Hospitalized because of an appendix flare-up, Louisville Coach Denny Crum had plenty of time to think about a road game against dangerous Drake. Between antibiotic shots Crum decided to replace the Cardinals' man-to-man defense with a three-two zone. As it turned out, the shots prevented a trip to the operating room for Crum, and the zone prevented a drop from first place in the Missouri Valley standings for Louisville. "A 20-point victory beats the hell out of penicillin any day," said Crum after the 86-66 win.
Exceptional defense is nothing new to New Mexico State, which ranks second nationally in that department. "We've been having our problems on offense," Coach Lou Henson said, "but our defense has been tremendous. Defense can't carry you all the way, but it has kept us in the Missouri Valley race." The Aggies stayed right behind Louisville by beating West Texas State 73-53 and North Texas State 73-59. They led the Buffaloes by only two points early in the second half before three steals, leading to easy layups, broke the game open.
In Jack Hartman's opinion, his Kansas State team has a slippery grip on co-leadership in the Big Eight. The Wildcats trailed last-place Colorado by nine points before a 20-6 spurt lifted them to an 80-66 victory. Things got worse against Oklahoma, with State losing 78-71. Hartman cautioned, "We'd better take a long look at those standings in the newspaper because we're not going to be where we are very long if we keep playing the way we did." Kansas gained a first-place tie with a 76-62 win over Iowa State and a 59-57 victory against Oklahoma State.
Texas A&M defeated Arkansas 62-60 in a showdown of Southwest Conference leaders. Air Force upset Pan American 90-66 when the Broncs could make only 22 of 74 field-goal attempts. Creighton topped crosstown rival Nebraska-Omaha 62-53 and Oklahoma City 68-56. Memphis State whipped UC-Santa Barbara 74-62 and Wisconsin-Milwaukee 81-69.
1. LOUISVILLE (17-2)
2. MEMPHIS ST. (18-4)
UCLA all but clinched its 13th conference title in 14 years by repeating the previous week's sweep of Oregon and Oregon State. The Ducks were devastated 95-66, the Beavers merely beaten 74-62. "There's little doubt that UCLA is better than last year," said Oregon Coach Dick Harter. The Bruins made a convincing case by zooming to a 42-9 first-half lead. Andre McCarter played a leading role with 14 points and 12 assists in his finest game of the year.
Oregon State's loss to UCLA followed an 80-76 defeat of USC in which Lonnie Shelton scored 25 points and Gus Williams 24. Against Oregon on Saturday night, the Trojans won 92-90.
Arizona State and Arizona withstood a challenge to their Western Athletic Conference supremacy in games against Utah and Brigham Young. On Friday night the Sun Devils won 96-90 and the Wildcats triumphed 91-81. The teams changed partners on Saturday night, with Arizona State beating the Cougars 99-79 and Arizona topping the Utes 93-89.
In the West Coast Athletic Conference, San Francisco moved into title contention by upsetting Nevada-Las Vegas 113-110.
1. UCLA (19-2)
2. ARIZONA STATE (19-2)
Indiana victories over Minnesota and Northwestern made the awarding of the Big Ten title to the top-ranked Hoosiers a mere formality. So it was not surprising to hear early assessments of Indiana's national-championship chances. "That's a smart team," said Gopher Coach Bill Musselman after his team's 69-54 loss. "It's poised and dedicated. That's why it will go all the way."
Musselman was so impressed with the Hoosiers that he ended once and for all a longstanding feud with Bobby Knight by shaking hands with the Indiana coach. Then he went to Knight's dressing room and paid his respects to the players. "Why not?" he said. "They deserve it." Most deserving was Scott May, who scored 26 points and held Mark Lansberger to two field goals.
Indiana was not causing all the discomfort for Big Ten teams, however. Some of them were bringing it on themselves. Ohio State Coach Fred Taylor suspended four players for disciplinary reasons, but the Buckeyes still managed to beat Iowa 75-69. Conference Commissioner Wayne Duke placed league-leading scorer Terry Furlow of Michigan State on probation because of an elbow-swinging incident earlier in the season.
Alabama and Kentucky continued to dominate the Southeastern Conference. The Wildcats revenged a loss to Auburn by romping 119-76, but lost to Tennessee 103-98. The Tide beat Mississippi State 83-68 and Mississippi 88-79. Kentucky Coach Joe Hall called the Auburn victory "probably our most complete game of the year."
Alabama fans' respect for Leon Douglas is such that the 6'11" center scored a season-low four points and still got applause. "Actually it was one of his best games," Coach C. M. Newton said after the defeat of Mississippi State. Douglas was a workhorse on defense, grabbing 17 rebounds and blocking eight shots.
Vanderbilt defeated LSU 83-74 despite scoring eight fewer field goals. The Tigers did not make one trip to the free-throw line while the Commodores had 38 chances. "It's impossible," said LSU Coach Dale Brown. Vanderbilt made 25 foul shots.
Notre Dame had a good week, beating Air Force 99-66, St. John's 68-67 and La Salle 91-75. Adrian Dantley scored 49 points against the Falcons, hitting 16 of 19 field goals and 17 of 19 free throws.
Marquette went through the motions in a 63-53 defeat of Western Carolina but reverted to more convincing form with an 81-62 decision over Detroit.
1. INDIANA (24-0)
2. ALABAMA (19-2)
Things were tight as usual in the Atlantic Coast Conference, where four Top 20 teams stayed within a game of each other in the standings. In the key scrap Maryland beat North Carolina 96-74. Earlier, the Tar Heels had scored a 78-70 victory over Duke. North Carolina State played well below its capabilities on the road while defeating Virginia 59-46 and Wake Forest 89-87. The Wolfpack's victory over the Cavaliers was unusual because State played so deliberately on offense that David Thompson failed to make a single second-half basket and finished with only 19 points. Coach Norman Sloan ordered the "tease" offense because "we were in foul trouble and we weren't getting any movement." Cavalier Guard Billy Langloh put it another way. "Imagine," he said, "a team with those players having to freeze the ball." While the NCAA was investigating possible rule violations by Clemson, the Tigers clawed Wake Forest 71-54 and followed that up by beating Duke 100-66.
La Salle ended Penn's five-year domination of the Philadelphia Big Five by beating Villanova 74-73 in overtime. Joe Bryant scored the winning basket, but after his 28-point, 15-rebound performance, the 6'10" junior said, "I still make a lot of stupid plays. When I start to dominate games back to back, just dominate, dominate, dominate, I might consider the pros. I'm not doing that right now."
Holy Cross looked like New England's best after Marty Halsey's jumper beat Providence 69-68. Meanwhile, Boston College was being upset by Fairfield 80-74 and the University of Connecticut was nipping Rutgers 90-89.
Penn may not be the best in Philadelphia, but the Quakers still ruled the Ivy League after topping Dartmouth 80-70 and Harvard 103-81.
1. MARYLAND (18-3)
2. N.C. STATE (18-3)