The NCAA tournament was down to four teams. KENTUCKY, DUKE, TEXAS WESTERN and UTAH will gather in College Park, Md. next weekend to decide the national championship (page 22). In games last Friday and Saturday, Kentucky beat Dayton 86-79 and Michigan 84-77 in Iowa City; Duke defeated St. Joseph's 76-74 and Syracuse 91-81 in Raleigh; Texas Western edged Cincinnati 78-76 and Kansas 81-80 in double overtime in Lubbock; Utah took Pacific 83-74 and Oregon State 70-64 in Los Angeles.
New York's National Invitation Tournament, heading for a showdown in Madison Square Garden next Saturday afternoon, had some impatient teams. The six who made it through the opening round could hardly wait to get at top-seeded Brigham Young and second-seeded Wichita State, who played for the first time in the quarterfinals Monday night.
What looked like a breeze for TEMPLE, however, turned into a fight for survival once Virginia Tech got over its rustiness. Tech had not played in almost three weeks, and the inactivity showed. While the Owls' 3-2 defense frustrated the Gobblers, sophomore Clarence Brookins rifled in arching jumpers, Jim Williams, a lanky 6-foot-8 center, muscled Tech's 6-foot-11 Bob King out of the way to grab rebounds, and Temple led 54-29 at half time. Then, too late, the Gobblers came alive. Glen Combs, a long-range shooter, began bombing and, with 1:21 to go, the Owls lead was down to seven points. But Brookins, who scored 29, led an eight-point tear, and Temple won 88-73. "I guess we got rich a little too fast," said the Owls' Harry Litwack.
DePaul's trouble against NYU was that it never did get rich. Coach Ray Meyer, who rarely loses his equanimity, writhed on the bench like a wounded bear as he watched his team get whistled right out of the tournament. Meyer's two big men, 6-foot-10 Dave Mills and 6-foot-5 Errol Palmer, both fouled out in the first 4½ minutes of the second half. Even so, the Blue Demons made a scrap of it. With Don Swanson shooting in 29 points and Tom Meyer, the coach's son, getting 16, they took the Violets right down to the wire. But DePaul could not handle NYU's slinky Mai Graham. He slipped away from his defenders for 30 points, and the Violets hung on to win 68-65. "I could say we got hosed," said Meyer philosophically, "but what difference would it make? The score is still the same."
Two other New York teams did not fare nearly as well as NYU. In a replay of last year's NIT final, defending champion St. John's lost to vastly improved VILLANOVA 63-61. This time, Villanova's Billy Melchionni was healthy. Despite double-teams, pestering defenders and an understandable attack of weariness, he had even the grim Red-men admiring his skills. An artful dribbler and feinter, Melchionni spun away from his tormentors to flip in jump shots, drove for layups and, when the occasion arose, passed off beautifully. He scored 33 points, but still St. John's nearly pulled out the game. The Redmen, coming with a rush at the end, had a chance to tie with 16 seconds to go. But sophomore Rudy Bogad missed the first shot of a one-and-one foul, and time ran out.
It was hand-to-hand combat and every man for himself when ARMY and Manhattan tangled. A karate expert would have envied their style. But in the end the Jaspers came away a bruised loser. They outfouled the tough Cadets 33 to 27, lost four players to Army's two and went down 71-66. In between whistles, the Cadets' Bill Helkie threw in 27 points, Bill Schutsky 16 and Dick Murray 13. That and some pressure foul-shooting in the last two minutes (seven out of 10) held off the ruffled Jaspers.
Penn State threw up a tight 2-3 zone defense against SAN FRANCISCO, and for a while Carver Clinton's exciting shooting (he got 26 points) kept the Nittany Lions in the game. But the patient Dons eventually cracked the zone and stopped Clinton. Maneuvering with slick patterns and sharp passes, backcourters Russ Gumina and Larry Blum found the free man, usually 6-foot-8 Erwin Mueller underneath, and fed him. Mueller, a robust rebounder with a soft touch, poured in 31 points and picked off 19 rebounds. Cornermen Joe Ellis and Dennis Black shared 35 more, and San Francisco won 89-77.
It was not quite that easy for BOSTON COLLEGE. The Eagles had to go through three overtime periods before they caught Louisville 96-90. What started out to be a personal show for Boston's good sophomore, Steve Adelman, who put in 22 points on long and medium jumpers in the first half—he got 32 points in all—turned out to be a showcase for Westley Unseld, Louisville's 6-foot-8 sophomore center. Smart, agile and deft, Unseld led the Eagles a merry chase. Operating mostly off a high post, he rolled around the shorter Adelman for layups and swept the boards. With 10:30 to go, Unseld had the Cards ahead 60-53, and Boston College was dragging its heels. Then Guard Ed Hockenbury got a hot hand. He ran off 11 points, the last two on a driving layup that just trickled in at the buzzer, to tie the score at 74-74. After two overtimes the score was still deadlocked, but then Unseld, who had scored 35 points and picked off 26 rebounds, fouled out. Doug Hice led the Eagles on a 7-2 spree, and they won the game. But everybody was talking about Unseld. "He has one weakness," said Louisville's Peck Hickman. "He doesn't have a hook shot." Boston College's Bob Cousy was thankful for that.
THE SMALL COLLEGES
The small colleges also were busy settling their championships. In Kansas City, the NAIA tournament must have seemed more like an endurance test than a sporting event to the fans who crowded Municipal Auditorium for the 32-team, six-day eliminations. For the first three days, basketballs began thumping loudly at 9:30 a.m., admittedly a gruesome hour for the sportsman who had spent the previous night visiting Kansas City's numerous √† go-go girlie joints. But the night people, salesmen stealing time from their bosses, youngsters playing hooky and just plain basketball buffs came early and stayed late to watch the fun and games.
By Saturday night the tournament was down to two teams. In the semifinals, GEORGIA SOUTHERN, a shuffling-style squad, had survived Norfolk State's run-and-gun game to beat the Spartans 89-88 on Jimmy Rose's little jump shot with nine seconds to go, while OKLAHOMA BAPTIST had battered Grambling 94-80. In the final, Georgia Southern had the Baptists down by nine points in the first half. Then Al Tucker (his dad, Al Sr., is a former Harlem Globetrotter), a spindly 6-foot-8 junior center who wears old-style glasses and shoots like Wilt Chamberlain, and his sidekick, R.B. Lynam, got going. Tucker, who had scored 141 points in four earlier games, shot from medium and long range, fed off a high post, ball-handled and rebounded the Eagles nearly to death. He hit 11 of 12 shots in the second half, 17 of 22 in the game and scored 41 points. Lynam made 12 of 15, scored 25 points and Oklahoma Baptist won the NAIA 88-59. "We just shot like crazy," explained Coach Bob Bass.
The NCAA college-division tournament in Evansville, Ind. had an unusual look. For the first time in four years, Evansville's own Purple Aces were not among the eight quarter-finalists. They had been knocked out earlier by SOUTHERN ILLINOIS, the nation's No. 3 small-college team, in the regional playoffs, and Evansville visitors were greeted by pleas for revenge. A sign in one shop, for instance, implored, "Somebody beat Southern. We couldn't." Indeed, Southern Illinois was so highly regarded that LIU Coach Roy Rubin, whose team had lost to Akron 74-68 on the first day, exclaimed, "Small college? It's a joke. They could play anybody in the country."
The Salukis did look unbeatable as they trounced Fresno State 93-70 and then whipped second-ranked North Dakota 69-61. Meanwhile, unranked KENTUCKY WESLEYAN, a little Methodist-affiliated school whose 879 students would not even fill some of the lecture halls on Southern Illinois' sprawling campus in Carbondale, was winning, too. The Panthers beat Central Connecticut 84-76 and then trampled Akron 105-75 in the semifinals. But they had lost twice to Southern Illinois during the regular season and did not figure to beat the Salukis this time either. Kentucky Wesleyan, however, went after Southern with a pesky zone late in the first half and made the Salukis work hard for their shots. Little All-America Guard George McNeil was held to a mere six points, and the two teams were tied 51-51 with 1½ minutes to play. Then the Panthers stalled until Sam Smith, a sturdy 6-foot-7 center, got himself loose. He hooked in a shot, George Tinsley added a free throw and Kentucky Wesleyan won the championship 54-51. "We were just too cautious," complained Saluki Coach Jack Hartman.