With most teams settled clown to battling for conference championships, some semblance of form finally was visible in major-college basketball. Davidson, for one, threatened to turn the Southern Conference race into a runaway. Michigan was leading in the Big Ten, and Wichita State in the Missouri Valley. UCLA's powerful game was overwhelming the AAWU, and San Francisco had a piece of the lead in the West Coast AC. But there were surprises, too: North Carolina State was tied with Duke in the Atlantic Coast, Auburn led the Southeastern, and Oklahoma State was first in the Big Eight. Even more startling, SMU shared the lead with Texas Tech in the Southwest Conference.
THE TOP THREE:
1. PROVIDENCE (11-0)
2. ST. JOHN'S (11-2)
3. ST. JOSEPH'S (14-1)
While unbeaten Providence took time off for midyear exams, its most persistent rivals in the East were busy adding to their already impressive records. ST. JOHN'S, determined to make Coach Joe Lapchick's last year a memorable one, demonstrated its resourcefulness against Creighton and Seton Hall. When Creighton's 1-3-1 zone defense threatened to stop the Redmen, they forced the ball in to 6-foot-6 Bob McIntyre in a corner, and he blithely shot over the zone for 26 points. St. John's won 72-66. Five nights later the Redmen, helped along by Ken McIntyre's 26 points, dropped in 24 of 29 free throws and beat Seton Hall 76-69 for their seventh straight and Coach Lapchick's 325th victory.
St. Joseph's, beaten only by Providence, fattened up meanwhile on easy foes. The hustling Hawks, with Cliff Anderson shooting in 29 points and Billy Oakes 24, smashed Seton Hall 115-81 for a team and Palestra record and then routed Lafayette 82-68.
Philadelphia's fratricidal Big Five continued its intracity warfare. Almost nobody gave Coach Harry Litwack's erratic TEMPLE team a chance against Villanova, especially when the Owls were down by 13 points in the first half. Then Temple's Billy Kelley, a slick little backcourter, found his touch. He tossed in jumpers, drove through the Wildcats for layups and calmly sank foul shots. Kelly scored 18 points, and the Owls upset Villanova 73-59.
La Salle, a somewhat less distinguished member of the Philadelphia order, had no difficulty beating Duquesne 83-69 but ran into trouble away from home. SYRACUSE, slowly recovering from a disastrous start, thwarted the Explorers with a tidy 2-3 zone and whacked them 104-81 as Dave Bing scored 33 points.
Georgetown, another slow starter, was beginning to look as good as Coach Tommy O'Keefe thought it would. With Owen Gillen and Jim Brown back in good graces, Jim Barry's operated knee behaving and big Frank Hollendoner playing like a 6-foot-11 should, the Hoyas beat George Washington 81-73 and Fordham 69-67 in overtime for their seventh in a row. ST. BONAVENTURE held off rallying Niagara to win 71-66, while ARMY hammered Pitt 88-63. The baskets fairly smoked when BOSTON COLLEGE and Rhode Island got together at Kingston. The Rams shot 64% and Coach Bob Cousy's BC gunners fired away at a mere 60% clip but won the defenseless game anyway, 107-105.
Princeton's Bill Bradley had a magnificent weekend, even for him, but all it earned the Tigers was a tie for second in the Ivy League. Bradley threw in 41 points (to become the first Ivy Leaguer to score more than 2,000) as Princeton beat Columbia 78-68. The next night Bradley got 40 more against CORNELL, but the Big Red, which had already beaten Penn 76-65, won the game 70-69—and the Ivy lead—on Blaine Aston's shot with three seconds to go.
THE TOP THREE:
1. DAVIDSON (14-1)
2. VANDERBILT (12-2)
3. DUKE (10-2)
There was a time when Southern Conference coaches used to sympathize with each other about their troubles with West Virginia. Now it is DAVIDSON that has them all in a dither. The strong Wildcats took dead aim on two challengers last week and whipped them handily. First The Citadel succumbed 100-81, as Fred Hetzel scored 26 points and Dick Snyder 24. Then West Virginia had a go at the league leaders in Charleston. The Mountaineers bothered them for a while with a blistering press, but Hetzel got away for 25 points, Barry Teague scored 19, and West Virginia lost 86-77. After that, just for kicks, Davidson polished off little Presbyterian 130-67 for its 13th straight. "You could put a lid on the basket, and they'd bomb it off," said Richmond Coach Lew Mills ruefully. "You can't outscore them, and when you try to contain them you find they're containing you."
The defeat by Davidson was merely the beginning of a week of ignominy for West Virginia, PENN STATE, which had not beaten the Mountaineers at Morgantown in 10 years, caught them this time 80-79.
Vanderbilt, the preseason favorite, was discovering that the Southeastern Conference race was not all fun and games. The Commodores, who beat Georgia 75-62 with big Clyde Lee (below) popping in 29 points, had good reason to worry. AUBURN, playing its tough board game, raced past Mississippi 67-52 and Alabama 93-68. TENNESSEE Coach Ray Mears set his disciplined offense to picking and punching at a tight Kentucky zone, and Larry McIntosh and A. W. Davis got the Vols an early lead. The Wildcats rarely got through the Tennessee defense, and they were beaten 77-58. Mears, who remembered Adolph Rupp facetiously describing the defense that had wrecked the Vols a year ago as "a stratified hyperbolic paraboloid," had an explanation ready for The Baron. "Our defense has a name, too," he said. "We call it an iconoclastic defense with disharmonious tendencies."
All of a sudden everybody—especially Duke—was taking NORTH CAROLINA STATE seriously in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Wolfpack clawed from behind in the second half to beat North Carolina 65-52, then cooled off hot Maryland 73-67 for its ninth straight since Press Maravich took over for ailing Coach Everett Case. DUKE, however, kept pace with State, routing Clemson 106-81 and Wake Forest 105-77.
Miami's Rick Barry, the nation's leading scorer, rattled in 54 points as the Hurricanes blew over Florida Southern 124-93 and added 41 more in a 119-99 rout of Jacksonville. "I hear the crowd," said Barry matter-of-factly. "I know they expect me to shoot when I get the ball, so I shoot."
THE TOP THREE:
1. MICHIGAN (10-2)
2. WICHITA STATE (12-2)
3. INDIANA (12-1)
Before WICHITA STATE and St. Louis met in Wichita for the Missouri Valley lead the air was thick with defensive strategy plots. Wichita's Gary Thompson put his Shockers into a strict pressure game, shifting from full-court zone press to full-court man-to-man in the first half and then back to the smothering zone press in the second half. St. Louis' John Benington, hoping to keep the ball away from Wichita's Dave Stallworth and Dave Leach, countered with a 3-2 zone, and when that failed, he went to his karate-type man-to-man. But the Shockers had the more resourceful shooters. Stallworth, who loses his eligibility in February, and Leach each scored 19 points, and Wichita took the game 75-64.
Wichita, however, will have to work to stay at the top. BRADLEY, showing unmistakable signs of throwing off its recent lethargy, overwhelmed Cincinnati 104-80—and at Cincy, too. Guard Alex McNutt quarter-backed the brilliant show while Eddie Jackson wrecked the Bearcat defenses, once Coach Ed Jucker's pride and joy, and scored 27 points. "They blew us right off the court," moaned Jucker. "We took a good, sound drubbing."
Michigan's Dave Strack must wonder what a fellow has to do to appease his critics. Despite a 9-2 record and No. 2 ranking for his Wolverines in the AP poll, last week some Ann Arbor pranksters strung him up in effigy with a sign that read, "With all that talent, it must be the coach." Even Strack may have had his doubts when Northwestern led Michigan 31-27 with five minutes left in the first half. But he put the Wolverines into a zone press, Cazzie Russell (who scored 36 points) led them on a quick 12-point spree, and Michigan went on to win 90-68.
Still ahead for the Wolverines in the Big Ten race were INDIANA and another go with ILLINOIS. The Hoosiers, scampering merrily in and out of a variety of zones and getting solid shooting from Steve Redenbaugh, John McGlocklin and the Van Arsdale twins, beat Iowa 85-76 and Ohio State 84-72. Illinois, despite a cold streak, managed to put down Minnesota 75-72.
Colorado's Sox Walseth had what he called a "screwy type zone" ready for Kansas when the Jayhawks came to Boulder. His Buffs covered Kansas players who probed the middle man-to-man, sandwiched 6-foot-11 Walt Wesley with two men and zoned everyone else. It worked beautifully. Wesley fouled out, 6-foot-7 Chuck Gardner poured in 21 points and Colorado upset Kansas 61-59. The Jayhawks fortunately recovered in time to whip Iowa State 72-60.
With that kind of help from Colorado, OKLAHOMA STATE moved into first place in the Big Eight after beating Iowa State 67-48 as Jim King scored 18 points and took down 14 rebounds. MISSOURI also muscled back into the race with an 80-68 victory over Kansas State at Columbia, its first over the Wildcats in 24 games.
Miami of Ohio, a team that usually relies upon fancy shooting for its victories, proved that it can play defense, too, when it battled Ohio U. for first in the Mid-American Conference. The Redskins forced the defending champions into 22 errors and ran off with the game 58-48 on the controlled 16-point shooting of Jeff Gehring (below). Miami then went back to free-shooting for Bowling Green and whipped the Falcons 74-58.
Depaul, the best of the Midwest independents, parlayed a neat slowdown and Don Swanson's hot hand into a 63-59 win over Dayton, NOTRE DAME, an earlier 75-67 victim of ST. LOUIS, cranked up its run-and-shoot game and beat Butler 94-57.
THE TOP THREE:
1. OKLAHOMA CITY (11-4)
2. TEXAS A&M (9-4)
3. HOUSTON (11-6)
Southwest Conference fans were thoroughly confused. Just when they were beginning to think Baylor had the best team in the league, along came TEXAS. The suddenly aroused Longhorns, shooting a remarkable 66% at Austin, stomped on the Bears and sent them back to Waco with a shattering 95-74 loss. But Baylor Coach Bill Menefee still had hopes for his team. "We're down in the dumps, all right," he said, "but my boys are good, red-blooded Americans. We'll rise up again!"
Menefee's words may have sounded like a loser's lament but, sure enough, the next time out his red-blooded Americans rose up and swatted Arkansas 84-75 as Ed Home hit for 25 points and Darrell Hardy came off the bench to score 19. TEXAS A&M also got back in the race when 6-foot-9 John (The Bomb) Beasley, shooting his flat line drives for 36 points, led the Aggies past TCU 72-71 and Rice 93-55. But TEXAS TECH, which beat the Phillips Oilers 101-91 in an exhibition, and SMU, idle last week, still shared the SWC lead.
Oklahoma city's droll Abe Lemons, who likes to take his country boys around to see the nation's sights, may wish that he had kept his Chiefs at home this time. After Ferry Lee Wells, a hip-dipping, streaking whiz with the ball, scored 34 points in an 89-82 win over Hardin-Simmons in Oklahoma City, the Chiefs began a seven-game road trip by losing to DENVER 94-76.
Houston's Guy Lewis introduced a new gimmick against North Texas State. He platooned two teams every 10 minutes, and they thrashed the foot-weary Eagles 117-83. TEXAS WESTERN held off rallying Air Force to win 60-57 as Bob Dibler, a 5-foot-10 marksman, hit all eight of his shots from 20 to 30 feet out.
THE TOP THREE:
1. UCLA (13-1)
2. SAN FRANCISCO (12-1)
3. ARIZONA (11-4)
There was just no stopping UCLA. With their harassing zone press working magnificently, Olympic Volleyballer Keith Erickson whirling in the air like a windmill to bat down shots and Gail Goodrich firing in baskets from outside, the Bruins clobbered California 76-54 and Stanford 80-66. "They just give you the shock treatment," marveled Stanford's stunned Howie Dallmar.
UCLA was rapidly running out of AAWU challengers. use, despite impressive victories over Stanford 75-59 and Cal 75-55, hardly looked like a fair match for the Bruins. And Oregon State, already a loser to UCLA, fell twice more, to WASHINGTON 79-70 and WASHINGTON STATE 64-53.
Santa Clara, which surprised SAN FRANCISCO in the recent West Coast AC holiday tournament final, never had a chance against the talented Dons last Saturday. Big Erwin Mueller, Joe Ellis and Ollie Johnson put San Francisco ahead by 27 points with 10 minutes to play, and then the reserves held on for an 89-77 victory. But the Dons still had to share the conference lead with PACIFIC, a 61-52 winner over St. Mary's.
The ever-changing Western AC had a new leader. ARIZONA, with its good defense operating superbly, took all the run out of freewheeling Brigham Young and Utah. The Wildcats edged BYU 75-73 and then out-shot Utah 57-48. But New Mexico's defense went to pieces against WYOMING. The surprising Cowboys cut down the Lobos 79-74 at Albuquerque, breaking their 11-game winning streak. Independent COLORADO STATE'S strategy for Utah State was simple: mix ball control with sudden offensive strikes to throw the slower Aggies off balance. It was successful, as Lonnie Wright scored 23 points, and Colorado State won 89-78.