1. UCLA (12-0)
2. SANTA CLARA (16-0)
3. NEW MEXICO STATE (15-0)
This time it was Texas A&M that did the laughing. The Aggies blew a 14-point lead but beat SMU in the final five overtime seconds 76-75 and then came from 14 points behind to defeat TCU in the final five seconds 72-71. Game-winning shots were made first by Sonny Benefield, who sank two free throws, and then by Mike Heitmann, who hit from the corner. That left the Aggies in first place in the Southwest Conference with a 4-0 record. SMU stayed in contention with a 101-80 win against Rice, which had beaten TCU 71-64. Texas stopped Arkansas 67-59.
Sharing the lead in the Western Athletic Conference were Utah and Brigham Young, both winners against Wyoming and New Mexico, the preseason co-favorites. Utah's Jack Gardner drank three quarts of milk on the bench and shredded three handkerchiefs as his team beat the Cowboys 79-77 and the Lobos 77-76. High scorers for the Redskins were sophomores Mike Newlin (54 points) and Kenny Gardner (35 points). Strong rebounding and an ability to crack a variety of zones enabled BYU to defeat the Cowboys 89-78, the Lobos 75-65.
January 27, 1969
In the Big Sky it was the all-round play of Guards Justus Thigpen and Sessions Harlan that carried Weber State to the top with two wins over Montana State, 71-60 and 86-69. Thigpen had 47 points, Harlan 24, but they really ruined the Bobcats with their pressing defense.
UCLA, even with Lew Alcindor bothered by the flu and getting a career low of eight points, was awesome in beating Houston 100-64. Appraising the Bruins, Cougar Coach Guy Lewis said: "This is a more physical team than last year's—stronger and far, far deeper. It looks like they will be the power for the next four or five years. Maybe forever." Houston, last season's highest-scoring team, also lost to Lamar Tech 71-65 in overtime. Washington (3-0) moved in front in the Pacific 8 (UCLA is 2-0), using a tough defense and taking calculated shots to beat Oregon State 60-42. Washington State downed Oregon 67-63, and California, with 6'4½" Jackie Ridgle, described by Stanford Coach Howie Dallmar as "a small edition of Oscar Robertson," scoring 30 points, beat the Indians 73-65.
Santa Clara took care of West Coast AC foes Santa Barbara (80-69) and San Jose State (64-49) as Dennis Awtrey had 52 points. New Mexico State came on strong at the end to finish off Texas-El Paso 80-65. Portland, though, lost to Oregon 68-65 and Puget Sound 96-74, making it 14 losses without a win for the Pilots. Utah State beat Denver 102-87, then lost to Arizona State. Colorado State defeated the Air Force 83-65, but the Falcons came back with an 83-80 win against Denver. It was Arizona 72-63 over Creighton, and Seattle 75-73 over Oklahoma City.
1. ST. JOHN'S (12-2)
2. COLUMBIA (13-1)
3. VILLANOVA (11-2)
When 6'8" Jim Wolf of Penn sets up a screen for his smaller teammates, he is something of a Great Wall of China. Thus it was that when 5'10" Steve Bilsky slipped behind Wolf in the closing seconds of a tie game against Villanova he almost disappeared from view. Bilsky quickly reappeared, though, leaped high, high enough to get above Wolf, and sank a 25-footer with three seconds left. That gave the Quakers, who had played stall-ball, a 32-30 upset. Pitt also stalled, but Temple methodically worked out a 53-30 victory. "I thought," complained Owl Guard Drew Nolan, "college basketball was supposed to be fun. Well, you can't tell me there is any fun playing that way." Villanova, in the meantime, regained its winning touch against Virginia Tech, 70-57.
St. John's (page 48) and Columbia each won twice, easily and impressively. The Lions put down Georgetown 103-62 and Niagara 107-84 as Jim McMillian scored 48 points, Roger Walaszek 47 and Heyward Dotson 42. Calvin Murphy of Niagara had one of his poorest shooting nights of the season (13 of 40), but added 21 foul shots against Columbia for a total of 47 points.
Jim McDaniels of Western Kentucky had 36 points, not good enough to keep La Salle from winning 88-81. But 32 points and 22 rebounds by John Fultz gave Rhode Island an 81-72 win over Vermont.
1. NOTRE DAME (12-2)
2. PURDUE (9-2)
3. OHIO STATE (9-2)
"He's the best opponent I've faced all year," said Detroit's Spencer Haywood of 6'10" Luther Rackley of Xavier. Until he got into foul trouble, Rackley had outscored Haywood 21-14. After that, Haywood had a lark, winding up with 34 points as the Titans won 98-84.
Kansas, which lost the Orange Bowl football game when it was discovered it had an illegal 12th man on the field, played for more than a minute with a player who had fouled out and still dropped a vital Big Eight contest to Iowa State 78-72. First-place Colorado (4-0) defeated Kansas State 73-69. Tulsa remained atop the Missouri Valley, beating St. Louis 89-66 and Memphis State 70-69, thanks to a tip-in by Larry Cheatham in the waning moments. It was the fifth loss in the last 10 seconds for the Tigers, who have dropped five MVC games by a total of six points. Drake stopped Cincinnati 69-64.
Murray State and Western Kentucky were tied for the Ohio Valley lead. The Thoroughbreds held off Middle Tennessee 70-68, while the Hilltoppers beat Morehead 87-86. Tom Slater's only field goal came with 44 seconds to go, and it gave Miami of Ohio a 71-69 Mid-American win over Bowling Green. Earlier, the Redskins downed Ohio U. 67-53. Kent State beat Bowling Green 59-54, Western Michigan 93-63 and outsider Florida State 76-67.
Sophomore Forward Jim Cleamons had 31 points, 10 rebounds and five assists as Ohio State padded its Big Ten lead with a 98-85 win against Michigan. "Cleamons," said Michigan's John Orr, "wasn't just great; he was super great. He drove, shot, rebounded, passed off, did everything."
Independents Dayton and Notre Dame won twice, the Flyers stopping Louisville 69-67 and DePaul 86-83, the Irish beating Air Force 88-53 and Detroit 84-77.
1. NORTH CAROLINA (13-1)
2. DAVIDSON (12-1)
3. KENTUCKY (11-2)
It was a week of almosts: Kentucky, Vanderbilt, North Carolina and Davidson almost lost. After 16 minutes of play and 19 points by Tennessee's Bill Justus, Adolph Rupp of Kentucky figured it was time to do what he likes least (use a zone) if he was to achieve what he likes most (a win). Justus got only six points against the zone and the Wildcats got a 69-66 win. Earlier, the Vols themselves barely held off Florida 64-63 when Justus made his only field goal of the night with two seconds left. For the 10th time this season, Vanderbilt rallied to win in the closing minutes, outscoring Mississippi 13-3 for a 62-55 victory.
North Carolina blew all but three points of a 13-point bulge against Wake Forest before regrouping for a 94-89 win. Davidson, too, had difficulty winning 90-82 against the Deacons, who lost four men on fouls. But the Wildcats had an even closer call against VMI, which scored eight straight points to tie the game with 14 seconds left. Dave Moser of the Wildcats then took the ball to the right of the key, cut to the left after dribbling behind his back, jumped and sank a shot at the buzzer for a 66-64 victory. There was one major upset, however, and it came when VMI shocked West Virginia 87-84. It was only the 26th home loss in 25 years for the Mountaineers.