1. KANSAS (18-3)
2. LOYOLA OF CHICAGO (20-2)
3. MICHIGAN (14-5)
St. Louis, Bradley and Tulsa, until last week true-blue contenders in the Missouri Valley, all got beat on the road. CINCINNATI, however, was at home and the league-leading Bearcats made the most of it. While St. Louis lost to DRAKE 75-59, Bradley to WICHITA STATE 98-79, and Tulsa to LOUISVILLE 64-50, Cincy, a good-shooting, tough-defense team, toyed with North Texas State 88-63 and Tulsa 88-75. That gave the 'Cats a two-game edge over Wichita State with three to go.
If they ever decide to erect a statue commemorating lanky Dave Schellhase's contribution to Purdue basketball, it undoubtedly will depict him streaking downcourt in short pants, right arm flung high in the air in a "gimme the ball" gesture. He could have posed for it last Saturday when he shot himself arm-weary to score 57 points against first-place MICHIGAN, for a Big Ten record. But the Wolves had more runners and gunners, and they drubbed Purdue 128-94. Michigan's challengers, meanwhile, were fading. Michigan State, upset by WISCONSIN 78-77, fell two games behind and into a second-place tie with ILLINOIS, a 100-89 winner over Minnesota.
Two other races were nearing a climax. NEBRASKA, which shelled Missouri 71-53, meets KANSAS, a half-game behind after taking Missouri 98-54 and Oklahoma State 80-47, in a Big Eight return match Saturday at Lawrence. Miami of Ohio, beaten 75-60 by independent DAYTON but 10-1 in the Mid-American, plays TOLEDO, 8-1, at Toledo.
There was no doubt now about who was the class of the Midwest independents, LOYOLA of Chicago, quick, slick-shooting and surprisingly strong on defense, snapped Dayton's 20-game home winning streak 77-72. The Ramblers also got around to avenging one of their defeats, whomping Wichita State 94-77. Two visiting eastern powers, Providence and St. John's, came away with mixed success, PROVIDENCE'S Jimmy Walker dazzled DePaul with his superb ball-handling and shooting (for 31 points) and the Blue Demons succumbed 61-57. But St. John's was upset by CREIGHTON'S swift runners and tough pressers 86-67. Then the Redmen rolled over Notre Dame 77-59.
1. KENTUCKY (21-0)
2. DUKE (19-2)
3. VANDERBILT (19-3)
The boys from KENTUCKY were on the road but still taking turns as the top box-score stars and, more importantly, still winning. Tommy Kron had his best night (23 points) in a 90-67 win at Alabama. Then young but tough Mississippi State fell 73-69 at Starkville as Pat Riley scored 21 points. The Wildcats are four games away from a perfect regular season, VANDERBILT, all dressed up in a glamorous national ranking but with no place to go, dumped Auburn 91-76 and squeezed by Florida 89-86. Talented TENNESSEE, waiting for its two games with Kentucky, whipped LSU 74-64 and Georgia 83-69.
Duke had the ACC in its pocket, but only after some disciplinary action shook the Blue Devils back into form. Star Bob Verga's benching was extended an extra game when he mouthed off to Coach Vic Bubas, but the Devils outlasted a South Carolina slowdown 41-38. Back for the Maryland game, Verga scored 19 points in the stretch, 27 in all, as the Blue Devils came from 15 points down early in the second half to win 74-69. Jockeying for positions in the ACC tournament are NORTH CAROLINA and NORTH CAROLINA STATE. The Wolf-pack, its "junto" defense forcing 34 turnovers, beat the Tar Heels 87-77 and South Carolina 68-63, but was upset by CLEMSON 76-74 in overtime. North Carolina, tied with State and Clemson for second, defeated the Tigers 70-66 and South Carolina 83-71.
Davidson and West Virginia were waiting for the Southern Conference tourney and a possible rubber match. The Wildcats bowed to St. Joseph's 83-79 and beat The Citadel 77-64. West Virginia skipped past Pitt 103-63, then defeated Syracuse in overtime 99-95.
Western Kentucky was home free in the Ohio Valley after bouncing Tennessee Tech 85-72 and Morehead 78-53. VIRGINIA TECH won its last three games, finished 19-4 and waited eagerly for a tournament bid.
1. SAN FRANCISCO (18-3)
2. UTAH (18-5)
3. OREGON STATE (16-6)
The way things arc going in the Western AC, someone—probably Utah—is likely to back into the championship and consider itself mighty lucky to be there. ARIZONA slowed down first-place Utah and outlasted the Redskins 71-68. ARIZONA STATE, electing to trade shots with Brigham Young's freewheelers, shocked the Cougars 101-94 as Freddy Lewis outgunned Dick Nemelka, 31 points to 20. UTAH recovered Saturday to beat Arizona State 92-76, but Brigham Young was upset again, by Arizona 76-62, thanks to a masterful move by the parents of 6-foot-4 Forward Harvey Fox. Chagrined by Harvey's 2-for-12 shooting against Utah the night before, they fed him a bowl of carrots for breakfast "to help your shooting eye." Well, something did. On Saturday Fox popped in 11 for 16 and scored 25 points for the Wildcats.
New Mexico, the preseason favorite, was tumbled, too, all the way into the WAC cellar, by WYOMING 104-85.
San Francisco and Pacific, tied for first in the West Coast AC, headed for a showdown this Saturday at San Francisco. The Dons breezed past Santa Barbara 97-64, but San Jose State had them 74-69 with 1:27 to go. Then Joe Ellis scored, passed off to Russ Gumina for a layup and scored again to win for the Dons 75-74. Pacific, meanwhile, trounced Pepperdine 102-76, and Loyola of Los Angeles 83-63.
1. TEXAS WESTERN (20-0)
2. HOUSTON (18-4)
3. OKLAHOMA CITY (21-4)
They are coming harder for TEXAS WESTERN, but the thing is that they are still coming. The unbeaten Miners missed two free throws in the final seconds but protected a 69-67 decision over Arizona State. They then nudged Pan American 65-61 for their 20th straight. Strong HOUSTON kept pace with a 111-96 win over Miami of Florida, but Oklahoma City was stopped after 10 straight. The Chiefs lost to DENVER 84-83 when Rick Callahan converted a foul shot after a technical foul call on Oklahoma City Coach Abe Lemons.
The SWC race was tighter after Referee Dan Watson mistakenly called Baylor's Darrell Hardy for "deliberately" missing a free throw with four seconds left in the game with SMU. Hardy took the rebound and had an open shot. But Watson's call, based on an outdated rule, gave SMU ball possession and the game, 68-66. The Mustangs also beat Arkansas 67-66 and were only a game out of the lead, but Baylor was so disheartened that it let RICE break a 28-game losing string 89-70. TEXAS TECH upset Texas A&M 98-95 on Dub Malaise's 40 points, but the Aggies hung on to first place by defeating TCU 96-91. In a 117-86 win over Texas, Malaise scored 50 points, tying Jim Krebs' league record.
1. ST. JOSEPH'S (19-4)
2. PROVIDENCE (19-3)
3. SYRACUSE (17-4)
Like all good things, even home-court streaks come to an end. Providence had 39 straight when RHODE ISLAND, the Yankee Conference leader, came to town and only shocked looks when Rhody departed. Coach Ernie Calverly gave his players a choice—to play Providence man-to-man or with a zone defense. They picked the zone, and Calverly put them into a 1-2-2. The Friars' good shooters, except for Jimmy Walker, who had 23 points, went cold, their ball-handling was spotty, and Rhode Island's 6-foot-4 Art Stephenson took control of the boards. Stephenson also got 29 points, Henry Carey put in 22 more, and Providence went down 84-61. But the Friars bounced back to smash Seton Hall 77-57.
St. Joseph's had a time with Creighton in the Palestra. The Hawks were in a 79-79 tie with six minutes to go, and even loyal St. Joe's rooters were worried. Then Chuck McKcnna put in two free throws, Tom Duff—who had 28 points and 19 rebounds—jammed in a missed shot, and soon it was all over for the Bluejays. The Hawks won 96-90. TEMPLE, however, which had beaten Fordham 91-74 earlier in the week, was upset by LA SALLE 86-85.
With tournament selection time upon them, the East's other good independents were pushing hard for recognition, ST. JOHN'S survived a real scare to beat Ford-ham 74-72 in overtime. SYRACUSE, with slinky Dave Bing pouring in a total of 66 points for a school record (611), whipped Colgate 125-105 and Pitt 83-73. BOSTON COLLEGE defeated Boston U. 73-62 and Navy 94-78. PENN STATE, unbeatable in its remote outpost, buried West Virginia 108-81. The Lions also took Colgate 90-70 for their 26th in a row at home.
NYU, aching to get into New York's NIT, boosted its record to 12-8 by trimming Notre Dame 102-78 and St. Francis 100-75. MANHATTAN (12-6) enhanced its chances, too, when it edged Georgetown 83-80. So did FAIRFIELD (16-4). The Stags, despite a harrowing week (their co-captain, Pat Burke, was found dead after falling down an embankment), beat St. Bonaventure 65-55. ARMY (15-6) and RUTGERS (14-6) were still in the running, and even VILLANOVA, coming on fast lately, had high hopes. The Wildcats polished off St. Bonaventure 93-81 as Bill Melchionni scored 44 points, and then thrashed Canisius 76-62.
The Ivy League action was in Philadelphia and Princeton and, when the dust settled, PENN had the lead, Columbia was second, and the defending champion Tigers were all but out of it. Penn, using its own big men, 6-foot-10 Tom Mallison, 6-foot-9 Frank Burgess and 6-foot-8 John Hellings, against Columbia's 7-foot Dave Newmark, beat the Lions 67-58 and then bombed Cornell 84-66. Princeton lost to CORNELL 86-77 and COLUMBIA 62-59 for the first time in 10 years at home. But the race was not over yet. They all play each other again this weekend.
A CHAMP'S TOUGH WEEK
Back in early January UCLA smothered Oregon State 79-35 in Los Angeles. But when the two teams met again in Corvallis last Friday night Oregon State had won eight straight AAWU games. The Bruins, hurt by injuries—Edgar Lacey was out with a hairline fracture of the knee—had lost first place to the eager Beavers. Coach Paul Valenti figured he had to keep UCLA from shooting into an early lead, so his team set out to control the ball and play tight defense. Attacking patiently, Oregon State easily broke UCLA's zone press, yielding only one turnover in the first half. Sophomore Loy Peterson (right) shot in 19 points, Charlie White got 17 and the Beavers won 64-51. The next night Southern California's John Block tore apart Oregon State's proud defense for 30 points and Southern Cal beat the Beavers 70-60. But UCLA lost again, too, to Oregon 79-72. "I'd say that eliminated us from the race," said Johnny Wooden sadly. But, he insisted, "at full strength, we're easily the best team in the conference, and I think we would have had a good go at defending our national title." It is hardly likely UCLA, with four league losses, will get the chance.