The closet thing to a crisis in basketballs version of the Mideast is the question of just how good Indiana is. After watching the Hoosiers win 88-73 at Iowa, Portland Trail Blazer Vice-President Stu Inman said they are "not an extremely gifted team" and that they lack the superstar of "great teams of the past." Five days later, after his team was mauled 114-61 by Indiana, Wisconsin Coach John Powless rated the Hoosiers as "comparable to the greatest teams in history." And Indiana's Scott May had some superstar statistics with 32 points against Iowa and 30 in 25 minutes against Wisconsin. Big Ten runner-up Michigan was upset 76-75 by Illinois, but outlasted Iowa 104-95.
"Winning is overemphasized," Marquette Coach Al McGuire says. "The only time it's really important is in surgery and war." Nonetheless, McGuire was pleased with his Warriors' 55-44 surgical job on Georgia Tech and their 85-59 blitzing of Loyola.
Notre Dame Coach Digger Phelps labeled his team's games against UCLA, DePaul and Maryland during an eight-day span as "the Triple Crown of the season." The Irish, who had disposed of UCLA the week before, wore down DePaul with their depth for an 89-68 win. Then came the "Belmont." Despite 28 points by Adrian Dantley, Notre Dame was beaten in the stretch by Maryland 69-63. John Lucas had 23 points for the Terps, surpassing Tom McMillen as Maryland's alltime scoring leader with 1,820.
February 9, 1976
1. INDIANA (18-0)
2. MARQUETTE (16-1)
Silence was golden to North Carolina Guard John Kuester, but noise was precious to Maryland Forward Steve Sheppard. Summing up his feelings about playing on the road without the backing of vociferous Tar Heel rooters, Kuester said, "You hear this great roar out there. Then somebody pops in a jumper for us, and suddenly it's so dead. Just silence. That's the prettiest sound you can hear on the road." Kuester particularly savored the hush at Wake Forest, where Carolina won 88-85 in overtime with Mitch Kupchak scoring 26 points. The Tar Heels subsequently lengthened their ACC lead with a 79-64 home-court victory over Clemson.
Maryland fans, chastised in the campus newspaper for their meager vocal outpourings at home games, whooped and bellowed as the Terps whipped North Carolina State 102-84. Inspiring most of the cheers were Lucas, who tossed in 34 points, and Mo Howard, who had 25. But no one appreciated the din more than Sheppard, who said, "It felt like we were at home, finally."
Virginia Tech (15-3) trounced William & Mary 105-79 and edged West Virginia 81-78, with Russell Davis canning a jump shot in the final five seconds.
Georgetown (14-3) stopped Penn State 71-63 as Derrick Jackson connected for 28 points. Then the Hoyas took on Holy Cross, which had been upset 73-69 by Connecticut. With the score tied at 14, Georgetown spurted to a 40-25 advantage. Jackson, Al Dutch and Merlin Wilson poured in 22 of the Hoyas' 26 points during that outburst and had 66 in all as Georgetown won 95-74.
Rutgers freewheeled past Pitt 102-71 and Princeton stymied Penn 69-52.
1. RUTGERS (16-0)
2. N. CAROLINA (15-2)
When Missouri and Nebraska clash in a vital game, the sport is usually football. But this time their confrontation at Lincoln, Neb. was a matchup between the only teams unbeaten in Big Eight basketball. Despite 20 points from Guard Willie Smith, the Tigers trailed the Cornhuskers, whose eight-game winning streak was their longest in 25 years, 30-29 at the end of the first half. Then Missouri Forward Jim Kennedy, who had been held scoreless, gunned in 19 second-half points and the Tigers won 62-57. Setting the stage for that showdown were Missouri's 72-58 defeat of Oklahoma and Nebraska's 52-48 triumph over Oklahoma State.
The mad scramble continued in the Southwest Conference. Texas Tech, which had started the week in first place, held off Houston 57-54, but suffered a 92-86 double-overtime defeat at Arkansas. Then the Razor-backs were picked off in turn 82-76 by SMU, which also walloped Rice 90-67. That allowed Texas A&M to take command of the SWC with wins over Texas (72-60) and TCU (66-64).
"We were intimidated right off the bat," said George Washington Coach Bob Tallent after facing Cincinnati. The Bearcats did not use a bat, but they did homer the Colonials 102-72 for Cincy's 44th straight victory at the UC Armory-Fieldhouse.
1. MISSOURI (17-2)
2. CINCINNATI (15-3)
UCLA continued to be bothered by the second-half blues. As they have so often, the Bruins played well in the first half against USC, but with a 43-28 lead early in the second half, they bogged down. The Trojans began picking UCLA apart with inside passes, got a flurry of points and steals from Guard Marv Safford and closed the gap to 43-38. UCLA desperately switched its offense to a four-corners delay and its defense to a zone. With 2:30 to play and leading only 60-58, the Bruins went back to man-to-man and salvaged a 68-62 victory. That moved UCLA into a tic for first in the Pacific Eight with Washington and Oregon State. The Huskies trimmed Washington State 75-65.
Oregon State took on Oregon in a non-conference encounter played for pride—and profit for the schools' athletic departments. With Oregon State trailing 76-74 and 51 seconds left, Beaver Coach Ralph Miller directed his team either to patiently wait for a wide-open outside shot or to go inside and hope for a three-point play and the win. Both those plans were spoiled by Oregon's Ron Lee, who knocked the ball loose with 28 seconds to go, sealing the victory for the Ducks. For Lee it was the most brilliant play of a superb week. He hit 28 of 46 shots from the floor in two games, scoring 28 points against State and a school-record 41 as Oregon drubbed Seattle 96-65.
Three opponents scored 279 points against Nevada-Las Vegas. That would be enough to shatter almost any club, but the Rebels took it in stride, zapping Northern Arizona 139-101, Seattle 107-77 and Pepperdine 118-101. Rebel Guard Glen Gondrezick, a long-range shooter, had 65 points for the week. Teammate Eddie Owens pumped in 82, 64 of them in the last two games, as the Rebels boosted their scoring average to 109.1, the highest in the country.
Alone atop the WAC was Arizona (5-1), which used Al Fleming's 32 points to beat Colorado State 94-76, then downed Wyoming 64-57. Texas-El Paso (4-2) was ambushed by Utah 53-49 but pulled out a 57-56 win at Brigham Young when Gary Brewster barged in for the winning basket with one second to go. New Mexico Coach Norm Ellenberger called it a "weave from the domino offense just across the center line," but what his Lobos used against Utah was really just a plain old stall. Utah led 24-22 at the half, then joined in the keep-away maneuvers by clinging to the ball for nine of the last 11 minutes of the game. When the final buzzer sounded—and presumably awakened everyone in Utah's Special Events Center—the Utes had a 34-32 win. Chucking the domino theory, the Lobos mixed it up with BYU. That did not work, either, New Mexico losing 81-67 in a game marred by 60 turnovers.
1. NEV.-LV (23-0)
2. WASHINGTON (17-1)