Virginia Commonwealth won its first outright Sun Belt Conference regular-season championship with an 87-58 rout of UNC Charlotte. Old Dominion, however, continued its jinx over VCU in conference play with a 57-55 upset of the Rams. VCU has never defeated the Monarchs in a Sun Belt game but did achieve an 83-51 victory over ODU in the first round of the Richmond Times-Dispatch tournament last Dec. 29. "This was an important win for us," said Monarch coach Paul Webb, whose team finished the regular season 17-9 and earned the No. 2 seed in the Sun Belt tournament in Birmingham. Alabama-Birmingham, which will host the tournament, was seeded No. 5 after being upset 89-76 by Western Kentucky.
Kentucky nipped Georgia 66-64 in Athens to inch closer to its 35th SEC title, but had to survive an erratic final 1:05. The Wildcats appeared to have the game in hand after Dicky Beal's two free throws gave them a 66-62 lead. But Sam Bowie missed the front end of two one-and-ones, with 45 and 32 seconds, respectively, to play. A 10-foot baseline jumper by Georgia's Joe Ward cut the lead to two points, after which Kenny Walker blew the front end of yet a third one-and-one. When the ball was tied up under Kentucky's basket with one second remaining, the Wildcats got it under the alternate possession rule. The Bulldogs' Richard Corhen stole the in-bounds pass and threw up a 45-foot desperation heave. "I just shot it up and hoped it would go in," Corhen said. Instead, the shot bounced off the front of the rim and left Kentucky with a two-game SEC lead over LSU and Auburn with three games to play. Auburn fell behind Kentucky with a pair of losses, 57-54 to Tennessee and 81-80 to LSU.
DePaul avenged a last-second 72-71 defeat at Dayton on Feb. 18 by clubbing the Flyers 79-59 at the Horizon. "We talked about [the loss] a lot," said DePaul forward Kevin Holmes. "We always want to get back at teams that beat us." On Sunday, DePaul beat Louisville 73-63 as Dallas Comegys and Tyrone Corbin each scored 19 points. It was the ninth time this season that the Blue Demons repaid an opponent for a defeat in 1982-83. The loss was doubly costly for the Cardinals. As a designated Metro Conference game, it prevented Louisville from moving into a first-place Metro tie with Memphis State.
Miami of Ohio clinched at least a tie for its first Mid-American championship since 1978 with a 63-61 win over Bowling Green. The victory also earned the Redskins their first 20-win season since 1976-77.
Tempers flared and fists flew during Boston College's 90-88 overtime defeat of Syracuse and again in the Eagles' 83-70 loss to Georgetown. In the first game, BC's Stu Primus sank a 20-foot jump shot with two seconds to play in the OT to beat the Orange. BC, however, may have lost forward Martin Clark, a senior tri-captain who had started 109 of 117 games in four years, for the remainder of the season. Clark, who reportedly had been unhappy with his reduced playing time in recent games, had been removed by coach Gary Williams with nine minutes left in regulation. With 3:18 to play, Clark grabbed Williams on the sideline and screamed, "Put me in, it's my last game in Roberts Center! I'm going in!" Said Michael Adams, the Eagles' pint-size point guard, "I'd never seen anything like it. It's the ultimate thing that can happen to a team." Clark was suspended the following day after missing practice.
Three days later, the 5'11", 160-pound Adams tangled with 7-foot, 230-pound Patrick Ewing in the waning moments of BC's loss to Georgetown. With 1:12 to play, Adams ricocheted off Ewing after colliding with Georgetown's Fred Brown on a drive. Ewing then hurled Adams to the floor, with Adams landing at the free-throw line, about 10 feet away. As Adams scrambled to his feet, Ewing went after him with a cocked right fist. "When Ewing tossed me down and started going after me," said Adams, "I started to think about using my speed." Both players were ejected from the game, and later Hoya coach John Thompson tried to downplay the incident. "No, Georgetown doesn't hate BC, and I don't think BC hates Georgetown," Thompson said. "Last year, though, Georgetown hated St. John's."
There were no fisticuffs during the Redmen's 75-71 upset of the Hoyas in the Capital Centre, but Chris Mullin of St. John's punished the Hoyas with a career-high 33 points, four rebounds and three steals. "He's a young Rick Barry," said St. John's coach Lou Carnesecca. "He raises everybody. He raises the people in the stands. He's a performer." The usually deliberate Redmen outscored the Hoyas 17-8 on fast-break baskets and shot 63.6% from the floor. "They caught us flat-footed," said the Hoyas' Fred Brown.
Cornell, Princeton and Harvard found themselves tied for first place in the Ivy League. Cornell got there by upsetting Princeton 33-31 in Ithaca, then nipping Penn 49-46 in OT when freshman guard John Bajusz made two free throws with 11 seconds to play. Princeton bounced back to pound Columbia 75-51 behind Kevin Mullin's 21 points. Harvard, the nation's top foul-shooting team, made 26 of 32 free-throw attempts, 16 of 18 in the second half, in an 80-76 win at Brown. Earlier, the Crimson topped Yale 80-72 as center Joe Carrabino scored a career-high 38 points. Butch Graves scored 28 for Yale, becoming the second player in Ivy history to surpass 2,000 career points. With 2,041 and counting, Graves, a senior, trails only Princeton's Bill Bradley, who scored 2,503 points from 1962 to '65.
Temple wrapped up the Atlantic 10 regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the league's postseason tournament but was upset by non-conference Big Five rival LaSalle, 80-79, in double overtime at the Palestra. Ralph Lewis scored 21 points for LaSalle, including the clinching pair of free throws with 1:07 left in the second extra period. After losing a 102-100 OT decision at Western Carolina, Marshall claimed the Southern Conference regular-season title with a 66-65 victory at Davidson. Joe Binion scored 26 points to lead Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion North Carolina A&T to an 81-68 win over South Carolina State.
Maryland defeated Wake Forest 90-79 to move into a second-place tie with Duke in the ACC. Ben Coleman scored 26 points to pace the Terrapins, who had beaten Georgia Tech 79-74 and extended the Yellow Jackets' streak of ACC road losses to 19. Tech, however, had a one-game road winning streak two nights later when it upset Duke 58-56 in Durham. Afterward, coach Bobby Cremins told his team, "I will never coach again unless you guys throw me in the shower." The players happily complied.
Houston rallied from five points down at halftime to defeat Arkansas 64-61 and clinch at least a tie for its second straight Southwest Conference title. The Hogs' Alvin Robertson riddled Houston's 2-3 zone defense in the first half with 15 of his game-high 20 points and made six steals. But Michael Young, Akeem Abdul Olajuwon and Alvin Franklin sparked the Cougars' comeback. Young poured in 11 of his 17 points in the second half. Akeem got 10 of his team-high 19 points in the final 20 minutes, including three straight hoops that put Houston ahead 41-40 with 14:44 to play. The lead shifted, but the Coogs went in front for good with 8:56 to go when Franklin, who scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half, hit a 20-foot baseline jumper. "I heard some of [the Arkansas players] say, 'Give Franklin the ball. Let him shoot,' " said Franklin, who was held without a bucket in the first half by the Hogs' pressure defense. "I didn't get frustrated. Those kinds of things just make you want to take it to them."
Memphis State's 89-69 loss at Virginia Tech was the Tigers' worst beating since a 30-point defeat by Louisville in 1981. With Memphis State's Keith Lee and 6'11" William Bedford on the bench in foul trouble, the Hokies took a 37-23 halftime lead. "When Lee and Bedford got in foul trouble, we lost our aggressiveness on inside defense," said Tiger coach Dana Kirk. Memphis State also lost its spark on offense, sinking just 11 of 35 shots from the field in the first half and shooting a mere 36% for the game. Dell Curry and Perry Young combined to score 49 points for Tech, which shot 56% from the floor.
With 56 seconds to play in Oklahoma's 93-69 Big Eight title-clinching rout of Iowa State, the players on the Sooner bench put on red-and-white mittens and waved to their hometown Lloyd Noble Center crowd. "We were taking no chances of causing any controversy," said center Wayman Tisdale. He was making sarcastic reference to the scene that occurred at the end of Oklahoma's 92-82 overtime victory at Kansas and an incident after the Sooners' OT triumph at Colorado on Jan. 18. In last Wednesday's episode at Lawrence, Oklahoma players exchanged insults with Kansas fans and dodged debris thrown from the stands. With 30 seconds left in OT, the Sooners began holding their fingers jubilantly in the air, implying they were No. 1. But that's not the way some Kansas people saw it. "The Oklahoma coaches and players made gestures toward the crowd," said Kansas assistant athletic director Floyd Temple. "I'm talking about the middle-finger gesture."
Kansas coach Larry Brown, who had earlier taken the public address microphone and asked the fans to show good sportsmanship, led his players to center court to congratulate the winners after the game, but when the Sooners began to cut down the nets, debris again began to fly. The Oklahoma players and coaches were harassed and jostled as they left the floor. "I got whomped upside the head five or six times," said Sooner coach Billy Tubbs. "I got spit on. I got water and Coke and I don't know what all thrown at me. They really had no security at all." Countered Temple, "We tried to protect Coach Tubbs. But when you create a situation like the one he created, you'd need the National Guard."
Tulsa whipped Southern Illinois 111-90 to move into first place in the Missouri Valley by a game over faltering Illinois State. The Golden Hurricane defense forced 34 Saluki turnovers. "With each turnover, you could tell they were getting a little more nervous," said Tulsa forward Herb Johnson. "We kept trapping them. Then we would come in for the kill." Tulsa's next prey could be Illinois State, which is threatening to repeat last year's late-season collapse. The Redbirds were upset 105-98 by Southern Illinois in a foul-plagued game at Carbondale; together, the two teams made 55 of 80 free throws, and eight players fouled out. SIU guards Roy Birch and Bernard Campbell combined for 55 points. "Birch and Campbell played as well as any two guards against us in the last six years," said Illinois State coach Bob Donewald. Indiana State then dealt the Redbirds their second straight defeat, 54-47. "I'm seeing a lot of the same reactions as last year," said Donewald, whose team dropped five of its last nine regular-season games a year ago. "We're having the same difficulties adjusting to situations."
With Tom Sewell scoring 24 points, Southland Conference champion Lamar extended its home-court winning streak to 79 with an 86-79 defeat of McNeese State. Alcorn State assured itself of a share of the Southwestern Athletic Conference title with a 95-94 victory at Alabama State. It was the Hornets' first home-court loss since Jan. 5, 1981.
Washington beat California, 54-51, for the 14th consecutive time in Seattle, then defeated Stanford 68-63 to take sole possession of first place in the Pac-10. The Huskies held a one-game lead over Oregon State, which was upset by Arizona, 69-58. When asked to assess his team's chance for its first conference title in 31 years, Washington coach Marv Harshman replied, "I don't know. I hope we can win it. But we have our last three games on the road [at UCLA, USC and Washington State], and Oregon State has its last three at home [Oregon, Cal and UCLA]. At least we have a cushion." Washington also finished its home schedule unbeaten for the first time since 1953, when the Huskies went 30-3 and reached the NCAA Final Four.
UTEP's pair of WAC victories, over Colorado State (62-55) and New Mexico (75-66), virtually clinched the regular-season championship and the No. 1 seed in the league's first postseason tournament. UTEP coach Don Haskins, however, isn't enthralled with that tournament. "I guess y'all'll like it," said Haskins to reporters. "And I know the ADs will like it because it makes a few more dollars. But I don't like it and never have. If you can't decide the best team in the league in 16 games, then I don't think you need all the Mickey Mouse stuff." Second-place Brigham Young's chance to overtake the Miners dimmed when it lost 70-65 at Colorado State and 56-55 at Wyoming.
"We're a battling ball club," said University of San Diego coach Jim Brovelli after the Toreros' 63-61 defeat of Santa Clara. San Diego, tied with St. Mary's for the WCAC lead with a 6-3 record, got 25 points from forward Mike Whitmarsh. Santa Clara then outfought St. Mary's 59-56 when the Broncos' Scott Lamson scored on a dunk with 38 seconds left and 7'1" Nick Vanos sank a pair of free throws.
UNLV clinched its second straight PCAA title with a 74-62 overtime defeat of Cal State Fullerton, then whipped UC-Santa Barbara 93-69 on Sunday as the Rebels' Jeff Collins scored 20 points.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
CHRIS MULLIN: St. John's 6'6" senior swingman had 48 points, making 18 of 30 from the field and 12 of 13 from the line; he got eight rebounds and five steals as the Redmen beat Georgetown and Seton Hall.
SI Top 20
1. N. CAROLINA (24-1)
2. KENTUCKY (21-3)
3. HOUSTON (25-3)
4. DEPAUL (21-2)
5. GEORGETOWN (24-3)
6. UTEP (24-2)
7. UNLV (25-2)
8. OKLAHOMA (24-3)
9. ARKANSAS (22-5)
10. TULSA (23-2)
11. PURDUE (19-5)
12. MEMPHIS STATE (20-5)
13. ILLINOIS (20-4)
14. WASHINGTON (20-5)
15. MARYLAND (18-7)
16. WAKE FOREST (19-6)
17. SYRACUSE (18-6)
18. OREGON STATE (19-6)
19. TEMPLE (21-3)
20. LAMAR (22-3)