From the start it was The Digger Phelps Show. The Notre Dame basketball coach twice flashed V-for-victory signs during a courtside interview before Saturday's game at UCLA. Then Phelps dashed upstairs to give ailing John Wooden a kind word and a couple of medals from that morning's Mass. Choruses of Bronx cheers greeted Phelps during the pregame introductions, to which the ex-Fordham coach responded by doing an exaggerated double take. Then he laughed. It was not his last laugh of the afternoon, either.
Two hours later Phelps and his Irish had dumped UCLA 66-63 to become the first team outside the Pac 8 to beat the Bruins at Pauley Pavilion; it opened in 1965. To rub it in, a Notre Dame freshman from California led the Irish raiding party. Rich Branning, a 6'3", 160-pound will-o'-the-wisp from nearby Huntington Beach, scored the basket that put Notre Dame ahead 64-63 and the Irish had defeated UCLA for the fourth straight year. Said an ecstatic Phelps, "Somebody up there must like us because I'm no saint."
San Francisco may be the best of the West. The talented young Dons drilled Houston 100-85, leading 6-0 before the Cougars could even get off a shot. In the Utah Classic, they stopped Tennessee 86-77 in the first round, then rose up and smote giant-killer Utah 91-81 in the finals. The host team had upset Nevada-Las Vegas 100-96 earlier in the week.
December 20, 1976
Another big win would have made it quite a week for the Utes, who led San Francisco, as they had Las Vegas, at halftime. But against the Rebels, a second-half letdown didn't cost them the game. Playing before a spirited home crowd, Utah was ahead 70-50 but allowed Vegas to creep up to 97-96 with 15 seconds to go before prevailing. Redskin Point Guard Jeff Jonas made 12 straight free throws (37 in a row over two seasons), scored 20 points and passed out 15 assists.
Las Vegas had to convert 42 of 44 free throws to climb out of a 13-point hole at San Diego State four nights later, eventually winning 118-113 as Guard Sam Smith broke loose for 34 points and Forward Eddie Owens put in 31 for the second consecutive game.
Arizona barely broke a sweat in swatting Adams State 115-55, Northwestern 78-64 and Pacific 78-60. The Adams State mismatch broke a week-old Wildcat record for single-game scoring margin and also produced a school-record 75 rebounds.
UNC-Charlotte roared off with the Road-runner Classic trophy by beating host New Mexico State in the final 85-81. Cornbread Maxwell scored 30 points in the championship game. Coach Lee Rose said his players learned more Spanish in two days than they had in four years of high school, but when asked about the country, geography major Maxwell said, "It sure is empty."
1. SAN FRANCISCO (8-0)
2. ARIZONA (7-0)
3. UCLA (3-1)
Louisville put on a special pre-Christmas show for the fans at the Idaho State game, starring "The Doctors of Dunk"—Darrell Griffith, Wesley Cox and Ricky Wilson. Griffith looked as though he could have touched the top of the backboard on a breakaway slam in the first half, and by the time Wilson jammed one home midway through the second half, Louisville was safely on its way to an 89-68 victory. "The adrenaline flows through the guy who dunks and into the other guys," said Dr. Wilson.
Cincinnati could use some medical assistance. Forward Pat Cummings, the team's best shooter the last two years, has yet to see action. Center Robert Miller was sidelined against Bowling Green, the first game he has missed in three years. The Bearcats won 67-63 even though Miller's replacement, 6'8" Paul Fazekas, caught a finger in the eye and had to leave the game to get two stitches. "I think tonight was one of those times when it was important that we had CINCINNATI written across our chests," said Coach Gale Catlett. Forward Brian Williams scored a career-high 29 points in a 122-78 rout of St. Joseph's (Ind.) that raised the team scoring average to 101.4 per game.
1. CINCINNATI (5-0)
2. LOUISVILLE (3-2)
3. SO. ILLINOIS (6-1)
While Indiana was losing to Kentucky, for its second consecutive defeat of the season (page 26), further trouble was brewing in Bloomington. On Thursday, Mike Miday, a starter in the Hoosiers' loss to Toledo and a player who seemed ideally suited to Indiana's style, quit the team because of a conflict with Coach Bobby Knight. The university's official announcement stated that Miday felt that he had made the wrong choice of school, but in an interview with the student paper the 6'8", 215-pound Ohioan revealed that his problem had been one of personalities.
"I think my high school record speaks for itself," Miday said. "I could have played here. That's not the reason I'm leaving. I couldn't stand the way Knight treated me. I felt that as a player on the NCAA championship team I deserved better than to be treated as an object and demeaned in public. When he recruits you, you don't see him in a tense situation. In a game, he just goes bananas. I could take the tough practices, but it was the mental pressure. I'm terrified of the guy."
Purdue fans have taken seven-foot Joe Barry Carroll under their wing, dubbing the shy freshman "Rocky Mountain High." He showed why in Purdue's thrilling 72-70 defeat of Louisville. The score was 57-57 when Carroll put the Boilermakers ahead with a soft jumper. Then he blocked a shot, grabbed the ball and passed off to start a fast break. When a teammate missed the layup, Joe Barry was there to tip it in. He blocked another shot in the late going, made three important free throws—and was too embarrassed to talk to the press afterward.
Michigan showed no reluctance to assert itself, sinking 22 of 29 shots in the second half and racing away with a 97-76 win at Vanderbilt. Rickey Green and Phil Hubbard combined for 50 points. "They shoot like no team I've ever seen," said Vandy Coach Wayne Dobbs, "and their speed is awesome."
"If Florida can score 70 points, they will beat us," said Marquette's Al McGuire before the Warriors' 64-61 win in Gainesville. Marquette had less trouble with Western Michigan (78-53) and Penn State (79-49), but McGuire was having more with Forward Bernard Toone, a likely superstar who is playing behind walk-on Bill Neary. Said Al, "It would be nice if Bernard knew the plays."
Wisconsin found out what teams like VMI discovered last year—DePaul can't cut it against a zone. Down 14-4 and utterly com fused by the Blue Demons' offense, the Badgers abandoned their man-to-man and held DePaul's 6'11" Center Dave Corzine (23 points) to only one basket in the final 12 minutes. What finally undid the visitors from Chicago, however, was an official's ruling that disallowed Ron Norwood's last-second basket, which would have sent the game into overtime. "Norwood got the shot off before the buzzer," said Wisconsin Coach Bill Co-field, whose team won 68-66. "Somebody at the table just blew it."
Duke spoiled the reopening of the Bernie and Ernie Show in Knoxville, overcoming 40 points from Ernie Grunfeld, and reinstated star Bernard King to beat Tennessee 81-78. Duke's Olympic sharpshooter, Tate Armstrong (29 points), no doubt wishes he could play every game against the Vols' zone.
1. MICHIGAN (3-0)
2. KENTUCKY (4-0)
3. MARQUETTE (4-0)
The top 20 ain't nothin' but ink," advised Rhode Island Guard Stan Wright after the Rams had beaten highly regarded Washington State 72-65 in Kingston. URI's sagging zone defense controlled the Cougars' pair of 6'11" giants, Steve Puidokas and Stuart House. Rhode Island even won the battle of the backboards 52-41.
But the man who really ruined the trip East for Washington State was Rhode Island freshman Sylvester (Sly) Williams. No shrinking violet. Sly called a press conference last spring to announce to the world that he intended to go to Providence after a banner high school career in New Haven, Conn. Sly stood right there and said so, then hopped in a car and enrolled at URI. The 6'7", 205-pound forward scored 20 points against Washington State and has been a big factor in Rhode Island's 5-0 start.
A long jump shot by Hofstra's Ken Rood and a steal by teammate Rich Laurel gave the Flying Dutchmen a 67-66 victory over Southern Illinois in the finals of the Pittsburgh Classic. Until Rood got hot and scored 12 points in the last six minutes, the game had been essentially a contest between Laurel (31 points, tournament MVP) and the Salukis' Mike Glenn (33 points). SIU had advanced to the finals by pasting Pitt 72-67. Glenn scored 32 in that one, and SIU sank 14 of its first 16 from the floor.
Syracuse won for the sixth time in seven games with 6'11" freshman Roosevelt Bouie distinguishing himself. St. John's registered an 86-70 triumph over Rutgers as Guard Glen Williams fired in 33 points.
Kansas ventured into New York's Madison Square Garden, where the Jayhawks (5-1) outfought Fordham 57-48. Keven McDonald, a 6'6" junior, scored 24 points in Penn's 68-64 win over Virginia. Holy Cross won the Colonial Classic in Boston after surviving a 92-85 overtime struggle against Massachusetts and a 67-65 Sunday afternoon dogfight with Providence.
North Carolina had to resort to its four-corners "offense" to keep the ball away from Virginia Tech and hang on to an 81-77 victory in Roanoke. In fact, the alignment worked so well in the last minute that the Gobblers couldn't even get to the man with the ball to commit a foul until four seconds remained.
Maryland downed East Carolina 80-69 but was unbeaten a year ago at this time when it destroyed the Pirates 127-84. But the Terps looked much better beating DePaul 92-74 on Sunday night. Undefeated Wake Forest beat William & Mary 90-84 in overtime behind Rod Griffin's 34 points. George Washington was upended by Connecticut 73-70, pushing the Huskies' record to 3-1.
1. NORTH CAROLINA (4-1)
2. MARYLAND (5-1)
3. GEORGETOWN (3-0)