Landlocked in the middle of Big Ten country, Mid-American Conference teams are usually unranked and underrated but rarely overimpressed by their bigger neighbors. Last week, as the Big Ten faltered to an embarrassing start—it was 13-10 in out-of-league games and seven of the wins came in early season breathers—the poor cousins in the MAC caused the reddest faces. Mid-American favorite Ohio University defeated Northwestern 90-79 and then stunned the Big Ten's top team, Purdue, by 80-79. Bobcat Coach Jim Snyder swarmed men around Boilermaker Rick Mount, causing him to miss 20 of 32 shots. Ohio took over the lead for good with 1:54 to play on scrappy Guard John Canine's jumper and two free throws by burly Greg McDivitt, who finished with 20 points. Toledo, picked fifth in the MAC, made it a sweep for Mid-American teams in games with the Big Ten by stopping Michigan State 82-80.
Purdue's toughest challengers in the Big Ten, Ohio State and Illinois, redeemed the league's luster by winning important road games. Rugged Buckeye Center Dave Sorenson scored 31 points in a 96-92 win over improved Wake Forest, and the Illini had six men in double figures as they defeated Georgia 81-70. Wisconsin also remained unbeaten with 88-74 and 78-76 victories over weak Ball State and Southern Methodist.
"Our guards are good old-fashioned Democrats. They believe in giveaway programs," said Kentucky's Adolph Rupp after his team committed 25 turnovers in their opener against West Virginia. The Baron had little else to complain about, however, as the Wildcats ripped the Mountaineers 106-87 and then came back to humiliate Kansas 115-85, with Dan Issel scoring 63 points in the two games.
December 15, 1969
Pete Maravich shot as well as ever, hitting for 43 points, but other things have changed at Louisiana State. The Bayou Tigers put on an impressive team performance in a surprisingly easy 94-72 win over Oregon State. Maravich's slick floor play sparked the overall effort with seven assists.
Sophomores John Fraley and LaRue Martin made shining debuts for Cincinnati and Loyola of Chicago. Fraley totaled 35 points in the Bearcats' two wins, 99-64 over MacMurray and 104-82 over Indiana State, almost despite his coach, Tay Baker. Baker held Fraley out of the starting lineup to keep the pressure off his young star, saying, "I'll put him in after the crowd settles down." The delay did not seem to help Fraley, who missed the rim and backboard with his first shot, but he then calmed down to surprise Cincy fans with some sharp passing as well as his expected hot shooting. Martin, at 6'9" the tallest starter George Ireland has ever had at Loyola, scored 54 points and grabbed 64 rebounds as the Ramblers defeated St. John's (Minn.) 92-65 and St. Thomas 81-60, but lost to Indiana 100-95.
Top independent Marquette nailed badly out manned Wisconsin-Milwaukee 86-58 and Northern Michigan 98-60. Despite an aching sprained ankle, Sid Catlett came off the bench to score six points as Notre Dame, down by 12 points at one time, beat Michigan 87-86. The Irish also downed Minnesota 84-75.
1. KENTUCKY (2-0)
2. MARQUETTE (2-0)
A new arena by any name was fine with the Houston Cougars, who had grown tired of their old dungeons. But Hofheinz Pavilion? The students thought not, preferring to name the place after Elvin Hayes, the man who had meant most to Houston basketball, the Astrojudge's money notwithstanding. Predictably they lost out; equally predictably the team did not. Opening against a weak schedule, the Cougars were 3-0 against Southwestern Louisiana (89-72), Texas at Arlington (88-70) and Centenary (70-64).
Southwest Conference favorite Texas kicked off its season with a 95-84 defeat of Mississippi. Sophs Lynn Howden and Eric Groscurth combined to drop the Rebs with 43 points, and the Longhorns came back two nights later to hook Alabama 90-63.
Only Wilt Chamberlain had a better opening game as a Kansas sophomore than Bud Stallworth, who scored 27 against Marshall in the Jayhawks' 96-80 victory. Stallworth, from Hartselle, Ala., was discovered right on the KU campus by former Jayhawk star Jo Jo White, who noticed him playing a pickup game while Stallworth was at Kansas to participate in a music camp.
Four sophomores from Louisville's unbeaten freshman team of a year ago started in the Cardinals' opener, but their inexperience hardly bothered Coach John Dromo's team. The one senior, Mike Grosso, topped the scoring in the 99-63 win over Cal Riverside with 17 points, while three of the newcomers—Henry Bacon (16), Larry Carter (14) and Jim Price (13)—trailed close behind.
Colorado notched three wins to go with its loss to USC (page 55). The Buffaloes trampled Air Force 81-58, Cal Irvine 80-65 and Cal Santa Barbara 73-70. Drake won twice, 106-80 over Wisconsin State and 86-62 over strong Iowa State, and Bradley picked up three victories. The Braves, who were hit hard by graduation and figured to eat humble pie this season, shot off to a fast start by knocking over Texas at Arlington 107-67, Minnesota-Duluth 114-81 and Northern Michigan 98-76.
1. LOUISVILLE (1-0)
2. COLORADO (3-1)
They have real roadrunners in New Mexico, not just the automakers' or the cartoonists' kind, but the genuine Geococcyx californianus. So for sophomore Guard Milton Horne to earn the nickname Roadrunner from New Mexico State fans, he had to be quick. He certainly was last week when he stepped in for the Aggies' injured senior playmaker, Charley Criss, and set a school record for assists (9) as State won 93-58 over Oklahoma Christian. Three days later Horne was streaking again in the Aggies' 108-76 victory against Wichita State, breaking his short-lived mark by four assists. In that game forward Jeff Smith took advantage of the shooting room the Shockers left him as they collapsed on Sam Lacey and Jimmy Collins to score 32 points. Then Baylor found out what happens when Lacey and Collins are given maneuvering room. They combined for 45 points in the Aggies' 102-83 win over the Bears.
Defending champion UCLA had an easy time (90-65) with Arizona, but ran into trouble at Minnesota. The Bruins needed Sidney Wicks' tip-in at the buzzer to force the game into overtime and then a 27-foot jump shot, with 44 seconds remaining in the extra period, by sophomore Henry Bibby to win 72-71.
Stanford visited Utah to help the Redskins dedicate their new 15,000-seat Wigwam and were scalped by the officials while losing 96-94. Utah had 15 fewer field goals than the visitors but ended up ahead 44-12 at the foul line, including 23 free throws by Guard Mike Newlin. That was too much even for the Salt Lake City press. "I never saw a team homered as unhandsomely as Stanford," wrote one observer. "The game did little to discredit Utah's high position in the homer poll," said another.
Back at the Wigwam five nights later the Redskins took a trim themselves from archrival Utah State. Playing before the largest basketball crowd in state history, the Aggies, led by Marv Roberts' 27 points and a defense that held Utah without a field goal for the last 8:24 of the game, won 90-72.
Ralph Ogden scored 41 points and Dennis Awtrey 40 as Santa Clara overcame both San Francisco State 81-55 and Stanford 72-60. Weber State won twice, 59-53 against Sacramento State and 59-57 against Arizona State, but was trapped 72-68 in the University of Arizona's Bear Down Gym.
1. NEW MEXICO ST. (3-0)
2. UCLA (2-0)
Trying to look at the bright side after his No. 1-ranked team lost to Tennessee 55-54, South Carolina Coach Frank McGuire said, "I really believe this will take all the pressure off our boys." Vol Coach Ray Mears thought he had beaten McGuire by taking the pressure off just two Gamecocks. Mears let Bobby Cremins and John Ribock run free and instead concentrated his entire defense on Carolina's best shooters, John Roche, Tom Owens and Tom Riker. The gamble paid off as the two unpressured men missed all their shots and Volunteer Don Johnson pumped in 18 points to lead his team.
The clock had not even started for Florida State's season opener at home when officials called a foul on the Seminoles. They hit Coach Hugh Durham with a technical, because the benches were placed at the end of the court rather than at the side, as the rules demand. Oregon State missed the free throw, and that was the extent of the difference in the 69-68 game. The Seminoles might have lost were it not for an equally rare technical call against the Beavers. With two seconds to play Oregon State pulled down a rebound and immediately called time. "Technical," barked the referee, since the Beavers had already expended their allotted five timeouts. Durham picked Skip Young to shoot the free throw, because, "he was having stomach cramps and I figured he was the only man who had an excuse to miss." Excusable Young made the point, and Florida State completed its week with a bracing 100-84 romp over Oregon State's intrastate rival, Oregon.
Davidson has four starters back from last year's team, but it is 6'3" soph Guard Brian Adrian who has taken command of the Wildcats. In his first varsity game he scored 18 points as Davidson won over Furman 109-90. Then he stole the show, while the Wildcats stung Michigan 91-85. Adrian scored a team high of 24 points and pulled down 12 rebounds.
In upstate New York, St. Bonaventure's towering Bob Lanier and Niagara's tiny Calvin Murphy showed off new versatility. In the Bonnies' 106-54 romp over Detroit College, Lanier hit for his usual high percentage (17 of 26 shots) but surprised everyone by roaming outside and dropping in nine of 10 long attempts. Murphy's scoring was up to par (33 points) in his team's 94-54 win against Iona. His new twist was in assists. He had nine, two on spectacular trick passes.
Although missing four starters from last year's NIT champions, Temple upset St. John's 60-59 and then edged past Lehigh 73-70 and Rider 61-59. Columbia, Penn and Duquesne were also three-time winners. The Lions defeated CCNY 89-46, Northwestern 83-68 and NYU 71-59, while the Quakers stopped Muhlenberg 115-79, Rutgers 80-71 and Navy 80-66. The Dukes downed St. Vincent 123-55, Marshall 120-75 and Miami (Fla.) 94-88. Syracuse showed unanticipated rebounding strength in winning over Buffalo 90-64 and Fordham 97-89, and North Carolina took two laughers, 112-47 over Florida Southern and 100-52 against Mercer. Fifteen Tar Heels scored in the first game and 14 in the second.
1. DUQUESNE (3-0)
2. DAVIDSON (2-0)