Before facing Georgia at home in an SEC game, Louisiana State Coach Dale Brown said to his daughter Robin, "Can you believe the sixth-ranked team in America is playing here, and it's not our opponent?" With Al Green scoring 24 points and DeWayne Scales 23, the Tigers indeed looked worthy of their No. 6 rating as they zipped to a 97-75 victory. Scales, a 6'9" forward whose pet shot is a long-distance turn-around jumper, hit on 10 of 14 field-goal tries.
Brown's "freak defense" and his "reinforcements" enabled LSU to end a string of 20 losses at Kentucky. Trailing 60-52, the Tigers outscored the Wildcats 12-0 to go in front, and later Scales came through with a crucial three-point play that put LSU up 91-87. The Tigers won 93-89 as Scales sank 11 of 14 shots, scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. With his team in deep foul trouble. Brown used his freak defense, a triangle-and-two in which the guards play man-to-man and the rest of the team a zone. That freaked out the Wildcats. So did the Tigers' 62% shooting and the fine play of the reinforcements, a term used by Brown, who doesn't like the word "substitutes." The reserves scored 24 of LSU's points.
The loss to the Tigers made Kentucky 0-2 in the SEC, the Wildcats having been jarred 76-65 at Florida as Reggie Hannah and Ric Clarson of the Gators combined for 41 points. Mississippi State was also jolted twice, 87-65 at Alabama and 69-67 at Georgia, where Mark Slonaker tipped in a shot at the buzzer. Tied with LSU for the conference lead were Tennessee, which beat Mississippi 72-67 and Alabama 85-77, and Vanderbilt, which knocked off Auburn 57-55 and Mississippi 94-70.
January 15, 1979
The Big Ten's first week of action was also hectic. Michigan State, which took over the No. 1 spot in the wire-service polls, started off by beating Wisconsin 84-55. With Spartan Greg Kelser, who averages 17.1 points, in foul trouble and scoring just two points, Earvin Johnson went to the basket more than usual, adding 21 points to his 14 assists and 13 rebounds. Minnesota then gave State fits as freshman Leo Rautins sank seven of his first eight shots and Kevin McHale five of his first six. The Gophers, who started four freshmen, led 42-29 with 17 minutes left. Using a pressure man-to-mari defense, the Spartans out-scored Minnesota 27-8 in the next 10 minutes to pull out a 69-62 triumph.
Michigan toppled Minnesota 88-75, with Mike McGee scoring 33 points. But then the Wolverines were upset 85-79 by visiting Iowa as Ronnie Lester scored 17 of his 29 points in the last 11 minutes to wipe out a 62-56 deficit. Iowa also defeated Northwestern 65-57.
Sharing the Big Ten lead with Michigan State and Iowa were Ohio State and Illinois. Guard Kelvin Ransey of the Buckeyes sank 26 of 36 field-goal tries and scored 57 points as the Buckeyes held off Purdue 75-71 and Wisconsin 82-71. Illinois ran its record to 14-0 with a 65-61 win at Indiana and a 74-56 verdict at Northwestern. Indiana led 31-23, but Illinois shook up the Hoosiers when they achieved a 33-33 halftime deadlock by converting four late Indiana turnovers into baskets.
Dayton (10-2) whipped Butler 73-61 and Duquesne 82-62.
1.LOUISIANA STATE (10-0)
2.MICH. ST. (9-1)
3.NOTRE DAME (6-1)
Any team that plays Nevada-Las Vegas gets some idea of how Custer must have felt, because the Rebels shoot relentlessly. At Utah the Rebels tried a whopping 84 field goals and made 38 of them (45.2%). The Utes, too, fired away—their 65 shots being five above their average—and they connected on 41 of them (63.1%) as they beat the Rebels 103-97. Keeping Utah going were Tom Chambers, who had 27 points and 11 rebounds, and Danny Vranes, who had 21 and 15. Earlier, both teams played road games, Vegas beating San Diego State 85-80 and Utah losing to Utah State 80-72.
Nevada-Reno also lost on the road, getting dumped 90-76 by undefeated Portland in a WCAC game. Both teams got plenty of points from their guards, Mike Gray and Johnny High combining for 51 for the Wolf Pack and Darwin Cook and Jose Slaughter scoring 45 for the Pilots. But Portland prevailed as Forward Rick Raivio put in 20 of his 24 points in the second half. Two days later both teams won, Portland decking St. Mary's 101-84 and Reno trimming Seattle 79-70. San Francisco matched Portland's two conference victories by beating Loyola Marymount 95-66 and Pepperdine 91-74.
An NBA scout who expected to be dazzled by UCLA's David Greenwood was puzzled by the All-America forward's failure to take a shot during the first half against Rutgers. "He looks like he's in a daze," the scout said. "He's got to take command. He's got to be Mr. Authority." Greenwood was more authoritative in the second half, pumping in 15 points as the Bruins made an effort to feed him the ball during their 78-57 romp. UCLA's Brad Holland no doubt impressed the scout with his long-range marksmanship—he made eight of 11 shots—and 17 points. Holland, who rarely shoots from closer than 15 feet, has made 89 of 133 field-goal attempts this season for a sizzling .669 shooting percentage. It was Holland who scored the final basket of the game as UCLA edged Oregon State 65-63 in a Pac 10 matchup. There was 3:19 left to play when Holland sank his shot, and from there on the struggling Bruins went into a stall, using up most of the remaining time.
1.LONG BEACH STATE (8-2)
The Big Eight season began with Nebraska playing at Iowa State in a game filled with 42 turnovers and climaxed by a shot that literally topped everything. A 1-3-1 trap zone helped the Cyclones whittle a 13-point Husker lead to 70-67. With 32 seconds to go, Iowa State freshman Robert Estes went to the foul line for two shots. After he hit his first try, the Cyclones called time, and Coach Lynn Nance, ordering up a play he had used successfully in high school, told Estes to bounce his second shot off the front of the rim in the hope that a State player could get the rebound and, possibly, the tying basket. Estes' shot didn't hit the rim—or even the backboard—but sailed high above both. When Estes returned to the bench, he said, "Coach, I threw it a bit too high." Replied Nance, whose Cyclones lost 72-68, "I noticed."
Another bizarre ending occurred in a Southwest Conference encounter during which visiting Arkansas trailed Houston 51-28 early in the second half. Thereafter the Cougars collapsed, much as their football team had done five days earlier when Notre Dame scored 23 points in the final quarter of the Cotton Bowl. Arkansas got 19 straight points, went in front 60-59 on a three-point play by Sidney Moncrief and won 62-61. Houston's turnabout was complete: 49 points and six turnovers in the first half, 12 points and 15 miscues in the second. Moncrief finished with 25 points, and Steve Schall of the Razorbacks got 14 of his 16 points after the intermission. Schall earlier had 30 points as Arkansas drubbed North Texas State 96-71.
Indiana State powered its way to a pair of Missouri Valley Conference triumphs, beating Tulsa 101-89 and West Texas State 98-77. In the first of those games the Sycamores got 26 points from Carl Nicks and 27 points, 19 rebounds and six assists from Larry Bird. Creighton was upset 94-88 in overtime at home by Wichita State as Cheese Johnson had 26 points and 14 rebounds. Creighton then beat Tulsa 75-71.
It has been a tumultuous season for Ed Badger, Cincinnati's new coach. Two weeks ago his Bearcats were placed on a two-year probation for violating NCAA rules. Last week Badger dismissed two players because of a shoplifting incident. Then he got a much-needed lift when, in a Metro 7 game, the Bearcats ended Virginia Tech's nine-game winning streak 72-68 at Blacksburg.
1.TEXAS A&M (11-2)
2.INDIANA STATE (11-0)
Coach Don Casey of Temple was the only Owl to suffer a loss. With a little more than four minutes to go against Pittsburgh, Casey's assistants wanted to switch from a zone defense to man-to-man. "I wanted to wait," Casey said. "We voted and I lost 3-1." The change enabled Bruce Harrold to make some big plays during the final 90 seconds: a blocked shot that he turned into a pass to Keith Parham, who tied the score at 55-55, and a steal that he himself turned into a basket. Harrold also sank two free throws during that span as the Owls won 62-57. When unbeaten Temple played at St. John's, Casey frantically, but vainly, tried to call for a timeout with 10 seconds left so he could set up a play to overcome a 73-72 deficit. But the Owl players ran their own impromptu play, Parham canning a jumper with six seconds left, and Temple won 74-73.
"N.C. State is the best team we've played," said Long Beach Coach Tex Winter after a 100-73 loss to the Wolfpack. "They're quicker, but maybe not as physical as Duke." The day before, Winter's previously unbeaten Forty-Niners had lost 79-78 to Duke, which mounted a superb comeback after trailing 62-48 with 12:08 to go. Kenny Dennard, who had been averaging only four points a game, scored 28 for the Blue Devils. Duke had two other victories, 77-59 over Davidson, despite John Gerdy's 28 points, and 74-64 over Tulane as the Blue Devils' Gene Banks had 22 points and 11 rebounds.
North Carolina State overwhelmed Tulane 104-58, with Hawkeye Whitney scoring 26 points, and then shot 61.2% while defeating Long Beach State. The Wolfpack shooting sprees came after they had squeaked past Appalachian State 58-50 by sinking nine of 10 foul shots in the closing 82 seconds.
North Carolina won two Atlantic Coast Conference games, wiping out Clemson 92-68 and scraping past Virginia 86-74 in double overtime. Clemson, 9-0 when it came to Chapel Hill, was done in by Mike O'Koren's 22 points. Virginia fought back from 13 points down with 13 minutes left in regulation time, Jeff Lamp tying the score at 62-62 to send the game into overtime. Then Lamp forced a second extra period by knotting the score at 69-69. When Lamp, who had 25 points, fouled out in the second overtime, the Tar Heels scored 12 points in a row, six on free throws by O'Koren, to sew up matters. In another ACC game. Wake Forest won 66-60 at Maryland.
Four traveling independents came up winners. East Carolina pulled out a 76-75 shocker at Iona by coming from eight points back in the final 2:45. The Pirates won when George Maynor scored the last of his 22 points on a 25-foot jumper with two seconds remaining. Detroit upset Rhode Island 77-76 when Keith Jackson put in a layup with one second left in overtime. Notre Dame's Kelly Tripucka flipped in 26 points as the Irish beat Villanova 75-64. And Marquette won twice, 57-49 at Brown and 55-46 at Maine. The Bruins came back to knock off Providence 69-60, a prized victory for their new coach, Joe Mullaney. It was Brown's first triumph over the Friars in 38 games since 1959, when Mullaney was coaching at Providence.
After St. Joseph's had shocked Georgetown 37-36 by using slowdown tactics, Samford tried a similar strategy against the Hoyas. This time, though, Georgetown came out on top, 73-50.
Ron Peaks sank 26 of 45 field-goal tries, scored 53 points and grabbed 23 rebounds as Canisius beat St. Peter's 69-68 and lost to Seton Hall 92-87.
1.NORTH CAROLINA (10-1)
3.N. CAROLINA ST. (11-2)
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
SLY WILLIAMS: Rhode Island's 6'7" forward scored 26 points as the Rams triumphed over La Salle 83-80 and had 44 in a 77-76 loss to Detroit. In those games Williams also had 24 rebounds. 13 assists and seven steals.