North Carolina, bedeviled by injury and illness to key personnel, finally gave way after running its victory streak to 37 games, was cut down by West Virginia and its 6-foot 10-inch center Lloyd Sharrar, 75-64, in finals of tough Kentucky Invitational tournament. Tar Heels bounced back to capture Dixie Classic at Raleigh, N.C., beating St. Louis 63-48, Duke 76-62, outstalling North Carolina State in final-round exercise in ball control, 39-30. Other winners as tournament season reached holiday crescendo were San Francisco, Blue Grass Festival at Louisville and All College tournament at Oklahoma City; Texas Christian, Southwest Conference tournament at Houston; La Salle, Richmond, Va. invitational; Georgia Tech, Motor City Classic at Detroit; Oregon State, Far West Classic at Corvallis, Ore.; Alabama, Carrousel Tourney at Charlotte, N.C. (see page 14).
St. Louis Hawks got 51 points from Bob Pettit in fantastic 146-136 scoring barrage victory over Syracuse Nationals that broke nine league records, before temporary loss of scoring, rebounding mainstay when he broke finger during 106-110 defeat by Detroit. Pettitless Hawks finished week with wins over Detroit, Boston to swell Western Division margin to 9� games.
Boston Celtics, no longer unbeatable miracle team of early season, lost three of four during week, including 105-115, 106-110 losses to resurgent Philadelphia Warriors who won three out of four, but still held 6�-game lead over second-place Syracuse in Eastern Division.
Detroit Lions, red-hot after two come-from-behind victories over Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers had given them Western Division title, shattered Cleveland Browns' once grudging defense under daring leadership of Quarterback Tobin Rote, galloped to 59-14 win over Browns in National Football League championship at Detroit (see page 8).
Collegians warmed up for big New Year's Day splash with three year-end specials. In San Francisco's East-West Shrine game 62,000 watched in rain as the Westerners, inspired by Arkansas Fullback Gerald Nesbitt, who gained 91 yards rushing and scored three touchdowns, bottled up East's array of name-players, punched out scores in every quarter to win 27-13. In Blue-Gray game before 16,000 at Montgomery, Ala., nation's leading passer, Ken Ford of Hardin-Simmons, staged aerial show to guide Southern Grays to tight, 21-20 win over Blue All-Stars from North. At Jacksonville, Fla., 43,709 fans looked on as Tennessee's Sammy Burklow kicked fourth-down, fourth-quarter field goal from 7-yard line. Vols' swift, agile line held jarring John Crow in check, to squeeze out 3-0 victory over Texas A&M in Gator Bowl.
Massachusetts Boxing Commission made its long-held position as noncooperative independent official at last, resigned in anger from National Boxing Association, charging ring body with "outright attempt to undermine and hinder boxing in the Commonwealth." Resignation presumably stems from NBA's nonrecognition of October 15th Tony DeMarco- Virgil Akins bout (won by Akins), billed in Boston as welterweight title fight to fill vacancy left by Carmen Basilio's graduation to middleweight throne.
Australia, led by lean Mal Anderson and brunet Ashley Cooper in singles, Anderson and left-handed Mervyn Rose in doubles, fought off surprisingly stubborn challenge thrown at them by U.S. tandem of 22-year-old Barry MacKay, 34-year-old Vic Seixas, captured Davis Cup honors for third straight year by downing Americans 3 2 at Melbourne (see page 12). In first-day singles matches MacKay, double-faulting 20 times, lost to U.S. singles champion Anderson 6-3, 7-5, 3-6, 7-9, 6-3, Seixas was beaten by Cooper 3-6, 7-5, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3, then U.S. pair dropped decisive doubles to Rose and Anderson on following day 6-4, 6-4, 8-6. But American netmen gained large measure of vindication on final day as Seixas won from Anderson in singles 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 0-6, 13-11, MacKay polished off Cooper 6-4, 1-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Montreal Canadiens, still without services of high-scoring, injured Maurice "Rocket" Richard who expects to return to action in mid-January, dropped 5-4 decision to Toronto Maple Leafs, but came back strongly with 6-0 victory over Detroit Red Wings, 4-3 win over slumping second-place New York Rangers who lost three in row, fell eight points behind highflying Canadiens. Boston Bruins, playing with 38-year-old Red Wing Assistant Trainer Lefty Wilson in the nets when Bruin goalie suffered first-period shoulder dislocation against Detroit, tied Red Wings 2-2 at week's end with Wilson making 23 saves, moved into sole possession of third place in NHL.