It is now obvious that even the most highly regarded college teams need more than just a big reputation to survive this year. Michigan, Vanderbilt, St. Louis and Kentucky were the latest to fall. Penn State, an Eastern independent heretofore undistinguished in basketball, upset both Kansas and Kansas State, and in Sunflower territory, too. Evansville, long a small-college power, surprised Northwestern and Notre Dame. But there were signs that some of the preseason favorites might reclaim their ratings. UCLA, Duke and Davidson, after first-week losses, were winning again; San Francisco, Minnesota, Villanova, Bradley, Miami of Ohio and Wichita were still unbeaten.
THE TOP THREE:
1. MICHIGAN (4-1)
2. WICHITA STATE (4-0)
3. MINNESOTA (4-0)
December 21, 1964
There seemed to be no stopping MICHIGAN. When the muscular Wolverines clobbered Missouri 91-61, Coach Bob Vanatta said facetiously, "I want to get out of town as soon as I can in case they want to play us again." Michigan's Dave Strack gushed, "We're unbelievably good." Strack was certain of it when sweet-shooting Cazzie Russell poured in 27 points in 28 minutes before the reserves finished off Indiana State 102-64. But three nights later the Wolverines, after building up a 10-point half-time lead, suddenly found themselves fighting desperately for their No. 1 ranking against fast-breaking NEBRASKA. With one second to go, Nebraska's Fred Hare, a slim, 6-foot-1 guard, grabbed a rebound, casually flipped the ball over his head, and it went in. Michigan had its first loss, 74-73.
Missouri took care of St. Louis. The Tigers' hard-driving fast breaks got the unbeaten Bills in foul trouble early and they never recovered. Ned Monsees, an erratic reserve last year, scored 24, passed off for several more, and Missouri won 62-56. But the week was not all fun and games for Big Eight teams. PENN STATE, an unheralded outlander, turned the Sunflower doubleheaders at Manhattan and Lawrence into a shambles. The Nittany Lions tied up Kansas with a tight zone and beat the Jayhawkers 50-48 when Carver Clinton threw in 10 points in the last 9½ minutes and finished off with a perfect pass to Bob Weiss for the winning basket. The next night Penn State got off to a 17-2 lead against Kansas State, but the Wildcats found a way to crack the zone, and pretty soon the Lions were in trouble. Again Clinton came through. He matched Jeff Simons' free throws in the closing seconds, then blocked a shot to save a 60-59 victory.
One of these seasons major teams will learn to avoid Evansville, Ind. Northwestern made the mistake of going there and got trimmed by EVANSVILLE 83-75. Notre Dame (page 28) was next, and the Irish discovered there is indeed no place like home. They outrebounded the scrappy Aces 50-29 but outfouled them 27-9 and were outscored 89-82 for their first loss.
There were still some unbeaten teams left in the Midwest. WICHITA STATE, with Coach Gary Thompson comfortably perched on his tall bar stool, complete with seat belt (in protest of the new rule that prohibits coaches from jumping off the bench), shifted easily from zone to zone press to full-court man-to-man to combination defenses against Brigham Young. These maneuvers upset the Cougars, and Wichita State won twice, 93-76 and 81-65. BRADLEY held off Murray State 76-74, then whipped South Dakota 100-72. INDIANA, after routing Oklahoma 87-69, hit North Carolina with a press and a dazzling fast break that swamped the Tar Heels 107-81. MINNESOTA trounced Marquette 78-59, while DEPAUL'S good outside shooting nailed Middle Tennessee 89-68. MIAMI OF OHIO could not handle Dayton's 6-foot-11 Henry Finkel (he got 33 points), but Charley Coles and Jeff Gehring scored 51 between them, and the Redskins won 95-88. Then Miami defeated Western Michigan 82-70.
THE TOP THREE:
1. DUKE (3-1)
2. VANDERBILT (3-1)
3. DAVIDSON (3-1)
Kentucky's Adolph Rupp came into Charlotte crying, as usual, about his "pore little boys." Nobody really believed him, but The Baron had a point this time. NORTH CAROLINA'S Billy Cunningham and sophomore Bobby Lewis monopolized the boards, scored 45 points between them and, when the Wildcats went to a frantic full-court press, the Tar Heels simply ran away from it for an easy 82-67 victory. Cunningham was even sharper against Tulane, scoring 48 points as Carolina won 111-74.
Things got better for KENTUCKY later. The Wildcats routed Iowa State 100-74, as sophomore Louie Dampier got 37 points, then smothered Syracuse 110-77. Old string-saver Rupp, remembering that Syracuse Coach Fred Lewis had once written an article on the 1-4 offense, was ready for it with a 1-3-1 zone. Aggressive Pointman Tommy Kron broke the Syracuse patterns and also scored 30 points.
Virginia Tech had lost all three of its games before meeting undefeated Vanderbilt, but the Gobblers had not played at Blacksburg, where they seldom lose. Tech's pressing youngsters could not do much about Vandy's 6-foot-9 Clyde Lee, who scored 25 points and got 16 rebounds, but Johnny Wetzel and Pat Moriarity more than made up for that. They scored 35 points, and Tech upset Vanderbilt 69-64.
Duke, recovering slowly from its loss to Michigan, had the devil's own time beating Navy 93-87 in overtime, but South Carolina was no trouble at all. Jack Marin threw in 20 points, big Hack Tison added 17 more, and Duke trounced the Gamecocks 111-72. NORTH CAROLINA STATE, with Press Maravich replacing retired Coach Ev Case, also came alive. The Wolfpack edged scrambling Maryland 63-62 and then put down touring USC, 67-59 and 78-69.
Davidson's improvement was more rapid. Big Fred Hetzel fired in 53 points, and the Wildcats thrashed Furman 113-82. Jacksonville also lost to the Wildcats, 91-70.
THE TOP THREE:
1. VILLANOVA (4-0)
2. PENN STATE (3-1)
3. ST. JOHN'S (3-0)
The dapper young man sitting on the BOSTON COLLEGE bench in New York's Madison Square Garden looked fit enough to play. But Coach Bob Cousy does not have to anymore. He merely flicks a finger and a horde of aggressive, tough-shooting Eagles go flying at the foe. Cousy's young team had to struggle for a while with NYU, but John Austin, a handy six-footer who loves to stir up the crowd with fancy behind-the-back dribbling and passing (just like Cooz) and feathery jump shots, fired in 16 points in the last 6½ minutes (he got 42 in all), and the Violets succumbed 102-84. Not every team was that easy for BC, though. Later CONNECTICUT upset the Eagles 85-81.
St. John's Joe Lapchick said flatly last week, "Miami's Rick Barry is a sure pro star," and then his Redmen set out to prove it. They let the slickest shooter in the land get away for 39 points, but St. John's beat the Hurricanes anyway, 79-77. PROVIDENCE was still unbeaten, too. The Friars battered Brown 93-63 and St. Francis (N.Y.) 86-55.
Philadelphia's Big Five was showing plenty of muscle. VILLANOVA'S Bill Melchionni outscored Princeton's Bill Bradley 24 to 23 and got the winning basket in a 61-60 overtime victory. ST. JOSEPH'S took St. Peter's 98-82 and Hofstra 89-69. LA SALLE defeated Miami 90-86 and Niagara 67-59 in overtime. TEMPLE rolled over Lehigh 80-34 and Boston U. 73-62. PENN'S Ivy Leaguers whaled Delaware 77-34 and Tulane 88-57.
The Ivy League was shaping up as a three-way fight. Penn and CORNELL, which nosed out Syracuse 73-72 and Army 65-61, were still unbeaten, while PRINCETON bounced back to take Colgate 81-53 and Navy 77-67.
THE TOP THREE:
1. BAYLOR (4-0)
2. OKLAHOMA CITY (3-1)
3. TEXAS A&M (4-1)
Southwest Conference fans have learned never to put much stock in preseason rankings. Somehow the favorites almost always fade away like that famous yellow rose. Right now BAYLOR, one of the least likely contenders, is acting mighty chipper after trampling Trinity 139-88. TEXAS A&M looks good, too. The Aggies coasted past Sam Houston 75-58 and got even with Memphis State, their only conqueror, 81-71. But Texas Tech, the favorite, was still struggling. The Raiders lost to ARIZONA 77-75 before beating Wyoming 98-87.
Oklahoma City's Abe Lemons was smiling again. His Chiefs beat North Texas State 81-73 and Wyoming 99-90. TEXAS WESTERN, however, split four games, beating East Texas State 65-49 and Colorado State 63-50 and losing to WICHITA 73-55 and DENVER 56-55. Houston lost to OHIO STATE 77-69 and NORTH TEXAS 60-48, then edged TCU 67-62.
THE TOP THREE:
1. SAN FRANCISCO (4-0)
2. UCLA (3-1)
3. BRIGHAM YOUNG (2-2)
UCLA, back home on familiar terrain, was up to its ball-stealing, fast-breaking tricks again. The quick Bruins lit into Arizona State with a withering zone press, and in no time at all the Sun Devils collapsed. UCLA won easily, 107-76. Oklahoma State tried to hold the Bruins down with a controlled offense, but Gail Goodrich, the peskiest presser of them all, broke it up with his pilfering and shooting (for 20 points), and UCLA won 68-52.
California, which had upset Arizona 57-55 a night earlier, had SAN FRANCISCO down 27-13 after 14 minutes. Then Cal made the mistake of going to a semistall. The aggressive Dons forced the Bears into ball-handling errors, Ollie Johnson got away for 21 points, and San Francisco won the game 65-55.
The Western AC race, when it starts, should be a hummer. UTAH'S Redskins, quick-footed, sure-shooting and ball-hawking, beat St. Mary's 101-67 for their fourth in a row. NEW MEXICO, with 6-foot-9 sophomore Mel Daniels rolling up 82 points and 45 rebounds, bombed Long Beach State 72-53 and New Mexico State 86-38.
For a change, Wayne Estes was not the whole show for UTAH STATE. Earsell Mackbee, a reformed footballer, came off the bench against Pacific, muscled in four shots, and the unbeaten Aggies won their fourth, 98-74. SEATTLE squeezed by Arizona State 79-78, then Santa Barbara 75-55.
Oregon State, with senior Guard Jim Jarvis throwing in 31 points, defeated Arizona State 66-52. OREGON managed to outlast Washington 61-60, but Coach Steve Belko was not impressed. "We were bad," he said ruefully. "They were just one point worse."