During the last five minutes of Niagara's 62-59 upset of St. John's, a good number of the 6,900 fans in the Niagara Convention Center stood five deep along the sidelines. When the final buzzer sounded, they burst through a meager cordon of security guards, pulled down one of the backboards and shattered it, just as their Purple Eagles had shattered the Redmen's previously perfect record.
The Eagle who did the most damage was 6'8" center Joe Arlauckas, who had 20 points and six rebounds while outplaying St. John's 7-foot Bill Wennington. "We knew we had to play our hearts out," said Arlauckas. "[Purple Eagles coach Pete] Lonergan had us so mentally ready, we weren't going to be intimidated." Said Lonergan, while his team and some fans sipped beer out of a silver cup in the dressing room afterward, "This is a great win for our players and the program. But also for the Vincentians [an order of priests] at Niagara who hear it from the Vincentians at St. John's every year."
Georgia Tech guard Mark Price was the goat in the Yellow Jackets' first defeat of the season, a 60-59 loss to Georgia, but four nights later he found himself with a chance for redemption. Price had the ball with three seconds left to play and the score tied 64-64 in Tech's ACC opener against North Carolina State. His 20-foot jump shot from the right of the key gave Tech a 66-64 victory and dealt the Wolfpack its first loss of the season.
In Georgia's defeat of the Jackets, Joe Ward scored the Bulldogs' last six points, including two on a 15-foot jump shot with :05 left to give Georgia its second narrow victory over Tech in two seasons. Price made only three of 13 shots from the floor and made two costly errors in the waning moments. First he threw up a 35-foot brick, thinking that the 45-second shot clock was about to expire. Then he lost the ball to the Dawgs' Gerald Crosby, after which Georgia set up Ward's winning hoop. "I didn't know who knocked the ball away," said Price, "but I know it lost the game."
Louisiana Tech rolled to the Marshall Invitational championship by beating Alabama State 80-57 in the opening round and Marshall 69-63 in the title game. Tournament MVP Karl (Mailman) Malone delivered 20 points and 10 rebounds in each of Tech's victories.
Please excuse Virginia Tech if it's still in shock after an 86-75 upset loss to Tennessee in the championship game of the Volunteer Classic in Knoxville. On opening night the previously unbeaten Hokies had crushed Iowa State 80-53 by shackling Cyclone forward Barry Stevens. "The win was easier than I thought it would be," said Tech coach Charles Moir. "Our defense forced them to take some bad shots, and Stevens just had a bad night. Give [Tech forward] Perry Young credit for that." Young held Stevens, who had entered the game averaging 20.7 points per game, to a mere six while ramming home 28 of his own.
But Tennessee, led by guards Michael Brooks, the tournament MVP, and Tony White, shot the Hokies down and waltzed to its 16th Classic title in 19 years. Brooks and White combined for 45 points and outplayed Tech's backcourt tandem of Dell Curry and Al Young. Still, Vol coach Don DeVoe, who guided the Hokies from 1971 to 1976, thinks that this Tech team is the best in the school's history. "There comes a time in every season when you've got to beat someone better than you," he said. "This loss will make Tech work harder and make it a better team."
Louisville coach Denny Crum, whose Cardinals beat Kentucky 71-64, says, "There used to be a lot of hatred before we started playing each other. But now I don't think hatred exists. It doesn't hurt Kentucky to lose to us, and it doesn't hurt us to lose to them." If the loss didn't hurt Kentucky, it's because the Wildcats are getting numb from coming up short. Their record at week's end was 1-4, their worst start since 1926. In Kentucky's first game as a visiting team in Louisville since 1922, the 19,847 Freedom Hall fans waved CATBUSTERS posters as the pep band played the theme from Ghostbusters. Louisville's victory overshadowed an inspired performance by Kentucky's Kenny Walker, who scored 32 points and grabbed 15 rebounds.
If Indiana is looking more like the powerhouse most people expected it to be, it's because 7'2" Uwe Blab is finally making his presence felt. The Hoosiers turned the Indiana Classic in Bloomington into a hometown jamboree by clobbering Western Kentucky 80-57 in the opening round, then burying St. Joseph's (Pa.) 81-44 in the title game. Blab won the MVP trophy by totaling 47 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks, and seems to have regained his enthusiasm now that he has, for the moment at least, escaped from coach Bob Knight's doghouse. "The most pleasant thing to me," says Knight, "has been Uwe's play. Not the scoring, just the degree to which he's into the game, possession by possession."
During the Hoosiers' rout of St. Joe's, Blab made plenty of noise. He barked orders on offense and defense, and during a rare moment on the bench shouted, "Patience!" at teammate Steve Alford after Alford missed a hasty shot. When Indiana played lethargically with a 10-point, first-half lead, Knight yelled at his players, "You're dead, the crowd's dead." Blab then batted down three shots in a 90-second span early in the second half to highlight a 26-6 Indiana run.
Blab was not the only Hoosier to shed his dog collar. In Indiana's 69-67 win at Iowa State, junior Mike Giomi, whose scholarship was revoked in June because of his poor grades and attitude, played 40 workhorse minutes, got 17 points and 12 rebounds, and moved to center when Blab fouled out with four minutes left.
Prior to Kansas's game with Houston in Lawrence, Cougar guard Reid Gettys knew nothing about Jayhawk freshman Danny Manning. "Our scouting report said, 'I'm sure you all have heard of him,' " Gettys said. "I had never heard of him." Now Gettys has. Manning scored 28 points and had eight rebounds, five assists and three steals in Kansas's 87-75 win. Michigan ran its record to 6-0 with wins over Western Michigan (83-59), and Eastern Michigan (83-72).
In Oklahoma's second annual Let's-Break-The-School-Scoring-Record Holiday Classic, the Sooners smashed Southwestern (Tex.) 126-76. The old record of 118 was set eleven months earlier against McNeese State. Wayman Tisdale missed his personal best by six points, scoring 55, many of them from the perimeter. The 6'7½" Tisdale even had his first run at point guard, taking up coach Billy Tubbs on his preseason promise. "Anytime we go 50 ahead, Wayman goes to point guard," Tubbs had promised.
UCLA trounced U.S. International 98-50 before the smallest crowd ever to see a game in 12,800-seat Pauley Pavilion—3,525. The Bruins thus spoiled the return to Westwood of Gull coach Freddie Goss, a former UCLA teammate of Bruin coach Walt Hazzard and a starter on the '64-65 NCAA championship team.
The main attraction for the tiny crowd was tiny (5'2½") Zach Lieberman, the Gulls' junior guard. Lieberman, a.k.a the Hully Gully Man, scored nine points and at one point in the second half scrambled for a loose ball and entangled himself with 6'11" Bruin center Brad Wright. What once might have been the most predictable jump ball in NCAA history was averted only by the alternate-possession rule, which did away with jump balls (except at the start of a game) in 1981. "Lieberman brought back memories," said UCLA point guard Nigel Miguel, who had played against Lieberman in high school in Los Angeles. "It was fun. He's very intense. He keeps pressure on you, and the little guy likes to scrap."
SMU won its third straight Dallas Morning News Classic, whipping Idaho 90-71 in the opening game and Oklahoma State 82-65 in the final. The Mustangs' Carl (World) Wright scored 44 points and was named the tournament MVP. UTEP stretched its record to 6-1 with victories over New Mexico State (83-62) and Lamar (69-62)
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
UWE BLAB: Indiana's 7'2" senior center from West Germany, who was named the MVP of the Indiana Classic, scored 62 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and blocked 13 shots in three Hoosier victories.
SI TOP 20
1. GEORGETOWN (7-0)
2. ILLINOIS (10-1)
3. MEMPHIS STATE (6-0)
5. SMU (6-0)
6. OKLAHOMA (6-2)
7. SYRACUSE (5-0)
8. GEORGIA TECH (4-1)
9. ST. JOHN'S (5-1)
10. WASHINGTON (4-0)
11. ARKANSAS (5-1)
12. DUKE (5-0)
13. INDIANA (5-2)
14. N.C. STATE (5-1)
15. N. CAROLINA (5-0)
16. KANSAS (7-1)
17. VIRGINIA TECH (5-1)
18. LSU (4-1)
19. LOUISIANA TECH (8-0)
20. MICHIGAN (6-0)
* Last week