It was about over in the Big Five after California took on USC and UCLA, polished both off with its usual deadly efficiency. USC, Cal's only conqueror, mauled the Bears badly for a half, but the Trojans didn't have a chance once Darrall Imhoff and Bill McClintock took over the boards. They succumbed meekly 57-46. Against second-place UCLA, cautious Cal squeezed the ball as tightly as ever, refused to let up when the Bruins' Johnny Berberich moved to a high post in an attempt to draw Imhoff (who pushed in 16 points, snared 21 rebounds) away from the basket, put down the challengers 53-45 for its seventh league win. However, UCLA, now 5-2, gets another shot at California Saturday in Los Angeles.
Santa Clara muffled a startled St. Mary's in a tight press to win 74-48 and gain a share of the West Coast lead. But the Broncs choked on their own medicine later, lost to San Francisco's leechlike defense 44-38 and handed first place back to idle St. Mary's.
Skyline leader Utah State showed signs of faltering against Brigham Young, then began to run and whipped the Cougars 75-64. Utah kept pace by trouncing Montana 92-76. Idaho State beat Colorado State twice 77-66, 80-57, ran its winning streak to 14 to stay ahead in the Rocky Mountain Conference. The top three:
1. CALIFORNIA (19-1)
2. UTAH STATE (18-2)
3. UTAH (18-2)
All season long the question has been, who will take the Southwest Conference race, Texas A&M or SMU? Now suddenly, Texas had brusquely shouldered its way into contention—and on SMU's home court, at that. The resourceful Longhorns took full advantage of Albert Almanza's 20 points to surprise the Mustangs 69-65, tie them for second place.
Meanwhile, Texas A&M, with scoring help from brilliant Carroll Broussard (who netted 49 points in two games) and Wilmer Cox, beat Arkansas 77-68, pummeled Rice 94-53 to stand alone at the top. But the Aggies still had Texas to face Tuesday night in Austin. New Mexico State continued to lead the Border Conference, despite a loss to Hardin-Simmons 68-66. The top three:
1. TEXAS A&M (16-2)
2. TEXAS (13-5)
3. SMU (13-5)
There was no doubt now. St. John's, its sophomores looking better in every game, was the best in the East. The Redmen proved it with an impressive 79-73 victory over West Virginia—despite 32 points by All-America Jerry West. Playmaker Ivan Kovacs' hustling drives, Tony Jackson's jump shots and Leroy Ellis' rebounding were simply too much for the hard-pressed Mountaineers, who desperately went into a zone defense to protect a 58-55 lead, gave up 13 quick points and were behind the rest of the way. Two nights later, the Redmen outscored Fordham 83-64 for their eighth straight win.
NYU, although soundly trounced by West Virginia 98-69 in Morgantown, announced it had accepted an NCAA invitation, then whipped Manhattan 75-54, used Tom Sanders' rebounding and 25 points to overcome favored Villanova 62-50. St. Bonaventure and Providence, both in the NIT, went at it for three overtime periods until Tom Stith, who scored 46 points, put the Bonnies ahead for good 90-89. Dartmouth's Ivy leaders, beaten by Holy Cross 72-71, also fell before Brown 84-82 in double overtime.
Duquesne upset Dayton 79-66 and lost to St. Bonaventure 83-75; unbeaten Maine's bubble burst at Connecticut as it lost its first game 91-79, quickly followed that with another loss, 97-85 to Rhode Island. The top three:
1. ST. JOHN'S (14-5)
2. NYU (13-3)
3. VILLANOVA (17-2)
Stymied by North Carolina's clinging man-to-man, Wake Forest's luck began to change when fouls forced the Tar Heels into a zone in the second half. With Sophomore Center Len Chappell foraging on the inside, while Guards George Ritchie and Allie Hart shot over the defense, the Deacons made up a seven-point deficit, handed North Carolina its first Atlantic Coast defeat 80-69. The Tar Heels recovered to beat Duke 84-57, and Wake Forest outran South Carolina 104-94, but both were beginning to worry about improving North Carolina State, which knocked over Duke 63-53, Maryland 48-46 for its fourth and fifth games in a row.
For once, the Southeastern Conference played according to form. Jump-shooting Roger Kaiser led league-leading Georgia Tech past LSU 76-56, Georgia Teachers 66-53. Auburn, first in the nation in shooting accuracy, bolstered its percentage while beating Florida 89-51, LSU 63-61. Kentucky ran away from Mississippi State 90-59, held off Notre Dame 68-65.
Virginia Tech's hungry Gobblers defeated William & Mary 82-66, The Citadel 86-74, but were still tied for first place with West Virginia, a 103-57 winner over Richmond. Miami, upset by Stetson 73-72, achieved its heart's desire: an NCAA invitation; Memphis State accepted a bid to the NIT, then lost to Wichita 79-75. The top three:
1. GEORGIA TECH (19-3)
2. WEST VIRGINIA (20-3)
3. NORTH CAROLINA (12-4)
If any further evidence were needed that Oscar Robertson is the one college player who can pick up a team and lead it to victory, the Cincinnati star provided it last week. After scoring 62 points in a 123-74 win over North Texas State, Oscar took charge when his Bearcats trailed St. Louis 50-47, scored nine straight as Cincinnati won 60-57. Bradley set back Houston 78-57, Drake 68-63 to keep step with Cincinnati in the Missouri Valley.
It was the same old story in the Big Ten. Ohio State brushed aside Wisconsin 106-69, Iowa 75-47, leaving second place to those who would take it. Indiana, with five straight, and Illinois were the most likely candidates.
Colorado, still making the most surprising noises in the Big Eight, beat Oklahoma State at its own ball-control game 48-40, moved up to share the lead with Kansas State when Kansas beat the Wildcats 64-62. The top three:
1. BRADLEY (19-1)
2. CINCINNATI (19-1)
3. OHIO STATE (17-2)
SHROUDED in headgear to protect fractured jaw, St. Mary's Tom Meschery fights for rebound against Santa Clara.