West Virginia, with Rod Thorn back in form, was taking care of its Southern Conference challengers one at a time. Thorn scored 28 points as Davidson fell 89-73, and 30 more to help the Mountaineers past pesky George Washington 100-97. Assistance also came from an unlikely source. William & Mary lured Virginia Tech into its little Blow Gym and upset the Gobblers 78-63. The top three:
1. DUKE (12-2)
2. GEORGIA TECH (11-0)
3. WEST VIRGINIA (10-3)
The Missouri Valley Conference was living up to its reputation (see page 5). For a while North Texas State bothered Cincinnati, but Ron Bonham broke out with 29 points and the Bearcats won 75-58. Tulsa was even more difficult. The fired-up Hurricanes had Cincy in a 32-32 tie at half time. Then Bonham began to hit. He made seven straight field goals, wound up with 30 points and the Bearcats took their 31st in a row 67-57. Versatile Wichita rattled St. Louis with a ball-stealing full-court press, then hit the Bills with a fine fast break to win 71-65. Against Bradley, the Shockers worked their running game out of a tight man-to-man. Sophomore Dave Stallworth scored 35 points, and the Braves succumbed 79-69.
More and more, Illinois looked like the best in the Big Ten. Although it bumbled frequently, and gave up 33 points to Ohio State's gangling Gary Bradds, the Illini shot excellently. Sophomore Tal Brody led a second-half rush that beat the Bucks 90-78. Purdue collapsed earlier and lost 106-82. But Indiana, an 85-71 winner over Purdue, and Ohio State, which bounced back to beat Michigan 68-66, were still hopeful.
Colorado seemed determined to turn the Big Eight race into a one-team romp. The Buffs got 29 points from Milt Mueller and defeated Missouri 92-69. Loyola, running like all get-out, overwhelmed Marquette 87-68 and Western Michigan 107-69, while rough-tough Notre Dame beat DePaul 82-62 and Detroit 105-70. The top three:
1. CINCINNATI (13-0)
2. LOYOLA OF CHICAGO (15-0)
3. ILLINOIS (11-1)
For a while at least, Texas had the Southwest Conference lead all to itself. The lanky Longhorns brushed aside Baylor 76-38 and Texas Tech 78-58, but co-leader Texas A&M stumbled against SMU. As long as Bennie Lennox and Paul Timmons dropped in shots from the outside, Texas A&M stayed ahead of SMU. But Timmons fouled out and the Aggies, quite unwisely, switched to an inside game. The watchful Mustangs closed their defensive ranks, Dave Somerville and Gene Elmore began to hit and SMU came from behind to win 71-68.
Arizona State's running game faltered ever so slightly, but big Art Becker and Joe Caldwell, with 54 points between them, got the Sun Devils safely past Brigham Young 89-84. Then, when Utah threatened State, a timely zone defense and Gary Senitza's long shots put the Utes in their place, 80-65. Loyola of New Orleans tried a slow, deliberate offense against Houston—"It sort of rocked you to sleep," said Houston Coach Guy Lewis later. The wide-awake Cougars forced Loyola out of it with a zone press, and Houston won 66-59. The top three: