The Hoosiers played dumb after Purdue got just one foul shot in the last nine minutes of Thursday's 71-70 overtime loss to Indiana. The IU players left before they could be interviewed; coach Bob Knight would discuss only fishing and the weather. "What an unbelievable day we got for January," mused Knight. "I sat on this lake fishing and I thought how insignificant basketball really is." By Saturday's game with Illinois, Knight's pacific mood had melted. On national television, he stomped a folding chair and verbally abused players, officials and—now here's a fresh wrinkle—the Hoosier cheerleaders. He thought they had interfered with an inbounds play.
After a 3 for 13 evening from the floor against Purdue on Thursday, Indiana center Daryl Thomas got orders from Knight to work on his shooting at Friday's practice. Thomas did, but with less than satisfactory results. Said Knight of the workout, "He couldn't hit a bull in the ass with an ironing board." Thursday's goat was Saturday's hero, though: Thomas's 30 points included the two that put Indiana ahead of Illinois 68-67 with less than a minute to play.
After being in the Big Ten cellar with Minnesota three weeks ago, Indiana now shares the penthouse with Michigan, 91-79 losers to Michigan State. State guard Scott Skiles's 40 points on 15-for-20 shooting—mostly rainbows from downtown East Lansing—were just the sort of thing Spartan coach Jud Heathcote had in mind when he said, "Michigan can play a mediocre game and win. We have to play an inspired game to win." Behind Skiles's marksmanship, State took a 13-point lead at half and never looked back. Still, Michigan State is now just 3-4 in the Big Ten, mired in what Heathcote calls "the never-never land of the second division."
One paper cup, wadded into a ball and thrown at UTEP forward Wayne Campbell's head, was the unlikely key to the Miners' 71-70 win over New Mexico Saturday. Two seconds remained in overtime and Campbell needed both ends of a one-and-one to win it for his team. As he let go the first, the fateful meteor whizzed past his right eye. He missed that shot but was awarded another after an official ruled fan interference. "[The cup] just threw my whole concentration off," said Campbell.
"I don't think it had any effect on his shot," said New Mexico coach Gary Colson after Campbell had swished his next two to beat the Lobos 71-70. "I'm sorry [my call] decided the ball game," said Jimmy Clark, the ref who made the call, "but it's in the rule book."
With three seconds to play in OT and Arizona losing by a point to Oregon State, Wildcat guard Steve Kerr lofted a full-court pass to teammate Sean Elliott. Elliott went up for the ball but never touched it; he said he was pushed by Beavers center Jose Ortiz. Ortiz counter-charged that he had been fouled by UA's Anthony Cook, who, in turn, slapped the ball to Craig McMillan, who ended the finger-pointing by driving for an uncontested layup to win the game 63-62. The win, Arizona's third overtime victory in three games, boosts it to 14-5, 5-1 in the Pac 10, half a game behind conference-leading Washington.
Two Big East underdogs came oh so close to upsets. In Pittsburgh, the Panthers' fourth opponent in seven days was the Redmen of St. John's, whom they had taken to overtime on Jan. 4 before losing 78-75. Playing anemic defense and missing 17 of 30 first-half shots, St. John's was down by 14 at intermission. But Redmen forward Walter (The Truth) Berry came to life, and Pitt's 14-point lead became a six-point deficit 10 minutes into the second half. The Truth finished with 34 points and eight offensive rebounds. Said St. John's coach Lou Carnesecca afterward, "Berry was in forte voce." Trailing by two as time ticked down, Pitt had one last gasp, but Demetreus Gore's ill-advised, off-balance jumper with two seconds to play hit only air.
Boston College coach Gary Williams can empathize with Pitt. His Eagles squandered a 12-point second-half lead and lost to Georgetown 73-66. A 10-1 BC burst that began the second half rocked the 14,218 fans at Boston Garden but not the Hoyas. Down 42-30, Georgetown outscored the Eagles 26-10, holding BC without a field goal for one six-minute stretch. Said Williams, "It's frustrating to play the 12th-ranked team in the country and be good enough to beat them most of the way."
"I've been saying it's still early," said Dean Smith after North Carolina's 85-77 victory over Georgia Tech, "but it is getting later." The win partially avenged the three losses that the Yellow Jackets pinned on UNC last season, including a 57-54 decision in the ACC tournament final. The Tar Heels, 21-0 after Sunday's 73-61 romp over Notre Dame, are taking no prisoners these days. After North Carolina squeezed past Marquette 66-64 on Jan. 19, Tar Heel players leaving the Mecca spied a man stealing a piece of luggage from the team bus. After giving chase, senior guard Steve Hale and assistant coach Roy Williams apprehended him. "What are you going to do?" asked the culprit as he was escorted back to the bus. Responded Hale, "We're gonna hang ya!"
He was joking; the Tar Heels chose not to press charges.
LSU's 74-65 loss to Florida, its third defeat in the Southeastern Conference, boded ill. The day after the loss, forward John Williams and reserve swingman Bernard Woodside were sent to a dermatologist; he diagnosed them as having chicken pox. Saturday's Auburn game was postponed. The Florida game was LSU's first without junior forward Nikita Wilson, the Tigers' team captain, who was declared academically ineligible for the spring semester after failing a remedial math course. "LSU has used Nikita," charged Tiger coach Dale Brown, who felt the school's math department was making an example of Wilson in trying to prove that it doesn't favor athletes. "Numerous incompletes have been granted [to other students].... Some grades have been changed so foreign students wouldn't have to go back to Iran." After going 14-0 to start the season, LSU is 2-3 in its last five games. "We're faced with our backs to the wall," said Brown.
Tito Horford, the high school class of '85's last unsigned, big-name player, has found a home at last. The impetuous, hugely talented and widely traveled 7'1" Horford enrolled Tuesday at the University of Miami, which revived its basketball program this season after a 14-year layoff. For Horford, the welcome mat hadn't been out at many schools, presumably because aspects of his recruitment to and departure from Houston and LSU insured that his next port of call would quickly come under NCAA scrutiny.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
SCOTT SKILES: Michigan State's 6'1" senior guard scored 40 points, making 15 of 20 field-goal attempts, and added eight assists and three steals as the Spartans upset third-ranked Michigan 91-79.
1. N. CAROLINA (21-0)
2. MEMPHIS STATE (19-0)
3. GEORGIA TECH (16-2)
4. DUKE (17-2)
5. KANSAS (19-2)
6. MICHIGAN (17-2)
7. OKLAHOMA (18-1)
8. ST. JOHN'S (19-2)
9. KENTUCKY (16-2)
10. GEORGETOWN (15-3)
11. SYRACUSE (15-2)
12. UNLV (19-2)
13. LSU (16-3)
14. LOUISVILLE (11-6)
15. VIRGINIA TECH (16-3)
16. BRADLEY (20-1)
17. INDIANA (13-4)
18. NOTRE DAME (12-3)
19. PURDUE (16-5)
20. UAB (18-5)