South Carolina celebrated the end of its first season as an independent by swallowing two cupcakes—Notre Dame 109-83 and Creighton 81-64—and earning an NCAA at-large slot. In what Coach Frank McGuire called "the best exhibition of shooting we've had in my years here," big Tom Riker celebrated his 22nd birthday by scoring 31 points against the Irish, hitting 12 of 16.
Although Florida State, another at-large NCAA starter, tied a school record for victories in a season when it beat little Biscayne 94-66, it came to earth against Cincinnati. Winning their 10th victory in the last 12 games, the Bearcats mauled the 10th-ranked visitors 88-64. It was all very embarrassing for a Cincy athletic department that had persuaded Coach Tay Baker to resign before he was fired. Cincy led 44-34 at the intermission as junior Derrek Dickey fired in 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Ironically, FSU's Hugh Durham had been one of the men mentioned for Baker's job. "Baker and his team deserve to go to the NIT," Durham said after the game. "He's one of the best coaches in the game. He had some unfair pressure."
All year every team that held the ball on Maryland had some success. Besides, Wake Forest Coach Jack McCloskey admitted after his Wednesday game with the Terps, "We sure as hell didn't want to run up and down the court with them." Losers by a missed final shot in their first game with Maryland, the Deacons this time carried the Terps into overtime before losing 64-56, as Bob Bodell sank six straight free throws.
Virginia, hoping to tie or beat North Carolina for the Atlantic Coast Conference title, threw the same sort of game at Maryland and learned a Wake Forest lesson: the Terps can be had in slowdown—almost. The Cavaliers lost 45-42 when Maryland outrebounded them an astonishing 38-12.
"We"ve come too far now not to win it all," Memphis State Coach Gene Bartow said before the Louisville game. And Memphis followed his script, putting down the Cardinals 80-65. Later, letting down themselves, they eased past Drake 70-69. Good 1-2-2 defense and ball-hawking kept tough Louisville at bay, but last-place Drake was another matter. With seven minutes remaining, the would-be spoilers had a 15-point lead. Luckily Larry Finch began hitting jumpers and scored 14 of the Tigers' last 20 points to finish with 27. This week Louisville and Memphis State decide between themselves who will represent the Missouri Valley Conference in the NCAA Midwest Regional.
For one loud week, Alabama threatened to tear the Southeastern Conference apart. The Crimson Tide first undid Tennessee 72-67, then took the measure of Kentucky 73-70. But that was the end of the underdog dramatics. Mississippi State deflated Alabama hopes in overtime 97-91 and Tennessee hopped into the SEC lead by slamming LSU 78-66 and Auburn 80-70, setting up for its big showdown with Kentucky.
1. N. CAROLINA (21-4)
2. S. CAROLINA (22-4)
After lusterless wins over Xavier, 63-55, and Tulane, 73-60, Marquette and the McGuires got caught in the white sands of New Mexico State. Ahead 65-60 with 3:08 left, the Warriors saw Aggie sophomore John Williamson score 11 straight points within 2½ minutes to lead the Aggies to a 73-69 upset. Two points of the margin were technicals on Coach Al McGuire, who spent much of the game on the floor and at one point turned to the New Mexico crowd and shouted, "Is the NIT worth all this?" referring, of course, to State's still warm hopes for a bid to the New York tournament. Son Allie McGuire went into a rage when Truman Ward tied him up for a jump ball and had to be slapped by his father before calming down.
Under first-year Coach Bob Knight, Indiana knocked off—and perhaps knocked out—two Big Ten contenders within four days. The largest basketball crowd in Indiana history watched the Hoosiers cruelly disappoint Knight's old college coach, Fred Taylor, with a 65-57 upset of Ohio State. The Hoosiers held Ohio State to 29.6% from the field and Allan Hornyak, the star shooter, to eight for 25, largely because of the defensive work of Kim Pemberton. Previously the Indianians had wrecked Michigan 79-75 despite Joby Wright's boner. With 2:20 to go and Indiana nursing a 74-71 lead, Wright grabbed a jump ball and scored an easy layup, only to discover that all nine other players were at the opposite end of the court.
Michigan also lost to Michigan State, only 4-7 in the Big Ten at the time, 96-92. Conference scoring leader Mike Robinson went 10 points over his average with 37, and Pat Miller, averaging 7.9, scored a career high of 26. Gary Ganakas, 5'5", spotted Henry Wilmore 11 inches and held him to 22 points.
Minnesota, as a result of the Buckeye and Wolverine losses, clinched at least a share of the crown by struggling back from a 16-point deficit to beat Purdue 48-43 and annihilating Illinois 91-62.
Oral Roberts went on the road for some more missionary work and found Boston University teachable, 87-78, but had difficulty with Harvard's iconoclasts, 100-99, before beating UW-Milwaukee 100-95.
"Losing to Kansas hurt us but didn't destroy us," Missouri Coach Norm Stewart said before the Nebraska game, and the Tigers proved him right by winning 61-54. Meanwhile, Kansas State stayed atop the Big Eight by whipping Colorado 73-55. Midway in the second half Colorado was within five points of the lead, but an unusual five-point play (involving a goal-tending call and a technical) finished the Buffs off.
After beating Duquesne 79-71, Detroit, first team to beat Marquette, was hot over being spurned by the NIT in favor of teams like Niagara, Syracuse, St. John's and Ford-ham. "This is typical of the NIT," Coach Jim Harding fumed. "They always load up on New York teams." But his charges became academic when his Titans fell ignominiously to Western Michigan 98-85.
1. MARQUETTE (24-2)
2. MEMPHIS ST. (21-5)
"Nothing by design," said Al Cotler, Penn's 6'5" guard after hitting 10 of 14 shots, five foul shots and shagging seven rebounds for the best night of his career. It was simply a matter, he added, of St. Joseph's putting chasers on Phil Hankinson and Bobby Morse, thus freeing him. The Quakers won 77-64 and were all the more convincing since Penn Coach Chuck Daly had turned sentimental and started an all-senior five, including two team members who had never started before. Penn also chopped up Yale 86-65 but got a scare from Brown, which went into a deep sleep. The Bruins stayed close all the way before losing by only 37-33. The victory brought Pennsylvania its third straight league championship, its 41st Ivy victory in 42 games and, for its seniors, their 97th win in 102 games.
Princeton, finishing second to Penn and hoping for an NIT berth, bounced Brown 80-56 and Yale 76-62 while Harvard, in an eight-game Ivy win streak, and Dartmouth tied for third place.
With Dennis DuVal hitting 13 of 23 from outside and Bob Dooms killing Niagara's bigger men, Syracuse won 87-79. The Orange also romped over Colgate 90-76 as Greg Kohls, its precise outside shooter, scored 33 points.
Providence's Marvin Barnes blocked six shots in the first five minutes and scored 24 points to lead the Friars to a 73-65 win over slumping St. John's. Don Lewis also scored 21. On Saturday, Providence journeyed to Seton Hall and won again, 78-68.
Temple's sophomores, getting stronger and wiser as the season grows longer, waded through the Middle Atlantic tournament, beating Lafayette 87-75 and, in the finals, St. Joseph's 65-57 to enter the NCAA tournament. In the title game, Mike Jones went 8 for 13, grabbed 13 rebounds and scored a key basket in the last two minutes. John Kneib sank nine of 10 free throws, four in the last 36 seconds.
Villanova finished its regular season squeaking past a much improved Notre Dame 78-75 while Duquesne beat St. Francis 82-72.
1. PENN (23-2)
2. VILLANOVA (19-6)
California somehow managed to get within 51-48 of UCLA in the second half, the closest any team has been to the Bruins that late in a game this season, but there was never a worry as the Angelenos won 85-71. Next night UCLA crushed Stanford 102-73. John Wooden warned ominously, "It will take a very good team, playing a very good game, to beat us. We're not young any—more. We have a full season behind us." California did upset USC 84-74, if that is still an upset.
Brigham Young, with the WAC title already in hand, had a bad case of the looking-ahead blues. The Cougars shot 75% from the field in the first half at Texas-El Paso, yet blew a 14-point lead and lost 73-69. At New Mexico, completely inverting the whole act, they missed 13 of their first 15 field-goal attempts, shot only 29% in the entire first half and won 61-60. Jerry Tarkanian of Long Beach, whose 49ers will meet BYU in the first round of the NCAA West Regionals, saw the game and said the Cougars "showed a lot of courage."
Houston, 19-5 going into the week and expecting an NCAA bid (which they got), ran into a double-dipper disaster. The Cougars shot 60% and Dwight Davis collected 40 points, yet Jacksonville came from 12 points back and ravaged the Texans in overtime 110-108. The Dolphins' Harold Fox, who missed a last-second shot in last year's 83-82 loss at Houston, did not miss this time. With 10 seconds left in overtime, he came down the lane and hit a short jump shot. "I've had a long time to live with the shot I missed," Fox said. "I let this one go and thought, 'It had better go in.' " Next, Denver almost hit Houston again, losing only 94-91. Pioneer Dave (Stretch) Bustion fired in 41 points, a career high.
Utah State, once an embarrassing 5-8, won its seventh game in the last 10 by edging Colorado State 93-84 and Weber State 67-65. Jeff Tebbs, a guard, hit a remarkable 80% of his shots from the field in the two games, including clutch baskets in both contests.
Santa Clara and San Francisco, both winners over the Nevadas, at Reno and Las Vegas, head for a West Coast Athletic Conference showdown.
1. UCLA (25-0)
2. LONG BEACH ST. (23-3)