It was examination time for many of the nation's major-college teams, but some still found time for limited competition. Unbeaten Ohio State continued to win handsomely in the Big Ten, Kentucky had Coach Adolph Rupp preening expectantly for his first SEC title in four years and independent Oregon State streaked impressively among its neighbors in the Pacific Northwest.
Minnesota was ready for Ohio State. The fans, 19,500 strong, came armed with confetti, streamers and other adornments to make it a wild celebration. But someone forgot to tell Jerry Lucas and his friends. Big Luke and John Havlicek boxed out the Gophers' big men under the boards and scored 56 points, the Minnesota fast break was slowed down to a trot and the Buckeyes serenely went about the business of winning their 13th straight, 90-76.
Thanks to Wichita, the Missouri Valley had a race again. Upset at Tulsa 86-77, the Shockers hit Bradley with a sizzling fast break in the first half to grab a 51-39 lead. The Braves fought back with a full-court press and Chet Walker's 40 points, but it wasn't good enough. Six-foot-10 Gene Wiley gave Wichita the boards, Lanny Van Eman pitched in 25 points and the Shockers squeezed out an 89-88 win. The top three:
1. OHIO STATE (13-0)
2. CINCINNATI (13-2)
3. BRADLEY (11-3)
Kentucky was still treating its SEC rivals like a bunch of presumptuous upstarts. Cotton Nash, Larry Pursiful and Carroll Burchett hit Tennessee with an 81-point fusillade, and the Vols bowed 95-82. But highly rated Mississippi State had its troubles. While Coach Babe McCarthy fretted, his Bulldogs almost lost to last-place Georgia Tech. Behind 56-55 with a minute to go, McCarthy sent in sophomore Aubrey Nichols, obviously with instructions to foul, and the strategy worked. Tech's Frank Landrey twice missed the one-and-one, and stringy W. D. Stroud pushed in a lay-up in the last second to win for State 57-56. Alabama and Mississippi were easier for the Bulldogs. They stalled awhile with the slowed-down Alabamans but won 67-40 and finished the week by overtaking Ole Miss 61-57. Meanwhile, Georgia Tech finally pulled off an upset. The Jackets made six straight foul shots in the last three minutes, added a field goal by Josh Powell and Tech beat Vanderbilt 71-66.
While Duke and Wake Forest marked time until their January 27 meeting, North Carolina moved to the top of the ACC standings. The Tar Heels confused South Carolina with their " Oklahoma shuffle" and beat them 83-71, then shot 60.5% while harassing old-rival North Carolina State with a man-to-man press. They whipped the Wolfpack 66-56. But State's Ev Case was still hopeful after his team defeated injury-stricken Maryland 68-61. Playmaker Ken Rohloff becomes eligible to direct the erratic Wolfpack attack this Saturday.
It was a case of too much Thorn for both Richmond and Pitt. The West Virginia star piled up 62 points as the Mountaineers outran the Spiders, 82-73, and the Panthers, 88-78. The top three:
1. KENTUCKY (13-1)
2. DUKE (11-2)
3. MISSISSIPPI STATE (13-1)