Trailing heavily favored Maryland by 10 points with seven minutes to play, UNC-Charlotte decided it was time to abandon its let's-not-lose-by-too-much game plan. The 49ers attacked the Terps with gusto and began closing the gap. Then, in a move not likely to be celebrated at next summer's coaching clinics, UNCC retreated once more to its zone defense and patient offense—and to a 70-60 defeat. "We did that because we had two men in foul trouble," said 49er Coach Lee Rose in his own defense. "If we stay in a man-to-man, we're done."
Coming off a 104-67 whipping of East Tennessee State, North Carolina ran into a tough South Florida zone and managed to hit only 26 of 58 shots as it stumbled to a 70-64 victory. In the second half the Tar Heels let a 15-point lead dwindle to three before shifting into a four-corner delay offense, which helped hold South Florida to only one basket in the last 4:50. Guard Phil Ford sealed the win with two late free throws.
Indiana sank hapless Columbia 106-63 and wrecked Manhattan 97-61 in the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden. But Manhattan did not give up easily. At one point Indiana led only 6-4. At the next point, the Hoosiers led 24-4. Said St. John's Coach Lou Carnesecca, whose unbeaten team earned the spot opposite Indiana in this week's Holiday final by beating Temple 67-59 and South Carolina 71-59, "To tell you the truth, yesterday I could only bear to watch Indiana practice for two minutes. Then I ran out of the place."
January 5, 1976
In women's basketball, top-rated Delta State defeated two of the country's best teams, Southern Connecticut (91-55) and Federal City College (75-54), to win the Bicentennial Classic in Philadelphia.
1. MARYLAND (7-0)
2. NO. CAROLINA (6-0)
There are those who suspect that Detroit Coach Dick Vitale was looking ahead, not seeing red, when he took off after Referee Gary Muncy following the Titans' 85-82 defeat of Michigan State early last week. Vitale apparently was enraged at a call Muncy made with Detroit leading by four points with 17 seconds to play. Titan Terry Tyler had scored what appeared to be a clean layup, when Muncy whistled him for having a hand above the rim and disallowed the hoop. Ten seconds later, Detroit's lead shrank to two, but the Titans came back with a free throw to sew up the game. When time ran out Vitale charged the official and had to be restrained by his players.
Five nights later Detroit was hosting the Motor City Tournament, and one of the refs was Muncy, although it somehow happened that he didn't officiate either of the Titans' contests. In the first game Detroit beat Wyoming 74-66. In the final the Titans downed DePaul 74-67. "Muncy is a Big Ten official and he tried to take the game away from us," Vitale insisted after the win over Michigan State. "I'm bitter about it." Nice move, Coach.
Before the season Minnesota was figured to finish somewhere between Potsdam State and Case Western Reserve, but the Gophers are now up among the giants after defeating strong Creighton 80-74 to win the Pillsbury Classic and run their record to 8-0. An earlier 77-73 victory over Marquette was even more impressive. Said Warrior Coach Al McGuire, "They took it to us. They have some real thoroughbreds." Against Creighton, the big horses were Center Michael Thompson, who blocked four shots and scored 21 points, and Guards Osborne Lock-hart (22 points) and Flip Saunders (21). "It was a good time for us to have a pressure game," said Minnesota Coach Jim Dutcher. "We started the season wanting our kids to get confidence. Now we don't want them thinking they're too good."
Two other surprising teams, LSU and Iowa, remained unbeaten. Doug Saylor sank two free throws in the last minute as the Tigers (7-0) topped Stanford 89-85; the Hawk-eyes (8-0) defeated Drake 77-73 at home and then ripped Holy Cross 98-75 in the opening round of the Rainbow Classic in Hawaii.
Alabama beat Pittsburgh 62-53 and Florida State 76-72 to win the Big Sun Invitational in St. Petersburg, Fla.
1. INDIANA (8-0)
2. ALABAMA (6-0)
Whatever was ailing Louisville's star Forward Wesley Cox, who averaged only 9.5 points in his team's first six games, apparently was cured by a Kentucky State press release promising that the Holiday Classic at Freedom Hall would at last prove who is the state's top player: Cox or the Thorobreds' 23-point-a-game scorer, Gerald Cunningham. They were matched up on the opening night, and when the game was over favored Louisville had won 106—93 and Cox had 28 points, 19 rebounds and six assists. Cunningham came away with 23 points and eight rebounds. "Really, I didn't think anything of playing against him," said Cox. "He's good, but anyone can have an off night." Having thus disposed of the No. 1-ranked small college team, Louisville (and tournament MVP Cox) took the championship game 102-88 from Texas A&M, a 71-67 victor over Seattle in its opener.
According to some erroneous schedules, Cincinnati was listed to play Xavier last week and a few Bearcat fans even placed a bob or two on the game, which will not take place until February. The confusion was compounded when fans reported hearing a final score on the radio. Meanwhile, the Bearcats sailed along with victories over St. Joseph's of Indiana (120-49) and Pepperdine (76-74) before suffering their first defeat 71-64 to Arizona in the Rainbow Classic.
Using a seven-footer for the first time since Wilt Chamberlain, Kansas beat Nebraska 69-66 in the opening game of the Big Eight Conference tournament. Paul Mokeski, a 7'1" freshman who had been out with a pulled hamstring all season, got 19 points and 10 rebounds in his debut for the Jay-hawks. After his 24-minute stint, Mokeski said, "I only expected to play six minutes. When I left the game I was a little shaky." So was Nebraska.
1. CINCINNATI (8-1)
2. LOUISVILLE (7-1)
With the opening of the Pacific Eight schedule less than a week away, UCLA is still seeking help for its starting frontcourt of Marques Johnson, Rich Washington and Ralph Drollinger. Coach Gene Bartow has yet to find adequate replacements at the corners or in the post, a dangerous situation since both Washington and Drollinger are foul prone. Just as disturbing, UCLA appears to lack the killer instinct of the John Wooden years. In the Bruins' most recent games they defeated Missouri (83-71), Seattle (106-72) and Baylor (96-75), but only after dissipating large early leads.
Call it a victory of sorts for University of California at Santa Barbara, which scored 83 points while holding undefeated Nevada-Las Vegas to just 101. That isn't bad considering that in its 10 victories UN-LV has averaged 107.9 points and allowed only 83.5. That eternal pessimist, Las Vegas Coach Jerry Tarkanian, nonetheless worries about his team's ability to play well for the full 40 minutes. "At times our defense is great," he says. "But at other times we seem inconsistent. We also have lapses running our motion offense." After that assessment, UN-LV defeated Utah 107-90.
Surprising Washington remained unbeaten by knocking off Florida State 69-54. And 6'8" senior Al Fleming proved once again why he is the alltime leading rebounder at Arizona, pulling down 23 in an 88-74 defeat of Old Dominion.
1. UCLA (6-1)
2. WASHINGTON (8-0)