1. ST. JOHN'S (8-1)
2. VILLANOVA (6-1)
3. LA SALLE (8-0)
With 14:44 left in its game against second-ranked North Carolina during Madison Square Garden's Holiday Festival, St. John's sent John Warren, who had been playing superbly, to the bench after his fourth foul. The Redmen's lead appeared even more tenuous than the 42-39 score, for taking Warren's place was Shoelace Jim Smyth, a 6'4", 155-pound anonymity. But it was Smyth who tied the Tar Heels into knots, deftly wriggling inside for three quick baskets and adding a foul shot to build the lead to 57-49. Warren replaced Smyth with 4:13 left and scored four points. Then, with 32 seconds remaining and the Tar Heels behind by only 70-68, Carmine Calzonetti of the Redmen fouled out. In came Smyth again. This time he sank two foul shots with seven seconds left, and St. John's won in an upset, 72-70. St. John's, which earlier had beaten Michigan State 61-51, thus faced the prospect of playing UCLA in the final. UCLA disposed of Providence 98-81 despite 36 points by Vic Collucciand breezed past Princeton 83-67. Lew Alcindor effortlessly dumped in 26 points against the Friars and 40 against the Tigers, but his nonchalance did not endear him to Garden fans. Obviously miffed—by the boos and a profusion of goal-tending calls—he bestirred himself against Princeton. He forsook his usual five-foot drop-ins and moved away from the basket, where he dribbled, moved with speed and scored almost at will. Another All-America prospect, Charlie Scott of North Carolina, did not fare as well, his occasional bursts of brilliance being offset by traveling violations. The best all-round player of the tournament was Villanova's Johnny Jones, who seemed to be everywhere at the same time—passing off, setting up plays, rebounding, hitting on layups and outside shots and scoring 43 points in two games.
La Salle and South Carolina headed for a showdown in the Quaker City Tournament, the Explorers taking care of Penn State 70-55 and Indiana 108-88 while the Gamecocks downed Rhode Island 86-68 and St. Joseph's 64-58. St. Joseph's had surprised high-scoring and unbeaten DePaul 74-64 in the opening round as Danny Kelly scored 10 points in 85 seconds.
January 6, 1969
1. KENTUCKY (6-1)
2. NORTH CAROLINA (7-1)
3. DAVIDSON (7-0)
Southerners were more heartened by the results of two intersectional games than by the outcome of most tournaments. Kentucky and Vanderbilt came up with impressive victories against Notre Dame and USC, respectively. The Wildcats won 110-90 as they forced the Irish into numerous errors, but it was not until the Irish went in front 64-63 that the Wildcats really got aroused. During the next seven minutes they put on a swashbuckling fast break, took command of the boards and outscored the Irish 29-8. Vanderbilt trailed 45-34 at halftime as USC's full-court press forced the Commodores into 18 turnovers. In the second half, though, the Commodores broke the press with precise passing and won 85-75. Duke, the No. 1 flop so far, came through with an encouraging 96-70 triumph over Clemson that ended a four-game losing streak.
As for the tournaments, Davidson romped through the Charlotte Invitational by drubbing Texas in the finale, 98-76, but Big Ten teams took two other major affairs. The Hurricane Classic went to Illinois, which stopped Miami 86-76. In the Gator Bowl Tournament, Northwestern beat Florida 76-72, and Boston College rallied from 17 points back to defeat Georgia 89-83 in the first round. Northwestern then brought its record to 8-1 by finishing off BC in the championship game, 77-68.
1. NOTRE DAME (5-2)
2. KANSAS (10-1)
3. ILLINOIS (9-0)
Spencer Haywood and Detroit (page 40) were among the rising powers that emerged in the Midwest, where there were strong performances by teams from every section of the country. Duquesne came out of the East and LSU from the South to move into the finals of the All-College Tournament in Oklahoma City, and New Mexico State strode in from the West to dominate the Evansville Invitational. The Dukes, now 9-0, got 51 points from Moe Barr as they trampled Texas A&M 93-71 and handled St. Bonaventure with astonishing ease, 89-70. A collapsing defense held Bob Lanier of the Bonnies to just 10 points. There was no stopping Pete Maravich of LSU, though. He scored 45 and 40 points as the Tigers dropped Wyoming from the unbeaten list 84-78 and beat Oklahoma City 101-85. New Mexico State easily disposed of Tennessee Tech and Evansville.
Wisconsin's zone forced Marquette into long-range shooting in the wrap-up of the Milwaukee Classic. Although the Warriors won, they still did not look like the super-Marquette team Coach Al McGuire had hoped for at the season's start, for they shot just 27% and had to go into overtime to win 59-56.
Kansas, another preseason favorite, came on strong to thrash Nebraska 82-56 and Colorado 60-55. Those wins moved the Jayhawks, who have only lost once, into the championship round of the Big Eight Tournament against Oklahoma State. Against Colorado the Jayhawks used sophomore Dave Robisch in a high post, forcing 7'2" Ron Smith away from the defensive basket. When the Buffaloes did get the ball, they had difficulty feeding it to Smith because of a two-man zone trap. Robisch, meanwhile, put in 24 points.
In tune-ups for this week's start of the Big Ten race, Ohio State served Butler a 74-71 loss, and Michigan overpowered the Bulldogs 101-79 and Utah 111-74.
1. UCLA (7-0)
2. SANTA CLARA (9-0)
3. NEW MEXICO STATE (9-0)
Willie McCarter, a 6'3" guard, led Drake to victory in the Dallas All-Sports Classic as he put in 51 points—most of them on outside shots—and took care of Minnesota 71-48 and SMU 86-81. Although USC beat Tulsa 99-89 to take the Trojan Invitational, winning Coach Bob Boyd gushed with praise for Bobby Smith, a Tulsa forward who had 35 points. "Smith is a fantastic talent—agile, quick and a great shooter," Boyd said. Sophomore Marvin Roberts of Utah State set a Bluebonnet Classic record by getting 41 rebounds in two games, a notable achievement in a tournament in which such men as Elvin Hayes have played. Utah State, though, did not win the Bluebonnet, which was taken by Houston. The Cougars, with their zone working better than it has all season and with Ken Spain getting 35 points, beat San Francisco in the title game, 87-67.
Paul Valenti of Oregon State likes his basketball played like chess—slowly. During a 46-42 overtime win against Arizona State in the Far West Classic, which the Beavers have won in 10 of the past 13 years, Valenti shouted to his players: "Take all the time you want. Take about three hours if you want." They almost did but, the next night, time ran out as his Beavers lost—again in overtime—to Washington State 51-50. Facing the Cougars in the finals was Oregon, upset winner over Brigham Young, which had beaten favored California.
Columbia and Santa Clara advanced to the finals of the Rainbow Classic, the Lions shading Stanford and Purdue, the Broncos routing West Virginia and Hawaii.
New Mexico, playing without its leading rebounder and scorer, Greg Howard, lost to Texas-El Paso 71-67. Howard probably is out for the season, having been dropped from the team by Coach Bob King for "disciplinary reasons."