I have never been prouder of the fact that I was baptized in the First Baptist Church in Tulsa," said Shelby Metcalf, the coach at Texas A&M. Metcalf was not really as jubilant about religion as he was over the Baylor Baptists' submersing of Texas Tech 60-55. The Baylor victory combined with A&M's 100-77 defeat of SMU vaulted Metcalf's Aggies into sole possession of first place in the Southwest Conference. Four days later A&M wrapped up the league title by stopping Texas 74-63.
The Big Eight race was settled much the same way. Kansas snapped a tie for the lead with Kansas State early in the week and held on to win the championship. The Jayhawks took command when they eked out a 79-77 double-overtime win at Nebraska, while State was jolted by Missouri 83-75. Kansas, which trailed by 19 points late in the first half and by five with 48 seconds left, tied the game in regulation time on three points by Rick Suttle and a basket by Norm Cook after Suttle purposely missed a free throw. Danny Knight flicked in 10 overtime points for Kansas, which later beat Oklahoma 74-63.
Louisville beat Memphis State 84-79 and, despite the loss of Forward Wesley Cox with a pulled hamstring, zapped Dayton 83-67.
1. LOUISVILLE (24-2)
2. MEMPHIS ST. (20-6)
Early this season, Auburn Coach Bob Davis made a promise to his friend Joe Hall, the Kentucky coach. He told Hall that if the Wildcats' chances for the SEC title hinged on Auburn's finale against Alabama, he would "guarantee" a victory over the Tide. Davis is a man of his word. Trailing 69-63 with 3:59 left, Auburn outscored Alabama 13-1 for a 76-70 upset. Kentucky, which got 30 points from Kevin Grevey and 26 from Mike Phillips, drubbed Mississippi State 118-80. Davis' "guarantee" and Kentucky's win moved the Wildcats into a tie for first place with the Tide. Because Kentucky swept two games from Alabama during the season, the Wildcats will represent the SEC in the NCAA Mideast playoff against Marquette. The Tide also will appear in the tournament, but must go west to face Arizona State.
In a shootout for the SEC scoring title, Tennessee's Bernard King pumped in 33 points to give him a 26.6 league average, and Georgia's Jacky Dorsey had 26 to end up with a 25.8 mark. The Vols won 95-74.
Big Ten champ Indiana became the 13th team ever to go to the NCAAs with a perfect record, and its 29 wins are the most ever going into the tournament. The Hoosiers picked up No. 29 by crunching Michigan State 94-79.
Middle Tennessee gained an NCAA spot by defeating Austin Peay 89-75 for the Ohio Valley Conference title.
Bob McCurdy of Richmond virtually assured himself of the national scoring title when he poured in 87 points in his final two games, raising his average to 32.9.
By beating Tulane 99-74 and Florida State 63-54, Stetson finished 22-4, but to date has not been invited to a postseason tournament.
1. INDIANA (29-0)
2. KENTUCKY (22-4)
Despite bad early footing, Furman and Boston College earned NCAA playoff berths. Two Paladins, Guard Ronnie Smith and Wingman Craig Lynch, injured ankles at the Southern Conference tournament. Smith hurt his early in Furman's opening-game 75-69 win over Appalachian State. Then, warming up before facing VMI, Lynch jumped, came down on a loose ball and twisted his ankle. The injury did not stop him from scoring 25 points as the Paladins won 94-81, but he suffered a badly bruised thigh in the process. Before the championship match-up with William & Mary, Lynch spent five hours in a whirlpool. Taped almost from thigh to toe, he scored 20 points, took the MVP award and Furman won 66-55. But the Paladins might not have made it except for Smith. After the Indians had cut a 14-point deficit to one with eight minutes to go, Smith came off the bench with his gimpy foot and guided the Paladins to eight straight points.
Boston College's prospects were dimmed when 6'11" Paul Berwanger severed tendons in his right foot before the East Coast Athletic Conference's New England playoffs. But the Eagles downed Connecticut 68-58 and Bill Collins had 21 points and 17 rebounds as they stopped Holy Cross 69-55.
Three other ECAC regional winners advanced to the NCAA tournament. Two clutch baskets by Ed Jordan enabled Rutgers to beat St. John's 79-77 in overtime at the Metropolitan New York regional. Rudy Hackett had 32 points and 21 rebounds in Syracuse's 100-81 defeat of St. Bonaventure for the Upstate New York title. Georgetown overcame West Virginia 62-61 for the Southern Division championship.
LaSalle also gained a bid to the NCAA tournament, defeating Lafayette 92-85 to win the East Coast Conference championship.
1. MARYLAND (22-4)
2. N. CAROLINA (21-7)
As has happened often before, Southern Cal Coach Bob Boyd's dream of dumping UCLA turned into another close-but-no-cigar affair that sent his hopes up in smoke. Down by 13 points at the half, the Trojans gained a 68-68 tie with 36 seconds to play. But UCLA's Pete Trgovich stole a pass, was fouled and converted two free throws, and Marques Johnson sank a layup at the buzzer for a 72-68 UCLA win. The win sewed up UCLA's ninth straight Pacific Eight title. Oregon surprised Oregon State 82-80 with the aid of a tip from Red Auerbach, who detected why Ron Lee had been shooting only 37.3% this season. "Auerbach said I've been shooting with my head down," Lee said. Playing heads-up, Lee swished 32 points.
Utah State zonked Montana State 95-69, but struggled past Weber State 72-70 in overtime. Trailing the Wildcats 59-54 with two minutes left in regulation play, the Aggies put on a full-court trapping defense. Nine seconds later they led 60-59, as they forced three turnovers, converting each into a basket. Rich Haws scored the final six points in the overtime to sew up the victory.
WAC champion Arizona State burned Arizona 107-92, as Lionel Hollins had 33 points. The Wildcats' loss, coupled with a 66-59 UTEP victory over New Mexico, gave the WAC's second NCAA tournament spot to the Miners.
California-Riverside has had amazing success with late rallies in both football and basketball. Last fall the Highlanders won their final three CCAA football games on field goals by Frank Jordan, a 5'6" freshman. On the court, Riverside tied for the league lead on Jan. 17 by beating Cal. State Northridge 63-62 on a shot by Tony Masi with seven seconds left. In the final weekend of the regular season, the Highlanders helped wrap up the CCAA title by downing Cal. State Bakersfield 60-59 on Jeff Sudds' 25-foot jumper at the buzzer. Last week at the NCAA Division II regionals, they came up with more of the same. With 53 seconds remaining in its opener against UC-Davis, Riverside was down by seven points. No sweat. Reggie Mims sealed a 78-77 win by scoring a layup with a full five seconds to play. Then, in the finals against Puget Sound, Masi tossed in a 20-foot shot two seconds before the end and the Highlanders won 59-58. It's all part of being downed by the Riverside.
1. UCLA (23-3)
2. ARIZONA STATE (23-3)