Kentucky's 6'11" freshman, Melvin Turpin, was so hyped up for the season opener against East Tennessee State that he trotted onto the Rupp Arena floor when the P.A. announcer introduced teammate Charles Hurt. Wildcat fans got a chuckle out of that, which was quite a different reaction from the one Kentucky's 38.2% field-goal shooting or 48-38 rebounding deficit got. The Wildcats led 41-25 with 14:53 left in the game, but the Bucs whittled the lead down to 56-53 with 45 seconds left, thanks to a ferocious fullcourt press and some poor Kentucky foul shooting—10 misses in 16 attempts. The Wildcats finally pulled away as Dirk Minniefield and Jim Master sank foul shots and Chuck Verderber scored on a lay-up, clinching a 62-57 victory.
After 20 years as an assistant coach at Alabama, Winfrey (Wimp) Sanderson took over as head man for the Crimson Tide. "People label this as a new era for Alabama basketball, but the only thing new is that we are going to play our guts out every minute of every game," Sanderson said. The Tide did exactly that while winning 93-66 over Northern Iowa, which began a new era of its own by moving up to Division I. An aggressive defense and Eddie Phillips' 23 points eased the way for 'Bama. New era or not, Sanderson could not help recalling the day in 1960 when he and his wife, Annette, moved from Carbon Hill, Ala. to Tuscaloosa, hauling their possessions in a borrowed coal truck. "We had a couch we bought for $5 and an old refrigerator that froze everything, even lettuce and ketchup," he said. "And we had a $10 stove and used covered orange crates for tables in our living room."
Six of the Big Ten's strongest teams won, three of them handily. Minnesota, with Trent Tucker scoring 22 points, beat North Dakota State 99-64. Mark Smith of Illinois had 20 points, eight assists and six rebounds in 26 minutes during a 98-65 romp over Loyola Marymount. "I'm shell-shocked," said the Lions' new coach, Ed Goorjian. "I wish I had a steel helmet." Purdue's new coach, Gene Keady, had a happier start as 6'10" freshman Russell Cross got 25 points during a 72-59 defeat of Colorado State.
December 8, 1980
Indiana, Iowa and Ohio State, however, did not have such easy going. The Hoosiers, playing without Guard Isiah Thomas, who had a pulled groin muscle, trailed Ball State five times in the first half before earning a 75-69 triumph. Six Cardinal points came after time had run out. Three of them were scored by Mark Thurston, on a goaltending call at the buzzer and a resulting free throw. This so infuriated Indiana Coach Bobby Knight that he drew two technical fouls, giving Ball State four more free-throw opportunities. Ray McCallum sank three of them for a game-high 25 points. Iowa, which led freshmen-laden Northern Illinois 22-20 at the half and only 44-41 with 6:59 left, came on strong to win 61-47. The Hawkeyes finally got some breathing room when they went ahead 50-41 as Steve Krafcisin sank a basket, Vince Brookins scored on a steal and a layup, and Kevin Boyle hit a pair of free throws. Ohio State was bedeviled by Cleveland State Guard Franklin Edwards' 32 points and eight assists. Nonetheless, the Buckeyes, who trailed 36-35 late in the first half, were 89-81 victors as Clark Kellogg had 23 points, pulled down 14 rebounds and passed off for eight baskets. Herb Williams and Carter Scott also boosted Ohio State's offense, combining for 35 points.
Central Michigan, winless in its last 12 games on opponents' courts, twice won big at Michigan State's Spartan Cutlass Classic. Mike Robinson had 20 points coming off the bench as the Chippewas beat Detroit 93-70 and 26 as a starter in Central's 89-66 title-game win over Michigan State.
During a pregame skit at Pauley Pavilion, a likeness of Notre Dame Coach Digger Phelps, a mortician's son, was "buried" by UCLA students. It took a bit longer for the Bruins to inter the Irish, who streaked to a 24-12 lead in their try for a fifth straight win at Pauley. The Bruins came to life in the next two minutes and five seconds, scoring 10 points in a row. At the half, Guard Rod Foster had 18 of his 22 points, and UCLA led 45-40. There were other factors in UCLA's eventual 94-81 victory: the shooting of Mike Sanders, who had 24 points, and the play of freshman Ralph Jackson, who took over at point guard with the Irish leading 17-8. Jackson scored eight points, had five assists, made five steals and took care of the playmaking so that Foster was able to concentrate primarily on his shooting. The shorter but quicker Bruins also surprised Notre Dame by matching the Irish in rebounds, 31-31. A day earlier, the Bruins had beaten VMI 99-61.
After Washington's two tallest regulars got their fourth fouls, Brigham Young moved inside and turned a 60-59 cliff-hanger into an 86-70 victory. Danny Ainge had 24 points in that game and 22 the next night at Oregon State, when the Cougars lost 75-68. BYU could not cope with 6'10" Steve Johnson or Jeff Stoutt. Johnson rarely saw the ball in the first half, but sank six of seven shots in the second and finished with 18 points. Stoutt hit on seven of 11 field-goal tries for 14 points.
"I hate to win with a zone," said Nevada-Las Vegas Coach Jerry Tarkanian, who nevertheless did just that in beating Pan American 78-62. After being outrebounded 28-13 and being held to a 38-all halftime score, Tarkanian switched from a man-to-man defense to a zone, which limited the Broncos to 22.5% second-half shooting.
"I'm so damned proud of what happened," said Central Florida Coach Torchy Clark after a 57-41 loss at Florida State. Proud of a 16-point defeat? Well, yes. Clark was proud his Division II team didn't lose by more and that it went into an effective freeze with 14:08 remaining and the Seminoles leading 49-39. Dean Rossin, Central's 6'5", 250-pound forward, simply held the ball for the next nine and a half minutes. To add a little spice to that otherwise dull interlude, Rossin, who was stationed at halfcourt in Seminole territory and went unchallenged by Seminole defenders, sometimes swayed his body to the rhythm of the drumbeat of the Florida State pep band. Clark's explanation for the prolonged stall was that, "I wanted the clock to run down to three minutes. I'm sorry we lost, but you always give your team an opportunity to win." Some opportunity. Once play resumed, it was the Seminoles who made the most of the chance by scoring eight of the game's last 10 points.
Bradley and Wichita State, the two favorites in the Missouri Valley Conference race, tuned up with easy victories. The Braves romped past Illinois-Chicago Circle 99-48. Bradley, which got 30 points from Mitchell Anderson, outscored Circle 28-0 during one stretch and did not yield a field goal for the first 11:57 of the second half. And Antoine Carr was the big gun for the Shockers with 29 points—he made all 13 of his field-goal attempts—during a 101-60 drubbing of Abilene Christian. Wichita State started fast and led at one point 36-8.
Northern Iowa gave Kansas State a bit of a scare, battling to a 27-27 standoff with 2:29 left in the first half. But that was it for the weary Panthers, who had played Alabama the night before. By sinking 12 of their first 16 shots from the field in the second half, the Wildcats took a comfortable lead and went on to a resounding 72-54 victory.
Joe Cipriano, who had coached Nebraska for 17 seasons, died early in the week of cancer. The Huskers opened the season at home against Wyoming under the direction of former assistant Moe Iba and nearly picked up a 52-50 victory even though their all-Big Eight center. Andre Smith, was sidelined with an ankle injury in the second half. But a 20-foot jumper by Mike Jackson of the Cowboys beat the buzzer and sent the game into overtime. Jackson then sank two foul shots in the waning moments of the extra period to seal a 62-59 win for Wyoming.
"Once we went inside, it was no contest," said Maryland's Lefty Driesell after starting his 21st season as a coach with his 400th career victory, an 86-64 win over Navy. More than anyone, it was Buck Williams who opened up the inside, with his career-high 27 points and 18 rebounds. Albert King of the Terps, who wound up with six assists, chipped in with 18 points.
Bangor enters the big time read the program for Maine's game with Texas A&M. The Black Bears, who play Kentucky in December and DePaul in January in an attempt to make a name for themselves, began their pursuit of national recognition with a 66-57 loss. Tyrone Ladson, the point guard in A&M's unique 1-4 offense, controlled the attack. Capitalizing on its considerable height advantage over Maine, the Aggies' Wall combined to produce 42 points: 19 by 6'6" Rynn Wright, 16 by 6'8" Vernon Smith and seven by 6'11" Rudy Woods.
Even with its Louie and Bouie Show a thing of the past, Syracuse had no trouble wiping out Columbia 108-81, as a record home crowd of 15.685 saw the Orangemen play for the first time in the new Carrier Dome. Tony Bruin led the way for Syracuse with 21 points. Penn State and St. Joseph's also won convincingly, the Nittany Lions 101-68 over Ur-sinus and the Hawks 76-62 over Scranton.
There's nothing quite like staging a tournament on your own court, as Virginia, Clemson and St. John's continued to prove. The Cavaliers won their own Tipoff Tournament for the fourth time in a row, the Tigers triumphed for the fifth consecutive time in the IPTAY Invitational, and the Redmen came out on top at the Joe Lapchick Memorial for the sixth straight year.
Following a 64-45 confidence builder over Bucknell, Virginia beat Virginia Commonwealth 77-62 in the Tipoff final. Tournament MVP Jeff Lamp of the Cavaliers swished in nine of 11 field-goal tries and had 24 points in the championship game. The Cavaliers displayed more versatility than a year ago, opening with a zone press against Commonwealth and making use of the quickness of freshmen guards Othell Wilson and Ricky Stokes. Clemson won with plenty to spare, beating Cornell 82-64 and then Fairfield 99-71, as the Tigers shot a remarkable 80.8% after intermission.
St. John's trailed James Madison 17-9 before rolling to a 67-58 victory and then held off Penn 68-62. Pulling the Redmen through in the opener were Wayne McKoy, who had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and David Russell, who had 19 and eight. MVP Russell duplicated his figures against the Quakers. "But the big difference was McKoy," said St. John's Coach Lou Carnesecca of his center, who had 15 points and eight rebounds. Penn got four more field goals than the Red-men, but was decisively outshot at the foul line; St. John's hit 80% (28 for 35) of its free throws while the Quakers shot a tepid 53.8% (14 for 26).
Western Carolina's Ronnie Carr scored 30 points and sank the first three-point shot in NCAA history during a 77-70 defeat of Middle Tennessee State. Western is a member of the Southern Conference, which adopted the three-point rule this season, and the Blue Raiders, though not members of the league, agreed to play by that rule. Carr's memorable shot came early in the contest on a 23-foot jumper.
SI TOP 20
1. DePAUL (1-0)
2. MARYLAND (1-0)
3. KENTUCKY (1-0)
4. LOUISVILLE (0-1)
5. INDIANA (1-0)
6. OREGON STATE (1-0)
7. UCLA (2-0)
8. VIRGINIA (2-0)
9. IOWA (1-0)
10. NOTRE DAME (0-1)
11. Ohio St. (1-0)
12. Tex. A&M (1-0)
13. Las Vegas (1-0)
14. Bradley (1-0)
15. St. John's (2-0)
16. N. Car. (3-0)
17. Arkansas (2-1)
18. LSU (2-1)
19. Clemson (2-0)
20. Missouri (2-1)
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
ROD FOSTER: The 6'1" sophomore guard rallied UCLA past Notre Dame 94-81 as he hit on seven of nine field-goal attempts and had 22 points, four assists and a steal. He also had 14 points in a 99-61 win over VMI.