Everybody likes to be home for the holidays, but no one enjoys it more than the OREGON STATE players, who have never lost a game in the Far West Classic in Portland, Ore. This year they won their 19th and 20th, taking the opener from LSU 87-57 as Mel Counts scored a record 48 points and edging Colorado State 53-51. This put the Beavers into the Monday finals against BRIGHAM YOUNG, which knocked Seattle from the undefeated list 77-74 and then beat Oregon 80-70.
The West Coast Athletic Conference tournament was one of magic numbers. In the first round, three of the four winners scored 68 points. In the second round the two eventual finalists each scored 77 points. In the end, though, the magic number was the one point that separated winner SAN JOSE STATE (56) from Santa Clara (55). But the big news was little SANTA BARBARA'S 68-57 upset of San Francisco.
UCLA swept through the Los Angeles Classic, upsetting Michigan 98-80 and finishing up with an 83-79 win over Illinois on Walt Hazzard's playmaking and Gail Goodrich's shooting (see page 48).
Wayne Estes of UTAH STATE is twice the fine player he was last year now that he has slimmed down to 225 pounds. Estes uses a sort of half-moon dribble crosscourt in front of the basket and then, when he is within 10 feet or less of the rim or even under it, he reaches back and shovels his shot upward just before he crashes into the home court's retaining wire fence. Ohio State could not stop Estes, as he dropped in 40 points, and the Aggies won 79-66. Earlier the Aggies also surprised Bradley 95-90.
Creighton, its winning streak stopped at nine, started a new one with victories over Nevada (92-63) and South Dakota (75-74). STANFORD edged Kansas in overtime 69-64. Before going on to their tournaments, BRIGHAM YOUNG outlasted Michigan State 95-90, COLORADO STATE beat Washington 82-52 and UTAH achieved Coach Gardner's 500th college win by downing New Mexico State 101-72.