"After six games in 14 days, over 10,000 miles and some 28,000 hamburgers and 1,000 pounds of pineapple, it sure will be good to get back to Columbia," said Missouri Coach Norm Stewart. His Tigers lost at UCLA and split two contests in Hawaii, then gobbled up three wins at the Big Eight tournament. They advanced to the finale by beating Oklahoma State 81-79 and thrashing pretournament favorite Kansas State 86-66 before 16,853, the largest-ever basketball crowd—college or pro—in Kansas City. In the wrap-up, Missouri downed Kansas 79-69 as MVP Guard Willie Smith tossed in 27 points.
Other upsets were pulled off by West Texas State, Houston and LIU. With 1:50 left and State trailing 74-70 at Louisville, a few happy Cardinal fans began to leave Freedom Hall. They missed seeing Reggie Ramey send the game into overtime by sinking a jumper with seven seconds to go. And they did not see the Buffaloes win 84-78 in overtime. Houston took its 13th straight Bluebonnet Classic by surprising San Francisco 94-73. The Cougars' astonishingly easy victory was built around torrid shooting (61.8%) and teamwork (28 assists). LIU upended Centenary 80-78 for the All-College title, forcing 30 turnovers with a full-court press.
1. CINCINNATI (9-2)
2. MISSOURI (10-2)
January 12, 1976
Gimpy legs did not deter Wake Forest, broken noses did not stop Rutgers and slowdown tactics did not halt Maryland—all of them won tournaments to remain undefeated. Just as it did a year ago, Wake Forest awoke during the Big Four skirmish at Greensboro, N.C., knocking two teams from the unbeaten list: North Carolina 95-83 and North Carolina State 93-78. And the Deacons (10-0) did it even though Guard Skip Brown, their top scorer, hurt his leg and missed almost half of the first game and all of the second. Taking up the slack was another backcourt man, Jerry Schellenberg. Schellenberg, a 12.2 scorer with back and hamstring problems going into the tourney, earned MVP honors by pouring in 55 points.
In the opening round of the Poinsettia Classic two Rutgers subs suffered broken noses during a 96-73 romp over The Citadel. Then, in the battle for all the poinsettias, Rutgers fractured Georgia Tech 94-87. Stetson later had to tip its hat to the Scarlet Knights, who won 91-70.
Maryland captured its own invitational tournament by drubbing Seton Hall 104-69 and waiting out Princeton 66-59. Speaking of the Tigers' lullaby efforts, tournament MVP John Lucas of the Terps said, "They just about put us to sleep. We have massive egos on our club, and we all want to run and shoot." Those egos got a boost during a 111-88 rampage against LIU. Princeton, which had made it to the finals against Maryland by tranquilizing previously undefeated Alabama 61-59, later won its Ivy League opener against Perm. The Quakers, who had been scoring 76 points a game, had only 14 at halftime and lost 63-39.
Playing before the largest college basketball crowd (19,694) in Madison Square Garden history, Indiana held off St. John's 76-69 for the Holiday Festival title. MVP Scott May had 29 points and held Redman Beaver Smith, a 16.4 scorer, to six.
1. MARYLAND (10-0)
2. RUTGERS (10-0)
No Washington player made the all-tournament team at the Far West Classic, but the Huskies did not mind because their muscular front liners and a guard with rhythm enabled them to earn what they wanted most, the first-place trophy. Washington beat Texas Tech 83-61 in the final game, getting 18 points in the first half from 7-foot Center James Edwards and 20 in the second half from Guard Clarence Ramsey. "Clarence is inclined to shoot from downtown, but when he develops his rhythm, I've learned not to yell, 'Don't,' " said Huskie Coach Marv Harshman. Washington later bombed Seattle 106-75 as rhythmic Ramsey kept Harshman almost speechless with 19 first-half points.
UCLA's Richard Washington started the new year with resolve. He flipped in 30 points in a 111-79 rout of Denver, was the MVP at the Bruin Classic in which he played both center and forward and scored 24 points in an 86-70 conquest of Notre Dame. The Bruins also got ample assistance from their improving guard corps. During the Bruin Classic, Andre McCarter flicked in three foul shots in the closing 41 seconds to put down Santa Clara 52-48, and Jimmy Spillane (17 points) and Ray Townsend (14) came off the bench to help the Bruins stop Purdue 99-86. Sixth-man Spillane had 17 more points and six steals against Denver, and Townsend put in 19 against Notre Dame.
The championship of Honolulu's Rainbow Classic went to Southern Cal, whose Marv Safford had 30 points in an 81-73 final-game victory over Iowa. Previously unbeaten Cincinnati lost to Arizona 71-64 and Holy Cross 66-65 and finished seventh in the eight-team tournament. Back on the Mainland, USC (11-1) edged Nevada-Reno 88-87 in overtime on a 25-foot corner jump shot by Safford that went in as the buzzer sounded.
A fourth Pacific Eight tournament winner was California, which defeated West Virginia 82-68 for the Lobo Invitational crown.
1. UCLA (10-1)
2. WASHINGTON (11-0)
Tennessee's double-trouble combo of Ernie Grunfeld and Bernard King was in top form all week. In the Vols' Southeastern Conference opener, a 79-73 victory at Georgia, Grunfeld had 25 points and 14 rebounds, King had 23 and 12. Earlier, during the first round of the Sugar Bowl tournament, Grunfeld popped in 36 points to finish off Perm 77-70. In the finals against Tulane, Tennessee led at the half 51-37, with King and Grunfeld accounting for 38 points. The Vols won 97-73 as King finished with 37 points and tournament MVP Grunfeld with 36.
Kentucky stunned Notre Dame 79-77 behind 18-point performances by Mike Phillips and Truman Claytor, whose two late fast-break baskets rattled the Irish. The Wildcats were considerably less stunning in their SEC opener at Mississippi State and lost 77-73. A tenacious defense and 26 points by Leon Douglas carried Alabama past Vanderbilt 83-66. Auburn bounced LSU 102-86 as Mike Mitchell scored 31 points and Guard Eddie Johnson had 15 assists.
Four days before, LSU had absorbed its first loss, falling to DePaul 70-67. The Blue Demons (9-2) then toppled Providence 91-66 as Dave Corzine scored 22 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and had six assists.
Indiana survived another scare, salvaging its Big Ten opener at Ohio State 66-64, Kent Benson scoring 13 of his team's final 18 points. Benson had 23 in all, two on free throws with 19 seconds to go. Scott May chipped in with 24 points, but the Hoosiers were hounded into 19 turnovers. Bruce (Sky) King poured in 32 points as surprising Iowa (10-1) routed Illinois 84-60. And Michigan used strong rebounding and sturdy defense to defeat Northwestern 82-72.
Marquette knocked off South Carolina 82-70, getting 24 points from Lloyd Walton. That was quite a reversal from Walton's performance against Miami of Ohio in the opening round of the Milwaukee Classic. Still fuming after an argument with Coach Al McGuire, Walton refused to shoot in that game, but did have eight assists in a 79-52 victory. MVP Bo Ellis and Butch Lee each scored 20 points as Marquette beat Wisconsin 82-66 in the title game.
1. INDIANA (10-0)
2. MARQUETTE (8-1)