Brigham Young Coach Stan Watts was in Utah Valley Hospital recovering from a 13-hour cancer operation, but doctors let him listen to the radio play-by-play of his team's game with Utah for the Western Athletic Conference championship. It probably was good therapy, because the Cougars defeated the Runnin' Redskins 98-87. BYU's 6'10" import from Yugoslavia, Kresimir Cosic, had 24 points and 19 rebounds. Utah never did get warmed up, failing to hit well over BYU's zone (Cosic is a pretty fair zone all by himself). The Cougars (18-9) next must play Utah State (20-6) in the first round of the West Regional on State's court in Logan, where they lost earlier in the season.
Old enemies USC and UCLA set up their showdown for the Pacific Eight title by winning three games apiece. The Trojans beat Washington State 75-64, Stanford 83-74 and Cal 96-81, with Mo Layton scoring 49 points in the last two games. UCLA was even more impressive, defeating Washington in a tough game 71-69, then running away from Cal and Stanford 103-69 and 107-72. Center Steve Patterson crowed, "If we play the way we did against Cal I don't think any team in the country can come within 20 points of us." USC, with its one league loss to the Bruins (UCLA has none), has to win at UCLA Saturday and repeat the win in a playoff game Monday night to get into the NCAA tournament. "No one helped us beat UCLA," said Layton. "Now we'll have to do it ourselves."
WCAC champion Pacific (21-5) finished its regular season by burying St. Mary's 116-71 and getting 6' 10" Center John Gianelli elected league MVP. It was the Tigers' 26th consecutive victory at home in Stockton.
1. UCLA (24-1)
2. USC (24-1)
Advantage of Home Cooking Department: Western Kentucky, which had beaten Austin Peay by 45 points at home, lost to the Governors 96-94 at a rematch in Clarksville, Tenn., even though Jim McDaniels had 39 points and 23 rebounds. Next, Western must play another past victim, Jacksonville, in the first round of the Mideast Regional. "I had hoped we'd draw Marquette for psychological reasons," said Coach Johnny Oldham. "You can get up for an undefeated team. The fact we beat Jacksonville once won't help us and certainly will give them something to shoot at."
Furman Coach Joe Williams will have to get out his double-breasted, vanilla-icecream suit for the NCAAs again. The Paladins, seeded fifth in the Southern Conference tournament, upset Davidson 83-79 in the second round, then beat Richmond 68-61 in the final to win an NCAA slot. Even more surprising, Furman won without its center, Russ Hunt, who was out with a bruised thigh. Williams coached Jacksonville last season and saw his team reach the NCAA finals. Furman will not climb as high—but give Williams a few more years.
North Carolina, picked by many to finish in the second division without departed All-America Charles Scott, clinched the regular-season ACC title by beating North Carolina State 97-81. Dennis Wuycik, the most accurate shooter in the nation, scored 25 points, made 13 of 13 free throws and took 14 rebounds. The Tar Heels, who must represent Dean Smith's best coaching job, thus are seeded first in the fratricidal ACC tournament. But Duke, conqueror of North Carolina 92-83 in the last regular-season game, enters the meet in high gear, with eight straight wins. South Carolina, winner over Wake Forest 88-73, was also flying with its ninth straight. "We are peaking," said Gamecock Coach Frank McGuire.
NIT-bound Tennessee won at Vanderbilt 79-69, despite a barrage of oranges, paper cups and other missiles, but the Vols could not handle SEC champion Kentucky in Lexington, losing 84-78. Kentucky had clinched its 26th league title earlier in the week with a 102-83 victory at Auburn. Will ailing Adolph Rupp be on hand when the Wildcats play in the Mideast Regional? "If his heart is beating, he'll be there," said the team doctor.
Georgia Tech improved its record to 20-8 with a 78-61 win over Pitt, then retired the jersey of senior class V.P. Rich Yunkus, who scored 25 points.
1. S.C. (20-4)
2. JACKSONVILLE (22-3)
Sophomore substitute Dave Merchant scored only one point in the game, but that came with 11 seconds left and allowed Ohio State to escape from Northwestern with a 68-67 victory and a surprising sweep of all seven league road games. The Buckeyes also beat Minnesota 84-70 so they can do no worse than tie for the Big Ten championship. It was their seventh title in 13 years under Coach Fred Taylor. Michigan kept its faint hopes flickering by pounding Michigan State 88-63. To tie, the Wolverines had to beat Iowa and Wisconsin and pray that Ohio State lost to Indiana. Even then there would have to be a playoff for an NCAA berth.
The Missouri Valley race ended in a three-way tie and a chair-swinging brawl. The teams were St. Louis, Louisville and Drake. St. Louis beat Bradley 69-59 as Bradley Coach Joe Stowell left two key players home for missing a curfew and did not start top scorer Al Smith because of a bad attitude in practice. The worst attitudes were in Louisville. The Cardinals won 102-73 over Memphis State, but not before State's Fred Horton proved to be the night's main eventer. In a first half fight that held up the game for 15 minutes Horton grabbed a steel folding chair from the press row and was swinging it wildly until two policemen and a Memphis coach subdued him. Those left standing will play off in Peoria, and it will be ironic if Louisville meets and beats Drake Saturday. The interim Louisville coach, Howard Stacey, has agreed to take the head job at Drake next season.
Kansas took the Big Fight title, as everybody expected, but not easily. The Jay-hawks needed five free throws in the last 1:14 of overtime to beat Oklahoma 54-52 for their 26th straight win at home. Marquette also had a close call before beating Xavier 76-58. The Warriors were nine down at halftime and did not catch up until only 10 minutes were left. It was their 38th straight victory over two years. As Coach Al McGuire says, "I've never really met anyone I liked well enough to lose to."
Miami of Ohio, which will face Marquette in the first round of the Mideast Regional, trounced Dayton 83-53 and Marshall 81-78. Notre Dame beat Dayton 83-82 to win a Midwest berth, then knocked off Western Michigan 110-79, after which the South Bend fans gave Austin Carr a 15-minute ovation.
1. MARQUETTE (26-0)
2. KANSAS (23-1)
St. John's won its 1,000th game in 64 years, beating Providence 79-65 and assuring itself a bid to the NIT (which will be its 26th postseason tournament). Only three other schools—Kentucky, Kansas and Oregon State—have won 1,000 games. As usual, the best of the Redmen was sophomore Mel Davis, another in a long line of superior players from Boys High of Brooklyn. He had 33 points and 18 rebounds against Providence and 20 points and 22 rebounds earlier in the week when St. John's wracked up Holy Cross 89-74.
Powerful Penn, which will reach 1,000 early next season, demonstrated its depth and versatility while beating Columbia 70-58. Little Guard Steve Bilsky injured his right knee and sat out 34 minutes of the game, so Coach Dick Harter moved 6'7" Forward Corky Calhoun into the backcourt, replaced him up front with 6'8" sophomore Phil Hankinson and enjoyed himself while the two scored 26 points. Columbia Captain Elliott Wolfe called it right before the game when he said, "Sometimes you can see weaknesses in a team, something you can work on, but Penn has none." It was the Quakers' 43rd consecutive regular-season win, but they remember last season's upset by Niagara in the first round of the East Regional. It could happen again this weekend against Duquesne.
Charlie Yelverton shot Fordham to an 81-68 victory at Georgetown. It was, however, the Rams' full-court pressure defense that starred in the 75-59 victory at Fairfield. They forced the Stags into 34 turnovers in what amounted to a warmup for their battle with Bronx rival Manhattan and an NCAA first-round game against Furman. St. Joseph's earned itself a spot in the NCAAs by beating La Salle, (which played without All-America Ken Durrett) 81-76 in overtime and winning the Mid-Atlantic title. Hawk sophomore Mike Bantom scored 26 points and pulled down 22 rebounds. Villanova, which will meet St. Joe's in the first round, gave Boston College its worst defeat of the year 90-77.
1. PENN (26-0)
2. FORDHAM (23-2)