The biggest news in the Southeastern Conference was not Tennessee's upset of Kentucky. Far more significant was the miraculous escape of three Wildcats—Rick Robey, Larry Johnson and Dwane Casey—from an automobile crash. On the way to catch a flight to Auburn, Casey's car skidded on an icy street, rolled down a 40-foot embankment and through a wooden fence. The car was totaled. None of the players was badly hurt, though, and Casey's life may have been saved by Robey. As the car began to flip, Robey grabbed Casey, the driver, and yanked him to the floor. All three played later that day as Kentucky won 75-68.
The Florida squad survived a scare, too. After a 92-82 loss at Tennessee, the Gators' DC-3 made an emergency landing in Macon, Ga. when one of the two engines malfunctioned and had to be shut off. So the Gators chartered a bus. Alas, the bus broke down and by the time the team got home it was 7 a.m.
Trouble-free Alabama knocked off Mississippi 101-88 and Mississippi State 65-63. State had earlier beaten LSU as two sophomores excelled, Ray White scoring 29 points and Wiley Peck pulling down 22 rebounds.
After Purdue's Bruce Parkinson suffered a broken wrist early last season and did not play in the rest of the games, a friend made up a sign: 1977 BIG TEN CHAMPIONS. That sign has hung in Parkinson's apartment ever since. Last week the Boilermakers moved closer to that goal by beating Iowa 87-76 and trimming previously unbeaten Minnesota in overtime, 66-64. Parkinson scored the first basket in the extra period to spur Purdue. Michigan geared up for this week's showdown with Purdue by romping past Michigan State 83-70 in a game in which 51 personal fouls were called.
1. MICHIGAN (10-1)
2. ALABAMA (14-0)
3. TENNESSEE (12-2)
"My pet peeve is when home fans start leaving the Ute Arena before the game is over, especially when we are behind and they seem sure we have lost," said Utah Guard Jeff Jonas. "I call it the Parking Lot Syndrome." Noting that fans were exiting with 1:12 left and the Utes trailing Colorado State 61-54, Jonas came up with a cure for the syndrome. He stole the ball three times and converted each steal into a basket, twice by passing off and once by scoring himself. Then, with six seconds remaining and Utah down 62-60, Center Buster Matheney rammed in an offensive rebound to send the game into overtime. Utah went on to win 67-64. The night before, the Utes took their Western AC opener by stopping Wyoming 84-76. Another two-time winner was Texas-El Paso, which beat Arizona State 69-60 and jolted Arizona 60-59 when Charles Draper sank two foul shots with seven seconds to go. Arizona continued to struggle on the road, but held off New Mexico 89-87.
"It was like playing the Celtics," said Pepperdine Coach Gary Colson after a 107-72 loss to San Francisco in a West Coast AC game. Most Celtic-like was Bill Cartwright. who took down 18 rebounds and scored 24 points. Next time out, the Dons defeated Loyola 90-63.
"UCLA played the kind of aggressive defense in the second half that any wrestling coach would be proud of," said Stanford Coach Dick DiBiaso, after his team lost 100-86. The Cardinals, after leading 49-48 at halftime, allowed the Bruins a 12-point spree in the second half, six by David Greenwood, who finished with 20. Greenwood had popped in 34 points in an earlier 82-74 trimming of California. That left UCLA in a four-way tie for the Pac 8 lead with Washington, Washington State and Oregon, all 3-1. Oregon ended Washington's 10-game winning streak 72-68 in overtime before losing to State 49-45. Oregon State dumped the Cougars 61-58 and lost to Washington 90-76.
Against high-scoring Nevada-Las Vegas, North Arizona's defense proved to be as leaky as the hull of a grounded oil tanker. Seven Rebels scored in double figures as Vegas poured it on 132-90.
1. SAN FRANCISCO (19-0)
2. NEV.-LAS VEGAS (14-1)
3. ARIZ. (12-2)
North Carolina's John Kuester is a low-scoring guard who seldom fires away. Playing at Wake Forest, though, Kuester went on what was for him a scoring rampage, pumping in two jumpers in the waning moments to give the Tar Heels a 77-75 Atlantic Coast Conference victory. His accuracy was invaluable, for Carolina, which began the week with the best shooting percentage in the country (.577), shot only .448. Further help came from Tommy LaGarde (22 points), Phil Ford (20) and freshman Mike O'Koren (14 rebounds). Against Duke, the Tar Heels were again off form, shooting .453 and committing 25 turnovers. Still, they won 77-68 as LaGarde had another 22 points and Duke committed 26 turnovers.
When Wake Forest played at Clemson, the home crowd gave the Deacons the silent treatment, maintaining a chilling quiet during warmups and then turning their backs to the court when the visitors were introduced. But Wake Forest, down 70-57 with 11:26 to go, silenced the Tiger fans for good when Rod Griffin canned a 22-foot jumper with one second to go for an 84-82 win. All of which left Carolina first in the ACC with a 4-0 record and Wake Forest second at 3-1. Maryland downed North Carolina State 87-80 and Navy 62-54. Earlier, the Middies had shocked Georgetown 56-55.
Manhattan also sprang a couple of surprises, beating South Carolina 70-67 and St. John's 71-67. Providence, Holy Cross and Syracuse kept winning. The Friars walloped Connecticut 86-71 and, with Joe Hassett netting 31 points, downed Hawaii 94-76. The Crusaders beat Yale 84-71 and Canisius 113-64. Before facing West Virginia, Syracuse's 6'11" freshman Roosevelt Bouie removed a cast he had worn on his right hand for seven games. Bouie then went out and scored 19 points and pulled down a like number of rebounds as the Orangemen avenged an earlier loss with an 86-71 win. Syracuse also drubbed Penn State 82-66.
Penn moved to the top of the Ivy League, rallying from 10 points back to overhaul Princeton 43-39. The Quakers got 30 points from Keven McDonald to stop Tulane 87-64. Columbia set a school scoring mark by beating Wagner 118-90 and then opened its Ivy season by wiping out Cornell 80-52.
1. NORTH CAROLINA (12-1)
2. PROV. (12-2)
3. WAKE FOREST (12-2)
People in Indiana have long been known to gather in huge crowds at the mere sound of a basketball being dribbled. Except at Indiana State, where attendance in recent years has averaged around 2,000. Last Monday, though, despite a record low of minus 24° in Terre Haute. 7,838 fans showed up to see the Sycamores play. And 6,276 more saw them Saturday. Quite logically, the reason for this sudden interest has been an upsurge by State, which thrashed Butler 90-67 and Missouri Western 77-58 to bring its record to 14-1. Helping to transform the Sycamores have been two new forwards, 6'9" Larry Bird and 6'7" Harry Morgan. Bird, a sophomore who left Indiana U. in 1974, is averaging 27.9 points and 12.5 rebounds; JC transfer Morgan has a 16.5 scoring average. Last week, Bird popped in 75 points (42 against Butler) and Morgan 33. The Sycamores joined the Missouri Valley Conference last March, but won't be eligible to compete for the league title until next season. By that time it will be hard to find an empty seat in Terre Haute.
Also getting superlative efforts from two big men was Memphis State, which won a pair of Metro games, beating Tulane 78-64 and Florida State 81-75. Igniting the 14-1 Tigers were 6'11" Center John Washington, who had 39 points and 30 rebounds, and 6'8" Forward James Bradley, who had 42 points and 24 rebounds.
Cincinnati and Louisville won non-conference skirmishes. With Robert Miller grabbing 22 rebounds and scoring 18 points, and with their devastating press forcing 25 turnovers, the Bearcats beat Dayton 84-61. The Cardinals drubbed Marshall 104-85.
Arkansas took over first place in the Southwest Conference with a 4-0 mark, stopping Texas Tech 60-53 and Rice 72-45. Houston beat Rice 106-56 and TCU 78-74. Defending titlist Texas A&M, starting three freshmen, lost to Texas 87-73 and then held off Baylor 60-59 and SMU 57-53.
Four teams shared the Big Eight lead with 2-1 records. Kansas squeezed past Oklahoma State 62-60 before being upset by Oklahoma 71-67. Missouri topped the Sooners 69-60 and the Cowboys 73-68. Kansas State beat Iowa State 63-54, then lost to Colorado 78-75. And Nebraska defeated Iowa State 49-48 and Colorado 69-54.
Detroit (12-1) trampled Iona 92-67 and then, after edging Dayton 65-63, Coach Dick Vitale kept a promise by going to center court and doing the hucklebuck.
1. CINCINNATI (11-0)
2. LOUISVILLE (10-2)
3. ARKANSAS (12-1)