"Tucson, Tucson," chanted the fans at the Las Vegas Convention Center. What caused the frenzy was that Nevada-Las Vegas was shredding San Francisco much as it had done at the NCAA regional in Tucson two years ago when the Rebels won 121-95. This time Vegas was a 117-82 victor. The Rebels' frisky offense was spurred on by 6'6" freshman Michael (Spiderman) Burns' 21 points and by Earl Evans' 19 points and 13 rebounds. Vegas was also a terror on defense, its full-court press producing 38 turnovers—11 on steals—that led to 37 points. The Dons got 31 points and 22 rebounds from Bill Cartwright, but had to play without 6'8" Guy Williams, who had pneumonia. San Francisco won two earlier games, beating Chico State 77-53 and California 76-67.
UCLA's senior backcourt combination of Brad Holland and Roy Hamilton was too much for Santa Clara. Holland, a substitute until this season, played his finest game as he sank nine of 11 shots and produced 20 points, nine assists and two steals. Hamilton had his normal dazzling statistics: 24 points, nine assists and six steals.
Southern Cal, striving to overcome its billing as Los Angeles' "other" team, began its season with two home wins. Down 48-47 at halftime against Houston, the Trojans rallied for an 88-80 victory. Against Utah, USC broke to a 12-4 lead and cruised to a 70-56 victory as the Trojans kept the Utes off balance with a 3-2 zone that limited hot-shooting Danny Vranes to nine points.
December 11, 1978
Long Beach State, which had jolted Texas the week before, came up with a second upset, stunning Cincinnati 84-72.
Arizona State took the Fiesta Classic by trimming San Jose State 89-74 and out-gunning New Mexico 104-100.
Nevada-Reno beat Pan American 83-69.
1. UCLA (3-0)
2. USC (2-0)
3. NEVADA-LAS VEGAS (2-0)
Three of the week's biggest upsets were perpetrated in the Midwest, and two of the victims were Big Eight teams. Iowa State journeyed to Creighton, where the Bluejays pulled off a 55-54 shocker as John C. Johnson scored 16 points. Nebraska, bewildered by a Purdue defense that alternated from man-to-man to a zone, was jarred 58-47 by the Boilermakers. The Huskers didn't score for the first 6:35 of the second half and went 3:54 down the stretch without a point. Earlier. Nebraska pierced Minnesota's zone for a 58-48 win.
Kansas had little trouble taking care of Fairleigh Dickinson, 91-68, and Murray State, 81-66, as Darnell Valentine hit on 16 of 25 field-goal tries and had 39 points. The first game drew 15,125 fans, the largest turnout at Allen Field House since Wilt Chamberlain made his debut as a Jayhawk in 1956.
The other upset came at Southwestern Louisiana, where the Ragin' Cajuns never led Nevada-Reno until Andrew Toney canned two free throws with six seconds left for the last of his 27 points in a 73-71 win. Reno had started its season with a 77-73 victory at Houston, only the 11th loss in 124 games for the Cougars at Hofheinz Pavilion.
More important to Texas than its three wins was the play of 6'7" Phil Stroud at center, where the Longhorns are desperate for help. Stroud had 13 rebounds and 11 points, easily the best performance by a Longhorn center this season, as Texas routed Brigham Young 96-57. The Longhorns set a scoring record for a Southwest Conference team by clobbering Northern Montana 148-71 behind Jim Krivacs' 43 points and then had to rally to overtake Arkansas State 68-54.
Tennessee met Louisville in a game that turned out to be a comedy of air balls, double dribbles, collisions, 52 fouls and 48 turnovers. The Cardinals prevailed handily, if not adroitly, 82-61. Louisville's Bobby Turner flipped in 18 points, and freshman Center Scooter McCray added 17, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked four shots. Another strong Metro Conference team, Virginia Tech, beat Samford 101-68 and VMI 79-66.
Unlike its football team, which has lost a record 42 games in a row, Macalester's basketball squad came up a winner by beating Dubuque 75-65.
1. LOUISVILLE (3-1)
2. KANSAS (2-0)
3. TEXAS (3-1)
Jud Heathcote of Michigan State and Johnny Orr of Michigan sounded like anything but victorious coaches. "The last five minutes, we looked like a YMCA team," complained Heathcote. Maybe so, but as Central Michigan found out, playing the Spartans is no outing at the Y. State beat the Chippewas 71-54 as Gregory Kelser had 30 points and 16 rebounds and Earvin Johnson 14 points and 11 assists. At halftime of his game against Central, Orr told his Wolverines, "You look like five strangers out there." Despite 28 Michigan turnovers, the Chippewas went down '87-78, Mike McGee pumping in 30 points for the Wolverines. Michigan's teamwork improved markedly during a 99-84 conquest of Alabama. McGee had 27 points, while Phil Hubbard held the Tide's Reggie King to 11 points. Hubbard, playing for the second time since having knee surgery 13 months ago, popped in 49 points in the two games. Indiana, which had lost two of its first three games, beat Morehead (Ky.) State 80-37.
Notre Dame, Marquette and Dayton, three powerful independents, all played for the first time and won. Valparaiso's zone press proved pesky in the early going at South Bend, but the Irish kept shuttling in fresh players and pulled away for an 87-57 triumph. Marquette beat Belmont Abbey 70-56 as Bernard Toone scored 30 points. The Warriors then sent Northern Michigan to an 80-50 defeat. Dayton, which only won the battle of the boards against Wittenberg 43-42, nonetheless won the game 66-54 as Jim Paxson got 18 points and 10 assists. Paxson again excelled as the Flyers fought off McNeese (La.) State 85-75; he tossed in 31 points and got 10 assists. McNeese outrebounded Dayton 44-41, with 6'10" David Lawrence snaring half those missed shots.
It was a battle of giants when Indiana Stale and its 6'9", 215-pound Larry Bird faced Purdue and its 7'1", 240-pound Joe Barry Carroll at West Lafayette. Bird had 22 points, 15 rebounds, four assists, two steals, and lost the ball three times. Carroll, who was guarded by Bird, had 22 points, 14 rebounds, one assist, four blocked shots and seven turnovers. With Carroll at the foul line and the Sycamores ahead 56-53 with 47 seconds left. Bird nodded to teammate Steve Reed. When Carroll missed his shot, Bird rebounded and heaved a two-handed over-the-head pass far downcourt, where Reed turned it into a lay-up to cinch State's 63-53 win.
It's a good thing Louisiana State Coach Dale Brown is an optimist. After learning that his best player, Durand Macklin, had broken a bone in his left foot in practice and would be lost for at least six weeks, Brown knew his dream of taking the Southeastern Conference title had been dimmed. However, Brown talked most about his hopes that Macklin would be in top form for the SEC's new postseason tournament, which will determine the conference's NCAA qualifier. Before Macklin was hurt, the Tigers decked New Orleans 64-42. With Macklin out, LSU toppled Oral Roberts 91-75. Buoying Brown's spirits in that second win were two sophomores—DeWayne Scales, who had 23 points and 15 rebounds, and Greg Cook, who replaced Macklin and got 17 rebounds and 10 points.
Reigning NCAA champion Kentucky opened its season with a 109-77 thrashing of La Salle. The Explorers' flashy Michael Brooks had 23 points and 16 rebounds.
Two other SEC contenders, Mississippi State and Georgia, were winners. With Rickey Brown scoring 42 points and grabbing 21 rebounds and with Ray White adding 40 points, State beat South Alabama 86-78 and Auburn-Montgomery 90-68. Hugh Durham's first game as Georgia's coach was a 91-68 romp over Rollins. Walter Daniels sank 14 of 18 shots and had 32 points in that win.
1. NOTRE DAME (1-0)
2. MICHIGAN STATE (1-0)
3. LSU (3-0)
During the warmups before the finale of the Big Four tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Duke's players exuded confidence. Kenny Dennard of the Blue Devils popped orange bubble gum, and Gene Banks, while feeding off Globetrotter-style passes, did a soft-shoe in rhythm with the tootling of the Duke pep band. But when North Carolina zipped ahead 6-0 before Duke got off a shot, the Blue Devils had to shelve their fancy dancing and buckle down to pull out a 78-68 victory.
Al Wood kept Carolina close, popping in 12 of his 16 points during a five-minute burst in the second half before fouling out with six minutes to go. For Duke, the big gun was tournament MVP Mike Gminski, who wound up with 24 points and 11 rebounds.
Duke had an even tougher time against North Carolina State in the first round as Clyde (The Glide) Austin tossed in 21 points for the Wolfpack. With the score tied at 63-63, State used a delay offense for more than four minutes before losing possession on a faulty pass. Thereafter the Blue Devils were faultless, clinging to the ball until it was time to set up Banks for the deciding lay-in with six seconds remaining.
North Carolina had made it to the finals by beating Wake Forest 73-55. In the next night's third-place game, the Wolfpack defeated the Deacons 77-70.
In a tuneup for the tournament, Duke had battled back from a 39-36 halftime deficit to overtake Southern Methodist 86-80.
Even though Georgia Tech had swamped Baptist (S.C.) 111-54, Coach Dwane Morrison was not entirely pleased. His complaint: "We've got to learn to play relaxed." Four days later the Yellow Jackets were completely at ease as they breezed past Georgia by a surprising 75-51 score. Tech's zone neutralized the Bulldogs' height advantage, and Sammy Drummer flicked in 29 points. Against Baptist, Drummer had scored 25 in 21 minutes.
Rhode Island beat Brown 67-54, Stonehill 85-57 and New Hampshire 103-72 as Sly Williams lived up to his preseason promise to play a more balanced game. Williams had 68 points, 25 rebounds and 10 assists.
Georgetown dumped Maryland 68-65 as Eric Floyd led the way with 28 points. The Hoyas then defeated St. Bonaventure 71-59.
1. DUKE (4-0)
2. N. CAROLINA ST. (4-1)
3. SYRACUSE (4-0)
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
CLIFF ROBINSON: Putting on 20 pounds since last season-he now weighs 220-did not slow down USC's 6'9" sophomore, who had 49 points and 26 rebounds as the Trojans beat Houston 88-80 and Utah 70-56.