Oregon State rooters could hardly wait to celebrate a triumph over Arizona State in the regular-season finale, a win that would have made the Beavers the 25th team since 1939 to finish its schedule without a loss. But the visiting Sun Devils had other ideas. They topped off a week of upsets—12 of last week's SI Top 20 were beaten—with an 87-67 shocker. The Beavers' string of 26 victories was put in early jeopardy when Center Steve Johnson was whistled for a pair fouls in the first two minutes and then quickly picked up a third when he came back off the bench. With Johnson sitting out 17 minutes of the first half, Arizona State put together some dazzling numbers: 77.3% shooting, a 21-6 advantage in rebounds and a 40-20 lead at intermission. Byron Scott kept the Sun Devils rolling by scoring 17 of his 25 points in the first half.
Oregon State fans, however, had plenty to cheer about two days earlier. Despite a 33-point performance by Ron Davis, the Beavers defeated Arizona 80-62 to sew up the Pac-10 title. One of the Beaver boosters' biggest cheers came when Johnson, who rarely shoots from more than a couple of feet from the basket, banked in a 12-footer.
Arizona State began its West Coast trip with a 78-77 overtime victory at Oregon. After three Sun Devil starters had fouled out, reserve Forward Walt Stone pulled Arizona State through by scoring all but one of his team's overtime points on three jumpers, the last with five seconds to go.
Strong finishes carried UCLA to victories at Washington State (59-50) and at Washington (91-72). In each game the Bruins had a substantial lead trimmed to two points in the second half before they put on their closing surge. Mike Sanders was UCLA's big gun against the Huskies, sinking 12 of 14 shots and scoring 28 points.
Many Fresno State followers think their Bulldogs, with their relentless and aggressive defense, are the finest team in California. More than 1,500 of these diehards traveled 230 miles to the PCAA tournament in Anaheim to see Fresno knock off Utah State 71-57 and San Jose State 52-48. The Bulldogs, who led 19-14 at halftime of the finale, trailed by a point with 3:23 remaining. Then Rod Higgins and Bobby Anderson each came through with a three-point play to make Fresno State a winner.
One thing seemed certain when Utah played at Brigham Young: the Cougars would go with their standard 2-3 zone defense. However, BYU used a man-to-man in the first half, and at the intermission the Utes had shot 68%, had outrebounded the Cougars 19-14 and led 46-41. So one thing seemed certain when the second half began: BYU would surely return to its zone. So much for certainties. The Cougars stuck with their man-to-man, forced Utah out of its usual patterns, unloosed their own fastbreak, isolated Danny Ainge in the low post for numerous open shots and went on to win 95-76. Ainge finished with 35 points and teammate Fred Roberts had 21 to go with his 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
Wyoming tied Utah for first place in the WAC by knocking off Air Force 46-38. The Cowboys then handed Coach Jerry Tarkanian his worst home defeat in eight seasons at Nevada-Las Vegas by a score of 97-70. Wyoming, which outrebounded the Rebels 51-26, got 27 points from Bill Garnett and 21 from Charles Bradley.
Pepperdine and San Francisco ended up tied for first in the WCAC, a situation that was to be settled by a playoff game on March 10. A 92-86 defeat of Loyola Marymount earned the Waves their share of the lead. The Dons kept pace by beating St. Mary's 94-80.
As soon as Montana narrowed Idaho's advantage to 56-54 in the finals of the Big Sky tournament, the Vandals applied their decisive K.O.—Ken Owens, that is. Owens, who finished the two-game tournament with 37 points, wrapped up the MVP award with a steal, a layup and six quick points to propel Idaho to a 70-64 victory.
Basketball hasn't ever been highly regarded at Ole Miss. To wit: in 1968 the athletic department issued a statement announcing that Basketball Coach Eddie Crawford "has been promoted to the position of freshman football coach." Last week Bob Weltlich, the present Mississippi coach, finally brought some respect to the school's hoops program by guiding the Rebels to the Southeastern Conference tournament title. Ole Miss, one of three surprise winners during the first round, began by knocking off heavily favored Tennessee 81-71. Mississippi's Carlos Clark scored nine points and Sean Tuohy eight during a 17-2 spurt in the second half that broke open a tie game. The same day, Vanderbilt upended Kentucky 60-55 as Commodore freshman Al McKinney sank seven free throws in a row in the last 2½ minutes. Georgia, which beat Alabama 88-80 in the opening round, stunned Louisiana State 68-60 in the semifinals behind Dominique Wilkins' 18 points. Mississippi won the other semi by defeating Vandy 71-51. In a matchup of finalists who had never won an SEC tournament, the Bulldogs led by 12 in the first half, by eight at the intermission and by seven with 9:24 remaining. But Ole Miss, with Elston Turner tossing in six points in two minutes, rallied for a 66-62 victory to advance to the NCAAs for the first time. Tuohy had 10 assists for the Rebels, Wilkins 28 points for Georgia. LSU wasn't the only regular-season league champion to lose in tournament competition; altogether, nine of 20 conference tournaments were won by teams that did not end the regular schedule in first place.
By winning the Mid-American tournament. Ball State achieved its first 20-win season and defeated two of the teams with which it shared first place at the end of regular league play. The Cardinals beat Toledo 79-77 behind Al Gooden's 33 points and Northern Illinois 79-66. Against the Huskies, Ray McCallum, the tournament MVP, scored 16 of his 24 points in the second half.
DePaul Coach Ray Meyer's description of an 84-64 victory at Dayton was tinged with sartorial references. "Usually when we come to Dayton, they play the pants off us," Meyer said. Speaking of Blue Demon Guard Clyde Bradshaw's five steals, Meyer said, "He undressed those guys." Mark Aguirre, who had 24 points against Dayton, matched that total during a 74-64 Sunday win over Notre Dame.
Wisconsin's Claude Gregory scored a total of 46 points and the winning basket in each game as the Badgers beat Northwestern 60-57 and Minnesota 60-58 in overtime.
Maryland, a one-point loser to Duke in last year's ACC tournament final, again made it to the championship game—only to lose by one. This time North Carolina edged the Terps 61-60. In the opening round Maryland beat Duke 56-53 by sinking three foul shots in the final four seconds. Next, the Terps handled Virginia, the regular-season titlist, with surprising ease, 85-62. Maryland, which played erratically all season, was superb against the Cavaliers, showing that it could play a solid half-court game and that it could run-and-gun. Albert King led the Terps with 24 points, and Buck Williams outrebounded Virginia's Ralph Sampson 14-8 and outscored him 11-10. That loss was the third in the last five outings for the Cavaliers, who two weeks earlier had their 28-game winning streak brought to an abrupt end.
North Carolina made it to the finals by defeating North Carolina State 69-54 and Wake Forest 58-57 on Guard Mike Pepper's 18-foot shot with eight seconds left. The Tar Heels then won the tournament for the eighth time in 15 years with the aid of another pivotal play. With 2:55 to go and the score 54—all, Guard Jimmy Black stole a pass, dribbled the length of the court and put in a layup. North Carolina's 1-3-1 zone forced Maryland to keep the ball outside and helped limit Williams to four points and King to 10.
Those weren't freight trains that hit head on. They were Pitt and Duquesne players colliding instead of gliding as they battled in the Eastern Eight tournament title game. The Panthers committed 21 turnovers, but that was eight fewer than the Dukes', who lost 64-60. Pitt guards Dwayne Wallace and Lennie McMillian, who teamed up for 39 points, set the tone by forcing six Duquesne errors in the opening five minutes. In a 74-45 semifinal defeat of Rhode Island, which shared the regular-season title with Duquesne, the Panthers forced 32 turnovers.
St. Joseph's overcame American University's 25-12 lead to win the East Coast's Eastern Division tournament title 63-60. One of the season's most memorable shots, a 52-footer by Northeastern's Terry Moss as the clock ran out in regulation time, put his team into overtime against Holy Cross in the finals of the ECAC's Northern Division tournament. Northeastern went on to win 81-79 by converting both ends of three straight one-and-one foul-shooting situations.
Why was Darnell Valentine of Kansas at midcourt leading Jayhawk rooters in cheers, and why were teammates Tony Guy and Art Housey waltzing under the Kansas State basket? Simple. During an official time-out with 12 seconds left in this Big Eight tournament final, the Jayhawks were frolicking because they were well on their way to an 80-68 triumph. Kansas State Coach Jack Hartman-had hoped to catch Kansas off guard by using a man-to-man defense instead of his usual 3-2 zone, but the tactic failed. The Wildcats got into early foul trouble, which the Jayhawks capitalized on by sinking 13 of 16 free throws in the first half. In the Kansas-Missouri semifinal, the Jayhawks converted 33 of 40 from the line, the Tigers 20 of 29. Kansas, which led by 17 midway through the second half, had only one field goal during the last 8:22, but won 75-70 by cashing in on 19 foul shots during that span. Tournament MVP Valentine scored 20 points against Missouri, 12 of them coming from the free-throw line.
Louisville concluded the season's most dramatic turnaround by winning the Metro Conference tournament. Last year's national champs, who got off to a 2-7 start this season, finished with a 15-game victory streak. Tournament MVP Rodney McCray and his brother Scooter hit on 13 of 16 shots and scored 29 points in the Cardinals' 81-68 semifinal defeat of Virginia Tech. In the finals, Louisville led Cincinnati 34-28 with 14:25 remaining, froze the ball for 10:25 to force the Bearcats out of their zone and won 42-31. Derek Smith and Lancaster Gordon teamed up to score 18 of the Cardinals' 20 second-half points.
With tournament MVP Mike Olliver scoring 35 points and B.B. Davis adding 21, Lamar beat Louisiana Tech 83-69 in the finals of the Southland Conference tournament.
Sophomore Rob Williams and freshmen Michael Young and Clyde Drexler led Houston to an 84-59 rout of Texas in the Southwest Conference tournament finale. Williams, who had a total of 72 points in two regular-season games against the Longhorns, connected on 13 of 19 shots from the field and finished with 37 points. Young scored 18 points with 9-of-11 shooting, and Drexler had 15 rebounds and 12 points. In the semis, the Cougars swept past TCU 73-53, and Texas toppled regular-season conference champion Arkansas 76-73. LaSalle Thompson scored 23 points and Ray Harper 22 for the Longhorns. The Razorbacks, who trailed 50-39 at the half, led 70-66 with 3:44 left. But Harper tied the score at 70-70 with two straight baskets and put Texas in front for good by converting a pair of foul shots in the final 36 seconds.
"He hit those shots from downtown," said Wichita State Coach Gene Smithson of Creighton's Kevin McKenna, whose long-range bombing led the Bluejays to a 70-64 triumph in the MVC tournament showdown game. McKenna, who made 10 of 15 shots, ended up with 23 points as Creighton overcame an early 10-point deficit.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
ELSTON TURNER: Mississippi's 6'5" senior forward sank 26 of 48 field-goal tries, scored 61 points, grabbed 24 rebounds, had eight assists and played his usual exemplary defense as the Rebels won their first SEC tournament.
SI TOP 20
1. DePAUL (27-1)
2. OREGON ST. (26-1)
3. ARIZONA ST. (24-3)
4. LOUISIANA ST. (28-3)
5. VIRGINIA (25-3)
6. N. CAROLINA (25-7)
7. NOTRE DAME (22-5)
8. KENTUCKY (22-5)
9. UCLA (20-6)
10. WAKE FOREST (22-6)
11. INDIANA (21-9)
12. UTAH (24-4)
13. IOWA (21-6)
14. BYU (22-6)
15. TENNESSEE (20-7)
16. LOUISVILLE (21-8)
17. ILLINOIS (20-7)
18. WYOMING (23-5)
19. MARYLAND (20-9)
20. FRESNO ST. (25-3)
THE REST OF THE FIELD
BALL ST. (20-9)
BOSTON COLLEGE (21-6)
JAMES MADISON (20-8)
KANSAS ST. (21-8)
LONG ISLAND U. (18-10)
PENN (20-6) or
ST. JOSEPH'S (22-7)
SAN FRANCISCO (23-6) or
VA. COMMONWEALTH (23-4)
WESTERN KY. (21-7)
WICHITA ST. (23-6)
*Winner of playoff game receives bid