No sooner had Indiana cooled Iowa 80-64 than Hoosier Coach Bobby Knight was at the podium trying to shore up sagging Hawk-eye morale. "This wasn't as much a runaway as it looked," he said. "Heck, they were tied with us a couple of times. This is a rugged team, but it has some guys hurting. Maybe next week they will be healthy and hopefully will give somebody trouble."
The "somebody" is Minnesota (10-2 in the Big Ten), which plays both Iowa (4-8) and Northwestern (1-11) this week. If Indiana (10-3), which closes out against Purdue at home Saturday, is to have any shot at the league title, Minnesota must lose at least once. "Right now the odds are against us," said Knight. "But it's a tough conference. Anything can happen."
If anything does, one of the most surprised people will be Purdue Coach Fred Schaus, whose team, averaging 191 pounds, lost to Minnesota (212 a man) 79-66. "They are as physical as any college team I've ever seen," he said. "If Minnesota wins our league, it will have an excellent chance in the NCAA tournament. It boards better than UCLA." "We'll be tough," said Minnesota Coach Bill Musselman.
After the Spartans downed Northwestern 86-72, Michigan State Coach Gus Ganakas hit back at critics who questioned his using his son Gary, a 5'5" guard. "One professor wrote to the newspaper calling it the greatest scandal in the history of MSU," Ganakas said. "Then he demanded a new offense with Mike Robinson as playmaker. The way Mike shoots, and this guy wants him passing." The Big Ten scoring leader, Robinson had 40 against Northwestern.
For the slip of a tongue, a game was lost. With the score tied in the closing seconds, John Hodak, a Toledo guard, called an official a mildly bad name. The official responded with a harsher sentence, a technical. Greg Boyd sank the shot and DePaul went on to win 67-65. "Hodak said it to the wrong ref," said DePaul Coach Ray Meyer. "He should have said it to the other one and we all would have agreed."
1. MINNESOTA (20-2)
2. MARQUETTE (22-3)
For an hour last week, Stanford was as big as anybody in the Pacific Eight. Friday night the Cardinals upset USC 50-47, and then 24 hours later went into a disciplined offense that had UCLA down 25-18 at halftime. But the slowdown finally stalled. Unruffled by the crawling action, UCLA patiently chipped away until it had built a 34-31 advantage, ripped off a 12-4 blitz and won 51-45 to run its victory streak to 70.
After losing to Stanford, USC came back to down California 64-53, and in defiance of tradition USC Coach Bob Boyd said, "If there's going to be a team chosen from the Pacific Eight to participate in the NIT, I think we have a chance." Never before has any league team but the champion gone to a postseason basketball tournament.
Even the officials had trouble getting up for NCAA tournament-bound Long Beach State's listless 72-62 victory over Fresno State. "We were sloppy but I can't get mad at the kids," said Coach Jerry Tarkanian. "I didn't get up for the game myself. We played well until we got a 16-3 lead and then we fell apart. I even took my wife and daughter out to dinner, and I never do that before a game." The officials? Well, at one point a Fresno player had to step on a referee's foot before he could get his attention to call a time-out. And another time an official puffed three times before he realized he did not have his whistle in his mouth.
But it was different Saturday when Marquette came in. Tarkanian did not take his family to dinner, Long Beach State was all attention and so were the refs. Seven technical fouls were called, including two on Marquette Coach Al McGuire. Down by four at the half, State got 15 points from All-America Ed Ratleff after intermission and won 76-66.
Oral Roberts closed its season with a 116-79 victory over Pan-American, but Richard Fuqua's shot at 3,000 career points fell 16 short. "The record didn't mean that much," he said. Maybe he meant it. Fuqua did not even take a shot in the opening seven minutes of the second half. He scored 24.
Form being what it is, the expected four-way tie for the Western Athletic Conference championship instead became three upsets and a clear-cut title for Arizona State. And ASU won by only two points. Undone by the bottom half of the WAC standings were Brigham Young, Arizona and New Mexico.
At Fort Collins, Colo., Center Ron Kennedy scored on a layup with one second remaining to give Arizona State an 89-87 victory over Colorado State and all the shares of the championship. Earlier in the week the Sun Devils had won their first game ever in 10 trips to Wyoming 80-59.
The biggest surprise was Utah, a winner of only three previous WAC starts and of only seven games overall. The Utes forced 20 turnovers with a full-court press and jolted Brigham Young 86-71. Arizona was undone by Colorado State early in the week 79-72; and Saturday, playing at home, the University of Texas at El Paso took away New Mexico's championship hopes 63-60.
With their team sinking like the Titanic, Nevada at Las Vegas fans, appropriately enough, flooded the court with ice cubes. And so, with 2:25 remaining and Santa Clara leading 74-57, referee Ernie Filiberti blew his whistle and abandoned ship.
1. UCLA (25-0)
2. LONG BEACH ST. (24-2)
"If you believe the story of David and Goliath is a Biblical truth and not a myth, you know anything is possible," LSU Coach Dale Brown told his troops. And so, taking up their slingshots, they went forth to do battle with conference leader Tennessee. Score another win for David, this time 78-74. "The good Lord was on our bench," said Brown. Then, asked a heretic, why didn't he play Him? Later in the week, Tennessee was stunned once more, this time 86-74 by Vanderbilt, and the Southeastern Conference finally returned to normal: Kentucky on top. Their early season troubles apparently cured, the Wildcats, who were once 3-3 in the SEC, downed Alabama 111-95 and Auburn 91-79 and led the conference into the final week with a 13-4 record.
Jacksonville closed out a 21-5 season by easing past Georgia Southern 88-75, and not even swollen glands and a sore throat could keep the Dolphins' Butch Taylor from scoring 30. "My throat didn't start bothering me until the second half," said Taylor, "when the game got uninteresting."
For Texas Tech, which wrapped up the Southwest Conference championship, its 64-63 victory over Arkansas was interesting right to the last moment. With 2:23 to play, Tech had an eight-point lead. With eight seconds left, the lead was but one and Arkansas had the ball. Up went a shot. It missed and the rebound fell into the hands of Tech's Bryan Mauk, at 5'9" the shortest man on the court. "I don't know how much more of this I can stand," said Tech Coach Gerald Myers.
Freshman Fly Williams scored eight points in the final eight minutes to lead Austin Peay, last year's cellar dweller, to the Ohio Valley Conference title with a 75-73 victory over Murray State. Preseason Southern Conference favorite Furman ripped Davidson, the regular-season champion, 99-81 to win the tournament championship and a berth opposite Syracuse in the NCAA Eastern Regional playoffs.
1. N.C. STATE (25-0)
2. N. CAROLINA (22-6)
Early in January, after losses to Tennessee and Maryland, people were beginning to wonder if Syracuse was as good as it thought it was. "We are," Coach Roy Danforth said then. "I was worried that three tournaments on the road might hurt our record, but not anymore. I don't see any reason why this team shouldn't win at least 18 games." "Twenty," said Mike Lee, a 6'3" senior forward and big man on offense. Both were wrong. Early in the week the Orangemen downed Rutgers 97-84, and Saturday night played well enough in the first half to overshadow a cool second half and edge George Washington 74-72. That pushed 14th-ranked Syracuse's record to 22-4.
Against George Washington, Syracuse took a 43-34 lead into halftime but could shoot no better than 35% in the second half. George Washington did not do much better. The only points scored by either team in the last 3:44 came on a 25-foot jump shot by Lee, which decided the game and gave him 22 for the night.
Struggling St. Joseph's went into a tenacious zone, muffled Temple without a point for seven minutes and gained a 70-60 victory in the Middle Atlantic Conference playoff championship and a berth in the NCAA regional. In the opening round St. Joseph's ripped Gettysburg 92-58, but Guard Mike Moody aggravated a foot injury and may miss tournament play.
La Salle Reserve Steve Baruffi was called on to stop Villanova's Tom Inglesby and did such a good job La Salle romped 101-79. At one stretch Inglesby went 1 for 11. The Villanova ace wound up with 25 points but shot only 8 for 20 from the field. La Salle also got a big game from junior Joe DiCocco, who had 26 points, 17 rebounds and seven assists. "We just couldn't do anything wrong," said DiCocco.
Penn took the Ivy League title by trouncing stumbling Harvard 86-75 and bumbling Dartmouth 74-46. Providence and St. John's, both NCAA at-large selectees, played a scorcher in Queens, N.Y., the visitors finally winning 93-90 as Ernie DiGregorio scored 41 points. Massachusetts, the Yankee Conference winner, humiliated Fordham 72-59.
1. PROVIDENCE (22-2)
2. ST. JOSEPH'S (22-5)