1. ST. BONAVENTURE (18-0)
2. COLUMBIA (17-3)
3. ARMY (18-4)
It looked easy for undefeated St. Bonaventure when 6'11" Bob Lanier and Bill Butler hit their first 11 shots and the Bonnies rolled to a 34-26 half-time lead over Seton Hall. But Lanier fouled out with eight minutes to go, and suddenly SH was a threat. It bowed out in overtime 81-71, and Lanier was gracious in his praise of the Bonnies. "They don't need me," he said. "They can do it on their own."
Army had no trouble getting by Colgate 86-52, but the Cadets' 12-game winning streak came to a halt in Atlanta. Despite the loss of rebounder Steve Hunt on fouls with 12 minutes left, Army was still in the game with Georgia Tech with four minutes to play. Then Dave Clark fired in six straight points and Tech won 60-55.
February 26, 1968
Columbia kept its streak going. Playing tough defense and scoring freely, the Lions hammered Dartmouth 82-56 and Harvard 115-56 for their 13th in a row, while Ivy co-leader Princeton was struggling to beat Brown 54-40 and Yale 74-71.
"We went down there expecting to step on a doormat. Instead we stepped on a rattlesnake" is the way Fordham Coach Johnny Bach described his team's 70-66 loss to George Washington, which had won only three games. That was not the end of the Rams' troubles. They made a late run at St. John's but the Redmen, who had beaten Notre Dame 83-81 on the road, dropped in nine foul shots—four by Rudy Bogad—in the last few minutes to win 75-71.
Most teams get so enchanted watching Niagara's slick Calvin Murphy dribble the ball between his legs, head-fake and then go up for a soaring jump shot that all they do is admire his style. But Villanova surrounded him with their competent zone and Murphy got only eight field goals and 28 points as the Wildcats won 78-56. Two nights later, against St. Peter's, Murphy was superb. He scored 50 points, and Niagara won 100-88.
The first college doubleheader in New York's new still-to-be-perfected Madison Square Garden was hardly a rousing success. The electric clock and scoreboard did not work, the backboards quivered and only 5,214 people showed up. What's more, NYU lost to Tulane 71-60, and Georgetown beat Manhattan 78-77. New Yorkers were more excited over LIU, the nation's No. 1 small-college team. The Blackbirds (18-0) defeated Adelphi 59-56 and Wagner 89-55.
St. Joseph's, beaten by Davidson 66-60, upset Villanova 63-54. Providence defeated DePaul 71-60, Canisius 83-72 and Creighton 75-64, while Holy Cross won over Massachusetts 70-69 and Assumption 91-77, and Boston College routed Rhode Island 125-73 and Georgetown 103-79. Duquesne, 16-3 and a sure bet for a tournament, buried Xavier 85-67.
1. UCLA (20-1)
2. NEW MEXICO (20-2)
3. SANTA CLARA (16-3)
UCLA's John Wooden is always looking for new ways to torment his opponents. Last week it was a 1-3-1 trap zone and, with Lew Alcindor scoring 29 points, the ploy wrecked Oregon 119-78. The next night cautious Oregon State was less inhibited by the new defense and the Bruins led only 32-27 at half time. So UCLA went back to man-to-man and won going away 88-71. But, insists Oregon State's Paul Valenti, it does not matter what the Bruins use. "When they get after you they're going to take you."
So much for the futile chase. Second-place USC beat Oregon State 71-63 in overtime and Oregon 66-59; Washington State smothered California 87-66, and Washington took Stanford 91-80.
Santa Clara got rid of one challenger in the West Coast AC, beating San Francisco 70-60; but Loyola, still hot on the trail, trounced Pepperdine 91-69. Weber State won two out of three from Idaho, losing 71-67 in Moscow and winning 81-62 and 74-53 in Ogden, to go ahead in the Big Sky.
New Mexico got by Brigham Young 76-67 in Provo and was leading Utah 33-25 at the half in Salt Lake City. Then Utah's Jeff Ockel was benched for a deliberate foul and Lyndon MacKay fouled out. The Utes thrived on this adversity. Substitutes Don Denson and Ron Cunningham hit nine of 11 shots, Merv Jackson shook loose for eight baskets and Utah whipped the Lobos 71-64. The two are now tied for first in the Western AC.
1. NORTH CAROLINA (20-1)
2. KENTUCKY (17-4)
3. VANDERBILT (17-4)
What had been a waltz for Tennessee in the Southeastern Conference suddenly turned into a nightmare. The Vols, forced to leave Big Orange country, found the going rough on the road. Kentucky's sophomores beat them 60-59 (page 20) in Lexington to take away the SEC lead; then Vanderbilt followed suit, handing Tennessee its third straight loss 75-63. Vandy's strategy was simple. It beat the Vols off the boards, then turned the rebounds into fast breaks. Before Tennessee could establish its sticky 1-3-1 trap defense, the Commodores were downcourt. Bob Bundy scored 22 points and Vanderbilt was tied for second with the Vols. "This has to be one of the sweetest wins ever," said Coach Roy Skinner.
That left Kentucky sitting pretty, 1½ games ahead of the rest, after beating Mississippi State 107-81. Florida, the only other likely contender, lost to Auburn 73-65 and now had five losses. Kentucky's Adolph Rupp was not quite ready to claim the title, but the advantage was his with a friendly, hometown schedule.
LSU, well out of it now, still had Pete Maravich, the country's leading scorer. Twiggy, as his teammates call him, got 51 points against Georgia—LSU lost 78-73—and 59 more in a 99-89 win over Alabama. His average now is 45.2 points per game.
North Carolina, down to the task of eliminating ACC challengers, got rid of two. The Tar Heels took North Carolina State 96-84 as sophomore Charlie Scott scored 34 points and Larry Miller had 24. Then, after trouncing Clemson 96-74, Carolina put down South Carolina 84-80 for its 18th straight. But Duke, with Mike Lewis scoring 31 points, murdered Wake Forest 105-65 and Temple 92-57 and was still alive.
Davidson, with one league game to go, had earned at least a tie for the regular-season title in the Southern Conference. As Secretary of State Dean Rusk (an old Wildcat center) watched, it whipped George Washington 85-72. Second-place West Virginia beat Richmond 84-83 and Syracuse 80-76. Murray State regained first place in the Ohio Valley after trimming East Tennessee 105-72. Florida State, 17-5 now and hoping for a tournament bid, beat Jacksonville 106-65.
1. MARQUETTE (18-3)
2. LOUISVILLE (16-6)
3. KANSAS (15-5)
Kansas, the preseason favorite in the Big Eight, finally made it to the top. Coach Ted Owens' strategy against Nebraska was simplicity itself: control the boards to cut off the Huskers' fast break. He played his biggest men, they snapped up the rebounds, and Jo Jo White broke Nebraska's full-court press. Rodger Bohnenstiehl scored 22 points for the Jayhawks and they won 71-60. But it was still anybody's race. Iowa State, Nebraska and Kansas State were all within a half-game of Kansas.
Louisville, with a two-game lead and only three to go, should win easily in the Missouri Valley. But the Cards, falling behind or blowing leads and then coming back to win, have everybody guessing. They led North Texas State by 13 points, for instance, then had to rally to pull out an 81-72 victory as Westley Unseld scored 29 points and took 23 rebounds. Against Tulsa, they were behind by 11, with 13:56 to go in the second half. Coach John Dromo brought in Denny Deeken to play guard, moved Butch Beard to forward and put his team into a 1-3-1 offense. Louisville tied the score and won 76-67 in overtime. "This bunch has me bedraggled," complained Dromo.
For a while, after Bradley beat Drake 96-88, the Braves appeared ready to make a run at Louisville. But they were upset by Wichita State 112-97. "Let's face reality," said Drake's Maurice John sadly. "We're all playing for second place."
Ohio State and Iowa discovered that there is no place like home. The Bucks lost twice on the road, to Wisconsin 86-78 and to last-place Minnesota 83-79, and they were out of the Big Ten lead. Iowa, remaining in Iowa City, beat Wisconsin 69-61 and moved into first place. Bowling Green, too, found home amenable, outscoring Toledo 85-78 to go ahead in the Mid-American.
Bogged down against Detroit, Marquette got a boost from George Thompson—13 of his 26 points in the first 7½ minutes of the second half—and the Warriors won 81-70. Loyola of Chicago outshot Marshall 109-93 and then lost to Wichita State 88-85. Notre Dame beat Bradley 64-61 but slumping DePaul lost three more games.
1. HOUSTON (23-0)
2. NEW MEXICO STATE (18-4)
3. OKLAHOMA CITY (17-6)
All of a sudden the Southwest Conference was a race. Baylor, with a chance to wrap up the championship, fell flat on its face—twice. First, Texas caught the Bears 79-65, and then Texas A&M, which earlier had beaten Rice 78-58, embarrassed them in Waco. One reason, perhaps, was a sign that greeted visitors, LATEST AGGIE JOKE: AGGIE BASKETBALL, it read. But Texas A&M had the last laugh. The Aggies got their fast break going in the second half and won 67-63. "I just told my kids to go out there and have some fun," explained tense Coach Shelby Metcalf.
Baylor remained in the lead but, with four games to go, Texas, which beat Rice 94-83, TCU, a 73-55 winner over Texas Tech, and Texas A&M were only a game behind.
Unbeaten Houston continued as a showcase for Elvin Hayes's talents. The Big E had 34 points in a 106-64 trouncing of Miami and he got 43 more as the Cougars routed Air Force 106-82. "I've never seen anything like him," marveled Miami Coach Ron Godfrey. "The pro team that gets Hayes ought to give him the Astrodome."
New Mexico State was idle; Oklahoma City and Texas at El Paso had their problems: Hardin-Simmons upset the Chiefs 108-89, Seattle had UTEP 67-65.