"They're just unbelievable." said Notre Dame Coach Digger Phelps after Kentucky had stomped his team 102-78. Kentucky shot 65%, Jack Givens leading the way by hitting 15 of 19 shots from the floor. Rick Robey, Mike Phillips and James Lee teamed up for 43 more points and took down 37 rebounds. After one Lee slam dunk, a coal baron bought drinks for 200 bar patrons, thereby establishing the value of Lee's feat at a cool $312. So impressive were the Wildcats and so ecstatic were their fans over the win against the previously undefeated Irish that Kentuckians began calling it their best team ever.
For the ninth straight year, Marquette swept the Milwaukee Classic. Clemson, which faced the Warriors in the first round, came to town with an 8-0 record and a 104.4-point scoring average. The Tigers lost 67-49 as 6'10" Jerome Whitehead held 7'1" Wayne (Tree) Rollins to two points. Clemson built up its scoring average in the consolation game, thrashing Boston College 128-76. Marquette disposed of Wisconsin in the title match 64-57 as MVP Butch Lee and Bo Ellis produced 30 of the Warriors' 33 points in the second half. On New Year's Eve, Lee and Ellis teamed up again to score all 40 of the Warriors' points during a 24-minute, 40-second span against Northwestern. Lee finished the game with 29 points, Ellis with 17 as Marquette won 66-53.
Alabama and Minnesota both brought their records to 9-0. The Tide toppled Western Michigan 83-74. while the Gophers took the Pillsbury Classic in Bloomington, Minn. by downing Cornell 84-54 and Montana 102-81. Kevin McHale, a 6'10" Gopher freshman, earned MVP honors by scoring 36 points.
January 10, 1977
Holy Cross lost for the first time this season, wiped out 101-85 by Florida in the Gator Bowl finale.
1. KENTUCKY (7-1)
2. MICHIGAN (6-1)
3. NOTRE DAME (7-1)
That there is no place like home for the holidays was proved by Providence, Maryland, UNC-Charlotte and Old Dominion, all of which won tournaments right in their own backyards. No one enjoyed ringing out the old year more than Providence, which stunned top-ranked Michigan to take the Industrial National Classic. En route to their championship matchup, the Friars bopped Texas 81-67 as Joe Hassett had 26 points; and the Wolverines, despite 32 points by the Rams' Sly Williams, dealt Rhode Island its first setback 95-85.
Before facing Michigan, Providence Coach Dave Gavitt was asked what his tactics would be. His reply: "Prayer." Also helping out were a variety of zone defenses, a patient offense, 10 blocked shots by Bob Cooper, 25 points and 10 rebounds by Bruce Campbell and 21 points by Hassett. At the end of regulation time both teams had 62 points, for Michigan 33 below its season's average. Each team scored a dozen more in the first overtime period, with Bob Misevicius of the Friars netting a field goal with 12 seconds to go to knot the score. In the second overtime period, Misevicius came back with another providential shot, taking a feed from Campbell and banking in an 8-footer with three seconds left for an 82-81 Friar lead. That margin held up when a final desperation shot by Michigan's Joel Thompson rimmed the basket. Wolverine sophomore Phil Hubbard, who had 27 points and 16 rebounds in the title game, was named the tournament's MVP.
"I ain't afraid of nobody," said Coach Lefty Driesell after his Terps won their own Maryland Invitational. What made Lefty feel right frisky was that his team had clobbered Xavier of Ohio 84-74 in the opening round and then belied its nickname by racing past a Syracuse squad that dared to run with it. In that 96-85 final-game triumph, Olympian Steve Sheppard was at his best as the Terps took their ninth straight since being dumped by Notre Dame in their opener. Sheppard, the tournament MVP, directed the Terps all over the court and scored 26 points.
Loquacious Lefty couldn't say enough kind words about his team, adding, "I was really pleased with our defense. We denied them the ball inside and rebounded with authority, aggressively, mean—the way I want it."
A last-second 17-foot jumper by New Hampshire's Keith Dickson toppled Davidson 63-62 to assure that the Charlotte Invitational would not feature an all-North Carolina final. Then UNC-Charlotte forced 30 turnovers in drubbing Brown 97-81 to prevent an all-New England final. Finally, in a 104-68 title-game victory, the 49ers made New Hampshire cough up the ball 24 times. MVP Cedric (Cornbread) Maxwell of UNCC had a total of 41 points.
With Mississippi State and Wake Forest—both 7-0—in the field, host Old Dominion was not expected to win the Kiwanis Old Dominion Classic in Norfolk. On top of that, this is the first season of Division I play for the Monarchs, and they had already lost twice. When the undefeateds met, the Bulldogs stopped the Deacons 88-83 as freshman Center Ricky Brown, looking more and more like Bob McAdoo, repeatedly hit on fallaway jumpers, scored 29 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. Old Dominion won its opener from Dartmouth 95-70 to advance to the rowdy finale in which Reese Neyland of the Monarchs suffered a fractured cheek and Jeff Fuhrmann of Mississippi State a broken wrist. Brown was unhurt, but 6'10" Wilson Washington limited him to 6-for-19 shooting as Old Dominion won 82-78. Ronny Valentine, a 6'7" Monarch freshman from Norfolk, got the MVP award by scoring 34 points in the tournament. Wake Forest finished third by beating Dartmouth 84-61 and then traveled to Richmond, where Jerry Schellenberg had 32 points in an 84-73 win.
Hometown squads did not sweep all the tournaments, however. Purdue won the ECAC Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden, getting a bye into the semifinals and then knocking off Georgetown 83-65 and Manhattan 70-60. The Jaspers made the championship game by topping LIU 60-56, and converting 32 of 39 foul shots to upset Penn 66-61. Instead of relaxing at halftime, the Boilermakers' Walter Jordan skipped rope during the intermission of the championship game in an attempt to overcome a tendency to tighten up between halves. Loose and ready, he pumped in 14 second-half points against Manhattan to finish the game with 25 points and MVP honors.
1. NORTH CAROLINA (8-1)
2. MARYLAND (9-1)
3. PROVIDENCE (7-2)
In Honolulu it was San Francisco that claimed the pot at the end of the Rainbow Classic. The Dons remained unbeaten by shooting 60% while downing St. John's 80-70, by shooting 61.3% while crunching Arizona State 114-96 and by holding off Houston 86-81. MVP Otis Birdsong of Houston, who swished 15 of 23 shots and had 35 points against the Dons, wound up with 94 points in three games. A couple of Dons also gave the nets a workout, Marlon Redmond tossing in 57 points and Bill Cartwright adding 66.
Even rougher on the cords was 6'6" Forward Anthony Roberts of Oral Roberts, the MVP of the Far West tournament in Portland, Ore., who had 137 points in three games, including 48 in an 83-76 win over Bowling Green. Still, it was North Carolina that came out on top, stopping the Titans 100-84 (despite Roberts' 46 points), zapping Oregon 86-60 and then swamping Weber State 75-54. The Tar Heels won hands down by using "hands up" tactics, shuttling a fresh player into the game whenever one on the floor signaled for a breather by raising a hand.
Before the Reno Classic. Utah Assistant Coach Gerry Gimelstob sat at a roulette table and bet on the numbers worn by the Utes' starting five. He won $150 and promptly walked away. Utah then walked off with the tournament, whipping Idaho 102-66 and, with MVP Buster Matheney scoring 27 points and Jeff Jonas dealing out 19 assists, crushing Nevada-Reno 97-67. The Utes improved their record to 9-3 with a 102-78 romp over Utah State as Jonas had 13 more assists.
Washington took the first Cabrillo tournament in San Diego, defeating Texas-El Paso 54-49 and La Salle 114-94, MVP James Edwards scoring 33 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. The talk of the tournament was Michael Brooks, a 6'7" Explorer freshman who had 46 points and 27 rebounds. In his last four games. Brooks has scored 117 points.
In winning its own Holiday Classic for the sixth straight time, Nevada-Las Vegas got a lift from its smallest player, 5'11" Robert Smith. Thirty-three points, 16 assists and five steals made Smith the MVP and enabled the Rebels to wallop Eastern Michigan 109-85 and St. Mary's of California 101-84.
Not everybody played in a classic. UCLA won twice as Marques Johnson excelled. His 17 points and 16 rebounds backboned a 99-71 win over SMU. Johnson was even better in an 88-68 defeat of Utah State, driving, stuffing and hitting from the corners as he made 15 of 21 shots and scored 31 points. Mike Santos put in 30 points for the Aggies.
With Bob Elliott and Herman Harris combining for 28 second-half points, Arizona overcame Stanford 90-82. Elliott added 27 more as the Wildcats glided past SMU 117-85.
Washington State downed Fresno State 69-62 and Southwestern Louisiana 54-51.
1. SAN FRANCISCO (15-0)
2. ARIZONA (10-1)
3. UCLA (9-1)
The Louisville Cardinals' 69-66 win over the Creighton Bluejays in the Louisville Holiday Classic was definitely not for the birds, but a tussle featuring chess-like strategy that was a treat for connoisseurs of the game. When Coach Denny Crum would order Louisville into its four-corner offense, Coach Tom Apke would have Creighton counter with a pressing 1-3-1 defense. When Apke would use his four-corner setup. Crum would abandon his zone and go man-to-man.
Up by three late in regulation time, Apke called for his four-corners. This time Crum responded with a spread-out 3-2 zone. That didn't work, so Crum had his Cardinals revert to man-to-man. That did it. Phillip Bond and freshman Darrell Griffith converted steals into baskets and Louisville led 57-56. But Creighton's John Johnson sank a pair of free throws with two seconds left for a 60-60 tie. Each team scored just two points in the first extra period. In the second overtime, Louisville got five straight points, four of them by Ricky Gallon, to win.
In the tournament's first round, Creighton led Auburn by 15 points most of the second half before the subs finished off an 81-76 win. The Bluejays easily disposed of Auburn and its huge front line, which averages 6'8" and 225 pounds, forcing 27 turnovers, riddling the Tigers' zone in the first half and breaking their uninspired press in the second half. Louisville, though, needed a remarkable spurt to overhaul Rutgers. Trailing 52-44, the Cardinals, led by Griffith, scored 22 straight points on their way to a 76-68 win. Griffith, who put in 14 of his 18 points in the second half, shared MVP honors with Creighton's Rich Apke, the coach's brother, who had a total of 40 points.
Missouri won its first-round game in the Big Eight tournament by drubbing Iowa State 81-67, thanks in part to what is believed to be the first nine-point play ever. Leading by 14 late in the first half, Stan Ray of the Tigers sank a layup. When an intentional foul was called on a Cyclone on that basket, the State bench erupted. First-year Coach Lynn Nance, who earlier was hit with a technical foul, promptly drew two more and was ejected. His assistant. Dave Harshman, was given another technical. Ray then hit one of his two foul shots, after which Scott Sims went to the line for six tries, this being the first season that a team gets two shots for a technical. Sims made all of his attempts and Missouri led by 23.
Unimpressed by it all was sophomore Guard Emmett Lewis of Colorado, which faced Missouri next. Said Lewis, who came into the tournament as the conference's top scorer, "Missouri walks around the hotel cocky. It's about time they found out they're not that good." The Tigers, though, were good enough to win 86-77 and hold Lewis to eight points.
In the finale, Missouri met Kansas, which had beaten Oklahoma 74-70 and Kansas State 81-64. Kim Anderson netted 22 points and pulled down 14 rebounds for a 69-65 Tiger win, their fifth Big Eight Holiday Tournament crown in six years.
1. CINCINNATI (9-0)
2. LOUISVILLE (7-2)
3. ARKANSAS (8-1)