Small but swift WISCONSIN took the Milwaukee Classic. Twice getting 27 points from Ken Gustafson, the fast-breaking Badgers swamped Dartmouth (94-68) and Georgia Tech (102-84).
There was also a bit of nontournament scrambling, with CINCINNATI twice barely escaping defeat. With 14 seconds left and the score 70 all, Ron Bonham of the Bear-cats missed a shot. Kansas State's Murrell was coming down with the rebound when, as he put it, "Somebody lifted it right out of my hands." George Wilson was that somebody, and his last-second tap-in won for Cincinnati. The next time Bonham had a clutch shot was against Tulsa and this time, with 53 seconds left, he made it, giving the Bearcats a 54-52 win.
In another MVC opener, Johnny Smith came off the bench, scored 34 points and gave ST. LOUIS an 80-79 win over Bradley.
Big Ten rivals OHIO STATE and MICHIGAN STATE got 29-point scoring sprees from Gary Bradds and Pete Gent, respectively, to win easily. The Buckeyes defeated Houston 79-62, and the Spartans beat Butler 76-65.
THE TOP THREE:
1. VILLANOVA (8-1)
2. ST. BONAVENTURE (8-0)
3. NIAGARA (5-1)
"I never saw so many jumping jacks," marveled Utah Coach Jack Gardner after watching VILLANOVA outscore Dayton 77-73 in the opening round of the Holiday Festival. Two nights later Gardner was literally the jumpingest Jack ("I wish I could walk up and down the sidelines the way you can in football") in Madison Square Garden. Walled up outside Villanova's hustling zone, the Utes shot over the top, worked in close now and then on Skippy Kroeger's on-target passes and built up a 31-22 advantage. Villanova, though, capitalized on aggressive offensive work by Richie Moore (24 points) and clutch rebounding by Jim Washington to pull out an 82-75 win. This solid performance made the Wildcats a favorite over MINNESOTA, which moved into the finals by beating scrappy St. Joseph's 69-63.
Biggest eye-opener in a week of surprises came in Philadelphia's Quaker City tournament when GEORGETOWN, an early-season loser to Loyola of New Orleans, shocked NCAA champion Loyola of Chicago 69-58. Slim Jim Christy hit for 30 points and left Loyola, winner of 12 in a row, strangling in the tentacles of its own new "octopus" defense. But Georgetown's success was short-lived. Stealing the ball left and right, the Hoyas went in front by a dozen points in their next game, against LA SALLE. Then Frank Corace went to work for the Explorers. He scored from outside, he scored from inside (29 points in all), he picked off passes and rebounds and guided La Salle to an 80-69 victory. ST. BONA VENTURE'S Fred Crawford sank a 25-foot shot at the buzzer for a 64-62 win over Drake that put his club into the championship round against La Salle.