Michigan State brought its Magic Act to North Carolina, but it was State's unbeaten record that vanished. The Spartans, who trailed by 12 points in the first half and by seven with 1:10 to go, closed to within one with 17 seconds remaining and seemed poised to pull the game out when they forced a turnover. But Jay Vincent's shot fell short and the Tar Heels came out on top. 70-69. Carolina sprang its upset by holding Earvin (Magic) Johnson to a slightly subpar performance—18 points, six assists, eight turnovers—by outrebounding the Spartans 33-30 and by getting 18 points, six assists and 10 rebounds from Mike O'Koren.
Duke's Mike Gminski got the best of Southern Cal's Cliff Robinson in a matchup of two of the nation's finest centers. Gminski out-scored Robinson 25-6, but was outrebounded by him 14-8 as the Blue Devils beat the Trojans 79-65. Duke's Jim Spanarkel was typically scrappy, scoring 20 points despite suffering a gash in his forehead while scrambling for a ball in the early going.
Georgia Tech, which had just finished a break for exams, returned to action and passed tests against Biscayne (70-49) and Tennessee Tech (108-63) before flunking at East Tennessee State (86-76). The Buccaneers shocked Tech with 22 points from Scott Place and 29-of-32 free-throw shooting.
December 25, 1978
"I wish I could take the defense we played in the first half to my clinics. It was the best half of basketball ever played by any team I've coached." That was the appraisal of Rhode Island's Jack Kraft, now in his 18th season of coaching, following an 85-76 win over Brigham Young. During those first 20 minutes, the Rams kept the Cougars away from the basket with a 1-2-2 defense, shot 67%, forced 18 turnovers and built a 41-24 lead. Sly Williams had 21 points for the Rams, and John Nelson 20. Next time out, the Rams got 29 points from Williams and beat Manhattan 83-76 despite JoJo Walters' 30.
BYU also lost 90-83 at St. John's, where the Redmen canned 30 of 33 foul shots and got a superb effort from Guard Reggie Carter, who set a school record by making 17 of 18 free throws (all in the second half) and established a home-court mark by pouring in 39 points. Earlier in the week, St. John's had been routed by Columbia 90-77.
Georgetown and Temple each ran its record to 6-0. The Hoyas trampled St. Mary's (Md.) 96-58. The Owls drubbed Navy 73-47, as Keith Parham had 20 points, and beat Villanova 66-58.
American University trimmed St. Mary's 105-87 and Delaware 77-68, with 6'5" Forward Ray Voelkel sinking all four shots in the first game and his first try from the floor in the next. Voelkel thereby broke the NCAA record for consecutive field-goal attempts without a miss, making it 25 in a row. This season, Voelkel has been successful on 27 of 29 shots, a shooting percentage of .931.
Dale Shackleford and Roosevelt Bouie each scored 19 points as Syracuse won 67-50 at Penn State, and North Carolina State was an easy winner over North Carolina-Wilmington, 75-51.
1. DUKE (6-0)
2. N.C. STATE (7-1)
3. SYRACUSE (6-0)
Explaining why he had called three straight time-outs with five seconds to go against Long Beach State, Coach Jim Killingsworth of Oklahoma State cracked, "We were just trying to work in the radio commercials." What Killingsworth really had hoped to do with those time-outs was to unnerve Donnie Martin of the undefeated Forty Niners, who went to the foul line four times before he could get off a shot in a one-and-one situation with his team ahead by one point. When Martin finally was allowed to shoot, he missed the first free throw. But teammate Michael Wiley rebounded the ball, and Francois Wise stuffed it in for a 94-91 Forty Niner victory.
Also vital to the Long Beach win were the 45 points scored by substitutes. Although down by six points early in the second half. Coach Tex Winter pulled all his starters. After the reserves cut into the deficit, the refreshed regulars returned to wrap up the victory. Two nights later, at Wichita State, the Forty Niners again had to struggle to remain unbeaten, coming from 10 points down in the first half, for a 91-88 victory in which Wiley had 24 points and Martin 22.
Southern Methodist abandoned its usual running game against Kansas' whippets, led by one point midway through the second half, and then was done in by a pair of hot-handed subs. Booty Neal and Brad Sanders came off the bench to combine for 10 points in five minutes and push Kansas to a 71-64 win.
Louisville creamed West Virginia 106-60 as four Cardinal guards teamed up for 44 points, 14 assists and 10 steals. Derek Smith, a freshman forward for Louisville, raised his field-goal-shooting percentage to .765 by sinking eight of 10 shots while scoring 22 points in 18 minutes.
A 91-88 triumph over Old Dominion ran Virginia Tech's record to 5-0. Freshman Dale Solomon of the Gobblers scored 33 points.
With Larry Bird tossing in a school-record 48 points, Indiana State (8-0) coasted past Butler 109-71. Drake equaled its 1977-78 victory total with its fifth and sixth wins without a loss, stopping California 86-83 and Memphis State 109-91 as Guard Wayne Kreklow popped in 69 points. Kreklow made 14 field goals in a row during one stretch and 19 of 22 overall against the Tigers and finished with 43 points.
2. TEXAS A&M (8-1)
3. CREIGHTON (5-0)
"The Aggies showed they can play any kind of basketball," said San Francisco Coach Dan Belluomini after a 68-65 loss to Texas A&M in the championship game of USF's Golden Gate Invitational. "They can press, play four corners, shoot from every distance, divide the scoring and fight for those boards. We played our best game of the season and, lost." The Dons, who led 39-36 at halftime, lost largely because the Aggies wore them down with a collapsing zone and by going to a four-corner offense with a 55-54 lead and five minutes left. When A&M went into the delay, the Dons became overeager and committed fouls. The Aggies turned them into five crucial points. The Aggies thus negated the distinguished play of USF's Bill Cartwright, who had 29 points, 16 rebounds and five blocked shots.
Before its slow-paced victory against San Francisco, A&M had won a pell-mell first-round game 101-99 from previously unbeaten Nevada-Las Vegas by outrunnin' the Runnin' Rebels. In winning the first of their two big upsets, the Aggies got a total of 44 points and 42 rebounds from sophomores Rynn Wright and Vern Smith.
Having scored only 14 points and grabbed just 17 rebounds in UCLA's first four games. Center Gig Sims decided, "If I'm going to make the pros, I have to be more aggressive." Muscling in against San Diego State, Sims nearly doubled his totals as he flipped in 14 points, snared 15 rebounds and blocked five shots. Two players that the pros are definitely interested in were also big guns in the Bruins' 97-73 victory, UCLA's Roy Hamilton scoring 23 points and David Greenwood contributing 21.
The Utah Classic was won by the host Utes, as tournament MVP Tom Chambers had a total of 44 points and 28 rebounds in two games. After knocking off Hofstra 81-72 in the opening round, Utah was a 64-57 winner over Idaho State, which had made it to the finals by jolting Georgia 66-56.
The University of Portland ran its record to 8-0 with an 82-66 victory over Cal State-Irvine, and Montana State won its seventh game in as many outings by defeating Puget Sound 83-80.
1. UCLA (4-1)
2. LONG BEACH STATE (6-0)
3. UNLV (5-1)
The way Ohio State Coach Eldon Miller figured it, "Probably the best thing that happened was that we got tired and took a little longer to shoot." Hasty first-half shots had the Buckeyes trailing Louisville 36-31 at half-time. From there on, tiring Ohio State hit 67% as it shocked the Cardinals 85-69. Darrell Griffith had 28 points for Louisville, but State had several stars: Herb Williams (22 points), Mike Cline (12 points, four assists, five steals) and Todd Penn (nine points, six assists, three steals).
A tumultuous week at Indiana began with the dismissal Monday by Coach Bobby Knight of three players from the team and the placing of five others on probation for, said one of the dismissed players, smoking pot. In spite of the furor and a reduced roster, the Hoosiers jarred Kentucky 68-67 in overtime on Saturday. Mike Woodson, one of those on probation, tossed in 27 points, sank a foul shot to send the game into an extra period and made two more free throws with five seconds left in O.T. to put Indiana in front 68-65. The Wildcats, who had averaged 99 points while winning their first three games, were thwarted by the relentless defense of the Hoosiers, who entered the game ranked fifth in the nation, having given up an average of 56.5 points.
A third Big Ten team to pull off an upset was Iowa, which clogged the middle against Iowa State and won 67-66.
Michigan State started fast and Michigan came on strong at the finish as both clobbered Western Michigan. The Spartans, who led 56-18 at halftime, breezed to a 109-69 victory in which Earvin Johnson had 19 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds, and Jay Vincent chipped in with 27 points. Western trailed Michigan 48-41 at the half but then the Wolverines poured it on and came out ahead 104-73 as Mike McGee had 36 points.
Illinois, unbeaten in seven outings, zapped Kent State 82-44. The Illini, who lead the country in field-goal percentage defense, held State to 23% shooting. Illinois' main defensive cog is 6'11" Derek Holcomb—The Incredible Hole—who has already equaled a school season record by blocking a total of 32 shots.
Big Ten teams were not the only ones to surprise more heralded squads. Mississippi dealt Nebraska a 70-67 setback, and Xavier of Ohio pulled off two shockers at the Volunteer Classic. With Nick Daniels scoring 24 points, the Musketeers downed Southern Cal 75-68 in the first round at Knoxville, and then a last-second shot from the corner by Gary Massa gave Xavier a 51-50 victory over Tennessee in the finale in which Daniels, the tournament MVP, had 22 points. The victories gave the Musketeers a 6-2 record. USC beat Niagara 75-63 for third place.
Evansville stopped Murray (Ky.) State 59-58 for its first win since the plane crash that took the lives of all of last season's team.
The Stephen F. Austin women's team won the Christmas Tournament at Columbus, Miss, by beating Valdosta (Ga.) State 78-65. Tennessee, which was ranked No. 1 nationally, was fourth, losing to Austin 69-60 and to Louisiana Tech 64-56.
1. NOTRE DAME (4-0)
2. LSU (5-0)
3. MICHIGAN STATE (3-1)
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
RYNN WRIGHT: The 6'6" Texas A&M forward scored 39 points and grabbed 30 rebounds as the Aggies took the Golden Gate Invitational by upsetting Nevada-Las Vegas 101-99 and San Francisco 68-65.