With six Players from last year's team taken in the NBA draft, with no hope of appearing in postseason play because of recruiting violations and with its coach on the job only because a district court judge overruled the NCAA, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas was forced to resort to a stall to preserve an 85-80 victory over Northwestern Louisiana. It was Vegas' 60th straight win at home. Destroyed 62-37 on the boards and, therefore, unable to run against the visitors from Natchitoches, the beleaguered Rebels avoided an embarrassing defeat at the hands of an undistinguished team by hitting 23 of 28 free throws, including four by Guard Tony Smith in the last 0:36 while UNLV was holding onto the ball for dear life. Rebel Swingman Reggie Theus had 28 points to lead all scorers, despite picking up his fourth foul in the first half. Said Coach Jerry Tarkanian, whose school is being forced by the NCAA to renew its efforts to have him suspended, "We were very lucky to win."
Arizona State also appears to have fallen on hard times. The Sun Devils led 66-53 with 5:56 left in a non-conference game with WAC rival Arizona and then settled back into a zone defense and lost 72-70 when Wildcat sophomore Joe Nehls hit a 15-foot baseline jumper in the last four seconds. The game was played in Tempe, where ASU had not lost to Arizona in eight seasons. To make matters worse, earlier in the week the Sun Devils' promising 6'6" sophomore Johnny Nash broke his leg and was declared out for the season. Along with the loss of 6'8" Mark Landsberger, a 17.2 scorer last year who signed with the Chicago Bulls after he had enrolled in school this fall, and of high school star Albert King, who changed his mind and chose Maryland at the last minute, Nash's injury seems likely to make it a very long season for Arizona State.
USC won two games in one weekend for the first time since December 1975, beating Idaho State 80-69 and then overcoming a 44-34 halftime deficit to beat Texas 65-64. The Trojans unveiled freshman Cliff Robinson, a 6'9" center, who was 16 for 27 in the two games. Robinson's strong play prompted Idaho State Coach Lynn Archibald to say, "He is in the same class as Sidney Wicks and Curtis Rowe." Washington State defeated small college power Puget Sound 67-65 behind James Donaldson's 16 points and 14 rebounds.
San Francisco outscored San Francisco State 53-29 in the second half of a 100-67 thrashing. James Hardy had 23 points and Winford Boynes 25 for the Dons, who will probably be without injured Center Bill Cartwright until Christmas. How soon can the 7', 270-pounder be ready to play after the team doctor gives him the O.K.? "In a couple of hours," says Cartwright.
As Freeman Williams goes, so goes Portland State. In the first half against visiting Colorado State, Williams, the nation's leading scorer last season with a 38.8 average, was a scorching 13 for 18 from the floor, and the Vikings busted to a 55-48 lead. But the CSU defense ganged up on Williams in the second half, limiting him to four out of 15. He finished with 41 points, but Colorado State came back to win 97-93.
1. SAN FRANCISCO (1-0)
2. UCLA (2-0)
3. UTAH (0-0)
Manhattan has gone wild over Brooklyn. Manhattan, Kans., that is, where folks can't say enough about two young Brooklynites, Curtis Redding and Rolando Blackman, who play for Kansas State. Redding, voted Newcomer of the Year in the Big Eight last season, fired in 16 points in the first half against Northern Illinois. And when Redding got in foul trouble, Blackman, a 6'5" freshman, came off the bench to hit seven of 10 shots. The Wildcats needed all the help they could get—particularly from Mike Evans, who poured in 31 points—to eke out a 76-74 victory. Colorado used five new players—freshmen and junior-college transfers—in an 86-57 romp over Southern Colorado. Iowa State edged Iowa 79-78 before a sellout crowd of 14,300 in Ames. Two thousand more were turned away at the door.
Arkansas, which struggled to a one-point victory against Southwest Missouri State on the road last year, won a defensive struggle against the Bears in Fayetteville by the score of 65-47. Steve Schall and Sidney Moncrief combined for 25 rebounds, as the Razorbacks held a 52-27 edge on the boards. "We're off to a poor shooting start," said Coach Eddie Sutton, whose team shot .545 from the field to lead the nation last season. Against a bothersome 1-3-1 Southwest Missouri zone, however, Arkansas hit only 24 of 54 shots for 44 percent. Marvin Delph was high man with 20 points, followed by Ron Brewer with 17.
Cincinnati's Pat Cummings, who didn't play on last year's Metro Conference championship team because of an injury, scored 25 points and grabbed a dozen rebounds as the Bearcats throttled Akron 91-81. Georgia Tech's much-traveled Sammy Drummer, formerly of Austin Peay and DeKalb South junior college, made his debut in a Yellow Jacket uniform by scoring 20 points in a 75-58 win over Georgia.
1. ARKANSAS (1-0)
2. CINCINNATI (1-0)
3. LOUISVILLE (0-0)
On Sept. 17 Mississippi turned the temperature up to 95° for its football game with Notre Dame and upset the Fighting Irish 20-13. Last Saturday afternoon in South Bend Notre Dame served up 19 inches of snow and topped that off with a chilling piece of revenge on the basketball floor. The final score was 111-62, even though no Irish player saw more than 24 minutes of duty. Senior Duck Williams and freshman Kelly Tripucka were high men for Notre Dame with 16 points apiece.
Kentucky got 75 points from its muscular front line of Jack Givens (30), Rick Robey (23) and Mike Phillips (22) and led SMU by 42 before Coach Joe Hall sent in replacements. Hall was upset by the performance of his subs, who allowed the final margin to dwindle to 110-86, but was pleased with the play of sophomore Guard Kyle Macy, a transfer from Purdue, who scored 16 points and had 10 assists in his first game for Kentucky.
Speaking of the Boilermakers, their lack of bench strength almost cost them their home opener against Xavier. After Center Joe Barry Carroll (22 points, 11 rebounds, five blocks) fouled out with 5:04 remaining, the Musketeers, 10-17 a year ago, moved to within a basket at 80-78. Perfect free-throw shooting by Guard Jerry Sichting enabled Purdue to hold on for a 90-82 victory, but Coach Fred Schaus got only eight points from six subs—and all of them were scored by one man, freshman Forward Drake Morris. Nick Daniels led the losers with 26 points, 23 of them during Xavier's second-half comeback. Michigan, one of the few powers that ventured away from home during the first weekend of the season, defeated Western Kentucky 87-81 as Guard Dave Baxter scored 28 points and freshman Forward Mike McGee added 24.
Except for the antics of Coach Bobby Knight, who recently taunted the coach of the Soviet national team by taking off his shoe and banging it on the scorer's table a la Khrushchev, Indiana is not the team it once was. Trailing East Carolina 48-46 with 10:40 to go in a game at Bloomington, Knight sent in his entire second string to help pull out a 75-59 victory. The Hoosiers' big gun, sophomore Forward Mike Woodson, made only three of 14 shots and sat down with six points.
Indiana State's Larry Bird preyed on Westmont, a Division III school from Santa Barbara, Calif. First, Bird fed his sidekick, Forward Harry Morgan, for a season-opening dunk. Then he rang up the Sycamores' next 10 points in typical Bird fashion—from everywhere. He started with a 17-foot jumper, and then scored on a tip-in, a seven-foot floater in the lane, a 22-foot jump shot and, finally, a layup. "Wow!" was all Westmont Coach Chet Kammerer could say, as Bird ended up with 29 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, four steals and a blocked shot, though he played only 29 minutes in Indiana State's 88-54 victory. Morgan scored 16 points and junior-college transfer Leroy Staley added 15.
1. KENTUCKY (1-0)
2. NOTRE DAME (1-0)
3. MARQUETTE (0-0)
The headline in Sunday's New York Daily News read, OLD DOMINION BEATS ST. JOHN'S FOR LAPCHICK CROWN. Which, had it been true, would have meant that Redman Coach Lou Carnesecca's rebuilding job must be coming along very slowly indeed. But the headline was wrong—a Dewey beats Truman number—though not by much. The stubborn Monarchs almost pulled off an upset when Tom Conrad and slick Forward Ronnie Valentine combined on a four-point play that narrowed St. John's lead to 74-73 with 1:14 remaining. But that was as close as ODU came, St. John's eventually winning 81-75.
For the first time since Manley Field House opened its doors in 1962, Syracuse had a pre-game sellout. The occasion was the season opener with Cornell, which hardly figured to be a spine-tingler, but such big things are expected of this year's Orangemen that a record crowd of 9,502 braved icy winds and five inches of snow to show up. What they saw was not so hot, either. Syracuse showed off its new one-guard offense, scarcely breaking a sweat while cruising to an 88-61 win. Senior Marty Byrnes and 6'11" freshman Center Danny Schayes, son of former NBA star Dolph Schayes, each scored 14 points.
Princeton could not duplicate last year's 95-43 annihilation of Colgate, but the Tigers did hold the Red Raiders to one basket in the first 11 minutes and 50 seconds of an 80-53 game. Frank Sowinski was his usual pesky self on offense, hitting seven of 11 shots while playing on a tender ankle.
South Carolina ambushed Minnesota 62-55, but Coach Frank McGuire was not flexing his muscles. "You can credit the home-court advantage for the victory," said McGuire. "But if they had their two big guys they could have blown the doors down." The Gophers' "two big guys," are 6'10" Center Mychal Thompson and 6'10" Forward Dave Winey, who have been suspended for seven and three games, respectively, as a result of Minnesota's long squabble with the NCAA. Sophomore Center Jim Graziano paced the Gamecocks with 21 points.
Albert King's name was not listed in the Maryland-Bucknell game program, which was doubly curious, because while King was being recruited, the Terrapins, as a gimmick, sent him specially prepared publicity sheets listing him among returning Maryland players for the 1977-78 season. Unannounced, King eased his way onto the college scene by playing 28 unselfish minutes during which he scored 13 points. His second shot was an air-ball. "I was nervous," he said after Maryland's 95-62 win.
Wake Forest's Rod Griffin, Player of the Year in the ACC in 1976-77, came out for the opening tap with more than UNC-Wilmington on his mind. Griffin knew that if he could not go full tilt on his injured left knee he might need surgery to repair a slight cartilage tear. No problem. Griffin played 29 minutes against the Seahawks, scoring 22 points and canning eight free throws down the stretch that iced an 83-79 victory. North Carolina Coach Dean Smith made no fewer than 52 lineup changes as the Tar Heels beat Oregon State 94-63 in Charlotte. Mike O'Koren contributed 21 points, Phil Ford 20. Virginia freshman Jeff Lamp was named the MVP of the UVa Tipoff Tournament in Charlottesville, totaling 42 points in the Cavaliers' 83-63 and 90-70 triumphs over Madison and VMI.
Iona beat St. Lawrence 90-81 as Glenn Vickers and Jeff Ruland had 20 points each.
1. SYRACUSE (1-0)
2. HOLY CROSS (0-0)
3. NO. CAROLINA (1-0)
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
GEORGE JOHNSON: St. John's 6'7" forward totaled 24 points and 14 rebounds in a 66-60 victory over Lafayette, then put in 24 points as the Redmen beat Old Dominion 81-75 to win the Joe Lapchick tournament.