THE TOP THREE:
1. PROVIDENCE (8-0)
2. ST. JOHN'S (7-2)
3. ST. JOSEPH'S (10-1)
Those outlanders who have been downgrading eastern basketball in recent years had better take another look. Item: No. 1-ranked Michigan came into New York for the Holiday Festival and, after narrowly averting a defeat by Princeton and its fabulous Bill Bradley, the muscular Wolverines fell to ST. JOHN'S 75-74 (page 18). Item: No. 2-ranked Wichita State was similarly humbled by ST. JOSEPH'S 76-69 in the Quaker City tournament at Philadelphia.
St. Joe's, a hustling team that flits in and out of a variety of zone and combination defenses at the drop of a field goal, prepared for Wichita State by panicking Illinois with a withering press for a 75-51 win in the semifinals. The unsuspecting Shockers, meanwhile, trimmed unbeaten Villanova 86-74. Wichita State never had a chance in the final. With Marty Ford, a 6-foot-6 beanpole, and playmaker Billy Oakes firing in points and 6-foot-4 Cliff Anderson controlling the boards, the aggressive Hawks grabbed an early lead and refused to let go. But Wichita Coach Gary Thompson, upset by the noisy home crowd—and the officiating—was not impressed. "This is the last time I'll come here," he said. "This wasn't basketball, it was a farce. I'd like to meet this team back in Wichita."
St. Joseph's was not nearly so domineering when it left friendly Philadelphia to play unbeaten PROVIDENCE. Coach Joe Mullaney's combination defense swallowed up the Hawks, and when St. Joe's went to its zone press Mullaney was ready for that, too. He put in Pete McLaughlin, a little-used sophomore with a flair for moving the ball, and St. Joseph's began to foul. The Friars' last 11 points came on free throws, and St. Joe's lost its first game, 65-61.
THE TOP THREE:
1. DUKE (7-1)
2. DAVIDSON (9-1)
3. VANDERBILT (9-2)
It was holiday tournament time in the Southland, too, and some of the nation's top teams made the most of it. DAVIDSON trounced Alabama 79-62 and Ohio U. 81-63 in the Charlotte Invitational. INDIANA, hitting hard with its new and tough zone press, battered St. Louis 98-68 and Memphis State 91-68 in the Memphis State Classic, VANDERBILT beat Texas Tech 83-73 and Louisville 80-47 in the Sugar Bowl.
Vandy, however, found the going stickier in its SEC opener against Tennessee. The Vols' strategy called for encirclement of patient, 6-foot-9 Clyde Lee while they fed their own ace, A. W. Davis. It almost worked. Lee watched most of the game from behind a thicket of hands while fast-firing Davis seemed almost undefensible. With eight minutes to go, Tennessee had a nine-point lead. Then Lee lost his patience. He broke away from his tormentors for six quick baskets and Vanderbilt went on to win, 77-72.
Duke had a frightening but, in the end, satisfying week. After squeezing past Ohio State 94-89 in double overtime at Columbus, the Blue Devils had to hustle to hold off Wake Forest 91-86. But Kentucky's Adolph Rupp was mad enough to spit when NOTRE DAME humiliated his Wildcats 111-97, and before the home folks at Louisville, too. There was some solace for The Baron, though. KENTUCKY took out its frustrations on fuzzy-cheeked Dartmouth 107-67.
THE TOP THREE:
1. INDIANA (9-0)
2. MICHIGAN (8-2)
3. WICHITA STATE (8-2)
While almost everyone else was switching madly in and out of trick defenses, KANSAS beat Kansas State 54-52 with an old-fashioned, hugging man-to-man in the semifinals of the Big Eight tournament at Kansas City, Kans. Then, curiously, the Jay-hawkers shifted to a zone for Colorado. The Buffs riddled it so thoroughly that Kansas went back to man-to-man for the second half. Even then, it took a last-second tap-in by Riney Lochmann to win for the Jay-hawkers, 53-51.
Two disillusioned Missouri Valley teams, BRADLEY and ST. LOUIS, finally got going again in a doubleheader in Chicago. But Bradley had its problems with Notre Dame. The Braves blew a 14-point lead and just beat the Irish, 74-72, on Eddie Jackson's two foul shots at the end. St. Louis had an easier time with Loyola. The Bills reached over the smaller Ramblers to dip in layups and slap tip-ins, 6-foot-10 Gil Beck-emeier scored 20 points and St. Louis won 90-57. Two nights later, the Bills used a zone press to whip Drake 62-55.
Penn state, an interloper from the East, took the honors in Detroit's Motor City Classic. The Nittany Lions edged Houston 59-57 on four foul shots by Ray Saunders and Bob Weiss and then held off rallying Detroit 75-73.
THE TOP THREE:
1. OKLAHOMA CITY (9-2)
2. BAYLOR (7-2)
3. TEXAS A&M (7-2)
Oklahoma City's Abe Lemons, watching DE PAUL'S tough, swarming defense throttle Brigham Young's celebrated fast break during an 84-75 victory over the Cougars in the semifinals of the All-College tournament, was extravagant in praise of the clever Blue Demons. "That's the smartest club I've seen," he said. "I just hope we can play 'em well." Lemons' towering Chiefs had certainly looked capable enough while routing Rice 93-63 and Xavier of Cincinnati 90-75. But De Paul, surprisingly, beat bigger Oklahoma City off the boards, broke loose Jesse Nash (he scored 20 points) and Jim Murphy for baskets with a weaving pattern offense, and the Blue Demons whipped the Chiefs 67-60 for the title.
The Sun Carnival at El Paso turned out to be a showcase for NEW MEXICO'S Mel Daniels, a talented 6-foot-9 sophomore. He scored 21 points and picked off 19 rebounds to lead the Lobos past TCU 76-58 and then discouraged Texas Western with 20 points and 20 rebounds. Daniels' heroics gave cautious New Mexico a 55-47 win, its first over the Miners in nine years.
THE TOP THREE:
1. UCLA (9-1)
2. SAN FRANCISCO (8-1)
3. BRIGHAM YOUNG (7-3)
The West had a familiar look, UCLA, with its devastating zone press and quick-as-a-wink shooters intimidating almost everyone in sight, had nine straight victories after sweeping through a strong field in the Los Angeles Classic (page 20).
Going into the West Coast AC tournament at San Jose, SANTA CLARA had to be the team most unlikely to succeed. The young Broncos had lost six in a row but, somehow, they worked their way past Santa Barbara 91-69 and Pacific 75-71 while unbeaten SAN FRANCISCO, the favorite, pushed over Pepperdine 103-64 and San Jose State 60-57. But it looked like the end for Santa Clara when the Dons took a 49-33 lead at half time. Then the Broncs' Eric Paulson, a long-shooting playmaker, began bombing away, and junior Rich Levitt found he could float his gentle hook shots over San Francisco's Ollie Johnson. With 55 seconds to go, Levitt flipped in an over-the-shoulder layup and Santa Clara won 73-71. Mused Coach Dick Garibaldi, "Talent is both physical and mental." And, he might have added, unpredictable.
For a while it appeared that OREGON STATE, which had won all eight previous Far West Classics at Portland, Ore. would not even make the final of the ninth one. But the Beavers managed to outlast Army 65-64 in overtime and then edged Northwestern 67-65 on Jim Jarvis' jumper. Undefeated Tennessee tried to hem in State with its zone defense and a nagging slowdown, but the patient Beavers decided to grind it out with the Vols. The strategy worked. State led 22-8 at the half, made five out of 10 shots in the second half while Tennessee, thoroughly frustrated by then, got only three baskets. The Beavers won 48-27.