Isiah Thomas continued to get banged up, but Indiana nevertheless kept giving its opponents black eyes. Thomas, who two weeks ago needed 20 stitches over his left eye to close a gash he suffered during a game, took four more over his right eye after a dormitory scuffle. Battle-scarred but obviously not battle-scared, Thomas popped in 13 points and had three steals during Indiana's 75-72 victory at Michigan State. Mike Woodson scored 20 points in that game and 24 more as the Hoosiers beat Michigan 65-61 after letting a 17-point lead slip away. Home teams have won 60 of 80 Big Ten games so far, but Indiana has now won its last three road encounters. That's why Michigan Coach Johnny Orr insists that the Hoosiers, with Woodson playing superbly after recovering from early-season back surgery, are No. 1 in the country.
Still tied with Indiana for first place in the Big Ten was Ohio State, which was twice a shaky winner at home. The Buckeyes led last-place Northwestern by only two points with 3:17 left. It was then that Kelvin Ransey, who had 20 points, took command, passing off for a layup, converting two free throws and firing in a jumper. Following that 68-59 triumph, Ohio State blew a 10-point lead against Iowa and trailed 69-68. It took a lay-in eight seconds from the end by Herb Williams to pull the Buckeyes through 70-69. Williams finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds and nine blocked shots; Ransey with 16 points and nine assists. That gave Ransey 155 assists for the season.
A 75-64 loss at Michigan dropped Purdue one game back. The Boilermakers then got 28 points from Joe Barry Carroll to knock off Illinois 72-68.
March 3, 1980
"You can talk about X's and O's all you want, but you can't diagram what Mark did. It was unbelievable." So said Joey Meyer, DePaul's assistant coach, after Mark Aguirre sank 10 of 13 second-half shots and ended up with 40 points and 12 rebounds to stop La Salle 92-75. Michael Brooks of the Explorers snatched 15 rebounds and broke Tom Gola's school scoring record; his 24 points raised his total to 2,477. After drubbing Wagner 105-89 at Madison Square Garden, the Blue Demons returned home to defeat Loyola of Chicago for the third time. It was no easy task, but Aguirre rallied his team from a 56-50 deficit and finished with 41 points as DePaul won 94-87.
Big Blue Wildcat, Kentucky's towering mascot, broke a stilt during a time-out in a game against Mississippi State and had to be dragged off the floor. Although Big Blue was through for the night and although Rickey Brown had 35 points and 14 rebounds for the Bulldogs, Kentucky prevailed 71-65. Louisiana State also had to scramble, but with DeWayne Scales getting 32 points and 12 rebounds held off Mississippi 77-74. All of which left Kentucky and LSU tied for first place in the Southeastern race with only a Sunday matchup in Baton Rouge left. There the Wildcats avenged an earlier loss to the Tigers, winning 76-74 when Kyle Macy scored the only points in overtime by swishing an 18-foot jumper with one second to go.
Macy, the NCAA foul-shooting leader, thus atoned for having failed to convert two free throws in the final 3:28, only his seventh and eighth misses of the season. Kentucky trailed 36-35 at halftime, moved in front by eight with 6:23 remaining but fell behind 74-72 when Ethan Martin of LSU drove for a basket. Wildcat freshman Sam Bowie squared matters at 74—all with a layup with 30 seconds to play to send the game into overtime. Bowie then tied up Greg Cook of the Tigers with 27 seconds left in the extra period and controlled the ensuing jump ball. Kentucky took a time-out to set up the game-winning basket. Martin, who connected on 12 of 15 field-goal attempts, had 29 points for the Tigers, while Fred Cowan led the Wildcats with 27 points.
In a battle between major independents, Marquette jarred Notre Dame 77-74. Sam Worthen tossed in 30 points, 18 of them in the second half, as the Warriors improved their record to 16-8.
Alcorn (Miss.) State, which began the week with the most prolific offense (92.0 points a game) and the widest average victory margin (18.9 points a game), upped its record to 24-1. With Larry Smith scoring 43 points, the Braves won 108-77 at South Carolina State and 71-68 at Arkansas-Little Rock.
1. DePAUL (25-0)
2. KENTUCKY (26-4)
3. INDIANA (18-7)
"I just wanted to make things happen and to make sure they happened in our favor," Louisville's Darrell Griffith said after a 77-72 Metro victory over Virginia Tech. Griffith did precisely that by hitting on a three-point play, immediately stealing the ball, dribbling into the lane and zipping a behind-the-back pass to teammate Jerry Eaves for a layup and a secure 67-59 lead. In all, Griffith tossed in 23 points, six fewer than he had on Sunday during an 83-75 triumph at Florida State. Murray Brown of the Seminoles scored 13 points in that game to conclude a fruitful week. Brown had 31 points and 12 rebounds as Florida State overcame Cleveland State and Franklin Edwards' 39 points 86-83. He then scored 30 points, got 13 boards and sank his last 11 field-goal attempts, including one at the buzzer, to defeat Alabama-Birmingham 89-87. Brown, a senior who has the highest career field-goal-accuracy percentage in NCAA history (.669), was off target during a 78-76 loss to Virginia Tech, scoring only 13 points on five-of-15 shooting.
"It's not a chess game for us anymore. We're down to checkers. I can't make many moves." That was Missouri Coach Norm Stewart's assessment of his plight after his top rebounder and No. 2 scorer, Curtis Berry, was sidelined for the week with a sprained knee. Stewart, who had only eight healthy players left, made the right move when he replaced Berry with Mark Dressier. With Dressier connecting on nine of 11 floor shots and with his former high school teammate, Steve Stipanovich, adding 20 points, the Tigers picked up Oklahoma's pieces, 81-69, to clinch first place in the Big Eight. Dressler continued his marksmanship during a 67-65 victory over Kansas State by sinking six of nine field-goal attempts.
Texas A&M also did some nifty shooting (.647) to nail the Southwest title by winning 82-72 at Houston. Best of the Aggie sharpshooters was Vernon Smith, who hit on 12 of 16 and scored 26 points. Earlier, A&M took a one-game advantage over Arkansas, beating Texas Christian 57-48, while the Razorbacks were upset at Southern Methodist 62-58. Insect bites that led to a staph infection in the right knee of Scott Hastings hurt the Hogs, who got only 10 points and three rebounds from their usually productive center. Next time out, Arkansas walloped Texas Tech 84-60 to become the first SWC team to win 20 or more games four years in a row.
1. LOUISVILLE (26-3)
2. MISSOURI (22-4)
3. TEXAS A&M (22-7)
For the first time in 23 years, the Pac-10 race entered its final week with three teams in contention for the title, and none of them was UCLA. Deadlocked at the top were Oregon State and Arizona State. Quickness, deft passing and 23 points apiece by guards Ray Blume and Mark Radford propelled the Beavers past Stanford 85-57. Arizona State caught up with the Orange Express by winning twice. First came an 11-dunk, 92-80 defeat of UCLA, which had won the past 13 conference championships. Freshman Byron Scott netted 21 points for the Sun Devils, whose 7-foot Alton Lister also had 21, plus 15 rebounds and five blocked shots. Arizona State then squandered a 14-point lead against Arizona, fell behind 67-66 and finally salvaged a 78-72 victory. Igniting the decisive spree were Scott, who fired in 18-and 22-footers, and Lister, who blocked a shot and got a dunk. Scott wound up with 31 points, teammate Kurt Nimphius with 30.
Two games off the pace was Washington State, which lost 80-66 at UCLA, even though Don Collins had 37 points. The Cougars then nipped Southern Cal 69-67 as Stuart House poured in 31 points and Collins 18. For the first time in more than 20 years of trying, Washington Coach Marv Harsh man was a winner at UCLA. The Huskies won 72-70 when, after botching up a planned play. Bob Fronk fired in a desperation 25-footer as the buzzer sounded.
Another Collins—Weber State Guard Bruce—needed 15 points against Idaho State to become the Big Sky's alltime leading scorer. Collins got 30, raising his four-year total to 1,949 as the Wildcats (24-2) romped 81-67.
Western AC titlist Brigham Young became the first conference team ever to win all seven road games in one season. The Cougars accomplished this with a 111-86 victory at Colorado State and a 39-30 slowdown triumph at Wyoming. Devin Durrant's 13-for-15 shooting, 31 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists carried BYU in the first game. A flurry of late back-door baskets did the trick in the second outing. Utah State joined Weber State and BYU as the third team from the state to earn a league title, defeating Pacific 91-78 to clinch the top spot in the Pacific Coast AA.
1. OREGON STATE (24-3)
2. ARIZONA STATE (20-5)
3. BYU (22-4)
"I don't think this team was picked in the top 200 before the season," said Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell with pardonable exaggeration when his Terps, now in the Top Ten, clinched the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title by trimming Wake Forest 83-77. After the Deacons, who got 30 points from Alvis Rogers, moved in front 75-74, Maryland put on an 8-0 spurt in which Albert King and Buck Williams each had a dunk and four points. King wound up with 32 points, seven rebounds and six assists. During an 82-71 win over Virginia, the chief contributors were Greg Manning with 24 points and Williams with 16 and nine rebounds. Furthermore, the 6'8" Williams held the Cavaliers' 7'4" Ralph Sampson to 12 points and five rebounds.
North Carolina State and North Carolina tied for second place. Hawkeye Whitney's 26 points enabled the Wolfpack to polish off the Tar Heels 63-50. Then Whitney, who feels his best chance with the pros is as a guard, played the first half against Wake Forest at his regular forward spot, switched to the back-court for the final 20 minutes and ended with 16 points and three assists as State won 44-41. North Carolina's Dean Smith became the fifth coach to rack up 10 straight 20-victory seasons when the Tar Heels smothered Duke 96-71. For the Blue Devils, who were No. 1 in the nation early in the season, it was the fifth loss in seven games and their 14th consecutive defeat at Chapel Hill.
"We finally won the big one," shouted 6'10", 240-pound Jeff Ruland after Iona broke Louisville's 18-game winning streak, 77-60. The Gaels, who destroyed the Cardinals' renowned press, got 30 points and 21 rebounds from Ruland as they won with surprising ease despite 32 points by Louisville's Darrell Griffith. Iona also beat Siena 84-72 and Fairfield 74-53 to finish the regular season with 13 straight victories and a 25-4 record.
Ken Howard, the star of TV's The White Shadow, sat on the Boston College bench and watched the Eagles storm to a 34-18 lead over Syracuse. From there on, though, the Orangemen made BC look like Howard's Carver High squad by using a crunching full court press to rally for an 85-77 triumph. Before that, Syracuse whipped Niagara 107-82 behind freshman Erich Santifer's 20 points.
With leading scorer Reggie Carter out with the flu, Curtis Redding got a chance to start for St. John's at Temple. Redding came through with 17 points as the Redmen won 63-58 in overtime. St. John's also had a squeaker at Providence, coming out on top 68-62, thanks to a succession of late steals. Syracuse and St. John's thus tied Georgetown for the Big East championship. The Hoyas took two non-league games—98-74 over George Washington and 105-78 over Holy Cross—to wind up 21-5 overall.
"If you had written a script about the way to end a career, you couldn't have topped this," said South Carolina Coach Frank McGuire. Act One ended with the Gamecocks tied 54-54 with Western Kentucky after regulation time. Act Two ended without a point having been scored in the first extra period. Act Three began when Cedrick Hordges, who had 25 points and 11 rebounds for South Carolina, put in two quick baskets. When the curtain came down, the Gamecocks were 73-65 winners and McGuire had the 550th victory of his 30-year collegiate coaching career.
1. SYRACUSE (24-2)
2. MARYLAND (21-5)
3. ST. JOHN'S (23-3)
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
MARK AGUIRRE: DePaul's 6'7", 235-pound sophomore forward poured in 105 points, connected on 40 of 76 field-goal attempts and pulled down 28 rebounds as the Blue Demons remained undefeated by winning three times.