While people turned down their thermostats because of the natural-gas shortage, Northwestern, which seemed to have been playing most of the season with its thermostat off, suddenly heated up. The Wildcats, losers of 13 of 17 games, burned Michigan 99-87. Three weeks earlier they had lost at Ann Arbor by 37 points. This time Northwestern got 29 points from Billy McKinney and beat Michigan at its own game by utilizing an effective full-court press. Michigan also had troubles in two earlier games, scoring the final 12 points to beat Ohio State 92-81 and holding off Wisconsin 69-64. Wisconsin and Illinois did their darndest against Purdue. The Badgers used a zone, but the Boilermakers countered with a three-guard offense and won 81-71. Huge snowdrifts nearly prevented the Illini from reaching West Lafayette, but after traveling over four highways their bus got there. So, remarkably, did almost 13,000 fans, who saw Purdue sink 28 of 32 free throws and win 66-63. Minnesota beat Michigan State 75-70, Indiana 79-60 and Ohio State 77-67. At week's end the Big Ten standings were: Michigan 8-1, Purdue 7-1, Minnesota 6-1.
Fans at Rupp Arena laughed when the electric power mysteriously faded and caused the scoreboard to flicker in the closing minutes against Mississippi, implying that Kentucky was, indeed, shooting the lights out. The Wildcats' 63.1% marksmanship led to a 100-73 Southeastern Conference victory. When Kentucky came to Alabama, all 120 state legislators and Governor George Wallace were there to cheer on the Tide. The Wildcats, though, had Jack Givens, Mike Phillips and Rick Robey. With Givens scoring 23 points and Phillips and Robey adding 32 more, Kentucky won 87-85. Earlier, Alabama beat Georgia 78-74 in overtime. First-place Tennessee stopped Mississippi, Bernard King and Ernie Grunfeld scoring 51 points.
1. TENNESSEE (14-2)
2. KENTUCKY (14-2)
3. MICHIGAN (15-2)
February 7, 1977
Wake Forest Coach Carl Tacy, who believes in seat-of-the-pants tactics, and Clemson Coach Bill Foster, who believes in not sitting when he can lead cheers, both relished wins over North Carolina. During practices, Tacy's Deacons wear trunks with DEFENSE written on the backsides. The Wake Forest defense held the Tar Heels to their lowest point total of the season and that, coupled with clutch shooting by the Deacons, brought them from 15 points down to a 67-66 win. When Carolina journeyed to Clemson, Foster exhorted his team with late-game cheerleading. In the process, he dislocated his shoulder. Foster didn't mind; his Tigers handed the Tar Heels their third loss in their last four games 93-73 as Wayne (Tree) Rollins had 15 points and 19 rebounds. That left Wake Forest (5-1) ahead of Clemson and North Carolina State (both 4-2) and Carolina (5-3) in the Atlantic Coast race. Maryland overcame a 17-point N.C. State advantage to pull out a 75-73 win. State then beat Virginia 73-67, while Maryland lost 86-76 to outsider George Washington.
Workmen setting up the marquee early in the week for the Madison Square Garden Classic did some prognosticating about the finals. Their prediction: Holy Cross vs. Rutgers. They were half right, as Holy Cross advanced by downing Manhattan 82-64 and beat Seton Hall 82-77 in the finale.
"This Villanova team has been around for four years and the chickens are coming home to roost," said St. John's Coach Lou Carnesecca after a 65-63 loss to the Wildcats. His allusion to "fowl" play was quite apt, for among those who led Villanova were Larry (Swan) Herron, who scored three points in the closing 25 seconds, and Rory Sparrow, who sank all five of his floor shots. Another Herron, Swan's brother Keith, added 20 points. Villanova (13-3) then beat Wagner 83-49 and St. John's downed Oregon 61-51.
Columbia moved into first place in the Ivy League with a 4-0 record. The Lions stopped Yale 71-44 and then sank 41 of 54 free throws to defeat Brown 103-91. Princeton avenged an earlier loss to Penn with a 69-56 verdict that left both one game back of the Lions.
Syracuse beat Buffalo 91-71 and Temple 76-67, while Providence downed Canisius 86-69 and then won in overtime, 71-63 from Niagara.
1. WAKE FOREST (16-2)
2. PROVIDENCE (16-2)
3. N. CAROLINA (13-4)
While Missouri was beating Iowa State 79-69 a dog sprinted on court. Perturbed by his team's 38% shooting, Cyclone Coach Lynn Nance said, "That wasn't the only dog on the floor." Earlier, in a game for the Big Eight lead, the Tigers stopped Kansas State 66-60. They did it despite Curtis Redding, an ebullient freshman who helped run pre-game cheers and who led the Wildcats to an 11-point halftime bulge with 19 points. From there on, though, Missouri's Kim Anderson was the big show. Anderson, shifted to guard Redding in the second half, held him to five points while scoring 15 of his own.
Playing mostly against outsiders, three Metro Conference teams won twice. Louisville scored in spurts to whip LIU 107-68 and Rhode Island 105-87. During one stretch in the first game, the Cardinals scored on 20 of 21 possessions. Next time out, Louisville broke open a tight game by outscoring the Rams 31-13. Cincinnati held Wichita State scoreless for the final seven minutes to take a 68-60 verdict, then bopped Duquesne 83-65. Memphis State struggled past New Orleans 88-86 in overtime, then beat Dayton 81-67.
Pressure defense enabled Marquette to wipe out DePaul 85-64. Hank Raymonds, long the mastermind behind the Warriors' strategy, was named to succeed Al McGuire next season as coach and athletic director.
Arkansas tightened its hold on the Southwest Conference lead, beating Texas A&M 72-58, SMU 77-59 and Baylor 68-59 as Marvin Delph pumped in 65 points. Otis Bird-song amassed 90 points as Houston trounced Baylor 111-89 and SMU 103-102, and lost in overtime to Texas Tech 84-83.
1. LOUISVILLE (14-2)
2. ARKANSAS (17-1)
3. CINCINNATI (14-2)
San Francisco almost left its winning streak in Santa Clara, where the Dons were behind by 16 early in the second half. With Marlon Redmond scoring 21 second-half points, USF trailed 70-69 with eight seconds remaining. That's when Villanova transfer Chubby Cox took an in-bounds pass, raced down the sideline and banked in a shot that kept the Dons undefeated. The Broncos came close to upsetting the Dons three days earlier, too, and might have done so had it not been for a mix-up. Coach Carroll Williams, who mistakenly thought his superlative freshman forward, Kurt Rambis, had drawn his fourth foul, benched him for 10 minutes in the second half. While Rambis had played, Santa Clara had built a 38-32 lead. Without him, the Broncos fell behind, eventually losing 74-68.
"When you are down 16-6 to a Don Haskins-coached team, it's like standing on the bottom of the Great Salt Lake wearing cement shoes," said Utah Coach Jerry Pimm. With eight minutes gone, Haskins' Texas-El Paso team led 16-6. But then the Utes got the cement out of their shoes and went on to a 59-49 victory. Utah also knocked off New Mexico 94-84 as Buster Matheney connected on 15 of 19 field-goal tries and had 32 points. That enabled Utah to take command of the Western AC race with a 5-1 record. Arizona fell a game back after being surprised by Wyoming 69-68. Doing the Wildcats in was Joe Fazekas, a 6'11" sophomore, who was nursing an ankle injury and was not expected to play. But play he did, coming off the bench to score 23 points. Arizona got unexpected help of its own to beat Colorado State 77-72. Phil Taylor, a 6'8", 220-pound, low-scoring forward, gunned in 30 points for the Wildcats.
"That's a bigger, quicker, younger, stronger version of the great Elgin Baylor," marveled a pro scout after watching Marques Johnson of UCLA against USC. Johnson earned this praise with 26 points, 15 rebounds and five slam dunks in a 77-59 Pac-8 win. Playing earlier at Notre Dame, Johnson rallied the Bruins to a 70-65 victory with 23 points. Washington tied UCLA for the league lead by jolting Washington State 71-68.
"Maybe they thought the tipoff was at 7:45 instead of 7:30," said New Mexico State Coach Ken Hayes, whose team had trailed Bradley 28-0. That's right, 28-zero. Hayes was able to joke because his Aggies topped off a dazzling resurgence with a 117-109 win.
1. SAN FRANCISCO (21-0)
2. NEV.-LAS VEGAS (16-1)
3. UCLA (14-2)