It was examination time for many of the nation's major-college teams, but some still found time for limited competition. Unbeaten Ohio State continued to win handsomely in the Big Ten, Kentucky had Coach Adolph Rupp preening expectantly for his first SEC title in four years and independent Oregon State streaked impressively among its neighbors in the Pacific Northwest.
Minnesota was ready for Ohio State. The fans, 19,500 strong, came armed with confetti, streamers and other adornments to make it a wild celebration. But someone forgot to tell Jerry Lucas and his friends. Big Luke and John Havlicek boxed out the Gophers' big men under the boards and scored 56 points, the Minnesota fast break was slowed down to a trot and the Buckeyes serenely went about the business of winning their 13th straight, 90-76.
Thanks to Wichita, the Missouri Valley had a race again. Upset at Tulsa 86-77, the Shockers hit Bradley with a sizzling fast break in the first half to grab a 51-39 lead. The Braves fought back with a full-court press and Chet Walker's 40 points, but it wasn't good enough. Six-foot-10 Gene Wiley gave Wichita the boards, Lanny Van Eman pitched in 25 points and the Shockers squeezed out an 89-88 win. The top three:
1. OHIO STATE (13-0)
2. CINCINNATI (13-2)
3. BRADLEY (11-3)
Kentucky was still treating its SEC rivals like a bunch of presumptuous upstarts. Cotton Nash, Larry Pursiful and Carroll Burchett hit Tennessee with an 81-point fusillade, and the Vols bowed 95-82. But highly rated Mississippi State had its troubles. While Coach Babe McCarthy fretted, his Bulldogs almost lost to last-place Georgia Tech. Behind 56-55 with a minute to go, McCarthy sent in sophomore Aubrey Nichols, obviously with instructions to foul, and the strategy worked. Tech's Frank Landrey twice missed the one-and-one, and stringy W. D. Stroud pushed in a lay-up in the last second to win for State 57-56. Alabama and Mississippi were easier for the Bulldogs. They stalled awhile with the slowed-down Alabamans but won 67-40 and finished the week by overtaking Ole Miss 61-57. Meanwhile, Georgia Tech finally pulled off an upset. The Jackets made six straight foul shots in the last three minutes, added a field goal by Josh Powell and Tech beat Vanderbilt 71-66.
While Duke and Wake Forest marked time until their January 27 meeting, North Carolina moved to the top of the ACC standings. The Tar Heels confused South Carolina with their "Oklahoma shuffle" and beat them 83-71, then shot 60.5% while harassing old-rival North Carolina State with a man-to-man press. They whipped the Wolfpack 66-56. But State's Ev Case was still hopeful after his team defeated injury-stricken Maryland 68-61. Playmaker Ken Rohloff becomes eligible to direct the erratic Wolfpack attack this Saturday.
It was a case of too much Thorn for both Richmond and Pitt. The West Virginia star piled up 62 points as the Mountaineers outran the Spiders, 82-73, and the Panthers, 88-78. The top three:
1. KENTUCKY (13-1)
2. DUKE (11-2)
3. MISSISSIPPI STATE (13-1)
Skyline coaches were still searching for a way to Stop Utah's Billy McGill. Montana's foxy Frosty Cox surrounded him with burly Steve Lowry and Ray Lucien, and it worked until Lowry fouled out. Then Billy quickly swished in 16 points to finish with 26 as the Utes won 68-66. BYU tried it with a zone. While New York Knick Coach Ed Donovan watched enviously, McGill hooked over the frantic Cougars for 43 points and Utah won 94-89. Donovan's appraisal: "The best shooter in college basketball."
Oregon State matched winning streaks with Idaho at Moscow, where the Vandals had won 13 in a row. The Beavers won twice, 74-59 and 71-68, for their 11th and 12th straight. In the only Big Five game, Stanford beat Washington 64-59. The top three:
1. USC (12-3)
2. UTAH (15-2)
3. OREGON STATE (13-1)
This area was full of pleasant surprises. Duquesne (until it pushed its luck too far against talent-rich Cincinnati) and Villanova were behaving beyond all expectations. Seton Hall, its announced post-scandal de-emphasis hardly showing, had the section's brightest sophomore in Nick Werkman, a superb 6-foot-3 shooter who ranked No. 2 among the country's scorers. Even Yale, in strange territory atop the Ivy League (along with Cornell), was raising hopes in the hearts of old Blues.
Duquesne was doing it with muscle and Willie Somerset, an agile little (5-feet-10) sophomore with a remarkable jump shot. While quick-tempered Mike Rice and big Clyde Arnold manned the boards, Somerset flipped in 26 points and the Dukes trounced Toledo 80-57. For a while, the aggressive Duquesne defense even had Cincinnati on the run, but eventually the Bearcats won 62-54 (see page 44).
Villanova's Hubie White slipped away from Penn's switching man-to-man for 38 points, picked off 16 rebounds, and the Ivy Leaguers meekly succumbed, 81-54. St. John's, warming up for its annual midwestern trip, drubbed St. Francis (N.Y.) 92-54. Temple stumbled badly against Navy and lost 61-51. The top three:
1. VILLANOVA (14-2)
2. DUQUESNE (13-2)
3. ST. JOHN'S (10-3)
Despite a slim schedule, the SWC was in its usual turbulent state. Texas and Texas A&M hooked up in a fist-swinger at Austin before the Longhorns, moving judiciously in and out of a zone and a full-court press and occasionally breaking fast, won 64-57 to knock the Aggies out of a first-place tie.
Border leader Arizona State concentrated on its neighbors last week, beating Arizona State College 109-88 and Arizona 73-67, while Houston squelched Lamar Tech 86-64 for its 13th win. The top three:
1. TEXAS TECH (9-2)
2. TEXAS (9-4)
3. ARIZONA STATE (13-3)
NEW STARS: Kansas State's Gary Marriott (left) got 12 straight points in final minutes as Wildcats beat Missouri 69-66. Seton Hall's slick-shooting Nick Werkman scored 39 points in 86-80 win over Creighton, 23 more against Fairfield, finished the week with 31.4 average.