For the second Sunday in a row, the nation's longest winning streak ended. Following in the footsteps of Virginia, which had its 28-game string broken the previous week. Louisiana State fell 73-71 at Kentucky after having won 26 straight. The Tigers, bottled up by the Wildcats after inbounding the ball from under the basket with 10 seconds left, couldn't work the ball inside, and a last desperate outside shot fell short. Guard Dirk Minniefield directed the Kentucky offense, scored 11 points and had 10 assists. Both teams won earlier SEC games, the Tigers beating Mississippi 74-67 and the 'Cats prevailing 78-74 at Mississippi State.
Georgia defeated visiting Tennessee, clinching a 76-75 overtime win when Terry Fair dunked after taking a pass from Dominique Wilkins. The Bulldogs, trailing 37-24 in the first half, got superb performances from Fair, who had 18 points, 12 rebounds and five assists, and Wilkins, with 24 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots. Then, while Georgia was being surprised by Mississippi 64-62, Tennessee beat Auburn 75-63.
"Emotion shows in the way your team goes after loose balls and rebounds, and tonight we played without emotion, without intensity. That will not stand." Those were the stern words of Iowa Coach Lute Olson after the Hawkeyes were outrebounded 31-28 during a narrow 69-66 win over Michigan. Two days later the chastised Hawkeyes outboarded Wisconsin 50-33—and won 96-75.
Indiana remained one game in back of Iowa in the Big Ten by sweeping past Ohio State, 74-58, and Michigan, 98-83. Guard Isiah Thomas kept the Hoosiers sailing along in those games with 53 points, 13 assists, 11 rebounds and eight steals. Minnesota was a spoiler for the third week in succession, knocking Illinois out of a tie for second place. Trent Tucker and Randy Breuer got 43 points for the Gophers, who held the Illini to seven points in one 15½-minute stretch en route to a 76-59 victory. Illinois then won at Purdue for the first time in 18 years as freshman Derek Harper had a school-record 12 assists and Eddie Johnson and Perry Range split 46 points evenly during an 81-70 triumph.
"I've never seen this team so loose, but we are playing with intensity," said DePaul Coach Ray Meyer, who felt his players had finally attained the proper perspective. The Blue Demons kept Meyer happy by drubbing Butler 89-64, and then they zipped to a 22-point halftime lead against Loyola of Chicago, got 31 points from Mark Aguirre, 22 from Terry Cummings and breezed 105-95.
One thing seemed certain at the start of the final week of Mid-American play: the four-team logjam at the top of the standings would be broken. No way. When the last shot had been taken, first place was shared by five teams. Toledo, Bowling Green, Ball State and Western Michigan stayed in first after each picked up a win and a loss. Joining them was Northern Illinois, which beat Eastern Michigan 74-57 and Western Michigan 65-63.
Notre Dame beat St. Francis (Pa.) 87-81 and, with Tracy Jackson, Orlando Woolridge and Kelly Tripucka combining for 58 points, defeated Dayton 70-57.
The less pressure that Guard Jerry Eaves has felt, the tenser things have gotten for Louisville's opponents. Eaves, whose play suffered early in the season because he was paired in the backcourt with 6'9" Scooter McCray, has regained his touch since Jan. 5, when freshman Lancaster Gordon became his running mate. Gordon, a true guard at 6'3", scored 17 points and Eaves 21 during an 81-67 victory over Cincinnati. What's more, with freshman Charles Jones having bumped Wiley Brown out of his starting role at center in recent weeks, the Cardinals have played better defense. Then Louisville ran its winning streak to 13 games by knocking off St. Louis 97-85 and Western Kentucky 90-75.
Why would Southern Methodist go into a stall while trailing 28-15 at Arkansas? Well, it was Mustang Coach Dave Bliss' way of avoiding another runaway by the Razorbacks, who in January had dealt SMU its worst loss ever, 92-50. When the latest matchup ended, Arkansas had its own bliss—a 47-33 win and its fourth Southwest Conference championship or co-championship in five years.
Two other teams were more successful than SMU in return matches. Missouri, a 19-point loser to Kansas State in early February, used a slowdown to get a 46-43 triumph over the Wildcats. After holding the ball for 7:22, the Tigers thawed things out with 22 seconds to go and the score 43-43. Ricky Frazier came through with a three-point play in the last seven seconds to give Mizzou the win and the Big Eight title. Indiana State also turned things around, avenging a 93-59 loss to Wichita State by shocking the Shockers 75-72 in a Missouri Valley game (page 20).
Wake Forest overcame Virginia's 10-point halftime lead because it was able, as Coach Carl Tacy put it, to "up-tempo the game, get in our rhythm and do a better job on Sampson." Indeed, the Deacons did speed things up, hold Ralph Sampson to one basket in the second half and hand the Cavaliers their second loss in a row, 73-66 in overtime.
Two other ACC upsets were by 66-65 scores. One upsettee was Wake Forest, which trailed by 22 early in the second half at North Carolina State. After cutting the deficit to one point, the Deacons spent most of the last minute working for the one shot they hoped would be a game-winner. That attempt fell short, and the Wolfpack, despite getting only one field goal in the final 11:39, hung on. North Carolina's James Worthy, who hurt his back during a 76-51 romp over Georgia Tech, sat out an overtime loss at Duke. Gene Banks of the Blue Devils, who scored 20 of his 25 points after the intermission, swished in a shot in the last second of regulation time and scored six points in the extra period. Virginia returned to form with a 74-63 triumph over Maryland in which Sampson had 17 points, 11 rebounds and nine blocked shots.
After being beaten 90-86 at Syracuse, Boston College clinched the Big East title with a 64-57 win over Seton Hall. St. John's ended a four-game losing streak, its longest in 18 years, by defeating Syracuse 82-73.
In the finale of the Big Five season in Philadelphia, St. Joseph's was unable to get its fast break going and lost to Villanova 72-62. Thus for the first time in the informal league's 26 years, the competition ended in a five-way tie. One of those five—Penn—was involved in another deadlock. The Quakers' 52-43 triumph over Princeton left those two tied for first in the Ivy League.
American University locked up the East Coast Conference's Eastern championship by beating St. Joseph's 84-83 in overtime and knocking off Temple 70-62. Mark Nickens, who took over at forward when Boo Bowers, the Eagles' alltime top scorer was sidelined with a knee injury in mid-January, poured in 27 of his 33 points against the Hawks after halftime. Even with Bowers out for the last 16 games, American has won 14 times and run its record to 22-4.
Rhode Island has also done well despite adversity, Coach Jack Kraft having suffered a heart attack after the season opener. Since then, almost all the coaching duties have been handled by Kraft's associate, Claude English. The Rams' 20-6 record and Eastern Eight title presents a novel problem for those who think Rhody has New England's coach of the year. Do they cast their ballots for Kraft, the coach of record? Or do they vote for English, who officially is 0-0?
Wyoming clinched its first 20-win season since 1952 with WAC victories over visiting Brigham Young and Utah. BYU was beaten 86-84 in double overtime by the deft shooting of Charles Bradley and Mike Jackson. Bradley had 31 points and Jackson, who forced a second extra period by sinking two late free throws, sank the basket that finally put the Cowboys in front for keeps. Kenneth Ollie was Wyoming's big gun against Utah, contributing a three-point play that knotted the score at 46-all, sinking two foul shots with 36 seconds left and winding up with 19 points during the 53-50 upset. Thus, Wyoming pulled to within one game of the first-place Utes.
Oregon State players call broad-beamed 6'10½" Steve Johnson Big Behind. No question when the Beavers fall behind it's Johnson whom they rely on to rear up and can the big shots. Johnson lived up to his reputation at Southern Cal; he overcame a 55-52 deficit with 15 points in the last 8:49 as he finished with 33 and the Beavers with a 73-64 win. During an 89-63 romp over Washington, Johnson scored 24 points. And Johnson had 26 more on Sunday as Oregon State stopped UCLA 82-76. There were two upbeat notes for the Bruins: they routed Oregon 98-75, and Center Kenny Fields was allowed to return to the squad. Coach Larry Brown, who suspended Fields nine days earlier for unspecified reasons, sought to explain matters by saying, "I overreacted."
With Guard Byron Scott sinking 13 of 17 shots, scoring 28 points and adding eight assists, seven rebounds and five steals, Arizona State coasted past California 81-68.
By knocking off San Jose State 62-52 and Utah State 82-58, Fresno State clinched the PCAA title, finished the regular season 23-3 and wound up with the stingiest defense in the land, 50.4 points a game.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
ZAMBOLIST (Zam) FREDRICK: The 6'2" guard, with an 8.1 average over three years, had 43 points as South Carolina beat Georgia Southern 106-69, raising his average for this season to 28.9, the best in the nation.
SI TOP 20
1. OREGON STATE (25-0)
2. DePAUL (25-1)
3. LOUISIANA ST. (27-2)
4. VIRGINIA (24-2)
5. ARIZONA ST. (22-3)
6. KENTUCKY (22-4)
7. NOTRE DAME (22-4)
8. IOWA (21-4)
9. UTAH (24-3)
10. N. CAROLINA (22-7)
11. WAKE FOREST (21-5)
12. UCLA (18-6)
13. TENNESSEE (20-6)
14. INDIANA (19-9)
15. BYU (21-6)
16. ILLINOIS (19-6)
17. ARKANSAS (22-6)
18. LOUISVILLE (19-8)
19. WYOMING (21-5)
20. WICHITA ST. (21-5)
* Last week