"The worst team I ever had," grumbled Kentucky's proud Adolph Rupp. And The Baron had good reason for his disgust. He had just watched Georgia Tech tame his Wildcats 65-44. The eager Yellow Jackets, seeking their first Southeastern Conference title since 1938, forced Kentucky into its poorest shooting performance of the season (16.3%) with a harrying half-court press, received an added bonus when little Bobby Dews held the Wildcats' Bennie Coffman to one point. Sophomore Roger Kaiser produced 24 points, and Dave Denton, who had been nabbed for ticket scalping before the game (he later was fined $1 by a sympathetic judge), got 18 and dazzled the confused Wildcats with his dribbling.
Kentucky bounced back to whip Georgia 84-60 and Florida 75-62, but the Wildcats will need plenty of help from other teams if they are to catch Georgia Tech, which added to its conference lead by beating Alabama 60-48. Auburn edged Vanderbilt 55-54, was still hopeful.
After 56 straight conference victories, West Virginia finally lost to a Southern Conference rival and tumbled into second place behind Virginia Tech. Inspired William & Mary couldn't stop magnificent Jerry West, who scored 42 points before fouling out with five minutes to go, but matched him with husky, 6-foot-7-inch Jeff Cohen, who got 34 points and picked off 20 rebounds, upset the Mountaineers 94-86 at Norfolk. The Indians solved West Virginia's zone press, fed Cohen and Bev Vaughan, who did the rest.
North Carolina State ditched its slowdown game, returned to the fast break to beat Clemson 90-69. Duke climbed over South Carolina 79-65 and into second place in the Atlantic Coast. Meanwhile, league leader North Carolina was delighted by the news that Doug Moe, last year's sophomore star, was eligible again. The top three:
1. GEORGIA TECH (16-2)
2. WEST VIRGINIA (16-2)
3. NORTH CAROLINA (9-3)
Ohio State continues to dominate the Big Ten. Michigan State tried all the defensive tricks it knew against the bustling Buckeyes, was disappointed at every turn, went down gasping 111-79. Jerry Lucas led the assault with 25 points, had help from fellow sophomores John Havlicek (20 points) and Mel Nowell (15 points), prompting Michigan State's Forddy Anderson to marvel: "There's too many of them."
What life was left in the Big Ten was concentrated in Minnesota. Getting the hang of former Minneapolis Laker Coach Johnny Kundla's pro-style offense, the Gophers took only 47 shots, made 34 for a new conference record of 72%, walloped Iowa 87-72 to move into second place. Hottest Gopher was Ray Cronk, 6-foot 6-inch skin-and-bones sophomore, who scored 21 points. Even Kundla was surprised: "I'm stunned by the way we shot. We don't take many shots, just play for the good ones. And we don't play fuddy-duddy basketball, either." At week's end, Minnesota was still taking the good shots, beat Wisconsin 86-72.
Dayton and Toledo played host to two of the South's better teams, sent Virginia Tech and Wake Forest back home wondering why they bothered to make the trip. Dayton, pushing for an NIT bid behind the scoring of Garry Roggenburk and Stan Greenberg, ended Tech's eight-game winning streak 77-59, outhustled Wake Forest 62-45. Toledo found its guests more troublesome, was forced into overtime to beat Virginia Tech 48-46, then outscored Wake Forest 70-63.
The Citadel tried its best to contain Cincinnati's Oscar Robertson with a slowdown, but Oscar got his hands on the ball often enough to score 29 points, helped the Bearcats win 64-43. Bradley had a time with Marquette, went into a late stall to win 62-59 in overtime; traveling St. John's, beginning to look like the good team it could be, defeated Marquette 69-63, Loyola of Chicago 74-59; Big Eight leader Kansas State turned back Baylor 77-63, while Oklahoma State cut down Oklahoma 59-48. The top three:
1. BRADLEY (14-1)
2. CINCINNATI (15-1)
3. OHIO STATE (13-2)
Villanova, enjoying its lofty rating (No. 1 in the East, No. 8 in the nation), tied up Army with a tight zone in the second half, beat the Cadets 66-53. But the Wildcats needed a lift from ball-hawking Jimmy Huggard to overcome Canisius 75-66.
St. Bonaventure's Tom Stith, hot on the . heels of Cincinnati's Robertson in individual scoring, filled the baskets with 46 points to help the Bonnies beat Marshall 93-80; St. Joseph's found Temple full of fight, needed all of Bob McNeill's back-court skill to pull ahead of the Owls 59-54; less fortunate LaSalle was upset by Western Kentucky 76-70; Pitt extended West Virginia, but bowed 76-66. The top three:
1. VILLANOVA (14-1)
2. NYU (9-2)
3. PROVIDENCE (10-3)
California showed it hadn't lost its touch during the two-week exam layoff, returned to beat Oregon 70-45, Oregon State 67-48. However, UCLA, runner-up to Cal in the Big Five, ran into serious trouble in Colorado. First, the Bruins were upset by Denver 71-68, then found themselves involved in a fist-throwing brawl before they squeaked past Air Force 76-75.
Confident Utah State toyed with Brig-ham Young, routed the Cougars 84-53 to hold the Skyline lead, while Utah took a brief respite from conference play, outran Loyola of Los Angeles 88-81. Idaho State, Rocky Mountain leader, polished off Regis 71-56 for its 10th straight. The top three:
1. CALIFORNIA (16-1)
2. UTAH STATE (15-2)
3. UTAH (15-2)
Texas A&M and SMU, the chief protagonists in the Southwest Conference, were inactive last week, but Texas Tech beat TCU 75-66 in overtime. West Texas State defeated Arizona State 87-84 for its second Border victory, moved within striking distance of first-place New Mexico State. The top three:
1. TEXAS A&M (12-1)
2. SMU (10-4)
3. NEW MEXICO STATE (13-3)
ROUNDUP OF THE PROS
As the NBA headed into the final third of the season, Boston and St. Louis stood comfortably at the head of their respective divisions, and it was becoming increasingly apparent that they would stay there. The Celtics were 4½ games in front of Philadelphia in the East, while the Hawks led Detroit by 9½ games in the West.
The casualty rate among coaches has been unusually high this year as owners of trailing teams sought to overhaul the leaders. Carl Braun replaced Fuzzy Levane in New York, Dick McGuire took over for Red Rocha in Detroit and Jim Pollard succeeded Johnny Castellani in Minneapolis. But no coach or player has made a greater impact on pro basketball than Philadelphia's rookie Wilt Chamberlain, who has already set league and team records.
With the playoffs less than six weeks off, here is a rundown of the teams:
Boston: The measure of any team is its ability to adjust to adversity, and the Celtics, since losing rugged rebounder Jim Loscutoff in midseason, have met the test admirably. Tom Heinsohn has supplied the defensive strength to go with Bill Russell's superb rebounding and Bob Cousy's still-magical playmaking. However, the real reason for Boston's success is its bench. Reserves K. C. Jones and Sam Jones could make most other varsities.
Philadelphia: Chamberlain's scoring (38.2 per game) and rebounding (28.9 per game) have lifted the Warriors to second place in the East this year and opposing coaches can do little more than marvel at his vast abilities. Wilt has had help in the backcourt from an improved Tom Gola and, when he isn't ailing, from neat ball handler Guy Rodgers. Up front are Paul Arizin and agile Andy Johnson. But lack of depth prevents the Warriors from making a real run at Boston.
Syracuse: Man for man, the Nats are no match for Boston and Philadelphia. However, seasoned veterans Dolph Schayes and George Yardley give them a strong scoring punch, and Dick Barnett, the fancy backcourt man from Tennessee A&I, is one of the league's prize rookies. Syracuse might not rise above third in the Eastern division, but it may be the third-best team in basketball.
New York: Despite the Knicks' frantic attempts to trade, they still have not come up with a good, big man. An improved Charlie Tyra, veterans Richie Guerin and Willie Naulls and Newcomers Jim Palmer, Whitey Bell and Dick Gar-maker have helped to make the Knicks more respectable. Even so, New York seems likely to finish in the cellar.
St. Louis: Although the Hawks are the best of a mediocre Western Division, they need some shoring up in the backcourt. Slater Martin has slowed up, and Si Green isn't helping as much as expected. Bob Pettit, who has tailed off a bit since last year but is still one of the best players in the league, Cliff Hagan and Clyde Lovellette give St. Louis a strong front court. However, Lovellette on defense is equivalent to almost no defense at all.
Detroit: Early-season injuries, inconsistency and a rundown backcourt have cost Detroit dearly. Guard Gene Shue needs the kind of help Playing Coach Dick McGuire, at 34, can no longer give him. However, the Pistons have perked up under McGuire. Walter Dukes is having his best year as a pro and big rookie Bailey Howell, strong below the basket, has been a pleasant surprise.
Minneapolis: Coach Jim Pollard appears to have earned the respect of his players—something predecessor Johnny Castellani never could do—but third-place Minneapolis isn't going much of anywhere. The Lakers have two fine rookies in Rudy LaRusso, a strong rebounder and scorer, and Tom Hawkins, the slick ex-Notre Darner, but Elgin Baylor hasn't been quite so effective as last year, and this has hurt the team.
Cincinnati: About the best that can be said for the Royals is that they are young, hopeful and waiting for Oscar Robertson. Meanwhile, Jack Twyman, a solid old pro, has had to carry the load.
HELPFUL ELBOW by Villanova's Raveling (41) gives Teammate Kaminski clear field for ball in 75-66 win over Canisius.
PRIZE ROOKIES: LA RUSSO (35), HAWKINS (20), HOWELL (18), CHAMBERLAIN (13)