Most of the action occurred in tournaments, including the Choo Choo Classic in Chattanooga, the Cannonball Classic in Crawfordsville, Ind. and, most important, the Maryland Invitational where host Maryland defeated Georgia Tech 105-67 and UCLA knocked off St. Bonaventure 78-62 in the first round. During the final between the Terps and Bruins, Maryland failed to take advantage of the absence of UCLA's 7'1" Center Ralph Drollinger, who had fouled out. Maryland, which had trailed 36-20 in the first half, was only one point behind when Drollinger exited with 3:39 to play. Replacing him was Marques Johnson, who zipped in seven straight points to carry UCLA to an 81-75 victory.
On the eve of a Holiday Festival game in New York against Rutgers, USC Coach Bob Boyd nervously recalled a meeting between the two teams last year. Southern Cal won that one 82-81 despite 43 points by Phil Sellers, who made Boyd even more uneasy by scoring 32 points in an opening-round 89-81 win over Seton Hall in the Festival. To try to stop the Scarlet Knight forward the next night, Boyd's Trojans became Sellers dwellers, but the Rutgers ace got 32 points nonetheless. Once again it was not enough as USC prevailed 81-66. That moved the Trojans into the title match against Fordham, which beat Manhattan 82-70 and St. Joseph's 94-66.
At the ECAC Ocean State Holiday Classic, St. John's and co-host Providence reached the finals. St. John's defeated Rhode Island 78-56, then stunned South Carolina 78-77. A basket by freshman Bruce Campbell with 12 seconds left gave Providence a 76-75 win over Holy Cross. The next night the Friars cracked Drake and its zone 83-73.
Old Dominion, a small-college squad, took its own Classic by clipping Columbia 80-67 and surprising California 84-73.
Following a 112-101 loss to Real Madrid in the finale of the International Christmas Tournament in Madrid, Spain, North Carolina flew home to face Utah. Instead of suffering jet lag, the Tar Heels matched second-half spurts with the visitors. Carolina made 12 of its first 14 field-goal attempts and the Utes 11 of their first 16. Despite Utah's Ticky Burden, who made 20 of 29 shots and had 44 points, the Tar Heels won 94-91.
Playing furiously at the start of the second half is North Carolina State Coach Norm Sloan's favorite way of having his team unnerve an opponent. The Wolfpack worked that strategy perfectly against Kent State. David Thompson hit nine of his first 10 shots after the intermission on his way to a 39-point performance, and the Wolfpack ended up with a 99-61 triumph. In its next game, State trailed Pitt 36-33 at the half, but put on another blitz for an 86-70 win.
Oh, yes, Tennessee-Chattanooga chugged past West Georgia 93-92 for the Choo Choo title and Coe skidded past Slippery Rock 80-78 to win the Cannonball Classic.
1. N.C. ST. (8-0)
2. MARYLAND (7-1)
"I came to Ames saying we'd run and shoot, but all we've been doing is walkin' and talkin'," said Iowa State's new coach, Ken Trickey, when his team arrived at the Big Eight Tournament in Kansas City, Mo. with a 3-5 record. But once the games began, his Cyclones hurried up, shut up and made it to the finals, setting a tournament scoring record by drubbing Colorado 107-82 and stopping Kansas State 82-64. In its romp over the Buffaloes, Iowa State had a rare seven-point play: it converted all five free throws resulting from a foul and three successive technicals, and then scored on the ensuing possession when Art Johnson laid in two of his game-high 33 points. Kansas joined the Cyclones in the finals. In defeating Oklahoma State 88-68, the Jayhawks sank 21 of their first 31 shots from the field. Then they overhauled Nebraska 63-62, coming from 12 points behind as Tommie Smith scored eight of his team's final 15 points.
1. LOUISVILLE (7-0)
2. MEMPHIS STATE (8-2)
Having been slapped with four technical fouls in Marquette's first five games, Coach Al McGuire vowed not to get any more. He easily survived without a "T" in a 100-70 lark against Georgia on the opening night of the Milwaukee Classic. And he even made it through the title contest against Virginia, but just barely. Giving McGuire the most reason to shout in frustration was 6'7" Wally (The Wonder) Walker, of whom Cavalier Coach Terry Holland says, "He's a great outside shooter. It's just too bad we're playing indoors. But seriously, he's got all the shots—typhoid, diphtheria." Walker sank 17 of 26 from the floor and had 36 points as Virginia took its opener from Wisconsin 86-78. Against Marquette he had 20 points. But McGuire, sitting and figuring instead of jumping and yelling, came up with an assortment of defenses: first, a modified zone; then a box-and-one; then a triangle-and-two and finally a 1-2-2 zone that throttled Virginia 73-55.
Since being humiliated by Indiana 98-74 in mid-December, Kentucky has had five impressive wins. The Wildcat pressure defense was superb in last week's 100-63 devastation of Kansas and the offense glistened in a 113-96 victory over Notre Dame. Kevin Grevey had 56 points, and against the Irish two 6'10" freshman centers, Rick Robey and Mark Phillips, made 14 of 16 field-goal attempts.
Penn State came to the Gator Bowl Tournament with a 2-2 record, a fast-moving offense that John Bach was using for the first time in his seven years as State's coach and little hope of winning. But the Nittany Lions defeated Jacksonville 75-73 and upset Memphis State 61-54. Center Randy Meister picked up 53 points and the MVP award, and Bach won his first tournament ever.
DePaul's Ray Meyer gained his 500th win in 33 years of coaching when his Blue Demons scuttled Marshall 104-77.
Alabama stopped Virginia Tech 77-73.
1. INDIANA (10-0)
2. ALABAMA (5-0)
Oregon and Washington State made it to the finals of the Far West Classic in Portland. The Ducks beat Creighton 75-64 and in a matchup of unbeaten teams and scintillating guards, toppled Arizona State 80-76 even though ASU's Lionel Hollins outscored Oregon's Ron Lee 30-23. Washington State, which first beat Wake Forest 67-61, trailed Oregon State by seven points with three minutes to go, but the Cougars came up with three steals, turned each into a basket and won 68-65.
Advancing to the title game in Honolulu's Rainbow Classic were Indiana and Hawaii. The Hoosiers had 32 points by Steve Green as they whipped Florida 98-84 and 24 by Scott May in a 102-71 laugher against Ohio State. Hawaii beat San Jose State 64-63 when a last-second Spartan basket was disallowed and downed Villanova 75-65.
1. UCLA (8-0)
2. USC (8-0)