Although the season was barely two weeks old, the casualty list resembled a roster of the nation's top 10. Kentucky, Wake Forest, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Indiana, Kansas, Kansas State, Utah and Utah State had already been beaten, and it seemed probable they would soon be joined by other highly rated clubs.
It was like old times in New York's Madison Square Garden after St. John's and Seton Hall met and conquered two of the Midwest's best. For a while it appeared that Kansas' sniping defense and the shooting of talented 6-foot-8 Wayne High-tower, who scored 29 points, would be more than St. John's could handle. But sprightly Tony Jackson squirmed away from Hightower often enough to score 17 points and control the boards, and the Redmen earned a 66-54 victory. Seton Hall, demonstrating a sure touch under new Coach Richie Regan, simply had too much persistence and skill for a Cincinnati team that missed Oscar Robertson more than it cared to admit. Playmakers Al Senavitis and Ken Walker outslicked the Bearcats with their dexterous ball handling while quick Art Hicks (22 points) and Hank Gunter (18 points) outshot them, and Seton Hall won 84-76.
Meanwhile other Eastern leaders were having their troubles. St. Bonaventure, after stretching its home-court streak to 94 by beating Villa Madonna 93-73 at Olean, N.Y., was scared to death by Eastern Kentucky. But Guard Whitey Martin and hot-shooting Tom Stith (28 points) rallied the Bonnies for a 78-69 win. Providence, tossed into a tizzy by the controlled offense and tight defense of St. Francis ( N.Y.), squeaked by the Terriers 44-42. Holy Cross trounced St. Anselm's 74-48, but barely beat Yale 52-51. St. Joseph's (Pa.), unable to control Dayton's brilliant Gary Roggenburk, who flipped in 20 points, lost to the unbeaten Flyers 67-65.
For five years, West Virginia confidently lured foes to Morgantown, certain that it was unbeatable at home. But last week The Citadel successfully fought off a nagging zone press and broke the Mountaineers' 44-game winning streak, 83-80. Now Virginia Tech is the team to beat in the Southern Conference. The Gobblers, led by sharpshooting Chris Smith and Bucky Keller, rolled over Richmond 76-54 and Davidson 105-59.
It is going to be an interesting winter in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Duke, making good use of its height off the boards and sophomore Art Heymann's 27 points, cracked the Penn Slate zone for a 69-46 victory, then outhustled West Virginia 66-64. Dick Kepley, operating efficiently at the high post, and newcomer Jim Hudock, who filled a corner expertly, helped North Carolina roll over LSU 77-61 and Virginia 81-47. North Carolina State held off late-challenging Clemson to win 70-67 and thumped The Citadel 88-71. Maryland, after beating George Washington 80-68, invaded the Big Ten to defeat Minnesota 64-53. Wake Forest bowed to West Virginia 80-73, but the Deacons got some amazing set shooting from Alley Hart (13 for 15) and Billy Packer (9 for 16) and beat Penn State 84-78.
There was still some doubt about Kentucky, even after the Wildcats survived a shaky start to outscore Notre Dame 68-62. But Georgia Tech looked as formidable as ever. While Alan Ness concentrated on holding SMU's Steve Strange to nine points, Roger Kaiser, Tech's superb shooter, scored 25 to lead the Jackets past the Mustangs 67-64.
The Big Ten, except for Ohio State which beat St. Louis 81-66 and swarmed over Army 103-54, was barely able to keep its head above water. Outlanders Wichita, Maryland, Butler, Drake, Missouri and St. Louis knocked off Northwestern, Minnesota, Michigan and Iowa, but Detroit pulled the biggest surprise. Although fresh from a startling 70-68 triumph over Utah State; the Titans hardly figured to upset an Indiana team which had manhandled Kansas State 98-80. However, Detroit carried the Hoosiers into double overtime and beat them 81-79 on Tommy Villemure's corner set shot.