Tennessee Players were so confident before facing Vanderbilt that they bought necklaces with No. 1 pendants. Ernie Grunfeld, who had 24 points in the Vols' 73-59 win, said, "That just means we're No. 1 in Tennessee. When we win the Southeastern Conference championship we'll get bigger ones." But Florida put a crimp in Grunfeld's shopping plans, waylaying the Vols 72-69 as Gene Shy scored 22 points. Alabama, which had beaten Florida 79-73, was down 42-33 to LSU when it learned of Tennessee's loss. "It jumped everybody off," said Reginald (Mule) King of the Tide, which rallied for a 78-74 win that tied Alabama with the Vols for first place. Moving to the top of the Nice to Know It Can Happen category was a gesture by Alabama Coach C. M. Newton in the LSU game. Newton must have astounded a referee and the fans at Baton Rouge when he notified the official that a foul just called on 'Bama was its seventh and that, instead of the Tigers getting the ball out of bounds, they were entitled to a one-and-one.
The list of major-college unbeatens shrank to two when Western Michigan (19-1) fell 88-80 to Toledo, which shot .650. Western Michigan and Miami of Ohio are now tied for the Mid-American lead with a 10-1 mark.
With Kent Benson coming through with 38 points, Indiana sacked Michigan State 85-70. And when Illinois limited Scott May to six points, Benson carried the Hoosiers to a 58-48 triumph with 17 points. Terry Fur-low had 38 points for Michigan State, which also lost to Michigan 81-64.
February 23, 1976
"Hank Raymonds has made my job easy," said Marquette Coach Al McGuire. Raymonds is an assistant coach and the tactician for the Warriors, who held off Virginia Tech 68-61, thanks to his delay game "with five guys moving in a horizontal back-and-forth pattern." Tech's Duke Thorpe, who has a .668 shooting percentage, sank nine of 12 shots and had 30 points.
1. INDIANA (21-0)
2. MARQUETTE (19-1)
There were no ifs or ands when North Carolina hung an 81-69 convincer on Maryland. There were, though, a number of butts. Terp Coach Lefty Driesell admitted that the Tar Heels wore out his team's butts. And a resounding butt-first landing on the floor was a panacea to Carolina's Mitch Kupchak, who had been hampered by an eye injury. "The lights were putting a glaze on my eyes and the rim looked double," he said, but maintained that after hitting the deck, "everything came into focus." It must have. He scored 21 points and had 12 rebounds and six blocked shots. That win solidified the Tar Heels' hold on first place in the ACC. Against Tulane in the Superdome, Carolina won 113-106 in quadruple overtime as Kupchak scored 35 points and pulled down 21 rebounds. Walter Davis added 26 points and Phil Ford, whose basket with three seconds to go sent the game into overtime, had 22. The Greenies' Phil Hicks was high man with 36.
Maryland beat ACC foe Clemson 98-89, John Lucas scoring 24. North Carolina State took two whisker scrapers: 67-64 over N.C. Charlotte and 87-85 over Wake Forest on a last-second shot by Phil Spence.
Rutgers remained unbeaten—barely. With Phil Sellers and Mike Dabney combining for 10 points in overtime, the Scarlet Knights held off Manhattan 92-81. Also gunning for Rutgers was Delaware, whose Steve Fischer said, "We win, and we're famous. We lose, and we get one line." You're right, Steve: Rutgers 110, Delaware 87.
Several teams continued their efforts to get tournament bids. Providence (15-6) toppled Canisius 91-79 and got a 26-point, 14-rebound performance from Bruce Campbell to down Boston College 79-71. St. John's (18-3) outwaited Rhode Island's zone to win 56-47. Boston College also beat the Rams 87-79 in overtime as Bob Carrington pumped in 29 points. St. Peter's (N.J.) shucked Georgetown 63-61. Division II power Philadelphia Textile (19-2) zapped Susquehanna 80-48 and Juniata 106-69 to run its winning streak to 16.
1. RUTGERS (21-0)
2. N. CAROLINA (20-2)
Texas A&M Coach Shelby Metcalf came up with the most novel shot of the season: the two-handed red-chair heave. His innovation was precipitated by a referee's ruling that nullified an Aggie layup. As soon as the call was made, Metcalf sprang into a routine that would have been a choreographer's delight. Twyla Tharp, though, would have demanded more finesse of Metcalf's hard-shoe act, which began with a swift kick to the scorer's table that sent soft drinks and pencils into sudden flight. Next came a not-so-dainty pas de deux as Metcalf tried to squirm free from an assistant after he menaced the ref. Metcalf brought down the curtain by hurling a folding chair onto the court. Amazingly, he got off with only a technical foul. A crowd of 9,876, the largest ever at Southern Methodist, saw the tirade, but thought the best show was put on by Ira Terrell, who broke a 63-all deadlock with two buckets in a 69-65 SMU win. In its next game, however, SMU flopped, being upset by Baylor 96-86.
Rick Bullock netted 23 points for Texas Tech, which beat Texas 71-60 to move half a game ahead of A&M in the Southwest Conference. The Aggies (10-2) went back in front with a 73-64 defeat of Tech (10-3) in which Sonny Parker scored 26 points and held Bullock to just nine in the second half.
When Missouri came to Oklahoma State, the crowd protested several referees' calls by littering the floor with soda cups filled with ice. State won the rebounding battle 36-14 and got 24 points from Ronnie Daniel, but lost the game 72-71 when Willie Smith of the Tigers came through the keyhole to lock things up with a layup with 12 seconds left. It was Poster Day at Missouri when Iowa State showed up, and the winning entry read, "Missouri Proverb: Cyclone Tangle with Tiger Liable to Get the Wind Knocked Out of Him." That's just what happened, the Cyclones losing 85-64. All of which left Missouri (8-1) alone at the top of the Big Eight when Nebraska (7-2), which earlier had beaten Colorado 80-61, was stunned 65-60 by Oklahoma. The Sooners' freshman guard, Cary Carrabine, sank his first eight shots and wound up with 23 points. Although Carrabine again hit eight straight and had 24 points against Kansas State, Oklahoma lost 75-70. Chuckie Williams and Mike Evans got 22 each for the Wildcats (7-2), who also stopped Colorado 57-47.
Cincinnati thwarted St. Louis 60-45. But North Texas State could not corral Memphis State's Bill Cook, who ignited a 111-93 upset with 27 points.
1. MISSOURI (20-3)
2. CINCINNATI (18-3)
Adversity seemed to perk up Brigham Young, which threw the Western AC race into a tizzy. Two of the Cougars' best forwards were ailing, and starting Center Mark Handy was out with a detached retina. But BYU got 33 points and 17 rebounds from Forward Jay Cheesman and, more unexpectedly, picked up 28 points from fill-in Forward Vance Law to startle Arizona State 93-89. Then the Cougars faced Arizona, which had tied Utah for first place by clipping the Utes 89-76. BYU's troubles were compounded when Cheesman and 6'9" Troy Jones got into foul trouble. So the Cougars (4-5) resorted to a four-corner offense, received 27 points from Verne Thompson and won 79-74 in overtime. Utah (7-2) regained its one-game lead by stopping Arizona State 87-83 as Jeff Judkins popped in 23 points and took down 18 rebounds. Tying Arizona for second were New Mexico, which defeated Colorado State 84-75 and Wyoming 57-51, and Texas-El Paso, which beat State 82-64 and Wyoming 62-55.
It was perhaps fitting that when UCLA topped Washington 78-76 its leading scorer should be named Washington. Richard Washington tossed in 24 points, but the Bruins (8-1 in the Pacific Eight) also relied heavily on a 2-1-2 zone. Two days earlier UCLA whacked Washington State 104-78 and Washington (6-3) beat USC 93-75. Second-place Oregon State (7-2) won twice: 70-66 over Stanford after trailing 66-59 with 4:20 to play and 78-70 over California.
San Francisco nipped St. Mary's 75-73 despite a Virtuoso performance by Ralph (the Rocket) Walker, a 6'3" leaper. During a three-minute spree Walker scored 13 of his 25 points, got four rebounds and blocked a shot by 6'11" Bill Cartwright.
1. UCLA (19-3)
2. UNLV (24-1)