This time of year college coaches—even winning ones—usually begin looking at their freshmen with more than a casual interest, and this season an unusual number believe they have freshmen who are potential All-Americas. Perhaps the most brilliant prospect anywhere is Louisville's Westley Unseld, a 6-foot-8 center whose achievements are indeed impressive: a 70% shooting average, 34.6 points and 23.9 rebounds a game. What's more, he has the agility and speed to trigger the fast break that Louisville Coach Peck Hickman favors.
Another bright hopeful is North Carolina's 6-foot-3 Larry Miller, a superb passer, driver and outside shooter (32.9 per game), who can play anywhere but probably will wind up in Coach Dean Smith's backcourt next year. Duke, too, has a budding star in Mike Lewis, a muscular 6-foot-7 forward from, of all places, Missoula, Mont., who likes to operate in close around the basket. West Virginia's freshman team, which has aroused more local interest this season than the mediocre varsity, is packed with outstanding players. The best is Ron Williams, a 6-foot-3 backcourt specialist who will be the first Negro ever to play basketball in the Southern Conference. Williams averaged 31 points and handed out 148 assists in 21 games. Despite his size, he also is the team's leading rebounder with 213.
Ohio State has 6-foot-7½ Bill Hosket, an excellent shooter and tough rebounder who, Coach Fred Taylor says happily, "is good enough to make me enjoy coaching again." Minnesota's Tom Kondla, a strong 6-foot-8 center, is reported to be the best freshman the Gophers have ever had, while Illinois is ecstatic over Dick (Highpockets) Jones, a quick 6-foot-7 forward whose eyes, they say, fairly sparkle when he gets the ball. Houston's 6-foot-9 Elvin Hayes, who will be the first Negro to play for the Cougars, blocks shots like Bill Russell and already has broken eight freshman records. Not all the good ones, however, are big men. Tulsa's Eldridge Webb, a slick playmaker from New York, is only 6 feet, and Utah's Mervin Jackson, an extraordinary leaper, is 6 feet 2.
Other good ones include Penn's Tom Mallison, Princeton's Joe Heiser, Boston College's Jim Kissine, Niagara's Emanuel Leaks, St. Louis' Gene Moore, Dayton's Don May, Miami of Ohio's little Phil Snow, Kansas State's Earl Sayfert, Mike Williams and Tom Harvey, Kansas' Jo-Jo White, Vanderbilt's Bo Wyenandt and Kentucky's 6-foot-8½ Cliff Berger, who is already being acclaimed as the Wildcats' best center since Bob Burrow in 1956.
THE TOP THREE:
1. PROVIDENCE (19-0)
2. ST. JOSEPH'S (23-1)
3. VILLANOVA (17-4)
All week long Philadelphians had argued about the relative merits of their two big teams, ST. JOSEPH'S and Villanova, and last Saturday night they crowded into the Palestra to watch them settle the issue. They filed out, too—all 9,238 of them—at half time, when some idiot phoned police to say that there was a bomb in the building. It was a false alarm, of course. But St. Joe's Cliff Anderson, a rangy sophomore center, was not. He eluded Villanova's sagging zone defense for 36 points and snapped up 24 rebounds as the Hawks won the big one 66-61.
Meanwhile unbeaten PROVIDENCE, which has already beaten St. Joe's, sharpened up its skills for Villanova. Everybody got into the act as the Friars shot a sizzling 63% while trouncing Rhode Island 88-72. PENN STATE, another hot Eastern independent with a 17-3 record, beat Colgate 85-76 and Syracuse 70-62 for its 10th straight. CONNECTICUT, now 19-2, rolled over Boston U. 89-78 and American U. 115-60. BOSTON COLLEGE and ST. BONAVENTURE, two NIT hopefuls, both bolstered their records. BC took Brandeis 81-51 and Holy Cross 95-94; the Bonnies routed Detroit 84-71.
New York's two best teams stumbled. NYU, which had looked so good while coming from 22 points behind to whip Georgetown 79-73 in Madison Square Garden, lost to tough ARMY 70-62. ST. JOHN'S, after an easy 80-61 win over West Virginia, was puzzled by FORDHAM'S sturdy 2-3 zone defense and lost to the Rams 60-46. MANHATTAN managed to escape. The Jaspers beat St. Peter's 77-71 and Temple 80-65.
Time and a crowded schedule finally caught up with streaking Cornell. The Big Red was upset by YALE 71-69. That put PRINCETON, which beat Dartmouth 83-57 and Harvard 82-72, back in the running for the Ivy title. The Tigers and Cornell will settle it next Saturday at Princeton.
THE TOP THREE:
1. DAVIDSON (23-1)
2. DUKE (18-2)
3. VANDERBILT (18-3)
Just when it seemed that Tennessee and Vanderbilt would have to play off for a place in the NCAA regionals, along came ALABAMA to upset the Vols and put Vandy back in first place. And 'Bama, attacking patiently, beat Tennessee at its own agonizing ball-control game, too. The score: 63-58. VANDERBILT, meanwhile, survived a couple of close ones at home. Kentucky, sloughing neatly on defense to block 6-foot-9 Clyde Lee from the boards, had Vandy down by 14 points in the first half. Then John Ed Miller, who scored 30 points, began to hit from outside. The Wildcats, naturally, went after him, and that gave Lee room in which to maneuver. He slipped away for 33 points, and Vandy squeaked through 91-90. Florida also gave the leaders a hard time, but Vanderbilt eventually prevailed 80-78.
Far behind in the Southern Conference race and muddling along in one of their worst seasons, WEST VIRGINIA'S Mountaineers suddenly came alive against second-place Virginia Tech. They shocked the Gobblers 127-63. But DAVIDSON'S regular-season champions stretched their winning streak to 22, the longest in the nation. Little Wofford thoughtlessly elected to run with the poised Wildcats and got trampled in the rush 117-72. The Citadel played slowdown against them and lost 62-50. However, Davidson will have to do it all over again in the conference tournament, which begins Thursday at Charlotte, to get to the NCAA tournament.
Duke, an easy 87-59 winner over South Carolina, already had first place and top seeding in the Atlantic Coast tournament, but the jockeying for second place was frantic, NORTH CAROLINA, looking almost good enough to challenge the Blue Devils, went after North Carolina State with a confining press and beat the Wolfpack 69-68 as Billy Cunningham got in some late scoring licks. The Tar Heels also put down South Carolina 76-63 and Clemson 86-84 and were only a half game behind State. MARYLAND was still in it, too. The surprising young Terps trailed NC State by a game after beating Virginia 52-47.
The big confrontation in the Ohio Valley was nowhere near as exciting as its anticipation. EASTERN KENTUCKY simply thrashed Western Kentucky 80-69 to take a two-game lead over the Hilltoppers. MIAMI'S Rick Barry gunned in 50 points as Miami outran Houston 103-91.
THE TOP THREE:
1. MICHIGAN (17-2)
2. MINNESOTA (16-3)
3. INDIANA (16-3)
Nothing, it seems, stirs up MICHIGAN like adversity. Take last week, for instance. The Big Ten leaders came from seven points behind in the last 56 seconds to tie Indiana 81-81 on Larry Tregoning's two free throws, then made up four points in 36 seconds in overtime—again on Tregoning's icy-calm foul shooting—to force a 92-92 tie. Cazzie Russell's two fouls, with 45 seconds left in the second overtime, finally won it for Michigan 96-95. Later Ohio State made the sad mistake of taking a 22-19 lead early in the first half. What this did was drive the Wolves out of their usual zone press into an even more debilitating man-to-man press. The Bucks faded quickly, Russell and big Bill Buntin scored 46 points between them, and Michigan won its ninth Big Ten game 100-61. MINNESOTA, however, was 8-1 and still hot on the trail of Michigan. The Gophers, rallying around Lou Hudson's splendid 65-point shooting, beat Wisconsin 101-91 and Northwestern 88-77. ILLINOIS and IOWA, with two losses each, still had hope, too. The Illini pummeled Ohio State 95-72 and Michigan State 113-94; Iowa smashed Purdue 101-85.
The masterminding at Stillwater was almost overwhelming. Kansas' Ted Owens threw a zone press, with two men always on the ball handler, at OKLAHOMA STATE, and Hank Iba retaliated by moving 6-foot-7 Gene Johnson outside to draw the Jayhawks' 6-foot-11 Walt Wesley away from the basket. These and other strategic maneuvers worked so well that the two teams were tied 62-62 after three overtime periods. Then sophomore Freddie Moulder put the Cowboys ahead, and they went on to win 68-64. That should have been enough to clinch Iba's first Big Eight title for Oklahoma State, but COLORADO caught the weary Cowboys at Boulder and upset them 57-54 to make it a race again. KANSAS also was back in after beating old rival Kansas State 88-86.
Oklahoma State was not the only conference leader to fall last week, WICHITA STATE, which had won eight straight in the Missouri Valley, got it, too, from TULSA 75-64 and then almost did not make it past North Texas State. Dave Leach's jump shot in the very last second saved the game for the Shockers 69-67. ST. LOUIS, meanwhile, took second place by whipping Louisville 70-63. The Cardinals also lost to DRAKE 84-65.
Miami of Ohio was no match for OHIO U. without ailing Center Charlie Dinkins. Ohio won 65-55 to move within a half game of the first-place Redskins in the Mid-American Conference, DAYTON'S tournament hopes boomed when the Flyers, despite a wraparound defense that held their 6-foot-11 Hank Finkel to only six shots and three field goals, beat Loyola of Chicago 83-72. So did DEPAUL'S, as the Blue Demons took Portland 77-64. But Notre Dame was almost out of it now. The Irish lost their 10th game, to DUKE 101-88.
THE TOP THREE:
1. HOUSTON (18-7)
2. TEXAS TECH (14-5)
3. OKLAHOMA CITY (17-9)
Texans have never minded high heels on men, but they tend to favor short haircuts. Last week one Dallas sportswriter got his dander up over TEXAS TECH'S Norman Reuther, Harold Denney and Billy Tapp, who have been sporting Beatle hairdos lately. "They look ridiculous," he snorted in print. "They look like they should have electric guitars dangling from their necks." Maybe so, but the incorrigible trio and Dub Malaise, a clean-shorn little backcourt sharpshooter, led Tech past two more rivals for a two-game lead—with four to go—in the Southwest Conference. While Reuther, Denney and Tapp, their bushy tops flopping like mops, harassed second-place Texas on defense, Malaise fired in 30 points, and the Longhorns went down 87-73. But last-place Rice almost had the Raiders. The Owls led with four minutes left. Then Reuther got six points, Malaise four, and Rice succumbed 77-67. "We just let them undress us at the end." moaned Rice's George Carlisle.
Now only SMU had a chance to catch front-running Tech, and the Ponies very nearly lost it. They needed Carroll Hooser's 25-foot jumper at the buzzer to edge TCU 96-95 and four free throws by Bill Ward and Charlie Beasley in the last minute to beat Texas out for second place 73-70.
The independents were making their stretch runs for tournament bids. OKLAHOMA CITY clobbered Denver 90-65, while HOUSTON ran over Texas Wesleyan 122-105, and TEXAS WESTERN, playing its helping man-to-man defense, took Centenary 68-55 and West Texas State 71-45.
THE TOP THREE:
1. UCLA (20-2)
2. SAN FRANCISCO (19-3)
3. NEW MEXICO (19-3)
The news hit the unsuspecting Northwest like a sudden tornado. Seattle's Charlie Williams and Peller Phillips were arrested by the FBI and charged with accepting a bribe to shave points in the Idaho game (won by Seattle 89-72) January 22. For those who remembered the scandals of 1945, 1951 and 1961, the story had an altogether too familiar ring to it. Almost obscured was the fact that SEATTLE beat Oklahoma City 85-82 and Nevada 89-77 last week to run its winning streak to 11.
There were new scores but there was no news from Los Angeles. UCLA toyed with Oregon State for a while, and then, whoosh the Bruins exploded with their press and fast break. Gail Goodrich scored 28 points, and UCLA won 73-55. Next night Oregon led the Bruins 50-49 in the second half. In the next four minutes UCLA bolted to a 10-point lead, and it was all over for the Ducks. They lost 74-64 as Goodrich got 28 again.
Utah rooters, mindful of an earlier 31-point shellacking by BRIGHAM YOUNG, had a banner ready when the Cougars came to Salt Lake City. It read, plaintively: DO UNTO OTHERS—AS THEY DID UNTO US. When the BYU players were introduced before the game, the Utah crowd chanted, "Repent, repent." But the message of the revival meeting never got across. Utah ran, but BYU ran faster and the Cougars won 108-99. The victory put Brigham Young right behind NEW MEXICO in the Western AC race after the Lobos, surprisingly, lost to ARIZONA STATE 71-65, and then beat Arizona 70-66.
San Francisco moved closer to the WCAC title with victories over San Jose State 53-52 and Santa Barbara 73-66. COLORADO STATE raised its tournament hopes by whipping Utah State 89-74.