When Michigan visits Champaign it will lose. It just might take Illinois five, 10, perhaps 20 extra minutes to do the job. Wolverine coach Bill Frieder is 0-7 at Assembly Hall, and the last three of those defeats have come in overtime; one 1984 game had four OT periods. On Saturday, Efrem Winters had his first 20-point game in two seasons, and fellow forward Ken (The Snake) Norman had his second in three days, as the Illini took a 52-35 lead, fell behind 68-64, tied the game and then held on to win 83-79—in overtime, of course.
The Wolverines appeared to have beaten the Champaign jinx with a ferocious comeback. With his team up by two and 48 seconds to play (44 on the shot clock), Michigan's Antoine (The Judge) Joubert hurried a 22-footer that had little chance. Illinois rebounded and guard Tony Wysinger's ensuing hoop forced the customary extra period. Joubert hadn't realized that the shot clock had been reset after Winters blocked a shot by Wolverine Robert Henderson. "I thought the ball had to hit the rim [for the clock to be reset]," said Joubert.
"Hopefully he learned from it," said the snakebit Frieder. "Maybe he won't do the same thing when we get to the NCAAs."
Many had written Illinois off in December after star guard Doug Altenberger's bum knee forced him to take a medical redshirt year. But coach Lou Henson has the Illini looking inside for points, and the team is 5-2 in its last seven Big Ten games. Michigan (8-3 in league play) fell into a first-place tie with Indiana.
A home-court advantage led to upheaval in the Big Eight, as well. Iowa State, an upset winner over Kansas two weeks ago, ambushed sixth-ranked Oklahoma, 73-70, for its 14th straight win at the Hilton Coliseum. After trailing by 12, Oklahoma had just tied the game at 68 when Sooner guard Linwood Davis intercepted a Cyclone pass and drove the length of the floor with ISU freshman forward Elmer Robinson breathing down his neck. Timing his leap like an acrobat, Robinson, who was playing with four fouls, rose and swatted Davis's would-be layup out of harm's way. The Cyclones got the ball and pulled ahead for good.
Berry Hurt! screamed Sunday's New York Daily News in its usual end-of-the-world-sized headline type. But it was headline hype. Walter Berry, St. John's preeminent center, limped off the floor late in the first half of an 87-75 win over Boston College, but the team physician's diagnosis was just a mild sprain.
Berry's absence made it sophomore forward Shelton Jones's duty—as Jones saw it, at least—to pick up the slack. "When I saw Walter limping off, I figured Coach would call my number," said Jones. "I figured since I was playing Walter's position...." Jones scored 15 second-half points. Erratic Willie Glass had an up night, hitting 11 of his 14 shots as St. John's broke a 48-48 tie to coast in for the win.
An uncontrolled temper may have cost Temple a crucial game. Saturday, St. Joseph's superb guard, Maurice Martin, poured in 26 points in a 65-63 defeat of the Owls, keeping the Hawks within a game of Atlantic 10-leading West Virginia. Meanwhile, Temple's 6'10", 260-pound starting center, Ramon Rivas, could only watch and stew in his own remorse. He was finishing a two-game suspension for sucker-punching George Washington forward Moti Daniel in the back of the head during a Feb. 3 game. Said GWU AD Steve Bilsky, "I think [Rivas] has forfeited the right to leniency."