Kansas won the Big Eight tourney—but it was hairy. Pitted against the Jayhawks in the championship was nettle-some Iowa State, which in January dealt Kansas its third and last loss against 31 wins. With a two-point lead, possession and 15 seconds until victory, the Jayhawks made the ending much more exciting than it had to be. Cyclone guard Jeff Hornacek stole a sloppy pass, drove the length of the floor and fed "What The" Sam Hill in the lane. In the act of shooting, Hill appeared to be fouled, as time ran out, by Jayhawk forward Danny Manning. "I grabbed his arm," Manning admitted afterward. "We didn't want him to shoot." Whistles blew, officials hastily conferred. One had called Manning for a foul. But another, Woody Mayfield, called Hill for traveling.
"My whistle made it a dead-ball situation, so there was no shot and no foul," explained Mayfield. Kansas won 73-71. Slow-motion TV replays showed no discernible travel. Cyclone coach Johnny Orr tried to get at Mayfield and had to be restrained. "My players hate him," said Orr. "I don't like him. We barred him from our games at Iowa State."
It was both bad manners and bad luck when Maurice Martin reached across the training table for a dinner roll on March 1. In doing so, he strained his lower back, temporarily imperiling St. Joe's postseason hopes. The 6'6" swingman, the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, logged scant playing time in that night's conference semifinal, a 60-59 palpitator over Duquesne. Martin, who averages 18 points and six boards per game, was a question mark up until 10 minutes before the championship game.
Martin—his teammates call him Mo; NBA scouts call him a possible first-rounder in the upcoming draft—mended quickly, pouring in 22 points as St. Joe's held off West Virginia two days later, 72-64, for the title and an NCAA berth. Defeated WVU coach Gale Catlett, one of the NCAA selection committee's more vocal critics after his 20-8 team went unininvited last season, can put his brickbats away. The 22-10 Mountaineers made it this year, as did conference mate Temple, 24-5.
Fairfield survived a second-half, 24-point fusillade from Holy Cross's sharp-shooting Jim McCaffrey to win the Metro Atlantic final 67-64. The Stags, occupants of the MAAC basement last season, are 24-6 and headed for their first-ever NCAA tournament. Following the championship game in East Rutherford, N.J., the team bus was greeted by 1,000 students when it arrived back at Fairfield. Rookie coach Mitch Buonaguro was hoisted onto students' shoulders and carried around the campus. "They were out of their minds," said Buonaguro. "It was tremendous." So rambunctious were the students that, says coach B, "After about 10 minutes, I had to get back on the bus."
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