Coach Joe B. Hall was so disgusted by Kentucky's defense in a 63-58 defeat at Tennessee—the Wildcats' 11th loss to the Vols in Knoxville in 12 years—that he held two days of brutal workouts in which the Cats spent a good deal of time running up and down the steps inside Rupp Arena. Kentucky got the message: In a 76-57 romp over Mississippi, it outrebounded the Rebels 46-25 and was credited with 10 steals. Sam Bowie scored 20 points and took down a career-high 19 rebounds against Ole Miss, then added 20 points and 16 rebounds in a 90-68 win over LSU in his final regular-season appearance at Rupp. Bowie cried when the pep band struck up My Old Kentucky Home during a pre-game ceremony, thereby losing a bet with his teammates for being the first to shed a tear. "After all the respect and love I've received from the state of Kentucky, it's hard to leave a place like this," said Bowie.
After scoring just six points and grabbing two rebounds in a 78-59 loss to Indiana, Purdue's Jim Rowinski dominated Ohio State in his final appearance in Mackey Arena. Rowinski got 23 points and nine boards in the Boilermakers' 85-63 rout of the Buckeyes. Illinois regained a first-place tie with Purdue in the Big Ten with a 70-53 victory over Indiana. Earlier, the Fighting Illini beat Ohio State 73-58, as Efrem Winters and Bruce Douglas combined for 50 points.
The Sun Belt Conference tournament was held in Birmingham for the third consecutive year, and for the third time in a row, host Alabama-Birmingham won it. The Blazers coasted to a 62-60 victory over Old Dominion to earn their fourth consecutive berth in the NCAA tournament. UAB earned its spot in the final by upsetting regular-season champion Virginia Commonwealth 52-50, as Luellen Foster hit a pair of free throws with two seconds left. Old Dominion, the tournament's second seed, advanced to the final by knocking off Western Kentucky 78-72.
With a 96-83 double-overtime defeat of Duke in Chapel Hill, North Carolina became the first team to go undefeated in the ACC regular season since North Carolina State did so in 1973-74. But Carolina's last obstacle proved to be a tough one. The Blue Devils would have beaten the Tar Heels in Carmichael Auditorium for the first time since Jan. 8, 1966, during the arena's inaugural season, if forward Matt Doherty hadn't hit a 15-foot jumper at the buzzer to send the game into OT, tied at 73. "I dream of taking shots like that," said Doherty. "When I got to the bench, Sam [Perkins] kissed me on the cheek." Duke's Johnny Dawkins hit a scoop shot to put the game into the second OT, tied at 79. Then Perkins and Michael Jordan took control. Jordan, who scored 20 of his team-high 27 points after halftime, made a three-point play with 4:27 left in the second OT to give the Tar Heels an 82-79 lead. Perkins, who had 23 points and 11 rebounds in his final Carmichael appearance, scored six points in the final 3:45 to put the game away for North Carolina.
"I don't think anybody in the country outside of North Carolina was expected to go unbeaten in their conference," said coach John Chaney after Temple beat archrival St. Joseph's 69-58 to finish the Atlantic 10 regular season 18-0. Granger Hall scored 17 of his team-high 21 points in the second half, and the Owls' airtight zone held the Hawks' frontline starters—Tony Costner, Bob Lojewski and Kevin Springman—to a combined 17 points on 5-for-18 shooting.
Georgetown rolled to a 48-27 halftime lead en route to an 88-71 defeat of Syracuse, which clinched the Big East title for the Hoyas. Georgetown electrified a capacity crowd of 19,035 in the Capital Centre by shooting 69.2% in the first half. The ball-hawking Hoya defense, meanwhile, held the Orange to a woeful 34.6% from the floor in that half. Patrick Ewing led seven double-figure Georgetown scorers with 16 points and had a game-high 10 rebounds.
Four teams earned early bids to the NCAA tournament. Iona got its berth by defeating Fordham 72-61 in the championship game of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament. Steve Burtt, the tourney's MVP, scored a tournament-record 33 points for the Gaels. Bill Ryan's 25 points led Princeton to a 65-57 win over Brown—and the Ivy League title. Tournament MVP LaVerne Evans scored 38 points as Marshall beat UT-Chattanooga 111-107 in double overtime and won the Southern Conference tournament title in Asheville, N.C. North Carolina A&T got its third straight NCAA bid with a 65-58 defeat of Howard in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference final in Greensboro.
Billy Tubbs wouldn't call Oklahoma's 78-70 victory over UNLV in Norman his biggest as the Sooner coach. "I don't want to take anything from any of our other big wins, so let's just say it was a great, great victory," said Tubbs. But it was the Sooners' first defeat of a Top 10 team during Tubbs's four seasons in Norman. Wayman Tisdale scored a game-high 21 points, hitting 8 of 14 shots from the floor, against four different defenders. Three of them—center Paul Brozovich and forwards Richie Adams and Frank (Spoon) James—fouled out.
Tulsa's 126-102 triumph over Indiana State clinched a share of the Missouri Valley Conference championship for the Golden Hurricane for the first time since 1955 and contributed to school records for victories in a season (13) and consecutive 100-point games (three). Still, the Tulsa players were in no mood to celebrate. "We don't want to share anything," forward Vince Williams said. "We want the whole thing." Thus Tulsa's 91-81 loss to Illinois State in the season finale was doubly bitter for the Golden Hurricane. The Redbirds' triumph not only earned them a tie with Tulsa for the MVC title, but also gave Illinois State the home court advantage through the postseason playoff.
With center Joe Kleine scoring 22 points, including a 10-for-10 performance from the free-throw line, Arkansas upset Houston 73-68 in Fayetteville and broke the Cougars' 39-game Southwest Conference winning streak. The Razorbacks have now beaten three Top 10 teams—first came North Carolina and Oklahoma—this season. Arkansas' latest victory also avenged its 64-61 loss in Houston on Feb. 26, which clinched the Coogs' second straight Southwest Conference regular-season title. Houston's Akeem Abdul Olajuwon, who had 19 points, 10 rebounds and six blocked shots in the earlier victory, scored just 10 points and had six rebounds before fouling out with six minutes to play. With the Cougars leading 45-44 and 14:36 left, Kleine converted five straight free throws during a two-minute, 7-0 surge that gave the Hogs the lead for good, 51-45 with 12:23 left. "When Kleine sank all those free throws at one time," said Houston forward Michael Young, "that was the big turning point."
Louisville edged Tulane 61-60 in New Orleans when the Cardinals' Milt Wagner, who had a team-high 24 points, hit a 15-foot jumper with 24 seconds to play. Louisville then beat Memphis State for the second time this season, 68-58 in Freedom Hall, to claim a share of the Metro Conference title with the Tigers and gain the top seed in this week's league tournament in Memphis.
During the player introductions before UCLA's 73-59 Pac-10 victory over Washington in Pauley Pavilion, a fan displayed a large poster that read: HEY ALUMNI, LEAVE LARRY ALONE. Larry is Bruin coach Larry Farmer, and he has been sharply criticized during UCLA's 16-10 season, its worst regular season since 1960. "One of the players told me to turn around," Farmer said. "The show of affection was really touching." The Bruins' performance on the floor touched Farmer further. UCLA outrebounded Washington 34-19 and sank 31 of 39 free throws. "Some people are saying we're the joke of the Pac-10," said Bruin guard Ralph Jackson, who scored a game-high 22 points. "We probably earned some respect tonight." The Huskies dropped into a temporary tie for the conference lead when Oregon State survived Oregon's slowdown tactics to defeat the Ducks 29-23 in Corvallis. Washington regained the lead by a half-game on Sunday with a 71-66 win over USC.
Sophomore center Tod Murphy completed an unusual three-point play with three seconds left as UC-Irvine upset UNLV 77-74 in the PCAA. The winning points came after the Rebels' Richie Adams was charged with goal-tending on Murphy's slam-dunk attempt, along with his fifth foul. "He made a good block," said Murphy, "but his hand was inside the rim." The Anteaters then nipped Cal State-Fullerton 72-69 to clinch second place in the PCAA behind UNLV.
The University of San Diego clinched a tie for the WCAC title with a 71-69 double-overtime win at Gonzaga. Earlier, the Toreros had defeated Portland 63-56 as Mike Whit-marsh scored a team-high 16 points. San Diego was one game ahead of St. Mary's with one to play: Their head-to-head showdown is in San Diego on March 8. BYU's Devin Durrant scored 35 points and sophomore center Jim Usevitch added 25 and 11 rebounds in the Cougars' 83-65 upset of UTEP in Provo. BYU's win momentarily kept the Miners from clinching their first outright WAC title since 1970. UTEP wrapped up the championship two days later with a 55-54 defeat of Utah in Salt Lake City.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
VERN FLEMING: Georgia's 6'5" senior guard scored 71 points, hitting 28 of 36 shots from the field and 15 of 23 free throws, and had nine rebounds and seven steals in the Bulldogs' two SEC victories.
SI Top 20
1. N. CAROLINA (26-1)
2. DEPAUL (24-2)
3. GEORGETOWN (26-3)
4. KENTUCKY (23-4)
5. HOUSTON (26-4)
6. ARKANSAS (24-5)
7. OKLAHOMA (27-3)
8. ILLINOIS (22-4)
9. UTEP (25-3)
10. MARYLAND (20-7)
11. TEMPLE (24-3)
12. UNLV (25-4)
13. TULSA (24-3)
14. PURDUE (20-6)
15. MEMPHIS STATE (21-6)
16. WASHINGTON (21-6)
17. LAMAR (24-3)
18. OREGON STATE (20-6)
19. WAKE FOREST (20-7)
20. SYRACUSE (20-7)