1. NORTH CAROLINA (11-1)
2. TENNESSEE (10-2)
3. VANDERBILT (12-3)
There was no way that Georgia could possibly win in Lexington. Because Kentucky would be on the road the rest of the month, school officials decided to honor Adolph Rupp as the winningest college coach in history. Never mind that a win over Georgia would be only The Baron's 770th—one less than Kansas' Phog Allen. They were certain the Wildcats would get Rupp the record in their next two games. Before 11,600 in Memorial Coliseum, including many former players who showered praise on the old coach, Georgia cooperated nicely, losing 104-73. But the kudos for Coach Rupp turned out to be premature. Auburn, beaten by Vanderbilt 74-65 earlier in the week, refused to roll over and play dead. Alex Howell ruffled the Wildcats with a succession of long shots for 25 points and, when sophomore Mike Casey foolishly fouled Auburn's Tom Perry in the backcourt with 38 seconds to go, Kentucky was in trouble. Perry calmly made two free throws, and the Tigers held on to win 74-73. "We blewit," admitted Rupp disappointedly.
The one thing Tennessee does best is play defense. The Vols clearly demonstrated that when Florida came to town. Their 1-3-1 zone swarmed all over the Gators' talented 6'11" Neal Walk and held him to 16 points. He got only one field goal the entire second half, and Tom Boerwinkle, Tennessee's 7-footer, had his best game ever. Boerwinkle scored 27 points as the Vols won 67-52 for their 31st straight at home.
January 29, 1968
Florida got another shot at Tennessee in Gainesville, where many a good team has suffered the miseries of the road (Vanderbilt and Kentucky, for instance), and this time things were different. Walk escaped the Vols' zone to score 38 points, and the Gators took Tennessee 59-46.
The Ohio Valley race had barely begun, but already Western Kentucky was just about out of it. The Hilltoppers lost their third game, to Morehead 88-72, while Murray State, despite a 74-67 loss to East Tennessee, held on to first place by beating Austin Peay 91-82. But there was some solace for Western. It edged Dayton 75-74 in overtime and then beat La Salle 84-79.
Florida State, the South's best independent, cornered Georgia Tech with a zone defense, forcing the Jackets to shoot from outside and, without ailing Guard Phil Wagner, Tech was helpless. Dave Cowens flipped in 21 points, and FSU won easily, 73-57.
1. ST. BONAVENTURE (13-0)
2. COLUMBIA (11-3)
3. ST. JOHN'S (12-3)
"It's like playing Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves," said St. John's Coach Lou Carnesecca. He was referring to St. Joseph's and its celebrated ball stealer, quick-handed little Billy DeAngelis, a guard whose talent for pilfering had accounted for 44 steals in 13 games. But that was before Carnesecca's Redmen beat the Hawks 80-72. St. John's attacked patiently, and DeAngelis, nursing a sore ankle, failed to steal the ball even once. He and the other St. Joe's players were too busy defending as John Warren scored 20 points and sophomore Joe DePre 19 for the disciplined Redmen.
St. Joseph's had better luck with its own shooting game against Boston College. While Mike Hauer, who got 17 rebounds, outmuscled BC's big Terry Driscoll underneath the baskets, Dan Kelly, another little guard, routed the Eagles' zone defense with 29 points, and the Hawks won 76-67.
The hottest Philadelphia team, though, was Villanova. One reason was Johnny Jones, who scored 27 points as the Wildcats demolished Penn 75-45. Another was Coach Jack Kraft's "ball" defense, a slick combination of man-to-man and zone. It stopped Virginia Tech, a run-and-shoot team that came into the Palestra with a six-game winning streak. Jones got 24 more points, and Villanova won its seventh straight, 78-61. Tech Coach Howie Shannon was impressed. "They do as good a job as any team I've ever seen," he marveled. "You think you have a shot and you don't."
Undefeated St. Bonaventure had its hands full before beating old rival Canisius 71-65. The Griffs' strategy was to play the Bonnie guards tight to keep them from shooting. It worked. They got only nine shots and made two. But 6'11" Bob Lanier's 25 points saved the game for St. Bonaventure. St. Peter's, however, lost for the first time, 88-78 to St. Francis of Loretto, Pa. That left LIU the only other unbeaten team in the East. The Blackbirds outscored Philadelphia Textile 76-65 for their 12th win.
Columbia, which earlier had lost to Cornell by 17 points in Ithaca, murdered the Big Red 93-51 in New York. Cornell tried to collapse around 7' Dave Newmark in the middle, a dubious ploy that left the passing lanes open. So Newmark, when he was not shooting over the smaller Red defenders for 22 points, passed off to Roger Walaszek and Jim McMillian, who scored 43 more between them.
DePaul made the mistake of giving Niagara's Calvin Murphy the outside shot when Rich Shealey, who was guarding Murphy, got into early foul trouble. It almost cost the Blue Demons the game. Calvin scored 36 points, and DePaul had to go to a late freeze to save a 79-72 victory.
Army, looking like somebody's tournament team—the NIT, probably—rolled over Dartmouth 76-58 for its 11th win, but Navy had troubles. The Middies lost to Maryland 76-62 before beating Seton Hall 68-58. Rutgers, with Doug Brittelle shooting in 39 points, beat Boston U. 74-68, while Holy Cross smothered Springfield 96-81, and West Virginia, which had whipped Pitt 90-64, trounced Penn State 88-66.
1. MARQUETTE (12-2)
2. NOTRE DAME (13-3)
3. CINCINNATI (11-3)
Cincinnati seemed to be sitting pretty in the Missouri Valley race when the Bearcats beat Bradley 77-66. But then starter Gordon Smith went to the hospital with a torn Achilles' tendon in his right foot and Jim Ard came down with pneumonia. With Louisville coming up, Coach Tay Baker was worried. He was right. Louisville's zone clamped down hard on Cincy, Westley Unseld scored from underneath, and the Cards got a six-point lead. Then substitute Dean Foster began picking the Louisville zone apart with outside shots, and soon Cincinnati's full-court press began to take its toll. The Cards folded under the pressure, and Cincy stole enough passes to win 82-72 and take over the conference lead. "If Cincy doesn't win the conference, they should be given a saliva test," said Louisville's John Dromo. "I'd just like to have Baker's bench."
Still, there were plenty of challengers, including Louisville. Drake also looked tough. The Bulldogs scored eight straight baskets off fast breaks against Iowa State and defeated the Cyclones 72-67. Wichita State, however, lost to Southern Illinois 81-72. The improving Salukis concentrated on Warren Armstrong, and he scored only four field goals.
With eight minutes to go, Kansas was coasting along with a 58-46 lead over Missouri. Suddenly, Bruce Sloan, Vernon Vanoy, Jo Jo White and Greg Douglas fouled out, and then Missouri outscored the Jayhawks 11-1. But Rodger Bohnenstiehl's foul shot with two seconds to go put Kansas ahead by a point. Then an amazing thing happened. Missouri tried a desperation pass to Tom Johnson past mid-court and Kansas' Phil Harmon went for the interception. He fouled Johnson instead. Johnson made two free throws, and the Tigers won 67-66. "I'm looking for somebody to shoot me," said Harmon disconsolately. That was not all the bad news for Kansas, either. The Jayhawks also lost to Kansas State 73-56.
About the only thing sure in the Big Ten was that it was anybody's race. Northwestern, after beating Minnesota 77-71 for its third win, had a relapse in East Lansing. Michigan State missed its first 15 shots while Coach John Benington writhed on the bench. But Heywood Edwards came in to pick up the Spartans, and they went on to win 75-62. Ohio State, meanwhile, destroyed Michigan 103-70. Earlier in the week Wisconsin had beaten Michigan State 70-68 as Joe Franklin poured in 38 points, and Purdue, with Rick Mount scoring 33, battered Indiana 89-60.
Western Michigan's joy ride finally came to an end in the Mid-American. Bowling Green put the Broncos in their place (third) with an 83-67 victory. That gave the tall Falcons a tie for first with Toledo, which took Ohio U. 74-66. Miami of Ohio, without two starters and two subs who were suspended by Coach Tates Locke for New Year's Eve indiscretions, beat Xavier 72-65 and Kent State 79-68.
Dayton, slipping badly, lost to DePaul 70-65 but Notre Dame, off to its best start in 14 years, took Butler 82-77 as Bob Whitmore threw in 40 points and Bob Arnzen scored 27. Coach Johnny Dee was thrilled. What he said was, "We're just a bunch of skinny kids who enjoy playing with finesse rather than force."
1. HOUSTON (17-0)
2. NEW MEXICO STATE (15-2)
3. TEXAS AT EL PASO (10-3)
There was hardly a sad eye in the house as Houston upset UCLA 71-69 (page 16) before 52,693 in the Astrodome to end the Bruins' 47-game streak. The hometown fans, however, could be forgiven for their lack of sympathy for UCLA. They were too busy extolling all the Cougars, and especially Elvin Hayes, who scored 39 points and made the two winning free throws.
Over in El Paso, 8,501 filled County Coliseum to watch UTEP take on New Mexico State. For them, it was a distressing afternoon. The determined Aggies, with Richard Collins and Sam Lacey gobbling up rebounds, took the boards away from the young Miners and beat them, 76-64. "That's sophomores for you," said Coach Don Haskins sadly. "One week we play like gangbusters and the next week, pow!"
West Texas State, which had won only one game all season, should have been a breeze for Oklahoma City. It looked that way, too, when the Chiefs opened up a 10-point lead. But Sim Hill, who scored 31 points, got the Buffs back in the game and then led them to an 88-85 victory. It was enough to rouse Coach Abe Lemons. "We're just not makin' any effort," he complained. "We're just standin' around and not play-in' basketball anymore."
Southwest Conference teams were busy with final exams, but Texas A&M found time to knock Texas out of a tie for second place. The Aggies, with Billy Arnold scoring 36 points, came from behind to surprise the Longhorns 88-87. Texas Tech put down Arlington 93-83 in overtime.
1. UCLA (13-1)
2. NEW MEXICO (16-0)
3. WYOMING (11-4)
A note for posterity: UCLA, playing without Lew Alcindor, beat Portland 93-69 for its 47th straight victory. Then UCLA left for Houston, and all the Pacific Eight action was up north. It hardly posed a threat to the Bruins. Washington State trounced Oregon 85-66, Washington defeated Oregon State 68-56, and then the winners and losers paired off against each other. Washington State beat Washington 75-70 and Oregon State added to Oregon's troubles, winning 60-49.
After Coach Rene Herrerias suspended 6'11" Center Bob Presley "permanently" for disciplinary reasons, California managed to get by Portland 74-61. But Herrerias apparently had some second thoughts about Presley. He will be back for Cal's next game.
What's up in Albuquerque? Well, the big topic is unbeaten New Mexico and Coach Bob King's new offensive philosophy. The natives can remember when the team labored tediously around the key and an outside shot was as rare as snow on Central Avenue. The Lobos still like to exploit their cozy patterns but they grow impatient much sooner than they used to, and then the bombs begin to fly. Like last weekend. Guard Ron Nelson, although ailing with the flu and sometimes doubled up with cramps, scored 15 points, mostly from outside, as New Mexico put down Utah 72-66. Two nights later Brigham Young's Stan Watts threw up a 1-2-2 zone that shifted into a 2-3 to protect the baseline, and it took the Lobos a while to adjust. But soon Steve Shropshire's passes began penetrating to Howie Grimes, who scored six crucial baskets. Nelson (who got 25 points) and Ron Becker popped in shots from the side, and the Cougars fell 84-69. Despite his team's success, King was not yet ready to claim theWestern AC title. "Until someone wins on the road, nothing's been decided," he said.
Wyoming, meanwhile, took over second place in the WAC. The aggressive Cowboys, with Mike Eberle, Harry Hall and Carl Ashley scoring heavily, beat Brigham Young 81-70 and Utah 81-72 in Laramie. Coach Bill Strannigan also was leery about the race. "Looks like we might have a five-team tie," he said.