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Indiana, meanwhile, climbed ahead of the Wolverines with a 61-60 win over Illinois on Thursday. On Sunday, though, the Hoosiers fell to surprising Purdue, 85-68, leaving Indiana and Michigan tied for the Big Ten lead at 10-4, with the Boilermakers half a game behind.
In its ascent to the No. 1 ranking, Duke got a boost from a pair of second-division ACC squads. Maryland forward Len Bias's redemptive 35-point performance—one week after he had been suspended for a game for breaking curfew—all but singlehandedly upset host North Carolina in overtime 77-72. Said Terp coach Lefty Driesell: "Bias made spin shots, lobs, jump hooks, banks, jumpers—I've never seen anything like it. If Lenny Bias ain't the player of the world after tonight, somebody don't know something about basketball."
Tar Heel guard Steve Hale was injured diving for a loose ball late in the game. Officials stopped play, and there was speculation that Hale had faked an injury to buy time. The following day, however, Hale reported to the UNC infirmary to have his partially collapsed right lung reinflated. On Sunday, without Hale and Warren Martin, who was out with an ankle sprain, the Tar Heels were beaten in Raleigh by N.C. State, 76-65. Suddenly mortal, Carolina missed 10 of its first 11 shots from the field. State's 6'11" sophomore center, Chris Washburn, scored 16 of his 26 points in the first half.
Senior guard Johnny Dawkins, who scored 20 points in the Blue Devils' 93-84 defeat of Oklahoma, had his jersey number, 24, retired in a pregame ceremony. Upon the introduction of his parents, Duke fans—they're not always nasty—chanted "Thank you! Thank you!"
Fairfield, the Connecticut school that had been a stranger to winning seasons since 1979, is 20-6, 12-1 in the Metro Atlantic and, under new coach Mitch Buonaguro, an untold number of pounds lighter. Buonaguro has, with Xavier's Pete Gillen, done one of the two best rookie coaching jobs in the country.
One of Buonaguro's innovations was an off-season conditioning program. Three mornings a week, Stag players reported at 6:30 for sprints and agility drills. As a result, the streamlined Stags have held opponents to 17 fewer points per game than last season's 11-17 training-table hounds. A 61-57 win over La Salle Jan. 11 marked the first Fairfield win at Philadelphia's Palestra in 18 years. Pre-Buonaguro, Fairfield hadn't beaten Fordham in 10 tries; the Stags have done it twice this season. Stagmania sweeps the sedate Jesuit campus. Six straight times the Stags have sold out 3,000-seat Alumni Hall—no mean feat at a school with 2,800 students.
Northeastern forward Reggie Lewis's 34 points in a 90-57 drubbing of Canisius upped his week's total to 97. Lewis, who earlier in the week had 22 and 41 points in Northeastern waltzes past Maine and Siena, is surely the best forward in Division I not to have started for his high school team. But as sixth man for Baltimore's Dunbar High in 1983, Lewis had nothing to be ashamed of. The starters included Reggie Williams and David Wingate, now at Georgetown, South Carolina's Keith James and Wake Forest's Muggsy Bogues.
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