1. NOTRE DAME (3-1)
2. KANSAS (5-1)
3. CINCINNATI (4-0)
"There will be fewer real strong teams this season because everybody's going to be up and down," said Oklahoma City's Abe Lemons in an early season appraisal. "Boys seem to have a lot on their minds besides playing ball. It takes something every day for a coach to get 'em to go. I've talked to other coaches and we all have the same problem." Against TCU, which had beaten his Chiefs the week before, Lemons trailed by 15 points as he shuffled all 10 of his players "till we found the five who could play for us." The five came back for an 86-84 victory.
Marquette's Al McGuire had his own theory about ups and downs. "Flu is going to have a lot to do with what happens to teams in the next few weeks," he said, but his hypothesis seemed to be working in reverse. Despite their health, his Warriors were upset by Drake 68-63. Then, after McGuire and several of his players had been stricken by flu, the Warriors stopped Denver 81-70.
December 23, 1968
Ohio State Coach Fred Taylor also lost a bout with the flu, but, like Marquette, his Buckeyes won their on-court war by downing Harvard 89-74. Other Big Ten teams had moderate success. Illinois won twice, pressuring North Dakota into 16 first-half turnovers and then outrebounding Iowa State 56-34. Rick Mount scored 71 points as Purdue knocked off Butler and Ohio U. Northwestern stopped its stand-around tactics and hustled to an 83-66 victory over previously unbeaten Colorado. Iowa, though, was a two-time loser. Wichita State, with Ron Washington pumping in 30 points, took care of the Hawkeyes 93-88, and then surprisingly strong Drake used a half-court press and tossed in 18 straight points to hand Iowa an 89-74 setback. Western Kentucky ended Michigan State's four-game win streak, 67-63.
Cincinnati's Jim Ard came through with one of the finest all-round performances of the season, scoring 21 points, grabbing 15 rebounds and blocking 10 shots as the Bearcats struggled past Miami of Ohio 56-48.
If Louisville Coach John Dromo had not been prodded into starting Bill Perkins, his team's winning streak might not have lasted. For weeks, Louisville fans had pleaded with Dromo to start 6'9" sophomore Perkins. Dromo resisted—until he faced Dayton, conqueror of Portland and Miami of Ohio. Perkins did not play very long, but he did block several key shots as the Cardinals won 84-69. Of even more help in boosting Louisville's record to 5-0 were Butch Beard (25 points, seven assists) and Mike Grosso (21 points and 19 rebounds). Grosso was even more effective against SMU. Grabbing 19 rebounds and screening for his teammates (but mostly Beard, who scored 35 points), he led the Cardinals to a 79-73 win.
1. VILLANOVA (4-0)
2. LA SALLE (4-0)
3. COLUMBIA (4-0)
McGuire's flu theory also worked in reverse as La Salle beat Niagara 88-73. Roland Taylor of the Explorers, against whom Calvin Murphy of the Purple Eagles scored 52 points last season, was out with the flu. But Frank Dunphy was in his place, becoming the chaser in Coach Tom Gola's box-and-one defense. He hounded Murphy, who missed 16 of 24 shots and matched his career low of 24 points. Also absent from La Salle's lineup was Larry Cannon, who had been averaging 22 points a game. He missed the team bus and was benched by Gola.
The St. Bonaventure-Toledo game was delayed 15 minutes while Referee Pete Horan, hit by a flying elbow, had nine stitches taken to close a gash over his eye. When play resumed, it was Bob Lanier of the Bonnies who was the real eye-opener: he scored 40 points, including 14 straight, in an 85-75 win. Lanier has been on target with 52 of 73 tries (71%) in four games. "I have never seen a better-shooting big man," said Villanova Scout Dudey Moore. "His touch is fantastic."
Earlier, in a Madison Square Garden doubleheader, Toledo ended Western Kentucky's five-game winning streak 88-65 and Rutgers thrashed St. Louis 91-67. Said Western's John Oldham: "We're just country boys. We got sunburned tonsils looking up at the tall buildings." Jim McDaniels, the Hilltoppers' 7' center who takes some looking up to himself, was classically immobile. In the first half he put in only one of nine shots. He sank seven more in the second half, but by then it was too late. One visiting team that had no trouble was Kentucky. The Wildcats sank their first 11 field goal attempts, 11 consecutive foul shots and breezed past Penn 102-78.
Terry Driscoll of Boston College scored 35 points, but Coach Bob Cousy's Eagles were guilty of 26 turnovers against Villanova and lost 78-68. Fordham and Duquesne won twice to bring their records to 5-0, while Columbia, Army and Providence stretched their streaks to 4-0.
1. NORTH CAROLINA (4-0)
2. KENTUCKY (3-1)
3. DAVIDSON (3-0)
Those throbbing heads and quaking knees experienced by many coaches were not symptomatic of the Hong Kong flu but rather of the Southern Upset, which struck in epidemic proportions. No one suffered more than Vic Bubas of Duke. First it was Michigan, a 90-80 winner. Bubas felt ill. Then Virginia, which had not beaten the Blue Devils in a decade, harassed them into 26 turnovers and an 81-75 defeat. Bubas felt worse. Finally, East Tennessee beat Duke 71-63. Bubas ached all over.
Previously unbeaten Bradley, West Virginia, Florida State and Memphis State all lost. Murray State stopped the Braves 66-63, while the Mountaineers, who rarely lose at home, were upset by Richmond 80-79. Virginia Tech used a pressing defense to surprise the Seminoles, who had averaged 108 points in three wins, 77-74. And Union (Tenn.) shocked the Tigers 61-53 as 5'7" David Marsh put on a fine exhibition of shooting (16 points) and ball handling. West Virginia Wesleyan, loser of 33 in a row, came out on top at long last, defeating Salem 91-68.
Less surprising but more impressive was George Washington, a team that won only five times all last season. Bob Tallent scored 78 points as the Colonials stopped VMI, Georgetown and William and Mary to bring their record this season to 6-0.
Favorites who prevailed were North Carolina, which beat Vanderbilt 100-78, and Tennessee, which came from behind to take the Volunteer Classic with a 54-41 victory over Southern Illinois.
1. UCLA (3-0)
2. NEW MEXICO (5-0)
3. SANTA CLARA (5-0)
A dynamite blast that diverted the Rio Grande River and suddenly transformed 437 disputed acres of Texas into Mexican territory was not the only thud in the Lone Star State. Others came when Houston lost to Santa Clara in the Cable Car Classic (page 20), New Mexico State gave Baylor its first loss of the season 69-58 and New Mexico rallied in the closing minutes to stop Texas-El Paso 65-61.
Despite 83 points and 50 rebounds by Marv Roberts, Utah State lost two of three. One victor, Wyoming (4-0), won 89-72 as Guard Bob Wilson fed off superbly and cracked the Aggies' on-again-off-again press. Stan Dodds dropped in 13 of 14 shots as the Cowboys defeated Idaho State 84-75. Two other hot shooters were Vic Bartolome, who sank eight of 13 tries, and Gary Freeman, who made seven of 11, as Oregon State downed St. Mary's 63-51. In three games Bartolome has made good on 28 of 37 tries (76%), Freeman on 23 of 36 (64%).