After Nevada-Las Vegas had pounded Utah State 111-78 to clinch the PCAA championship, the sellout crowd of 6,380 at the Las Vegas Convention Center gave the Runnin' Rebels a rousing tribute, chanting "We're Number One. We're Number One." "This is the best I've ever seen the Convention Center," said UNLV Coach Jerry Tarkanian. It was also the last that Tark and the Rebels would see of the arena that has been known for years as Tark's Shark Tank. Next season, UNLV will play in the on-campus, 18,500-seat—take a breath—Thomas and Mack Center for Continuing Education and Special Events.
UNLV limited Utah State, which began the week as the PCAA field-goal percentage leader (51.0%), to 40.3% shooting. Center Sidney Green led the Rebels with 23 points and 21 rebounds, while Wingman Larry Anderson added 22 points. In an earlier 84-81 win over stubborn San Jose State, Green scored 20 points and had 13 rebounds, while Anderson got a game-high 28 points, including five of seven three-point shots. Overall, UNLV connected on nine of 11 three-pointers against the Spartans.
Playing without 7-foot Center Stuart Gray, who's out with strained ligaments in his left knee, UCLA disposed of Stanford and California to run its Pacific-10 record to 11-1. The Cardinal, which hasn't beaten the Bruins in Los Angeles since 1952, fell 99-86 as Darren Daye scored 18 points and 6'10" Brad Wright, subbing for the injured Gray, had 15. Bruin Forward Kenny Fields, who partially dislocated his left shoulder two weeks ago, added 14 points and then led the Bruins with 18 points in a 70-60 win over California.
After losing at Boise State 62-59, Montana recovered to beat Idaho State 69-55 behind Derrick Pope's 15 points and 10 rebounds. But the Grizzlies stumbled again against visiting Weber State, losing 56-54 and falling into a four-way tie for the Big Sky lead with Idaho, Nevada-Reno and Weber State.
With two seconds to play in Indiana's game with Northwestern in Bloomington's Assembly Hall, Hoosier Coach Bobby Knight left the premises. "I walked off the floor so I wouldn't chase the officials," an angry Knight said afterward. Knight was still livid at the refs from the Hoosiers' 58-57 home loss to Iowa three nights earlier. Late in that game, Knight turned to Big Ten Commissioner Wayne Duke, who was seated on press row, and screamed, "The officiating in this league is terrible. Goddam you!"
Though his comments after the Iowa game were brief and innocuous, Knight exploded following the 74-65 win over Northwestern, ignoring the league's ban on criticism of officials. "We pay them more than any other conference in the country, but they don't understand the game and they don't even know what to look for," he said.
Ironically, Indiana won its game with Northwestern at the free-throw line. Though they failed to score a field goal for the final 6:11, the Hoosiers held on by sinking 16 of 18 free throws in the last 2:17. Randy Wittman, who scored a game-and career-high 33 points against Iowa, had 18 against Northwestern, including six free throws in the last 1:24.
Ohio State closed to within a game of Indiana in the Big Ten, whipping Northwestern 71-55 behind Tony Campbell's 21 points and Iowa 85-69 as Guard Troy Taylor had 22 points, Ron Stokes 19 and Campbell 17.
In perhaps its finest effort in two months, Kentucky sank Vanderbilt 82-63. Junior Guard Jim Master led the 'Cats with 22 points, while freshman Kenny Walker was superb off the bench, scoring 16 points and getting 18 rebounds. "We were a great team in December," said Master, "and we're starting to get there again." Kentucky rattled the Commodores with a suffocating man-to-man defense, forcing eight first-half turnovers and limiting them to 19.4% first-half shooting. The Wildcats opened the week with a 73-61 win at Florida.
The day before Tennessee's game with Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Crimson Tide Guard Mike Davis picked up his boyhood friend. Volunteer Forward Dale Ellis, and took him for a spin around the campus. "We went to Ferguson Center [the student union] and shot pool," Davis said after the Tide's 90-78 win. "He won three of five games from me. I guess we can call it even after this game." Davis matched his friend with 22 points, and Bobby Lee Hurt burned the Vols for 28 points and 13 rebounds. Tennessee returned home to blast Florida 87-53.
Virginia Commonwealth won three games and moved into a first-place tie with Old Dominion in the Sun Belt Conference. The Rams, led by 6'3" Forward Freddie (Throw-Down) Brown's 19 points, won 68-61 at Jacksonville, then went home to whip Alabama-Birmingham 80-68 and Western Kentucky 60-47.
After North Carolina State upset North Carolina 70-63, N.C. State Coach Jim Valvano, talking with reporters, heard the post-game celebration outside the locker room and excused himself. "I've never seen a celebration after a State game." he said. "I'm going to see what it looks like."
For the first time since 1970, the Tar Heels saw what a three-game losing streak looked like. With State down 56-55 with 5:37 remaining, sophomore Guard Terry Gannon sandwiched a pair of three-point goals around two free throws by Sidney Lowe to give the Wolfpack a 63-56 lead, paving the way for the festivities. Maryland had earlier handed Carolina a 106-94 setback in College Park, thanks to Adrian Branch's 24 points.
Before his Sunday afternoon duel with Missouri's Steve Stipanovich in the New Jersey Meadowlands, Virginia's Ralph Sampson said, "I'm looking forward to playing him, seeing what four years have done to him. Hopefully, he wants to see what four years have done to me." Though Sampson had 21 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots in a 68-53 Cavalier victory before 15.767 at Brendan Byrne Arena, Stipanovich (27 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks) would no doubt like to see more of Sampson. The Cavs warmed up for their nationally televised showdown with a 92-69 thrashing of Georgia Tech in Charlottesville.
Villanova eased into first place in the Big East, holding off host Providence 64-58, thanks to four free throws from Stewart Granger and a pair from John Pinone in the final 1:28, and then beating Connecticut in Hartford 75-68 behind Dwayne McClain's 19 points and eight rebounds. After St. John's, which trails Villanova by a game, was blasted 92-75 by Boston College in New York, Coach Lou Carnesecca was philosophical. "You can't play 28 games and always come out with a masterpiece," he mused. But Point Guard Bob Kelly's performance in a 98-78 rout of Connecticut two nights later was almost a perfecto. He scored a career-high 20 points, had seven assists and seven steals and brought the crowd at St. John's Alumni Hall to its feet with his first dunk of the year. "I didn't know he was going to do it when he went for it," said Forward David (Skywalker) Russell. "It shocked me." Chris Mullin led the Redmen with 27 points and added 19 more in a 64-52 defeat of DePaul.
After whipping Connecticut 77-60, thanks to 15 points apiece from Patrick Ewing, David Wingate and Michael Jackson, Georgetown became the third Top 20 team in 19 days to lose in Pittsburgh. The Panthers upset the Hoyas 65-63, as Clyde Vaughan, the Big East's top scorer, got 16 of his 22 points in the second half. Syracuse moved into a third-place tie with Boston College in the Big East by ripping Seton Hall 96-68 and B.C. 108-88.
Memphis State had just beaten stubborn North Texas State 80-63 after leading the Mean Green by only three with 15:55 to play, and the Tigers' Keith Lee, who finished with 24 points despite having been held to six in the first half, had one thing on his mind. "I want to get back to Memphis and get ready for Louisville," he said. "If we had messed this up it wouldn't have been a very good warmup for our biggest game of the year."
Memphis may have been warm, but Louisville was red hot. The Cardinals clinched their fifth Metro Conference title in eight years with a 75-66 victory over the Tigers. Led by Center Charles Jones, who had a career-high 24 points to go with nine rebounds, the Cardinals outshot Memphis State 57.5%-40.4%, outrebounded the Tigers 33-25 and made 21 of 22 free throws.
Houston didn't smash visiting Texas by the margin (50 points) the Longhorn football team routed the Cougars last November, but Houston's 106-63 rout was "too easy for us," said Houston Forward Benny Anders. The Coogs had a tougher time in Lubbock, beating struggling Texas Tech 84-75. Second-place Arkansas stayed a game in back of Houston in the Southwest Conference race by beating SMU 71-61 in Fayetteville and TCU 64-56 at Fort Worth.
Front-runners Missouri and Oklahoma both split Big Eight Conference games. Mizzou got 21 points from Forward Greg Cavener in a 74-69 victory over lowly Kansas, but Oklahoma State upset the Tigers 79-73 as Cowboy Forward Charles Williams scored eight points in the final 46 seconds. Oklahoma earned its second one-point victory of the season over Oklahoma State, 64-63, on a 20-foot jumper by David Little with two seconds left. The Sooners then lost 55-53 at Kansas, when freshman Calvin Thompson hit four free throws in the last 54 seconds.
Illinois State snapped its three-game losing streak, beating Indiana State in Terre Haute 79-64. The Redbirds, however, remained two games behind Wichita State in the Missouri Valley Conference race. The first-place Shockers, who got 31 points from Antoine Carr in an 80-65 victory over Drake, also won at Tulsa for the first time since 1978, edging the Golden Hurricane 84-81.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
DEREK HARPER: The junior guard had 52 points, hitting 22 of 28 from the field (including his last 18) and three of five from the line, to lead Illinois to Big Ten wins over Michigan and Michigan State.