The state of Mississippi has made news with its cotton, the Klan, Miss Americas, freedom marches and football teams, but never with basketball. Last week, Ole Miss and Mississippi State nearly turned that reputation and the Southeastern Conference right around. Playing at Kentucky, the Rebs, who have not beaten the Wildcats since 1928, led at halftime 45-38. Coach Cob Jarvis' players had outshot Kentucky 67% to 37%, outrebounded it 21-18 and outhustled it with a rugged zone defense. Early in the second period Mississippi twice moved to nine-point leads before the Wildcats' trap zone began to work. Kentucky then went on spurts of 17-3 and 26-8 to ruin the Rebels 95-73.
Tennessee, the Wildcats' toughest challenger in the SEC, took on Mississippi State in Knoxville and also trailed at the half 36-30. There were only six minutes to play when the Vols' Jimmy England hit a corner shot to put his team ahead for good on the way to a 58-56 victory.
Night-owling by Purdue's Larry Weatherford and William Franklin may end up costing their team the Big Ten title. The pair were nabbed breaking curfew and suspended by Coach George King for one game. It turned out to be the league opener against Iowa, and Purdue, despite 53 points by Rick Mount, lost 94-88. Johnny Johnson and Fred Brown scored 28 and 26 for the Hawkeyes. Purdue's chief rivals, Ohio State and Illinois, won their first games. The Buckeyes, the hottest shooting team in the country from both the field and the foul line, hit on 33 of 62 shots in defeating Minnesota 78-71. The Illini made nine of 10 free throws in the final 65 seconds to outlast Wisconsin 74-69.
Highly favored Ohio started its Mid-America Conference season with a 78-52 victory over Kent State, Craig Love topping the scoring with 20 points. South Carolina won the Sugar Bowl Classic in New Orleans, defeating New Mexico 85-62 and Notre Dame in overtime 84-83.
1. KENTUCKY (9-0)
2. OHIO U. (9-1)
Last spring Big Eight coaches unanimously backed a new policy calling for strict enforcement of bench behavior rules. By the end of the conference tournament last week, most of them wanted their ballots back. Officials called 14 technical fouls in 12 games, most of them on the coaches for standing while the clock was running. Two of the technicals came in the final game when Colorado Assistant Coach Chuck Gardner and headman Sox Walseth were nailed one right after the other. The fouls resulted in two free throws for Oklahoma's Scott Martin, who made them both and helped the surprising Sooners win 73-72. Last in both tournament and conference races last season, Oklahoma is thriving this year on the strong rebounding of Garfield Heard and Cliff Ray, who pulled down 71 between them in the tourney. Ray's jumper with 2:15 to play put the Sooners ahead to stay in the title game, while Heard's 22 points earned him the most valuable player award. He also scored 24 in a 72-67 semifinal win over Kansas State.
Baylor, which earlier had knocked off undefeated New Mexico State, turned up a spoiler again. This time the Bears trapped unbeaten Wyoming at Waco and came away with an 86-79 victory. With regular Pat Fees bedridden by the flu, Tom Friedman moved up to the starting five and scored 22 points, including 12 of Baylor's 26 free throws.
As startling as the Oklahoma and Baylor performances was that of Niagara. The Purple Eagles, who won only half their games during Calvin Murphy's first two seasons, ran their record to 10-0 in the All-College Tournament at Oklahoma City. Not unexpectedly, Murphy led the way. In an opening-round 69-68 upset of Tennessee, he drilled in a 15-foot jumper with two seconds left on the clock. Then he scored 22 points in the finals even though foul trouble forced him to sit out 18 minutes in the 87-75 victory over Oklahoma City.
Bradley and North Texas State opened their Missouri Valley schedules with rare road wins. The Braves came out on top at Wichita 89-80, and the Eagles triumphed at Memphis State 86-77. The league's best teams, Louisville and Drake, won their openers at home, 84-67 over Tulsa and 80-78 over St. Louis.
1. HOUSTON (11-1)
2. OKLAHOMA (10-1)
Oregon Coach Steve Belko was up late in his hotel room the night before the finals of the Far West Classic in Portland. He had a special problem: how to stop undefeated Washington's Steve Hawes and George Irvine, who had combined for 104 points in the first two rounds of the tournament. Grabbing a bar of soap, Belko diagrammed a two-three zone defense on his mirror and decided Oregon would use that even though the Ducks had not tried a zone all year. The defense worked, as Hawes and Irvine were held to a total of 32 points. Led by Center Stan Love's 25 points and 12 rebounds, the Ducks started fast, scoring on 14 of their first 18 shots, and their zone won out 83-73.
USC and UCLA met strong intersectional opponents and won three games for the West Coast. The Trojans were faced with stopping Florida State's running game, called by Seminole Coach Hugh Durham the "fastest in the history of the South." First employing a tight man-to-man defense to bog down FSU's fast break, then turning to a stall offense late in the game to protect a narrow lead, Southern Cal won 71-68.
UCLA looked like two different teams against Princeton and Notre Dame. With the Tigers keeping the Bruins' running game in check and Jeff Petrie scoring 28 points, UCLA needed Sidney Wick's 12-foot jumper with three seconds remaining to win 76-75. Five nights later the Bruins were back in high gear, running off to an 11-0 lead over the Irish and bringing in substitutes to play the closing nine minutes of a 107-77 victory.
New Mexico State defeated Sul Ross 95-75 and Arizona 95-76, while Houston lost its first game after nine wins, to Santa Clara 85-63 in the first round of the Las Vegas Classic. The Cougars rebounded with a 98-85 victory over Cal at Santa Barbara.
1. UCLA (8-0)
2. NEW MEXICO ST. (12-1)
"He hit from inside, outside, right-handed, left-handed. I'd give up three of my players for him right now," said the Atlanta Hawks' Richie Guerin of St. Bonaventure's 6'11", 265-pound center, Bob Lanier. "He'd really be something if he was in shape." Even with a couple of rolls of what looked suspiciously like baby fat, Lanier was adult enough for Purdue in the finals of New York City's Holiday Festival. The biggest Bonnie tied Oscar Robertson's single-game record for the tournament with 50 points as his team trounced the Boilermakers 91-75. Lanier, who had scored 25 in the Bonnies' 96-61 semifinal victory over St. Joseph's, hit on 29 of 36 shots in the two games. He added 25 more points as St. Bonaventure finished its week with a 96-63 win over Baldwin-Wallace.
Home-state teams found the pickings easy in most of the East's tournaments. Florida State knocked off Army 86-51 and intrastate rival Florida 88-63 in the Gator Bowl Classic as Pointman Ken Macklin, who had been in danger of losing his starting spot, scored 34 points in the two games. North Carolina took the Carolina Classic at Greensboro by beating Harvard 92-74 and Bowling Green 87-72. Tar Heel Charlie Scott, the most valuable player, scored 27 points in the title game. Playing on its home floor in the Charlotte (N.C.) Invitational, Davidson rapped Holy Cross 90-76 and Syracuse 103-81.
Columbia, which earlier had defeated Villanova 76-64, lost to home-town La Salle in the Quaker City 89-74 at Philadelphia. The Explorers, who gained a spot in the finals by defeating Cornell 68-56, halted the Lions' unbeaten string at 10 games amid cries of foul play. La Salle's Bob Fields, who was guarding Columbia star Jim McMillian closely in the Explorers' box-and-one defense, twice poked his opponent in the eye. McMillian missed more than six minutes of play and then, returning with blurred vision, scored only 15 points, well under his average.
One team that failed to win its own local tournament, Miami, lost 76-69 to Seton Hall in the opening round of the Hurricane Classic, while Texas upset Ohio University 73-65. The Pirates won the championship 56-55 over the Longhorns on Mel Knight's basket with 13 seconds left.
1. S. CAROLINA (8-1)
2. ST. BONAVENTURE (8-0)