St. John's Coach Joe Lapchick is now sure there is no place like home. While his slick Redmen ranged around their plush new gym in Jamaica like a bunch of happy warriors, 6-foot-10 LeRoy Ellis diligently plucked the boards clean and scored 31 points as St. John's beat Canisius 81-68. But things were different on the road. In Chicago the Red-men tried to match muscles with Loyola in a rough-tough game and came off second best. Ellis got 32 points, but four starters, including LeRoy, fouled out, Willie Hall and Loyola's John Crnokrak were ejected for fighting, and St. John's lost 92-82.
Seton Hall Coach Richie Regan doesn't care where his team plays—as long as brilliant sophomore Nick Werkman, the nation's No. 2 scorer (33 per game), is there to fling the ball at the hoop. Slipping deftly away from his defenders, Werkman scored 33 points against Scranton, added 49 more against St. Peter's, and Seton Hall won both games 120-100 and 101-78. However, Werkman had competition. Holy Cross's Jack Foley, the nation's No. 3 scorer (31.5 per game), flipped in 47 points as the Crusaders beat Niagara 83-80 for their eighth straight.
Meanwhile, Villanova and Duquesne improved their already impressive records. Villanova's slithery Hubie White sifted through Memphis State's loose defenses for 30 points, and the speedy Wildcats ran the Tigers silly, 109-84. Duquesne put La Salle in a hole with 10 straight points at the start, Mike Rice and Willie Somerset kept the Explorers there with some nifty shooting and the Dukes won 80-66.
Providence was still struggling. The Friars barely made it past Canisius 58-56 when Jim Hadnot hooked in the winning goal with seven seconds to go. Temple, too, continued to have its troubles. St. Joseph's caught the Owls napping and beat them 53-49. In the Ivy League there were signs that Princeton was ready to make its move after the fast-breaking Tigers beat weakened Penn 93-81. The top three:
1. VILLANOVA (15-2)
2. DUQUESNE (14-2)
3. ST. JOHN'S (11-4)
With examinations over, the deep thinking shifted back to the basketball court in the ACC. Duke's Vic Bubas put his Blue Devils into a man-to-man pressure defense to upset Wake Forest's patterns and pull Len Chappell outside. Despite this well-conceived strategy, Chappell scored often enough to give the Deacons a 60-59 lead with six minutes to go. Then Duke's talented Art Heyman went to work. He pushed in nine points, handed off for two more and finished with 26 as the Blue Devils won 82-68 to tie idle North Carolina for first place. North Carolina State, strengthened by Playmaker Ken Rohloff's return to eligibility, turned loose a fast break against Clemson and beat the Tigers 80-64.
While first-place Kentucky rested in the SEC, Mississippi State warmed up for the chase by beating little Northeast Louisiana 89-79. Auburn showed that it can run as well as shuffle. The Tigers used their defense to Stop Georgia Tech 52-40 in a nonconference game, then shocked Georgia with a helter-skelter attack to win 83-47. Unpredictable Tech bounced back again, this time against Tennessee. Mike Tomasovich tipped in a rebound with eight seconds left in overtime, and the Jackets won 66-65.
West Virginia continued its relentless march through the Southern Conference despite some bad moments at Norfolk, Va. With Rod Thorn held to 11 points, the Mountaineers had to scamper even faster than usual to beat William & Mary 70-61. Now only Furman has a chance to catch West Virginia. The Paladins caught Virginia Tech looking ahead to the game with West Virginia and upset the Gobblers 89-83.