Teams have lost for all sorts of reasons, but probably never before has one been beaten, even indirectly, because of Abe Lincoln. Abe helped Western Kentucky shock La Salle 91-87 at the Palestra, and the Hilltoppers rallied from 11 points back with 6:56 to go to do it. Mike Odemns, a 6'5", 235-pound senior, was most responsible for the upset, with 13 rebounds and 33 points. Odemns is a high school dropout, who worked a year as a messenger before getting a message of his own that unpacked him. "There used to be this commercial on TV," Odemns explained. "Ol' Abe Lincoln was looking for a job, and they told him, 'You ain't goin' nowhere, man, without a sheepskin.' That woke me up." Awakened, Odemns went to vocational school and on to Western. At Syracuse three nights after the Palestra defeat, La Salle lost 82-78 as the Orange utilized new offensive tactics designed to "strong-side a high-low post." Playing low was Rudy Hackett (25 points and 14 rebounds), and playing high was Earnie Seibert 12 points).
"I remember when we were able to press Clemson," said North Carolina Coach Dean Smith after being pressed, steam-cleaned and beaten by the Tigers 80-72. Clemson forced 17 first-half turnovers, built a 15-point lead and won the rebounding battle 45-38. Wayne (Tree) Rollins had 17 rebounds and 14 points, and Skip Wise scored 27 for the Tigers. That win left Clemson (5-2) tied for the Atlantic Coast Conference lead with Carolina, which earlier had downed Wake Forest 101-91, and with Maryland, a 98-97 winner at North Carolina State, where the Terps had 29 points from Mo Howard. Maryland held a 14-point lead at halftime, blew it, and then won on a last-second basket by freshman Brad Davis. David Thompson's 38 against the Terps made him the most prolific scorer in State history with 1,972 points.
Shades of Togo Palazzi and Tom Heinsohn, Bob Cousy and George Kaftan: Holy Cross, starting four underclassmen, won twice to build its record to 14-3. The Crusaders' victories came in the so-called Madison Square Garden Classic, where they skimmed past Manhattan 76-74 and Seton Hall 73-71. If there was anything classic about the affair it was Seton Hall's performance, which began with an 89-87 win over Fairfield just hours after the school president, Monsignor Thomas Fahy, had cleaned house. Uncovering eligibility violations centering around Glenn Mosley, a 6'8" sophomore, Fahy meted out assorted fines and suspensions to Coach Bill Raftery, Assistant Coach Hoddy Mahon and Athletic Director Richie Regan. He also suspended Mosley, who had been leading the nation with an average of 16.3 rebounds a game.
It took two last-second shots by Steve Hefele for Rutgers to knock off West Virginia 86-84 in double overtime. Hefele sank a 15-foot try with one second to go in the first overtime to tie the score, then put in a 25-footer as time ran out in the last period.
Boston College upped its record to 14-4, downing Providence 85-77 behind Mel Weldon's 30 points and stopping Fordham 91-74 as Bob Carrington got 27 points.
1. MARYLAND (14-3)
2. N.C. STATE (13-3)
For Southern Cal Coach Bob Boyd it was an arduous week. Because of class registration in the USC gym, his team had to practice at Los Angeles Trade Technical College. And because of a disintegrating disc in his back, Boyd had difficulty walking. He directed practices while seated and found it painful even to yell. Then came an 89-84 loss to UCLA, the 77th consecutive home win for the Bruins. Dave Meyers scored 23 points for UCLA, but the decisive factor was the play of Guards Pete Trgovich and Andre McCarter, the targets of frequent criticism this season. Trgovich popped in a career high of 22 points, and McCarter directed the offense to more than balance out an impressive performance by USC Guard Gus Williams, who tossed in 29 points and was praised by Bruin Coach John Wooden as "remarkable, amazing." UCLA (4-1) thus moved into a tie for the Pacific Eight lead with Oregon State, which lost a nonconference scuffle to Oregon 79-68.
Taking command in the Western AC was Arizona State, which held off Arizona 83-81 as it received 59 points from Guards Lionel Hollins (22), Rudy White (21) and Mike Moon (16).
Bolstered by superb shooting by its front line, independent Utah State (15-4) won twice. In downing Wyoming 84-69, the Aggies got a total of 81 points from Jimmy Moore (40), Rich Haws (21) and Ed Gregg (20). Next time out, State led BYU by 21 points, then coasted in 92-84.
1. UCLA (15-2)
2. ARIZONA STATE (17-2)
"Close only counts in hand grenades and horseshoes," said Ohio State Coach Fred Taylor while picking out shrapnel after a 72-66 loss to Indiana. The Hoosiers had trouble with their disciplined passing game against a variety of Buckeye defenses, but with Scott May zeroing in for 25 points and Quinn Buckner getting 10 of his 14 points in the last nine minutes, they remained undefeated. Indiana also throttled Illinois 73-57, May scoring 19 points and holding All-Big Ten Forward Rick Schmidt to just four field goals.
Commenting on the tenseness of his players when they faced Alabama, Auburn Coach Bob Davis said, "You could have taken a mallet and played The Star-Spangled Banner on their backbones." Both teams were tied for a share of the Southeastern Conference lead, Auburn having squeaked past Georgia 65-64 and Alabama having stymied Florida 73-67. Taking advantage of the keyed-up Tigers, the Tide sped to an 18-3 lead and won 77-53, receiving 22 points and 15 rebounds from Charles Cleveland. Kentucky also won twice to remain deadlocked with Alabama. The Wildcats trampled Mississippi State 112-79 and narrowly defeated Vanderbilt 91-90.
1. INDIANA (20-0)
2. KENTUCKY (15-2)
After taking to his TV show to denounce the refereeing during the previous week's loss at Bradley, Louisville Coach Denny Crum was reprimanded by Missouri Valley Conference Commissioner Mickey Holmes. Crum had nothing to complain about thereafter as his Cardinals overcame a New Mexico State stall to win 51-42. Two days later he made North Texas State a 112-67 loser when the Mean Green tried to run with his fleet-footed team.
"There's no way we are going to stop Kansas State's guards," prophesied Iowa State Coach Ken Trickey. Sure enough, backcourt men Chuckie Williams and Mike Evans swished 54 points between them as the Wildcats romped 108-93. Then, in a defensive struggle with Kansas, Williams and Evans each had 16 points as State won 66-56. That left Kansas State (4-1) tied for first place in the Big Eight with Nebraska, which beat Oklahoma State 73-58 and lost to Missouri 88-74.
Dexter Reed returned to the Memphis State lineup for the first time since hurting his knee in mid-December. Despite heavy bandages, Reed scored 18 points against Wichita State and helped the Tigers rally from a 10-point deficit with less than five minutes to go. Memphis State won that game 78-76, and then smothered Union 105-52.
1. LOUISVILLE (15-1)
2. MEMPHIS ST. (16-4)