"Payback Week" was what it was labeled by Michigan State Coach Jud Heathcote, who didn't like calling it "Revenge Week." Earlier in the season the Spartans had lost road games to Purdue and Illinois. Last week State paid back Purdue 73-67 as Gregory Kelser popped in 29 points. Another factor was a special zone defense that encircled the Boilermakers' Joe Barry Carroll and limited him to 10 points, 12 less than his average. Michigan State then bumped off Illinois 76-62, Kelser picking up 24 points and Earvin Johnson 21 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. One of Johnson's feeds came on a shovel pass to Kelser that sailed half the length of the court.
With Ohio State and Iowa each winning once and losing once, Michigan State climbed into a three-way deadlock for the Big Ten lead. All of the contenders have two games this week, and should the Spartans remain tied with the Buckeyes and/or Hawkeyes, they will automatically get an NCAA berth because they have beaten both of them twice.
Ohio State gained sole possession of first place on Thursday, drubbing Illinois 73-55, while Iowa fell a game back when it was beaten 64-62 at Indiana. With Herb Williams pouring in 34 points and pulling down 13 rebounds, the Buckeyes had little trouble with the Illini, who suffered their ninth loss in 13 games since starting the season 15-0. Like Michigan State, Indiana did some paying back, Mike Woodson's 31 points helping to avenge a January loss to Iowa. The Hawkeyes then journeyed to Ohio State, got 31 points from Ronnie Lester and knotted up the race by paying the Buckeyes back for an earlier defeat with an 83-68 victory.
If there was anything that powerful Notre Dame needed, it was more productivity from Center Bill Laimbeer. Last week, Laimbeer produced: 14 rebounds and two blocked shots as the Irish beat Oklahoma City 88-60; and 19 points and nine rebounds during a 93-70 blowout of La Salle. In each game, the Irish also got 21 points from Orlando Woolridge.
DePaul's Music Man had the Blue Demons dancing in the aisles. The Music Man is Gary Garland, who is a cousin of Dionne Warwick and is contemplating a career of his own as a vocalist. It was Garland's basket with four seconds to go that gave the Blue Demons a 61-60 victory over Marquette in a battle of independents, both of which seem likely to receive NCAA bids. The win raised DePauls record to 20-4 and dropped the Warriors to 19-5.
Also angling for a tournament spot was 21-5 Detroit, which rallied for a 72-69 win at Loyola of Chicago. The Titans squandered a nine-point halftime bulge, trailed 59-54 and pulled the game out when Terry Duerod popped in eight points down the stretch.
Central Michigan was alone at the top of the Mid-American Conference, one game ahead of Toledo. The Chippewas got there by beating Ohio University 80-62 and Eastern Michigan 66-65.
Morehead State earned a berth in the Ohio Valley Conference's four-team tournament by-beating regular-season champion Eastern Kentucky 98-91. The Eagles, who last season were 4-19 overall and 0-14 in the conference, brought their records to 14-12 and 7-5 under first-year Coach Wayne Martin as Herbie Stamper scored 32 points.
Another vastly improved team is Tennessee State, which also has a coach named Martin. Ed Martin joined the Tigers in 1968 and soon had them reeling off 20-win seasons. The past two years, however, State slipped to 9-16 and 13-12. About the only thing in which Martin could take pride in 1978 was that he won his 400th game in 23 seasons as a head coach. But he was distressed by the Tigers' average of 22 turnovers. So Martin scoured junior colleges for ballhandling guards and found just what he needed in Kenneth Offutt of Columbia State JC in Tennessee and Craig Geter of Dekalb JC in Georgia. Offutt and Geter have helped State cut its turnovers in half this season. With 6'6" Forward Monti Davis leading the nation in rebounding with a 16.1 average, Geter picking up 117 assists and everyone in the starting five scoring in double figures, the Tigers have turned things around. Last week they whipped Tennessee-Chattanooga 81-64 and, despite Davis' 21 points and 18 rebounds, lost to Alabama State 84-81. All of which left State 20-6.
While LSU clinched first place in the SEC (page 12), Vanderbilt collapsed. The Commodores lost their second and third games in a row, 83-78 at Tennessee and 96-70 at Kentucky, and fell from second place to third.
1. NOTRE DAME (21-3)
2. LSU (22-4)
3. MICHIGAN STATE (20-5)
At various times this season Duke, Notre Dame and Michigan State lost the No. 1 ranking in the wire service polls because of on-the-court setbacks. Last week Indiana State fell from first to second in the AP voting—UCLA took over the No. 1 spot—even though it remained unbeaten. All of which prompted Sycamore Coach Bill Hodges to comment, "Some people say that although we beat Purdue, we don't consistently play the caliber of competition that Purdue, Indiana and Notre Dame do. But Indiana and Notre Dame don't want to play us. It might prove something." Hodges could only hope his players proved something when they survived the final week of the regular season without a loss, while UCLA split two games. Larry Bird had 27 points as the Sycamores won 76-68 at Drake and 49 points, a career high, and 19 rebounds as they crushed Wichita State 109-84.
Alcorn State also stayed undefeated, running its record to 27-0 while winning the Southwestern AC tournament. The Braves came out on top by beating Mississippi Valley State 88-76 and Southern 108-89.
Texas and Arkansas finished the regular season tied for first in the Southwest Conference. The Longhorns ended up there after being upset 81-66 at Southern Methodist. Brad Branson of the Mustangs scored 20 points. The Razorbacks got there by winning 66-65 at Texas Tech, where they shot 79.4%, the second-best single-game percentage in NCAA history. But it took a last-second field goal by Arkansas' Sidney Moncrief, who had 25 points, to pull out the victory.
The Big Eight scramble came down to Kansas State vs. Oklahoma at Norman. Earlier, State had blown a 10-point lead, missed six of its last seven shots and lost 67-63 to Missouri, and Oklahoma was a 66-65 loser at Iowa State. That left the Sooners a game ahead of the Wildcats. Oklahoma had only 10 points after 14:38 of its game with K-State, but took charge from there on to win the game 65-52 and the conference championship.
Lamar moved 1½ games in front of Southwestern Louisiana in the Southland Conference. The Cardinals wiped out McNeese State 103-83 and Texas-Arlington 102-92.
1. INDIANA STATE (26-0)
2. ARKANSAS (21-4)
3. TEXAS (20-6)
Everything was set for an exciting showdown last Saturday between North Carolina and Duke for the regular-season ACC championship. Earlier in the week, the Tar Heels whacked North Carolina State 71-56, while the Blue Devils were caught off guard by Clemson and lost 70-49. Carolina used its four-corner offense as well as its 3C attack to take care of State. "The 3C is primarily our passing game spread out," explained Tar Heel Guard Dave Colescott. "A lot of teams are ready for our four corners, so we've got to have something to fall back on." When the Wolfpack sliced an 11-point Carolina lead to four, the Tar Heels fell back on the 3C and took off on a 17-6 spurt. Clemson Coach Bill Foster had an innovative tactic of his own—a halfcourt spread offense he calls the Tiger Pause—and he stuck with it all the way against Duke. The Pause pulled the Blue Devils out of their customary zone defense and forced them to double-and triple-team the ball. That opened lanes to the hoop, which resulted in the Tigers scoring 18 of their 23 field goals on layups and dunks. The loss dropped Duke one game behind North Carolina.
Thus, on Saturday night in Durham, a victory for Carolina would wrap up the ACC race and a first-round bye in this week's conference tournament. Duke quickly took a 2-0 lead. North Carolina came downcourt—and stopped. After 15:53 had elapsed, Rich Yonakor put an end to the all-out stall by attempting Carolina's first shot. It was an air ball. For the Tar Heels, who tried only one other shot before halftime, a desperation heave at the buzzer, the first half was a total zero. They not only failed to score—Duke led 7-0—but they also didn't hit the rim or glass with either of their shots. In the second half, Carolina Coach Dean Smith decided to let his team play its usual game, but the Tar Heels never got closer than six points. Duke won 47-40 as Jim Spanarkel penetrated for a passel of second-half layups; he hit on eight of nine shots for the night and finished with 17 points. Tied for first, the teams drew lots Sunday for the tournament bye. Although Smith couldn't use his four-corners, 3C or stall, he lucked out and won the draw.
A little taunting and a lot of defense enabled Temple to boost its record to 22-3. Before facing St. Joseph's, the Owls' Bruce Harrold kidded teammate Walt Montford about not having had a 20-point game all season. "I'll try," responded Montford, a 6'6", 230-pound center. He not only tried, but he also surpassed his goal. When the Hawks, who got 33 points from Rob Valderas, pulled to within 58-54, Montford broke open the game with a three-point play, a jumper and another three-pointer to finish with 26 points and 13 rebounds. Temple's 76-68 victory gave it a lock on first place in the East Coast Conference's Eastern Division.
Three days later, when Temple had trouble handling hot-shooting Dayton guards Jim Paxson and Jack Zimmerman, Coach Don Casey ordered a 1-3-1 trapping zone that he calls "kind of our secret weapon." It is a secret no more because the Owls used it to hold the Flyers without a point on 13 straight trips down the floor. During that span, Temple overcame a 36-25 halftime deficit and went on to win 66-63. Ricky Reed picked up eight of his 11 assists after the intermission, giving him 187 for the season to break by two the school record set in 1956-57 by Guy Rodgers.
Even though Syracuse kept its starters on the bench much of the time, the Orangemen frolicked to a pair of victories—120-82 over Niagara and 113-62 over Colgate—which lengthened their winning streak to 17 games.
Two independents—Virginia Commonwealth and Old Dominion—battled for the bid to face Georgetown in the ECAC Southern playoffs, the winner of which will get an NCAA tournament berth. St. Bonaventure turned back Commonwealth 84-76 as Delmar Harrod tossed in 28 points. The Rams survived a 30-point performance by James Madison's Steve Stielper to pull out their 20th win 65-56. Ren Watson had 16 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots for Commonwealth. After losing 99-84 to East Carolina, Old Dominion won a pair of nail-biters to raise its record to 21-5. Tommy Conrad blocked a St. Francis (Pa.) shot with two seconds left to preserve a 72-70 win for the Monarchs, who then squirmed past William & Mary 57-56 as Bobby Haithcock scored his only point of the game on a free throw with one second to play. That shot turned out to be an extra big one, because Old Dominion was subsequently awarded the ECAC bid.
Three other 20-game winners were Iona (21-5), which disposed of Siena 70-68 and Fordham 79-70; Wagner (21-5), which breezed past Drexel 90-75 and St. Francis (N.Y.) 84-64; and Georgetown (22-4), which beat George Washington 73-71 and Holy Cross 63-54 in double overtime.
Penn clinched its second consecutive Ivy League title by wriggling past Princeton 42-41 in overtime, and defeating Cornell 85-72. The Quakers then lost 74-72 to second-place Columbia as the Lions' Alton Byrd had 19 points and nine assists and Ricky Free 18 points and 12 rebounds. Byrd has now had 504 assists in three varsity seasons. Princeton outlasted Cornell 66-61 in five overtimes, the first four ending 56-56.
Duquesne, Fairfield and Connecticut came through with upsets. The Dukes polished off Detroit, a 20-game winner, 93-84. After walloping Boston University 99-84 for its 21st victory, Boston College was jarred 93-81 by Fairfield, which got 30 points from Joe DeSantis. Connecticut kept Rhode Island from its 20th win by beating the Rams 80-75.
Nick Galis flicked in 24 points as Seton Hall downed Catholic University 88-64, 42 during a 79-55 rout of Fairleigh Dickinson and 31 in an 83-77 loss to Cincinnati.
Just when it appeared the Eastern Eight race would be tied—second-place Pittsburgh held a 73-64 lead over first-place Villanova with 1:50 left to play—the Wildcats untangled matters. During the frenzied finish, the Panthers twice missed the front end of one-and-one foul opportunities, failed to sink a field-goal attempt and lost 75-73 as the Wildcats scored the game's final 11 points.
1. NORTH CAROLINA (21-5)
2. SYRACUSE (23-2)
3. DUKE (20-6)
Petur Gudmundsson, Washington's 7'2", 260-pound sophomore from Iceland, has thawed out his game of late, and last week he helped upset UCLA 69-68. Gudmundsson scored 17 points, and by drawing double and triple coverage, often enabled forwards James Woods and Stan Walker to get open. It was Walker's 15-foot shot with three seconds to go that sank the Bruins. UCLA had trailed 50-38, but, paced by David Greenwood's 22 points, scrambled back for a 68-67 lead.
The Bruins barely avoided another upset by winning 110-102 in triple overtime at Washington State. Keeping the Cougars rolling was Don Collins, who scored 36 points. Four Bruins collaborated for 90, Brad Holland getting 28 points, Greenwood 22 and Roy Hamilton and Kiki Vandeweghe 20 each. Southern Cal, playing without injured Center Cliff Robinson, edged Washington State 71-69 and beat Washington 61-59, though Gudmundsson scored 27 points.
Pepperdine and San Francisco were tied 15 times before USF wore the Waves down 72-69. The Dons got 26 points from Bill Cartwright in that game, and 35 more from him as they clinched first place in the WCAC by beating Loyola 103-69. Cartwright's 61 points raised his four-year total to a school-record 2,058.
Brigham Young ace Danny Ainge was shelved with a ligament tear in his right knee, but the Cougars still beat Wyoming 78-73 and Colorado State 66-61 behind Fred Roberts' 53 points. That kept BYU a game ahead of Utah in the WAC.
Nevada-Las Vegas Coach Jerry Tarkanian munched on his towel and paced the side-lines deep in thought, but once again he could not conjure a way to cool off New Mexico's Phil Abney. For the fourth straight time in two years, Abney led the Lobos past the Rebels, with 27 points, grabbing 14 rebounds and six assists in a 110-100 shootout. New Mexico beat San Diego State 84-78 in a WAC game despite 23 points and 23 rebounds by Steve Malovic of the Aztecs.
Pacific backed into the PCAA title. Utah State was an 84-77 winner over the Tigers, who nonetheless were assured of first place when San Jose State beat runner-up Fresno State 49-46.
One of the hottest gunners of late has been Matt Teahan of Denver, who popped in 36 points in a 75-68 defeat of Pan American and 24 in an 83-75 loss to Air Force. As the result of a six-game spree during which Teahan scored 193 points, he has raised his average to 23.9.
Northern Arizona, which drew only 7,234 fans for its first four games, had a record crowd of 7,383 for its clash with Big Sky champion Weber State. What intrigued Arizonans was that the Lumberjacks, who played most of the season with an eight-man squad, still had a chance of tying for second in the conference. And that's just what they did by winning 66-64 in overtime.
1. UCLA (21-4)
2. USC (17-8)
3. SAN FRANCISCO (21-6)
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
JAMES (TURK) TILLMAN: Eastern Kentucky's 6'4" junior forward scored 42 points in a 100-72 victory over Tennessee Tech, 26 in a 119-68 romp over Sewanee and 43 during a 98-91 loss to Morehead State.