Jordy Hultberg, Willie Sims, Ernest Brown, Rick Mattick, Floyd Bailey—those are five names not likely to make an opposing coach nervous enough to gnaw on his clipboard. But when the final horn sounded and Louisiana State had defeated top-ranked Kentucky 95-94 in overtime, those were the LSU players on the floor. The Tigers' entire starting, five had fouled out before the bitterly contested game was over, so it was up to players like Sims, a freshman guard, to carry LSU through the final minutes. He hit three free throws in the final 27 seconds of overtime to nail down the victory for the unranked Tigers. "It must have been back in the Stone Age that five subs last beat the nation's No. 1 team," said an exultant Dale Brown, the LSU coach.
The Tigers had lost to Kentucky by 20 points last month in Lexington, but poured in their first 14 shots in the second half this time. Starters Kenny Higgs and Durand Macklin were the first to foul out, and they were soon joined by DeWayne Scales, who had 17 rebounds when he departed with nine minutes to play. Another LSU starter fouled out in the regulation period, and the fifth sat down two minutes into overtime. Kentucky lost starters Kyle Macy and Rick Robey and sub Lavon Williams to fouls. About midway through the second half, Brown decided to put the Tigers in a four-corner offense. "We didn't have the four-corners in our game plan," he said, "and we worked on it only 15 minutes in practice. We had to stop playing Kentucky and start playing that electronic monster hanging up there over the court."
Earlier in the week, Kentucky clubbed Auburn 104-81. Sixth man James Lee scored 25 for the Wildcats in that game, and later Coach Joe B. Hall was asked why he does not start Lee. "Things are going so well, why change now?" he replied.
February 20, 1978
Butch Lee of Marquette, whose fans claim that he, not Phil Ford of North Carolina, is the country's best guard, looked the part in the Warriors' defeats of Creighton and Air Force. The 6'1 All-America hit 13 of 17 shots and scored 30 points in an 82-57 pasting of the Bluejays. "Everything we tried to do, Lee countered," said Creighton Coach Tom Apke. "Attacking the full-court press, making the fine passes, and so many other things—he did them all." Former Warrior Coach Al McGuire calls such games "BLT"—Butch Lee Time—and BLT became more popular than the Quarter Pounder in Milwaukee after Lee pumped in 24 points in a 76-59 drubbing of Air Force.
Michigan State took a one-game lead in the Big Ten race by beating Michigan 73-62. The Wolverines had won 10 of the previous 11 games between the two schools, and after Michigan's 65-63 victory over State earlier this month. Wolverine Coach Johnny Orr danced onto the floor in East Lansing and blew kisses at the Spartan fans. This time Orr watched Spartan superfreshman Earvin Johnson score 25 points, grab eight rebounds and deal out six assists. Said Orr of Earvin, "I'd like to see him turn pro."
The Spartans made it a perfect week by also beating Iowa 71-70. Hawkeye Coach Lute Olson was upset about the officiating—he felt the refs should have called more than one technical foul on Michigan State Coach Jud Heathcote for his sideline antics—and said, "Dang it, we were not intimidated. The officials were intimidated. Is there one standard of officiating for first-division teams and another for second-division teams?"
Elsewhere in the hectic Big Ten, Minnesota took over second place from Purdue, which was beaten 65-64 by Indiana and 91-77 by Ohio State. Gopher Center Mychal Thompson scored a season high of 34 points in the Gophers' 78-65 victory over Iowa. Although Minnesota cannot go to a postseason tournament because of an NCAA suspension, it can gain a measure of satisfaction by winning the conference. The Gophers may do just that, because, unlike Michigan State's, their toughest remaining games are at home.
Notre Dame had its 22-game home winning streak snapped by DePaul when the Blue Demons' Gary Garland made a 22-footer with three seconds to play in overtime for a 69-68 victory. That brought DePaul's record to 20-2, while Notre Dame's fell to 16-4.
Tennessee's women's team, ranked second in the AIAW, knocked off No. 1 LSU 86-68. The Lady Vols shot 61% in the first half and used a pressure defense to upset the BenGals. "We knew we had to get in their uniforms right from the start," said Tennessee Coach Pat Head.
1. KENTUCKY (17-2)
2. MARQUETTE (19-2)
3. MICH. ST. (18-3)
"Things were getting to the point where I was talking to myself," said Missouri's 6'4" Forward Clay Johnson, switching from interior monologue to dialogue in celebration of his team's 74-52 upset of Nebraska. Johnson's trouble—a two-week shooting slump—began when he missed a last-second shot in a 56-55 loss to the Cornhuskers last month, but he broke out of it in the rematch. He scored 23 points, 17 of them in the first half, as the Tigers knocked Nebraska two games behind Kansas in the Big Eight race. Husker Coach Joe Cipriano had called Brian Banks "the best guard in the conference" after Banks had led Nebraska to a 63-50 victory over Kansas State earlier in the week, but Banks had an unimpressive 4-for-16 shooting performance against Missouri.
Two days before beating the Cornhuskers. Missouri Coach Norm Stewart said his team had to "do something drastic, daring or devilish" to defeat Kansas. So the Tigers tried a variation on the four-corner offense and got ripped 72-52. "When Plan A, our spread, didn't work," said Stewart, "we had to go to Plan B, whatever that was. It didn't work either." Said Jayhawk Guard John Douglas of Missouri's tactic, "I thought they might go into a four-corner if they got ahead by six or seven, but I never thought they'd stay in it after falling 13 or 14 behind."
Kansas solidified its hold on the conference lead by handling Kansas State 75-63 in the 186th renewal of a series that has lately taken on a food motif. Four weeks ago Kansas fans pelted K-State's Curtis Redding with hot dogs when he was introduced in Lawrence. Not to be outdone, K-Staters showered the Jayhawks with overripe bananas. Instead of slipping, Kansas peeled freshman Wilmore (Little Moe) Fowler off the bench. He hit eight straight baskets and scored 18 points.
When Rice Coach Mike Schuler made 99 substitutions last month against Texas, Long-horn Coach Abe Lemons said, "All they need are a few clowns to make a circus." When Texas visited the Owls last week, about 75 Rice students showed up in clown costumes, riding unicycles and juggling lemons behind the Texas bench. Lemons—the coach, not the fruit—wasn't shook up. "I was in the war with the Japanese and the Germans," he said. "After that, a few clowns aren't going to bother me." The Longhorns also hit 38 of 42 free throws, which didn't hurt.
Arkansas won an 80-79 squeaker at Texas A&M and then had an easier time at Texas Christian, where the Hogs shot 66.7% and used a full-court press to run down the Horned Frogs 77-57.
Florida State defeated Memphis State twice in crucial home-and-home meetings between two of the Metro 7's best. The Seminoles won the first game 95-89 at Memphis, before returning home for an 89-82 victory. Harry Davis totaled 54 points for Florida State, which maintained its half-game lead over Louisville in the conference race. The Cardinals stayed in the thick of things by beating Tulane 115-86 and St. Louis 63-61. The Billikens are only 5-16 and winless in the Metro, but Louisville Coach Denny Crum called St. Louis "the best five-win team in the country." And it might be just that, having lost six of its games by a total of only 10 points.
An 83-82 victory over Indiana State briefly put New Mexico State in the Missouri Valley lead with a 9-3 record, while the Sycamores—the preseason favorites to win the league title—dropped to 6-4. But subsequent losses to West Texas State (90-73) and Bradley (103-85) dropped the Aggies half a game behind Creighton, which beat Drake (71-63) and Wichita State (80-76).
1. ARKANSAS (23-1)
2. KANSAS (20-3)
3. LOUISVILLE (16-3)
North Carolina played three tough road games in the space of five days and after surviving the first two, got burned at Providence 61-59. Behind by six points with 4:35 remaining, the Friars rallied to win on a short jumper by Forward Bill Eason with 21 seconds left. The Tar Heels escaped a bushwhacking against fired-up Maryland when Carolina Coach Dean Smith sent the Heels into their four-corner offense with 13:30 to play and the score tied. Thereafter Guard Phil Ford hit 11 of 15 shots and directed traffic. After losing 66-64, Terp Coach Lefty Driesell groused, "I'd sure like to play them 40 minutes of straight-up basketball."
A few days later Rutgers got the opportunity to do just that before the largest college basketball crowd (19,694) in the history of Madison Square Garden. But with Ford running an exquisite fast-break offense and directing a sniping defense, the Heels jumped on the Scarlet Knights 74-57. Forward Mike O'Koren had five steals, and Ford got 20 points despite a case of the flu. Rutgers Center James Bailey jammed in 19 points but got no support from his teammates.
In the other half of the Garden double-header, St. John's streaked to its seventh straight victory, running away from Duquesne 84-69. Forward George Johnson pumped in 23 points for the Redmen before spraining an ankle early in the second half. That win brought St. John's record to 16-4.
The word around the ACC is that Duke is the best team in the league—North Carolina or no North Carolina—when its outstanding sophomore Center Mike Gminski is in the lineup. "Big Mike means an awful lot to us," says Duke Coach Bill Foster. That was clear to Virginia after it had been Duked out 100-75. With Gminski disabled by an injured big toe, the Blue Devils had lost two of their previous three games, but he played against the Cavaliers, getting the opening tip, scoring on a hook shot 13 seconds into the game and hitting seven of eight shots all told. The Blue Devils also dumped Davidson 104-88.
No sooner had Wake Forest plowed through the ACC's three ranked teams (North Carolina, Duke and Virginia) without a loss than the Deacons were beaten by Clemson 91-81. Wake Forward Leroy McDonald, who was shooting 65% until his one-for-eight performance against Clemson, was philosophical. "They just weren't dropping for me this time," he said. "You have these nights."
Virginia Coach Terry Holland had predicted it would be dog-eat-dog when the Cavs met Virginia Tech. "I hope everybody has had his rabies shots," he said. Virginia, it turned out, had all the bite in the championship game of the Richmond Times-Dispatch tournament. "That's about as well as we've played this year," said Holland after his team had won a 76-68 victory that was easier than the score indicated.
Georgetown ended the nation's longest Division I winning streak at 12 by defeating Detroit 83-82. There were 30 lead changes in the game before the Hoyas' Craig Shelton won it by stealing a Detroit pass and following up his own missed shot to score with 28 seconds remaining.
Syracuse defeated West Virginia 74-73.
1. NORTH CAROLINA (20-5)
2. DUKE (17-5)
3. ST. JOHN'S (16-4)
Nevada-Reno looked as if it had the deck stacked in its favor in the West Coast Athletic Conference race, but suddenly somebody shuffled the cards. The week started badly for the Wolf Pack when a Reno-based oddsmaker made second-place San Francisco a 1-to-3 favorite to win the WCAC championship, with Reno second at 3 to 1. St. Mary's made those odds look good by beating the Pack 86-76, dropping Reno half a game back of San Francisco. The Dons did their part by defeating Pepperdine 85-73 and Loyola Marymount 82-80.
St. Mary's Center Norm Kelly outplayed Reno's heralded Edgar Jones, and that was the edge the Gaels needed. Kelly scored 26 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and held Jones to 18 points. "I'm overjoyed and out of breath," he said after the teams traded full-court presses for most of the game.
Pepperdine Coach Gary Colson felt his team was an ungracious host to USF, which came bearing gifts. "They wanted to give it [the game] to us," said Colson, "but we wouldn't take it." While his teammates played poorly, the only thing San Francisco's Winford Boynes was giving was shooting lessons, as he hammered Pepperdine for 36 points. "I called time once there and wrote 34 [Boynes' number] as big as I could on the board," said Colson. "But the next time down we let him alone in the corner and—boom—two more."
The Dons' James Hardy, an All-America forward, broke his right thumb against Pepperdine and the next night showed up for a game with Loyola wearing a cast up to his elbow. "He's out, he won't be back," said USF Coach Bob Gaillard. "Now we have to regroup." The Dons wasted no time doing just that against the aroused Lions, getting 34 points from 7-foot Center Bill Cartwright, who connected on 13 of 14 shots.
UCLA moved within two wins of clinching at least a tie for the Pac-8 title by beating Cal 78-64 and Stanford 79-63. The Bruins' closest challenger, USC, lost to Cal 70-68.
While New Mexico continued to ride roughshod over the Western Athletic Conference (page 42), Utah and Brigham Young trundled along in second and third places. The Utes laid waste to Wyoming 95-73 and defeated Colorado State 76-67. BYU handled the Rams 98-81 and gunned down the Cowboys 76-56.
1. NEW MEXICO (19-2)
2. UCLA (18-2)
3. SAN FRANCISCO (18-5)
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
MYCHAL THOMPSON: In a pair of wins, the 6'10" Minnesota center scored 58 points and grabbed 30 rebounds. Against Iowa he hit 15 of 20 shots and had 16 rebounds and eight assists. He is averaging 22.0 points.