Massachusetts invaded the Palestra with only a 4-4 record, but no one was all that impressed with mighty Pennsylvania. "We saw them against Harvard and, although they won, we didn't feel they showed a killer instinct," said U.Mass Coach Jack Leaman. "We felt if we stayed close, anything might happen in the final five minutes."
What happened was that Penn did little more shooting than the spectators, and U.Mass won 62-58, which had Quaker Coach Chuck Daly raging. "This is not the Penn team that was ranked second or third in the country and blew schools off the floor with great talent," he said. "This team has to learn how to fight, and right now I don't see it in this bunch. They are reluctant shooters."
Their shyness apparently abated, the Quakers came back to down Princeton 58-53. "We were playing up to the old Penn reputation," said Guard John Beecroft. "We decided after Massachusetts that we had better go out there and play the game."
St. Joseph's downed Drexel 68-53, and Mike Bantom came away saying he felt like he had been in a fight. "I've been on corners in North Philadelphia that aren't that rough," he said. "I'd rather match talent any day than play a team that tries to neutralize me by beating me into nothing."
Canisius gained a leg of the Little Three title in Buffalo, whipping Niagara 74-69 behind Mel Montgomery's career high 25 points. Providence tuned up for UCLA by scoring a record 118 points to dump Western Kentucky by 30, then got 51 points from backcourt men Ernie DiGregorio and Kevin Spacom in an 86-79 triumph over Duquesne.
With Syracuse standing at 9-2 and his own club only 6-5, Temple Coach Harry Litwack announced he again was thinking of retiring. Charged up, the Owls all but blew Syracuse out in the first half (34-18), hung on and won 63-55 with 12 straight free throws at the finish. Syracuse's game faltered badly when Dennis DuVal played just five minutes before being sidelined by a pulled hamstring muscle.
"Dennis leads us in scoring and assists, his quickness helps our press and he mops the floor at halftime," said Coach Roy Danforth. "Other than that, he doesn't do much for us."
1. PROVIDENCE (10-1)
2. ST. JOHN'S (9-2)
At Alabama, where people used to think a double dribble was a pair of grit stains on a linebacker's T shirt, they have discovered that putting a round ball through a hoop can be more than a pause between football seasons. Saturday night the Tide took a 7-1 record into Nashville, where it had not won since the Korean War, bounced high and mighty Vandy 83-77 and, for the love of Bear Bryant, was atop the Southeastern Conference. Just four years ago Alabama won only four games and thought it was having a fair season. Vandy twice took nine-point leads in the second half, but then the Commodores began to play as though they thought the basket was five rows deep in the bleachers. Led by Wendell Hudson with 22 rebounds and 27 points, Alabama turned what Vandy coaches had been calling Super Saturday into a super disaster. "Our bunch has really matured," said 'Bama Coach C. M. Newton.
Elsewhere in the SEC, Kentucky sprinted from the cellar into a second-place tie by beating Mississippi State 90-81 and shocking Florida 95-65. "We had a good game plan," moaned Georgia Coach Ken Rosemond after losing to Tennessee 79-64. "We wanted to do four things and we didn't do any of them." Apparently Georgia's first mistake was using Tennessee's basket during the pre-game warmup. "It stirred my boys up," said Vol Coach Ray Mears.
"If you treat them like freshmen, they play like freshmen," said Georgetown Coach John Thompson when he started four first-year men against Florida State. "Forget the youth myth. You either have it or you don't." They didn't. FSU won 101-70. Still smarting from three previous losses, FSU spotted Cincinnati a nine-point lead before winning 78-74. It was Cincinnati's third defeat of the week, and the second time rookie Coach Gale Catlett's team had blown a big early lead. "If the game was only 20 minutes long we'd be great," Catlett snapped. "But it isn't and we don't deserve to be in the Top 20. Maybe some of our people with national reputations aren't as good as people think."
After taking a 19-point lead and then losing to Southwestern Louisiana 94-88 in overtime, Catlett benched his leading scorer, Lloyd Batts, for missing a curfew. Three days later, with lowly Rice leading 17-10 just 10 minutes into the game, the benching was quickly lifted. It didn't help. Batts hit on only four of 20 shots, and Rice won 63-57.
No one has noticed, but unranked Virginia Tech has been doing a lot of things right. Early in the week, with 6'7" Allan Bristow outscoring heralded Danny Traylor 33-2, Tech stunned South Carolina 81-68, and then backed it up with a 100-90 victory over Georgia Southern. That made it nine straight. "I guess if we keep winning," Coach Don DeVoe said dryly, "the polls will notice us."
At Memphis State, where Coach Gene Bartow has been badgered to use Bill Cook, the 6'5" freshman from Memphis who broke all of Johnny Neumann's high school scoring records, the fans were sated. Cook came in against St. Louis with eight minutes to play in the first half, scored 14 points and was five out of seven from the field. Memphis went on to win its ninth straight 72-60. "Now maybe I'll get only seven letters a week [about Cook] instead of 100," Bartow said.
1. N.C. STATE (12-0)
2. MARYLAND (10-1)
There is an old basketball proverb—or there should be—which says that if you protect a one-point lead by giving the other team the last shot, sooner or later you are going to get burned. For Marquette, which has been doing just that all season, sooner or later came Saturday. "We were ripe," said Coach Al McGuire. Down by 10 at one point in the second half, Notre Dame came on with a rush to tie 69-69 with 35 seconds left, and with four seconds remaining, sophomore Dwight Clay hit a jumper from the right corner, and previously unbeaten Marquette's 81-game winning streak at home died 71-69. "We played it just right," said Irish Coach Digger Phelps. "What I didn't want to do was get a lead and irritate them. I just felt we had to somehow get behind—and then pull it out at the end." Earlier in the week Notre Dame overcame a 10-point deficit to beat De Paul 72-67 while Marquette, which had won its previous three games by a total of four points, was beating Loyola of Chicago by the enormous margin of 82-77. "We're getting better," said McGuire after that one. "This time we clinched it with 14 seconds to play."
Michigan came from nowhere to beat Iowa 71-59 and then Michigan State 78-71, and the Wolverines are now where Minnesota was expected to be, on top of the Big Ten. "To beat Michigan I need a special defense," said Spartan Coach Gus Ganakas. What he came up with was something called the Greek Ghetto defense, a move which put his 5'5" son Gary against Michigan's 6'3½" Henry Wilmore. So Wilmore sank 13 of 19 shots, seven from the corner over the little man's head. And it did not help when Michigan State turned the ball over 25 times. "But we expected some turnovers," said Ganakas. "We're kind of a flaky team."
1. MARQUETTE (11-1)
2. MINNESOTA (10-1)
For a half against UCLA, California's lowly Golden Bears were giant-killing grizzlies. Down 35-33 at intermission, John Wooden rallied his troops, Bill Walton began to score as he is supposed to score, and UCLA won easily 69-50, running its victory streak to 57, three shy of the record San Francisco compiled in 1954-56. This week UCLA will have to get past San Francisco and its strong front line on Friday night in Los Angeles and rugged Providence on Saturday. San Francisco, now 12-1, warmed for the task last week by whipping Loyola of Los Angeles 109-72 and Pepperdine 104-84.
Down 55-54 with 25 seconds to play, Brigham Young Coach Glenn Potter twice called time-outs. He told his team that whoever had the ball with five seconds left was to shoot. The player turned out to be Kresimir Cosic, the 6'11" Yugoslav Olympian, who happened to be 25 feet out and tightly double-teamed. But Cosic hit and BYU won over UTEP 56-55. "The way I've been shooting," he said, "I figured a 25-footer under pressure was safer than a five-foot pass."
Later Brigham Young was dealt a 69-62 loss by New Mexico. One-third of the Lobo points came from Chester (The Hawk) Fuller, who had an 11 of 13 hand from the floor. "I felt I had it going," he said. "You know, it's like when you're shooting dice. You hit a streak and you go." The victory was New Mexico's third of the week (and 12th in 14 games) after two losses the previous week. "What turned us around?" said Forward Mark Saiers. "Fear of Coach Norm Ellenberger. He's really been after us."
1. UCLA (12-0)
2. LONG BEACH STATE (12-1)