This was the week that tournament selectors began gathering in the nation's leading independents. The NCAA snapped up defending champion Loyola, Villanova, Providence, Creighton, Texas Western, Oregon State, Utah State, Seattle and Louisville, while New York's NIT took NYU, Pitt and DePaul.
THE TOP THREE:
1. KENTUCKY (18-2)
2. DUKE (17-3)
3. DAVIDSON (19-3)
Davidson's precocious young Wildcats were suddenly acting like harmless tabby cats. Their fast break and pressing defense came apart against FURMAN and the Paladins, shooting cautiously, quite unexpectedly drubbed them 70-55. Davidson looked better against DUKE at Durham, but once the capable Blue Devils managed to control big Fred Hetzel with a tight zone, the Wildcats went downhill fast. Jeff Mullins, with 29 points, led the charge that won for Duke 82-75. Obviously annoyed, Coach Lefty Driesell challenged Duke to play at Davidson next year. "They're yellow if they don't," he charged angrily.
This Was the Week That Was for Vanderbilt in the Southeastern Conference: GEORGIA TECH overtook the Commodores on Charlie Spooner's last-second tip-in and then beat them 75-71 in overtime. TENNESSEE also took Vandy, 64-62, with its disciplined ball control game and superb shooting by Danny Schultz, who flipped in 35 points. KENTUCKY, despite some fretful moments when Mississippi State got away from its double-teaming zone defense for easy layups, held off the Bulldogs 66-59 to share the SEC lead with Georgia Tech.
Louisville beat Xavier 97-91, but then was upset by SOUTHERN ILLINOIS 59-57. MIAMI, hammered hard by CREIGHTON 124-94, recovered to outscore Loyola of New Orleans 97-90 in overtime. MEMPHIS STATE, after thumping Florida State 84-71, lost to DAYTON 83-73.
THE TOP THREE:
1. MICHIGAN (17-2)
2. DRAKE (17-4)
3. WICHITA (18-5)
Just a year ago DRAKE was wallowing in the Missouri Valley cellar, grateful for small favors and getting few indeed. Last week the Bulldogs led the MVC. They used a zone press to force Wichita into errors and beat the Shockers 64-63 with Billy Foster's 20-foot jumper at the buzzer. Three nights later Foster did it again, whipping North Texas 53-50 with another late basket. What happened to Drake? "Well," explained Coach Maurice John, "we've got some poise and some pride now."
Wichita was still in the race, however. The Shockers thought they had beaten Cincinnati on Dave Stallworth's corner shot at the buzzer, but it was ruled too late. So they won again 59-58, in overtime on another Stallworth shot.
Gary Bradds, OHIO STATE'S thin man, had the Big Ten jumping. Breaking away from two and sometimes three defenders, he shot in 49 points to beat Illinois 110-92, then added 40 more in a 92-74 victory over Wisconsin. But no one was beating first-place MICHIGAN for the Bucks. Indiana tried, but jazzy Cazzie Russell and Bill Buntin were too much for the Hoosiers, and they lost 99-87.
The Big Eight race was tightening. While Oklahoma State stumbled on the road—over NEBRASKA 54-53 and IOWA STATE 50-48 in overtime—COLORADO and KANSAS STATE took over the lead. Colorado drubbed Oklahoma 86-65 and Nebraska 60-52; Willie Murrell led K-State past Missouri 89-79 in an extra period.
THE TOP THREE:
1. VILLANOVA (19-2)
2. PROVIDENCE (16-3)
3. ST. BONAVENTURE (14-4)
While the good independents preened for tournament selectors, TEMPLE sneaked into the NCAA postseason scramble. With 6-foot-8 Jim Williams taking on La Salle's big boys two at a time and whirling away from them to snap up rebounds, block shots and shoot in 25 points, the Owls upset the Explorers 63-57 to win the Mid-Atlantic title.
Villanova's Wally Jones, who was supposed to be out for two weeks to rest his torn hip muscle, was back for Duquesne. He scored 22 points, made the Dukes' Willie Somerset look like a nobody, and the Wildcats won 73-63. Jones got his team going against Canisius and then sat out the second half as Villanova romped 73-58.
Providence, with its usual midseason perk-up, trounced Rhode Island 86-72 and Seton Hall 96-74 for its 12th straight, while ST. BONAVENTURE whipped St. Joseph's 94-83. ARMY beat Rutgers 84-48 and St. John's 67-64, and PITT edged Syracuse 69-67. But NYU, after edging North Carolina 69-68, lost to GEORGETOWN 79-72. PRINCETON'S smooth Bill Bradley scored 39 points against Dartmouth and 51 against Harvard for an Ivy League record as the Tigers won twice to share first place with YALE and PENN.
THE TOP THREE:
1. TEXAS WESTERN (19-2)
2. TEXAS TECH (11-6)
3. TEXAS A&M (12-6)
One of the biggest things in Texas basketball last week was Texas A&M's lead over TEXAS TECH at half time. It was a comfortable 19 points and the first-place Aggies were happily contemplating an early clinching of the Southwest Conference title. But Tech came out pressing hard in the second half, and soon A&M's advantage began to dwindle. With seven seconds to go, it was down to nothing. Then Texas Tech's Glen Hallum picked off an Aggie pass and fed the ball to Sid Wall, who plunked in a soft jumper to win for the Raiders 84-82 and put them into a tie for the SWC lead. Unhappily for Tech, it did not last long. Four days later TEXAS' somnambulant Longhorns, who earlier had roused themselves to beat Rice 98-90, surprised the Raiders 78-76. TEXAS A&M, meanwhile, routed Rice 79-67.
Houston managed to beat Miami 93-83, but the Cougars lost to CINCINNATI 66-59 in overtime, and LOYOLA'S quick gunners riddled them 98-68. TEXAS WESTERN, however, won easily, over Denver 62-48.
THE TOP THREE:
1. UCLA (21-0)
2. OREGON STATE (21-3)
3. UTAH STATE (17-3)
The Big Six family, thoroughly intimidated by unbeaten UCLA's amazing competence (see page 42), was just about ready to concede the championship to the Bruins. Washington became the latest believer after losing to UCLA 73-58 and 88-60. STANFORD and CALIFORNIA, tied for second place, split two games. Stanford won the first 69-57 but lost the second 59-52 when Cal, with 6-foot-10 Camden Wall sweeping the boards clean, unexpectedly speeded up its cat-and-mouse game to medium fast.
Oregon State, meanwhile, got hooked up in a doozie with Seattle. Down by 16 points with 13 minutes to play, State hardly looked like the best independent in the West. Seven-foot Mel Counts had four fouls on him, and the other shooters were cold. Then Coach Slats Gill put his Beavers into a rare full-court press. It worked wonders. Seattle began to bumble, Jim Jarvis started to hit with his jumpers, and Oregon State came on to win 76-72. UTAH STATE also had its troubles. Colorado State carried the Aggies into overtime before succumbing to big Wayne Estes' 14th basket (and 35th point), 85-84.
Utah, pried away from its cozy home court, where it had won 15 games, ventured into Arizona and came away crushed. First ARIZONA put down the Utes 85-72, then ARIZONA STATE beat them 71-65. All of which put NEW MEXICO, a 74-65 winner over Wyoming, into the Western AC lead. SAN FRANCISCO was beginning to draw away in the West Coast AC. The Dons beat Pepperdine 103-68 and Loyola of Los Angeles 102-59 for their 11th straight.