Vanderbilt went on to trounce Mississippi State 90-56 while KENTUCKY recovered its poise to thrash LSU 103-84 and winless Tulane 105-63. But TENNESSEE and GEORGIA TECH were still unbeaten in the SEC. Tennessee beat Tulane 82-55 and LSU 62-58; Tech defeated Mississippi 69-54.
Duke was still beating off challengers in the Atlantic Coast. Clemson battled the Blue Devils for a while but the Tigers succumbed 81-75. Then North Carolina tried a new twist against Duke. The Tar Heels moved Billy Cunningham to backcourt and held the ball. It was a mistake. Without Cunningham to rebound, Duke's two 6-foot-10ers, Hack Tison and Jay Buckley, beat Carolina to death under the boards. Jeff Mullins got 25 points, Tison 24 and the Blue Devils won easily 84-64. WAKE FOREST, too, beat North Carolina, 80-71.
Maybe it was just a midseason letdown, but unbeaten DAVIDSON suddenly found itself struggling for victories. VMI's agonizing slowdown troubled the Wildcats, and eventually they had to go to it themselves to win 70-58. Against Virginia, Davidson needed a 20-foot jumper by Barry Teague and two free throws by sub Charlie Marcon to hold off the Cavaliers 64-62.
Davidson also might have to worry about WEST VIRGINIA. The Mountaineers, running and pressing the way they used to, edged VMI 75-73 and thrashed George Washington 93-74. But Virginia Tech, another Southern Conference contender, ran into trouble. Tech's customary second-half surge was not quite good enough against GEORGE WASHINGTON and the Gobblers lost 96-89. But they did beat Furman 75-65 and Wake Forest 77-72.
THE TOP THREE:
1. MICHIGAN (11-1)
2. LOYOLA (11-1)
3. WICHITA (11-3)
Cincinnati Coach Ed Jucker's week started badly. He groused at a sportswriter who had called his team "deflated, dreary and demoralized," and then he lost sophomore Guard Roland West because of scholastic deficiencies. It got worse last Saturday when Ron Bonham fouled out with St. Louis leading Cincy 60-51 and only 5:12 to play. But junior Guard Fritz Meyer and George Wilson got the Cats back in the game and two last-minute baskets by sophomore John Serbin pulled it out for them 67-64.
Cincy's victory came in the nick of time, just when WICHITA was threatening to steamroll the Missouri Valley. While Dave Stall-worth shot in 32 points, the Shockers hounded Tulsa with a full-court press and beat the Hurricanes 88-66. Bradley, unable to crack DRAKE'S 1-2-2 zone, lost 64-60.
Michigan was living up to its Big Ten notices. The Wolverines, led by Bill Buntin and Cazzie Russell, beat Purdue 77-70. But defending co-champions OHIO STATE and ILLINOIS were not playing according to the book. They were winning. OSU's brash young Bucks, despite a disturbing tendency to play Minnesota's wild game, put the Gophers away 85-73. Illinois, with Tal Brody scoring 28 points, ran over Iowa 87-70.