western Kentucky polished off Eastern Kentucky 96-92 to hold the Ohio Valley lead; improving Louisville parlayed Bud Olsen's 32 points and a suddenly tight defense into a 91-75 victory over Wichita. The top three:
1. KENTUCKY (13-1)
2. DUKE (12-2)
3. MISSISSIPPI STATE (14-1)
Ohio State was still unbeatable. Not even Purdue's many-splendored Terry Dischinger, who nursed a jammed little finger on his shooting hand, was able to disconcert the imperturbable Buckeyes. In fact, he was so well fenced in by Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek that he could manage only nine points and one rebound. Big Luke hooked and tipped in 32, Havlicek contributed 16 and Ohio State breezed home 91-65.
However, there was still some cheer for others in the Big Ten. Indiana's splintery Jimmy Rayl had the time of his life against Minnesota, scoring a record 56 points and hitting a jumper with seven seconds left in overtime to beat the Gophers 105-104. Dischinger, too, recovered his skill against Wisconsin, shooting in 50 points, but they didn't do the Boilermakers much good. The Badgers still downed Purdue 89-86 to remain unbeaten in the conference.
Perhaps it was prophetic when Kansas State's Tex Winter recently mused, "I shudder to think what will happen to us on one of those inevitable cold-shooting nights." Last Saturday, Winter shuddered for 39 minutes and 56 seconds while his Wildcats missed 53 of their 76 shots. Only some tenacious defending by Dick Ewy, who held Iowa State's sharpshooting Gary Wheeler to six points, kept K-State in contention. Then Warren Brown flipped in a lay-up, and the Wildcats won 56-55. Meanwhile, Colorado stayed one giant step ahead of K-State in the Big Eight. The Buffs ran freely for 10 minutes in the first half, outscored Oklahoma State 18-3 and eventually beat the deliberate Cowboys 64-61.
Bradley's Missouri Valley leaders were worried. They didn't need All-America Chet Walker, ailing with a kidney disorder, to beat North Texas State 84-70 at Peoria. Sophomores Joe Strawder, Lavern Tart and Rich Williams gave the Braves ample protection. But they will need him against Cincinnati and St. Louis. The Bearcats clobbered the same Eagles 89-61 as Tony Yates scored 23 points. St. Louis' ball-hawking Bills solved Marquette's shifting defenses readily enough and beat the Warriors 74-64. The top three:
1. OHIO STATE (14-0)
2. CINCINNATI (14-2)
3. BRADLEY (12-3)
After two weeks of quiet the Big Five was beginning to stir again. USC was idle, but UCLA tuned up its improved game against Texas Tech, and the Bruins rarely looked better. Six-foot-5 Fred Slaughter virtually swept Tech's 6-foot-10 Harold Hudgens off the floor, the other Bruins pressed vigorously and UCLA whipped the Raiders twice, 89-60 and 87-58. However, Stanford's bubble burst with a loud bang at Seattle. Washington, playing its methodical pattern game, beat the Indians 73-61 and 76-49.
For a while it appeared that Oregon State's winning streak was about to go down the drain at Corvallis, where Seattle pulled the Beavers into double overtime. But State settled down and won its 13th straight, 82-73.
More and more, Utah State looked like the only team to challenge Utah in the Skyline. Colorado State U., sputtering badly ever since playmaker Manny Lawrence became ineligible, just did manage to get by Wyoming 56-50. Utah State's Aggies were more impressive, both sartorially and artistically. Coach La Dell Andersen togged them out in fancy knee-length stockings, turned BYU transfer Dennis Nate loose against his former teammates and watched him scatter the Cougars' 3-2 defense for 19 points as the Aggies won 88-69. The top three:
1. USC (12-3)
2. UTAH (15-2)
3. OREGON STATE (14-1)
While Texas Tech was losing in the West, Rice and SMU, the other two SWC leaders, managed to maintain their reputations against independent foes. Rice struggled before it edged Trinity 79-77, but SMU had things easier. Big Jan Loudermilk scored 27 points, and the Mustangs galloped past Oklahoma City 87-66.
Houston, supposedly in a "nothing" year, was still winning. Attacking cautiously and deliberately, the Cougars pecked away at TCU and beat the Frogs 61-56 when Jack Thompson pitched in a field goal and five foul shots in the last two minutes. However, Fort Worth fans were hardly appreciative of Houston's skills. They hooted, jeered and clapped, but the Cougars never faltered. Explained Houston Coach Guy Lewis: "They go out thinking they're going to win every time, and I'm not going to tell them they can't." The top three:
1. TEXAS TECH (9-4)
2. ARIZONA STATE (13-3)
3. HOUSTON (14-3)