1. ILLINOIS (10-0)
2. KANSAS (12-1)
3. NOTRE DAME (7-2)
Fidel Castro deserved assists as Tulsa upset Missouri Valley Conference favorite Cincinnati 57-50 and defending champion Louisville 85-69. It was because of Castro that Al Cueto, now the Hurricane center, fled Cuba several years ago. A surprisingly agile 6'8" and 235 pounds, Cueto pulled down 14 rebounds in two games and scored 23 points. Also helping out were Larry Cheatham, who played despite a torn ankle ligament and scored 23 points, and Bobby Smith, who scored 45 points and was the catalyst in the team's new souped-up offense. Defensively, the Hurricanes switched from a zone to a man-to-man in the second half against the Bearcats, held them to just 15 points in the final 20 minutes and rallied for their ninth win in 11 tries. They then limited the Cardinals, who had been 9-0, to their lowest output of the season. Worst hit was Butch Beard of Louisville, who had 52 points in two earlier wins against North Texas State and Wichita State, but made good on only six of 22 shots against the Hurricanes. Cincinnati, which had led Tulsa 35-28 at the half, squandered an identical lead against Wichita State and lost 67-66. The only other MVC team unbeaten in the conference was Drake, which boosted its overall mark to 11-0. The Bulldogs took their first two MVC games by beating Memphis State 73-71 on a jumper by Willie McCarter in the final 42 seconds, and then drubbing St. Louis 104-65.
Kansas won the Big Eight tournament in Kansas City, defeating Oklahoma State 56-45, then narrowly averted a loss to Nebraska in the conference opener. The Corn-huskers used a sagging man-to-man to clog the Jayhawk shots under the basket in the second half and took a 50-49 lead with 1:50 to play. Bruce Sloan of the Jayhawks missed a drive-in but scored on a follow-up, and Kansas prevailed 56-52. Colorado, rearing up as the most potent threat to Kansas in the Big Eight, easily took care of Oklahoma 80-56. Another roadblock for the Jay-hawks could be Kansas State, which finally got its fast break untracked and outscored Iowa State 13-4 in the closing two minutes of a 75-65 victory.
"The Big Ten championship will be won with upsets," said Northwestern's Larry Glass. Big Ten teams, though, were upsetting only outsiders last week. Minnesota ended Detroit's win streak at ten games 85-80, despite 34 points by Spencer Haywood. (Marquette also beat Detroit 85-71, as Haywood had 35 points.) And Wisconsin—which earlier in the season had upset Kansas and had lost by just one point to Notre Dame—shocked Kentucky 69-65. With 6'9" Craig Mayberry, a JC transfer, on hand this season, the Badgers have moved Jim Johnson from center to forward, and his 27 points and 15 rebounds were instrumental in defeating the Wildcats. But then the Big Ten season got under way, and both the Gophers and Badgers lost. Illinois out-rebounded Minnesota 41-25 en route to an 80-58 win, while Rick Mount scored 33 points as Purdue beat Wisconsin 86-80. Although he did not score any points, a $1.50 toy bulldog was credited with helping Northwestern. He has been sitting on the team bench since an opening game loss to Stanford and presumably watched the Wildcats beat Michigan State 85-71 for their ninth win in a row. Ohio State, after being jolted by Washington 64-59, began defense of its Big Ten title by defeating Indiana 90-82.
Notre Dame had no trouble with American University, but had to come back from a 10-point halftime deficit to beat St. Peter's (N.J.) 85-71. That game was the first the Irish had to play without Austin Carr, the team's leading scorer and playmaker. Carr broke his left foot in practice and is expected to be out for six weeks.
1. NORTH CAROLINA (9-1)
2. DAVIDSON (8-1)
3. KENTUCKY (7-2)
After strutting through the Midwest, LSU, Davidson and Duke came home, basked in the reflected glory of their respective wins over Duquesne, Michigan and Iowa—and then promptly fell flat on their faces. The Tigers, fresh from winning the All-College Tournament in Oklahoma City where Pete Maravich scored 53 points against Duquesne in the finals, were staggered by Alabama 85-82. Pistol Pete, who had been shooting less this year in an effort to feed teammates and build victories, pulled the trigger 49 times against Alabama. He hit on 19 tries and wound up with 42 points—all to no avail. A botched-up play by St. John's worked out well enough to lead to the downfall of Davidson, which lost 75-74 in the last two seconds of overtime. With the Wildcats leading 74-73 and seven seconds to go, they lost the ball to the Redmen because they were unable to pass inbounds within the allotted five seconds. St. John's then carefully set up one last play, but instead of the ball going to John Warren in the corner, it went to 6'10" Bill Paultz, who was almost 30 feet from the basket. Paultz let fly with a desperation shot, the ball went through the net and Davidson became a first-time loser. For the Redmen, who had beaten North Carolina in New York's Holiday Festival, it was the second straight week they had defeated one of the country's top-ranked teams. In Duke's case, faulty strategy by an opponent proved just the stuff of victory. With 51 seconds left, Iowa decided to play for one last shot. It never came, as Fred Lind of the Blue Devils stole the ball with eight seconds left. Randy Denton of Duke, who had 25 points, added two foul shots in the closing moments to give the Blue Devils an 85-82 win. Then, like LSU and Davidson, Duke returned to the Southland and was defeated 94-70 by North Carolina as Charlie Scott scored 34 points for the Tar Heels.
LSU was not the only team to be upset in Southeastern Conference play. Tennessee was dumped by Mississippi State 58-57, and Vanderbilt lost to Georgia 104-80. Kentucky struggled to a 69-59 victory over Mississippi when Randy Pool came off the bench to score six straight points. The Wildcat bench, though, was weakened considerably when Greg Starrick, a 6'2" guard and the No. 6 man on the squad, quit the team because he felt he was not playing enough.
South Carolina looked as though it might be able to challenge North Carolina for the Atlantic Coast Conference title. The Gamecocks won the Quaker City Tournament in Philadelphia 62-59 by slowing down La Salle's hurry-up offense, and then won their ACC opener from Clemson 77-62. In winning the Quaker City affair, South Carolina used only five players, four of them sophomores. One of those youngsters—John Roche—had 24 points and eight assists against La Salle and won the MVP award.
1. ST. JOHN'S (9-2)
2. VILLANOVA (8-1)
3. COLUMBIA (9-1)
Frank Gillen took a shot he did not want. The result was a 68-67 Villanova victory over St. Bonaventure. With four seconds left and the Bonnies in front 67-66, the Wildcats missed a foul shot. Jim McIntosh of the Wildcats strained for the rebound and tapped it back to Gillen. "I just wanted to go up in all that traffic and get fouled," Gillen said later. "I didn't expect to get a shot off. But I had a chance, so I shot." The Wildcats, trying earlier to contain Bob Lanier of the Bonnies, boxed him away from the backboard with two and sometimes three men, floating one man in front of him. Still, Lanier sank 11 of 15 shots. Exercising somewhat similar strategy, the Bonnies had overplayed Villanova's Johnny Jones in the first half. Jones scored just one point during that time, but Howard Porter got 14. In the second half, the Bonnies eased up on Jones and worked over Porter, only to have Jones plunk in 16 points and Porter another 11.
La Salle won a ball game—89-68 against Hofstra—but lost a ball player, Ken Durrett, a 6'7" sophomore with a scoring touch. He injured his right knee in the game and if he suffered torn ligaments—as it is feared—he will be through for the season.
Jack McKinney gave his St. Joseph's team a pep talk with 6:36 left and Indiana leading 67-60 in a game to settle third place in the Quaker City Tournament. "You have to do it now," McKinney implored his players. "It has to come from your guts." After his Hawks had outscored the Hoosiers 17-1, McKinney said, "That is 'superstomach' play, to stick in there that long." Mike Hauer's 36 points did not hurt the Hawks' cause, either, in their 80-72 win.
Princeton rallied, too, coming from nine points back in the last 10 minutes to defeat Penn 59-56 as Jeff Petrie scored 14 of the Tigers' last 18 points. The next day the Tigers stopped Army 51-42, making it the fourth straight loss for the Cadets—their longest losing streak since 1956-57. Twenty-seven points by Jim McMillian carried Columbia to its ninth win in 10 games, a 79-52 victory over Cornell. A string of 14 consecutive points in the second half helped Temple to beat Navy 92-68. Providence, however, had to labor through three overtimes before downing Canisius 88-84.
1. UCLA (9-0)
2. SANTA CLARA (12-0)
3. NEW MEXICO STATE (11-0)
UCLA had the distinction of winning on both coasts, taking the Holiday Festival final at Madison Square Garden by defeating St. John's 74-56 and beating Tulane at home 96-64. The Redmen gave the Bruins a hard time in the first half, trailing only 31-27. Then MVP Lew Alcindor, who had 30 points, got busy in the second half and the Bruins pulled away. Against the Green Wave, Alcindor was charged with a technical foul after he protested a foul by throwing the ball in the air. Coach John Wooden promptly benched him, with 12:30 left, but by that time he had 34 points.
According to one pro scout, the next big college center after Alcindor leaves this spring will not be nearly as tall but will be almost as talented. Jerry Krause of the Chicago Bulls thinks he has found the youngster he has been looking for. The player is Willie Sojourner, 6'8", of Weber State. Says Krause, whose coach, Dick Motta, left Weber State only this season, "I've looked all over the country and I haven't seen a sophomore center to match Willie." And what has Sojourner done to deserve such praise? Well, he is averaging 18 points and 13 rebounds a game, is hitting on 49% of his shots and has come up with a cross-lane hook and a power dipper. Sojourner's cross-lane hook is taken while maneuvering across the foul line. His power dipper is a shot that comes at the end of a giant step toward the basket. Sojourner poises the ball on his fingertips and, at the end of his flight through the air, drops it in. With Justus Thigpen adding 17 points a game and with Sessions Harlan in charge of a vise-like defense, the Wildcats are now 8-1 and may well have their finest team ever.
Houston, continuing its spectacular demise, lost for the fifth time as Ken Spain was bottled up by West Texas State's sagging zone. Spain, whose shots stayed mainly out of the basket, scored just two points as the Cougars lost 86-76.
Santa Clara continued to look impressive. The Broncos won the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu, holding off Columbia for a 64-58 win. They then beat Oklahoma City 92-82 and won their West Coast Athletic Conference opener from San Francisco 86-66. Doing the scoring for the Broncos was Dennis Awtrey (27 against both the Lions and Chiefs), Ralph Ogden (29 against the Chiefs) and Bud Ogden (12 of 15 shots and 26 points against the Dons).
First place in Portland's Far West classic went to Oregon, which beat Washington State 80-78. A corner shot by Jim Henry in the waning moments made a winner out of the Ducks after Billy Gaskins stole the ball with 10 seconds left. Gaskins, who scored 23 points, was the tournament's MVP. Rick Abrahamson of Oregon, of whom the Cougar scouting report said, "Let him shoot," did just that and sank seven out of eight attempts.
Mike Newlin of Utah, who grew up in the Los Angeles area, returned to play there in the Sports Arena on his birthday against USC. His 32 points led the Redskins to an 80-72 upset win. Utah State surprised Colorado State 83-73 as Marv Roberts put in 31-points. Another high scorer was Nate Archibald, who made good on 12 of 13 shots and had 32 points as UTEP beat Arizona 93-83 and brought its record to 10-3. Arizona sank only 29% of its first-half shots against Seattle, but 56% in the second half and won 75-66. New Mexico State beat Albuquerque 91-81 and Idaho State 85-62 as Sam Lacey had 39 points and 39 rebounds. Butler, spurred on by 5'8" Steve Norris and 5'10" Steve Hardin, defeated New Mexico 81-80 in overtime.
In the first game of the Southwest Conference race SMU, tied for the cellar a year ago, won 81-78 from TCU, last season's champion.