Before Arizona's intrastate rumble with Arizona State, Wildcat coach Lute Olson told freshman guard Sean Elliott to take it to the hole. Elliott obeyed, scoring 17 points in a 62-53 win, Arizona's fifth straight over the Sun Devils. ASU, which takes pride in its tenacious man-to-man defense, had no one to help out when Elliott would get a step on his defender, which was virtually every time he touched the ball. Said Elliott, a high school All-America from Tucson, "I was just going to take it all the way until someone stopped me." Three Sun Devils drew a total of 10 fouls trying to stay with Elliott; nine of his points came on free throws.
When the Michigan Wolverines finally came out of the closet, they were not, to the surprise of some critics, wearing skirts. Doubted and maligned for their easy pre- Big Ten schedule and aversion to travel—the 14-0 Wolverines had played a grand total of three road games before last week—Michigan embarked on what coach Bill Frieder called one of the toughest road trips in America. After trailing at Indiana 8-0, Michigan went on a 17-2 tear, eventually handing the Hoosiers a 74-69 defeat at Assembly Hall.
Two nights later, Wolverine soph Gary (The General) Grant, a former Ohio schoolboy player of the year, scored 23 points in Michigan's 78-68 win at Ohio State.
Indiana was especially hard hit by imports from the Great Lakes state. After the Wolverines had proved themselves at the Hoosiers' expense, Michigan State snuck into Assembly Hall on Sunday and left with a 77-74 upset. Forward Larry Polec's four free throws in the last half minute stretched Indiana's losing streak to two. The bloom is off the rose in Bloomington, where the Hoosiers are suddenly 8-4, 0-2 in the Big Ten. Indiana has lost only 25 games in Assembly Hall in the last 16 years, but that total includes their last seven conference games.
Illinois had been involved in only two close games this season and lost both, so a sense of relief pervaded Champaign after the Illini nipped Iowa State 63-61.
"We had to fight hard," forward Anthony Welch said proudly. He cited the team for "mental toughness." Forward Efrem Winters's appraisal was more guarded—and honest: "We were very, very fortunate to get a win out of this one." Coach Lou Henson, reflecting on his team's 14 turnovers or perhaps the Cyclones' 11 steals, concurred, saying, "We did look lousy at times."
Winters and Henson hadn't seen anything yet. Four nights later, Iowa spoiled Illinois' 31-game home winning streak with a 60-59 upset.
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