While KANSAS STATE bumbled along, losing to COLORADO 60-59 and beating Iowa State 73-52, OKLAHOMA STATE looked more and more like the team to beat in the Big Eight. Oklahoma, a running team, foolishly elected to play State on its own terms. The Cowboys just played slower and won 67-56.
The shots flew like guided missiles when the nation's leading scorers, WESTERN MICHIGAN'S Manny Newsome and Bowling Green's Howie Komives, two little fellows, got together at Kalamazoo. Komives scored 42 points but Newsome got 39—and was still No. 1 with a 33.3 average—as Western won 95-85.
Loyola, the country's top independent, trounced Marquette 96-80, but the Ramblers had hometown competition, DE PAUL, smooth as silk with playmaker Emmette Bryant, was still unbeaten. The Blue Demons drubbed Notre Dame 86-73 at South Bend and whipped Portland 111-83 to make it 11 straight. After the game with De Paul Notre Dame Coach John Jordan resigned, effective at the end of the season. Said Jordan, referring to the taunts of hometown fans as the Irish lost, "You just can't stand to have your heart carved out that way."
THE TOP THREE:
1. TEXAS WESTERN (15-1)
2. OKLAHOMA CITY (10-4)
3. TEXAS A&M (8-4)
"If anyone had told me last summer that we would be 15-1 at the semester break, I would have told them they were ready for a nut house," said TEXAS WESTERN'S Don Haskins happily last week. But his Miners were 15-1 after they beat Arizona State 77-72 and West Texas State 84-66 for their 14th straight. Arizona State almost had Western, but not quite. The Sun Devils finally stopped 6-foot-8 Jim Barnes with a collapsing zone—after he scored 30 points—only to have back-liners Andy Stoglin and Orsten Artis shoot them silly.
The Southwest Conference was its old upsetting self again. Defending champion Texas was the first to fall. ARKANSAS' pesky Hogs gnawed away at a 12-point Texas lead until they had the game 58-53. Then along came TEXAS A&M and its Bennie Lenox, a wraithlike squirmer and jump-shooter who earlier had helped shoot down TCU 92-64 (with 27 points). Coach Shelby Metcalf shook up Texas with multiple defenses, sometimes a man-to-man, sometimes a zone that dropped back or spread itself over half the court. When the Longhorns began to close in on the Aggies, Lenox dropped in three clutch baskets and A&M won 65-60.
Meanwhile SMU showed some unexpected muscle, too. Coach Doc Hayes, mindful of the subdued lighting in Waco's Heart o' Texas gym, worked his troops under similar conditions at home before sending them against Baylor. It helped. The Mustangs, shooting accurately through the dimness, stomped the Bears 85-65. RICE, a 61-60 winner over Texas Tech, was a sitting Owl for SMU's running game. Gene Elmore got away from the Rice zone for 24 points and the Mustangs won easily 92-76.
Oklahoma City had to go into overtime to beat Loyola of the South 91-86 in New Orleans, and then the Chiefs lost to NORTH TEXAS STATE 77-74 at Denton.