For the first month of the season, the Redmen of St. John's barely had to breathe heavily. Two Big East games, in which the Redmen racked up overtime like elves during the Christmas season, reacquainted them with hard labor. St. John's wins over Providence (95-90) and Pittsburgh (78-75)—teams the Redmen have handled with ease in recent years—were both OT affairs. Walter Berry's 35 points in Providence tied his career high.
For a squad with a lame-duck coach—Roy Chipman will resign after this season—9-3 Pitt came to the St. John's campus with a pronounced swagger, having knocked off Georgetown 80-76. On the eve of his 61st birthday, Redmen coach Lou Carnesecca received a gift in the form of some spurious officiating. With just under two minutes to play, Shelton Jones committed a blatant—but uncalled—lane violation as Willie Glass hit a foul shot that sent the game into overtime.
Providence's trip to Landover, Md. landed the Friars between a dragon and its wrath. Cranky and a trifle concerned over the Pitt loss—Georgetown's second straight—Hoya coach John Thompson spurred his troops by shaking the Capital Centre rafters with verbal thunderclaps. "Anytime you lose a couple of games back-to-back," explained Thompson, "it's time to really get involved. I've been too calm." In the ensuing storm, Georgetown punished Providence 110-79. The Hoyas had not broken the 100-point mark since 1982.
Maryland, although improving, is still too much of a one-man band to jam with the ACC's top combos. Len Bias's 28 points were six too few as Duke dropped the Terps 81-75. "It was hot in there," noted Blue Devil coach Mike Krzyzewski. "What did they do, turn up the heat?" Purely a rhetorical question. Krzyzewski has been in the league long enough to know about Lefty Driesell's Sauna Solution, whereby Cole Field House becomes Cole Crucible. Anything for an edge in the ACC.
But Driesell was good and steamed, too—at a foul by one of his guards that was deemed intentional under a new interpretation of the rules. As Duke's Johnny Dawkins drove and made a layup early in the game, John Johnson reached in on him. Dawkins then made both free throws, completing a four-point play that gave Duke its first lead. "It was a ridiculous call," said Driesell. "That's the way officials are. You put in a new rule, and they go berserk."
Georgia Tech should be 0-8 at Virginia's University Hall. Instead, the Yellow Jackets are 1-7 there because Virginia, with a six-point lead, the ball and a glorious upset less than five minutes away, collapsed like a bad souffl�. The Cavaliers lost the ball three of their last four trips up the court as Tech scored the game's final 11 points and won 64-61. Chagrined Virginia coach Terry Holland called the loss "a killer."
After trailing by 10, North Carolina beat upstart N.C. State 90-79. It was the 189th and last game to be played in Chapel Hill's Carmichael Auditorium—may-be. Last season's Clemson game was also billed as the Carmichael finale. But the new $34 million Student Activities Center wasn't ready to open when this season rolled around. It will be when Duke comes to town on Jan. 18—probably. Tar Heel center Brad Daugherty discussed the powerful emotions that visited him while playing in what was, in all likelihood, the last game Carmichael Auditorium would ever see: "I totally forgot."