It was holiday time, and the sound of the consolation game was in the land. Where there is a consolation game, or two, or five, there is a basketball tournament, and this year the NCAA scheduled more tournaments than ever before: 48, in fact, of what are called "principal in-season tournaments." Thirty-five of them occurred over a 12-day period during the holidays, and that's a lot of consolation games. If the sport's festival time proved anything, however, it is that home is not always happy for the holidays, and that determining the best teams in the land must wait until conference races are over—when tournaments again will provide the answers.
1. PRINCETON (8-1)
2. BOSTON COLLEGE (9-1)
3. PROVIDENCE (9-2)
Born in Boston, a prep in North Carolina, a college student in PROVIDENCE, Jimmy Walker is now New York's boy. For the second straight year, the Holiday Festival crowds in Madison Square Garden were dazzled by Walker's presence. After St. John's and Brigham Young, two anticipated powers, were eliminated by NORTHWESTERN 62-60 and ST. JOSEPH'S 67-61, respectively, the field lost some of its luster. But Walker scored 37 points to lead Providence past Duquesne 82-55; then against Northwestern he went man-to-man against the Wildcats' strong guard, Jim Burns, and, though missing 25 floor shots, still scored 38 points. Burns got 26 himself but the Friars pulled away at the end and won 91-79. St. Joseph's meanwhile displayed a masterfully coached full-court pressing defense and, helped by Cliff Anderson's 39 points, ran Rhode Island out of the Garden 89-75. Asked how he would play Walker, rookie Coach Jack McKinney said, "Three Mafia guys will stop him at the hotel." But the next night, to the tones of "The Hawk is dead" from one end of the arena and "The Hawk will never die" from the other, the Hawks did stop Walker—for 20 minutes. Leading 45-35 at the half, St. Joe's offense died against the Friar zone—it could not hit from outside or control the offensive boards. Walker then took more and more personal control. In a decisive 11-minute period he scored 14 points and passed off for four other baskets, as the roaring acclaim of 18,499 showered down on him. Providence won going away 82-76, Walker had 25 points and New Yorkers were swearing again that here was the finest all-round player in the land.
GEORGETOWN manhandled the field at the Kodak City Classic in Rochester, defeating Purdue 104-82 and Dartmouth 101-69. And CONNECTICUT won its own Invitational, outscoring George Washington 89-69 and Virginia 100-79.
1. HOUSTON (11-1)
2. TEXAS WESTERN (8-2)
3. SMU (7-3)
In the Arkansas State Invitational HOUSTON dogged it past a couple of easy marks. Elvin Hayes and Don Chaney scored 22 points apiece as the Cougars defeated Kent State 85-73. The Flashes made it close on four goal-tending violations by Hayes but Chaney got the points right back by making seven steals. In the championship game against Arkansas State Hayes rammed in two stuff shots to get the Cougars home 68-58. For the two games, Hayes had 45 points and 39 rebounds.
El Paso's Sun Carnival usually is the setting where Texas Western lures three victims to its mountain retreat and hacks them into small bits as Miner supporters whoop with glee. This year the TW backers only roared at the officiating, SOUTHERN ILLINOIS went with a 1-3-1 zone to keep David Lattin from the ball, and when Daddy D got a little boisterous going for it he was called for three fouls within eight minutes. The Salukis upset the Miners 59-54 as Ralph Johnson scored 22 points. But in the final Southern came up against SMU, and the zone was not good enough. Denny Holman scored 15 points, the last two on foul shots with nine seconds left, to win it for the Mustangs 66-64.
The nation's oldest tournament had the holidays' biggest surprise when Cinderella MONTANA STATE upset solid Texas 91-87 and previously undefeated Temple 61-60 to reach the finals of the 31st All-College tourney in Oklahoma City. Then, against a typical Abe Lemons ("When in doubt, shoot") Oklahoma City team, the Bobcats did it again—an 82-81 overtime chiller for the championship.
1. NORTH CAROLINA (9-0)
2. FLORIDA (7-1)
3. WESTERN KENTUCKY (9-1)
Out of the mud of Duke's collapse has risen another terror of the South, the Tar Heels of NORTH CAROLINA. Coach Dean Smith's tall and dexterous team has received outstanding performances from 6-foot-11 Rusty Clark and Guard Dick Grubar, two sophomores, but it is the brilliance of Carolina's two stars, Larry Miller and Bob Lewis, that has made the team go and given UNC a 27-point-average winning spread over its nine opponents—the best in the nation. After OHIO STATE surprised Duke 83-82 despite Bob Verga's 41 points, Carolina destroyed the Buckeyes 105-82, as Clark scored 24 points and Miller and Lewis got 23 each.
The ACC added to its prestige when member teams won three tournaments. CLEMSON coasted to the Poinsettia Classic title with wins over LSU and Furman, while MARYLAND won the Charlotte Invitational, and NORTH CAROLINA STATE, considered a pushover in preseason speculation, rolled over Pittsburgh 80-52 and South Carolina 76-63 to capture the Triangle Classic at Raleigh.
Kentucky's demise seemed complete after the Wildcats were humiliated by CORNELL 92-77 for their fourth loss in Lexington. Poor defense is betraying Adolph Rupp, but no more so than the Kentucky fans, who are proving that they are front-runners. Hecklers rained insults upon Rupp, and home fans began rooting for Cornell in the most recent loss. The big shift in the Southeastern Conference is to FLORIDA. The towering Gators, with Coach Tommy Bartlett claiming his team belongs in the Top Ten, destroyed Georgia 78-64 and VPI 92-73 to carry off the Gator Bowl trophy.
Earlier, in Miami, WESTERN KENTUCKY, which may face a season-long march back to recognition after its opening loss to Vanderbilt, took one important step—the Hurricane Classic Championship—but looked underwhelming in victories over Holy Cross 90-84 and Miami 94-89. The Hilltoppers blew a 15-point lead against the host team before Clem (The Gem) Haskins, with 25 points, and Wayne Chapman, with 19, snapped them out of it.
Snow conditions forced BRADLEY to fly from Des Moines to Kansas City to St. Louis to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl tournament, but the delay did not keep the Braves from victory. After defeating Tennessee's control game 60-53, Bradley needed a jump shot by Al Smith in the final seconds to beat Utah for the championship 64-62. The Utes, with 6-foot-2 leaper Merv Jackson getting 31 points and 16 rebounds, handed Boston College its first loss, 90-88.
1. LOUISVILLE (11-0)
2. IOWA (7-2)
3. CINCINNATI (8-1)
After its pre-Christmas disappointments on the road, KANSAS spread-eagled the field in the Big Eight tournament. The Jayhawks defeated a good Colorado team 72-54 when Jo Jo White held Pat Frink to three field goals, then got past Oklahoma 86-73. But in the final, against a surprising Iowa State, the Kansans went up against a tough zone that stopped Pickles Vanoy and Rodger Bohnenstiehl underneath. It took superb outside shooting by White and sophomore Phil Harmon to put down the Cyclones 63-57.
Evansville and Detroit were two gracious hosts, both losing two games in their Invitationals. NEW MEXICO STATE beat William & Mary 62-49 for the Evansville title, while MIAMI OF OHIO, giving fair warning to its Mid-American Conference foes, bombed Tulane 87-52 for the Motor City championship.
While LOUISVILLE was winning in the Quaker City, and Big Ten teams were running around the country being embarrassed, Cincinnati and IOWA put on an interesting show in Chicago. Most interesting—and gratifying to Iowa's Ralph Miller—was the play of Tom Chapman. As a sophomore, Chapman had a scoring average of 2; as a junior, of 3. This year he is carrying the surprising Hawkeyes with an average of more than 20. He scored 23 against Cincinnati, including three quick baskets to begin the second half as Iowa's press cracked the Bearcats' control game and handed them their first loss 78-69. The win established Iowa as the team to watch in the Big Ten.
As 6-foot-10 sophomore Dan Obrovac improves, DAYTON moves. Obrovac came off the bench to score 14 points, put the clamps on Loyola's Jim Tillman, and the Flyers beat the Ramblers 100-90. But the only undefeated team in Ohio is TOLEDO, where Steve Mix has Rocket fans talking national ranking. Mix scored 31 points in an 86-76 win over Butler.
1. UCLA (8-0)
2. NEW MEXICO (9-1)
3. SEATTLE (9-1)
UCLA slaughtered Wisconsin 100-56 in the first round of the Los Angeles Classic, but Georgia Tech's Whack Hyder, scouting the Bruins after his team's 101-70 victory over Michigan, wasn't that impressed. "I think we have a chance," said Whack. The Yellow Jackets, clicking early, actually took an 11-5 lead, but Mike Warren and Kenny Heitz rallied the Bruins. Lew Alcindor took over in the second half, and Tech went down 91-72. "It's different when you're on the bench and when you're in the stands," said Whack, SOUTHERN CAL'S Bob Boyd knew the difference, having already been whipped once by UCLA. "They've tried man-to-man, they've tried a 1-3-1 zone, they've tried a 2-3 zone. How about a box-and-one zone?" he said. So Friday morning Boyd had the Trojans practice that defense in street clothes on the deserted USC campus. And that night, sure enough, Boyd stopped Alcindor. King Pyrrhus stopped the Romans, too. The first five times UCLA came downcourt his teammates could not get the ball into Lew. So first Lynn Shackelford shot, then Lucius Allen, then Heitz, then Warren, then Shackelford again—and UCLA led 10-0. Southern Cal never recovered and, following the Bruins' 107-83 victory (Alcindor ended up with 25 points) for their fifth straight Classic title, Boyd was thinking about another box for Lew—this one made of wood, heavily weighted, to dump in the Pacific.
In the WCAC tournament—another of those strange affairs where a whole conference season is practically decided in three nights—PACIFIC met San Francisco in the finals, which was expected, and won, which also was expected, 59-51. Coach Dick Edwards' players needed a piece of luck to get the Tigers past California (Santa Barbara). Behind 75-73 with 17 seconds left, Cal played with the ball a bit too long and failed to get off a shot. San Francisco, with 55 points from Dennis Black, beat Pepperdine 86-71 and Loyola 81-68, but blew an early 10-point lead in the final game.
In Portland, Oregon State, which had won 10 straight Far West Classics (a span of 27 consecutive winning games) lost three times. Indiana knocked the Beavers out of the tourney 71-60, and all the favorites went with them: St. Louis, beaten 91-82 by WASHINGTON; West Virginia, a 92-86 loser to Washington State, and Minnesota, which lost to Oregon 67-60. Finally Washington defeated Washington State for the title 80-72.
In the Lobo Invitational, form prevailed as powerful NEW MEXICO beat Texas A&M 85-54 and tough Colorado State 64-49, with Mel Daniels totaling 51 points.
CALIFORNIA (Berkeley) won the real holiday tournament, the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu, with a 60-45 victory over the Pacific Submarine Forces in the final. And SEATTLE, the region's foremost independent, won the Seattle Legion championship.