Misfortune has struck some of the perennial winners this year, to the delight of their long-suffering neighbors. Kentucky's crusty old Adolph Rupp, for one, is wallowing in the ruck of the Southeastern Conference after Florida beat his Wildcats for the first time in 31 years. Cincinnati's Ed Jucker, once described as a coach who never lost enough to know how, is learning. Missouri Valley rivals Louisville and Drake both beat his Bearcats last week, pushing them nearer last place. Meanwhile, teams like Michigan, Wichita State and Davidson, not too long ago nonentities in college basketball, are the new leaders.
THE TOP THREE:
1. PROVIDENCE (12-0)
2. ST. JOSEPH'S (15-1)
3. ST. JOHN'S (12-2)
Unbeaten PROVIDENCE'S Joe Mullaney does not waste time on theory—even his own. He knows his combination defense is not infallible so, when Seton Hall passed through and shot over it early in the game in Providence, he adjusted quickly. Mullaney substituted sophomore Ike Riordan for Jim Ahem in the backcourt and switched to man-to-man. Pretty soon Jimmy Walker, Jim Benedict and Bill Blair had Providence ahead 65-46. Then the Friars unaccountably began firing—and missing—from far out. Seton Hall took charge of the offensive boards, and Providence's lead dwindled to five points with two minutes to go. But the Friars held on to win 88-81. "They were too trigger-happy," complained Mullaney.
All week long ST. JOSEPH'S Jack Ramsay was saying that Penn beat his team the last three years because Quaker Coach Jack McCloskey kept throwing the best-coached Philadelphia team at him. So Saturday, before the usual sellout throng (9,220) in the Palestra, Ramsay's pressing defenses cut off Penn's run-and-shoot game, Tom Duff and Billy Oakes threw in 42 points, and St. Joe's took the Ivy Leaguers apart 88-72. And out came the inevitable Hawks' banner: OUR JACK'S BETTER THAN YOURS.
Two other members of Philadelphia's Big Five got an even split. Bill Melchionni, peppery little VILLANOVA guard, shot up Detroit for 35 points and the last two, a pair of free throws with four seconds to go, beat the Titans 82-80 in the Palestra. But Temple unexpectedly fell in New York, FORDHAM cracked Temple's 2-3 zone with a methodical in-and-out passing game that opened the middle for darting cuts by Ram players and then rattled the usually poised Owls with a harassing press that eventually beat them 57-51.
Little St. Francis of Brooklyn went at ST. JOHN'S with a slowdown and a tight zone and stopped the Redmen cold—for about 10 minutes or so. Then the McIntyre brothers broke it up. Ken, ball-stealing and hitting freely from outside, got 25 points; Bob, shooting from inside, got 21 and St. John's took its eighth in a row 75-61.
Penn State countered Pitt's ball-control game with a full-court press and, almost before the visitors knew it, they were running. State won easily 59-40, as Carver Clinton scored 25 points and slick playmaker Bob Weiss, 15. DUQUESNE'S chunky little Willie Somerset, in the doldrums lately, broke out with 42 points against DePaul, and the favored Blue Demons lost 73-69, for the first time in nine games, CANISIUS' Dennis Misko, a 6-foot-2 sophomore reserve, came off the bench to stop St. Bonaventure's George Carter cold and then fired in eight quick points to give the Griffs a 70-67 upset.
THE TOP THREE:
1. DAVIDSON (14-1)
2. VANDERBILT (12-2)
3. DUKE (10-2)
The South's big three (above) were idle last week while their players fretted over exams, but Vandy's coach, Roy Skinner, had other things to worry about, too. Southeastern Conference challengers were popping up like crocuses after an early spring rain.
Auburn, despite its first SEC loss, was the most immediate threat to Vanderbilt. The Tigers, bugged by a jinx that never lets them win in Lexington's Memorial Coliseum, shot badly against KENTUCKY and lost 73-67. Coach Adolph Rupp, searching desperately for a way out of his own unhappy dilemma, had tried to psyche his shortish Wildcats by telling them, "You don't have to be big to be champions; champions come in all sizes." Surprisingly, it worked against the Auburn team, normally strong rebounders. Rupp's "pore ol" li'l boys" played like 7-footers, especially sophomore Louie Dampier, who shot in 10 out of 14 tries for 22 points, and Terry Mobely, who contributed 18. AUBURN, however, recovered quickly to smash Georgia 95-65.
Then there was FLORIDA, a newcomer to the scene with a 5-1 league record. The big, strong Gators, after holding Miami's sharp-shooting Rick Barry to 26 points while beating the Hurricanes 86-69, took Kentucky out of the race with an 84-68 thrashing in Gainesville. This time the Wildcats were simply in way over their heads. Florida's 6-foot-10 Jeff Ramsey and 6-foot-9 Gary Keller, who scored 20 points, overwhelmed them off the boards and Dick Tomlinson and Brooks Henderson shattered their skimpy defenses for 39 points. MIAMI'S Barry later got 46 in a 128-95 win over Rollins.
Tennessee, which had lost to Vanderbilt for its only conference defeat, was not finished yet, either. Coach Ray Mears, who likes his Vols to shoot sparingly but accurately, put A. W. Davis and Ray Widby in the corners against Georgia, and they bombed away for 32 and 22 points, respectively, as Tennessee won 76-57.
Louisville Coach Peck Hickman is living proof that bench experts are seldom right. His Cardinals had battled Cincinnati through two overtime periods and the best part of a third, and the teams were still tied with six seconds to go when Hickman signaled for a time-out. But he quickly canceled his strategy when he spotted 6-foot-7 sophomore Joe Liedtke free in a corner. He shouted. "Go, go!" instead, and Liedtke obediently fired in a 20-footer to beat the Bearcats 82-80 and give Hickman his 400th victory. Then Louisville lost to DAYTON 83-78.
THE TOP THREE:
1. MICHIGAN (11-2)
2. WICHITA STATE (12-2)
3. MIAMI OF OHIO (13-1)
It was a light but interesting week in the Big Ten and when it ended Michigan was still alone in first place, Iowa and Minnesota were back in the race and defending champion Ohio State was down in the cellar after five good years at the top.
Michigan squared accounts with Purdue and in the process found a new ringleader for its booming attack. Oliver Darden, a 6-foot-7 junior who had been something of an enigma this year, suddenly found himself again. He swished in 27 points as the Wolverines battered Purdue, the team that knocked them out of an undisputed championship last year, 103-84.
The real rumble, though, was at Bloomington, where a finicky state fire marshal decided that the usually noisy crowd of 10,500 was too much for the Indiana field-house because of a shortage of exits. He limited attendance to only 3,400. Without the normal comforting din and, even worse, without ailing Guard Jon McGlocklin (bone chip in the ankle), the Hoosiers simply rolled over and played dead for hustling IOWA. The Hawkeyes won 74-68.
Minnesota, stepping livelier than ever following a public tongue-lashing in the Minneapolis press by star Lou Hudson, whipped Ohio State 97-77—the first time in 12 games. Hudson accused his teammates of lax play and "selfishness" and said 6-foot-6 Dennis Dvoracek and 6-foot-8 Mel Northway "could play better." He was right about those two, anyway. Dvoracek scored 18 points, Northway picked off 18 rebounds and, along with Hudson's 21 points and 15 rebounds, the Gophers had more than enough to throttle the Bucks.
Just when KANSAS STATE was about to be toppled out of the Big Eight race, Coach Tex Winter decided it was time to have a fling at unorthodoxy. He tried what few coaches have dared this year—to play Kansas with a pressing man-to-man with only one player on 6-foot-11 Walt Wesley. Sure enough, Wesley got 30 points, but K-State's 6-foot-10 Roy Smith tossed in 25 and Winter gamble paid off with a 71-64 victory. Then IOWA STATE proved that Kansas could be had with a zone, too. State beat the Jayhawks 64-58. So OKLAHOMA STATE, a 55-53 winner over Nebraska, led the league by 1½ games.
Everybody had problems in the Missouri Valley. Bradley lost a nonleague game to BUTLER 80-74, Cincinnati dropped its third straight to DRAKE 89-80 and Wichita State's Gary Thompson, who loses All-America Dave Stallworth in February, announced that Nate Bowman, his 6-foot-10 senior center, who has been averaging 12.4 points a game, has been declared ineligible for academic reasons.
Miami of Ohio (page 50) looked good enough to challenge anyone as it bombed Kent State 87-55. NOTRE DAME'S Johnny Dee, deciding to sacrifice height for speed, benched his big men and the freer-running Irish smothered Toledo 113-65. Undefeated EVANSVILLE barely got by Southern Illinois 81-80 (left), but routed Ball State 117-81 for its 15th victory.
THE TOP THREE:
1. HOUSTON (12-6)
2. OKLAHOMA CITY (12-5)
3. TEXAS A&M (9-4)
It was a time for meditation and study for most Southwest Conference teams last week as players pondered over mid-year exams and coaches sweated out their results. The independents, however, kept their hands in the game. Oklahoma City was off sampling the uncertainties of road play in the West while HOUSTON had its troubles with TCU. The Frogs infiltrated the Cougars' zone press in the first half, and when it broke down they worked the ball for enough good shots to earn a 52-52 tie. Then Coach Guy Lewis put Houston into a more exacting man-to-man press. Joe Hamood and Jack Margenthaler hounded the TCU guards into costly errors. Hamood and Wayne Ballard each scored 23 points, and the usually conservative Cougars took the game 108-87.
Coach Don Haskins, who prides himself on TEXAS WESTERN'S strict attention to defense (third best in the nation), refused to fluster when the Miners went up against Utah State and its celebrated scorer, Wayne Estes. "We just decided to play Estes and Leroy Walker, their other high scorer, about regular and bear down on the other three starters," he said later. The strategy worked. Estes—despite a gluey defensive job by Andy Stoglin—and Walker totaled 40 points, but the other three Aggies could muster only four field goals among them. A slow, patient offense and some tough second-half rebounding by the smaller but quicker Miners finished off State 68-62. But Texas Western was too deliberate and not defensive enough against WEST TEXAS STATE two nights later. The Miners lost 56-54.
THE TOP THREE:
1. UCLA (13-1)
2. SAN FRANCISCO (12-1)
3. ARIZONA (11-4)
The action was limited in the West last week, but BRIGHAM YOUNG made a big enough noise to startle the inactive members of the Western AC. Utah's Jack Gardner figured that the only way to handle BYU's runners and gunners was to slow the game down. But his own fast breakers promptly withered away when he put them into a deliberate pattern. The Cougars, led by Dick Nemelka's 21 points, shot a hot 54% and ran away with the game 98-67. Groaned Utah Center Bill Ivey, "They shot so fast that by the time we could guard them, the ball was already going through the basket."
Conference teams in the West have been quietly dropping independent Colorado State from their schedules, because the Rams are just too tough. But WYOMING, the only WAC school still playing CSU, last Saturday demonstrated that patience has its reward. After 13 straight beatings, the Cowboys upset their tormentors 77-68. Utah State, another independent, got it, too, from ARIZONA STATE, 99-93. OKLAHOMA CITY'S touring giants had a fine old time in Honolulu, beating Hawaii 88-79, but there was trouble back on the mainland, AIR FORCE belted the Chiefs 86-74. SEATTLE'S good sophomores were maturing. They led the Chieftains past Idaho 89-72.
IGNORING STRETCH by Southern Illinois' Boyd O'Neal (31), Larry Humes gets off the shot that saved Evansville's streak.