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Beating muscular MICHIGAN in the Big Ten was proving almost impossible. Minnesota tried it with an orthodox zone and got an orthodox 80-66 thrashing. Michigan State used an all-court press and a 1-3-1 zone with chasers, but couldn't catch up with Cazzie Russell, the Wolverines' wondrous sophomore. When he was not jumping, hooking or driving for his own points (34), Russell fed Bill Buntin with zingy passes (for 25 more) as Michigan won 91-77.
Ohio State and Illinois still had hopes. Gary Bradds, despite Purdue's collapsing zone that at times threatened to engulf him, pumped in 47 points for a new St. John Arena record as the Bucks won 98-87. The Illini trounced Arizona State 97-78.
Some daylight began to show in the MidAmerican race as first-place OHIO U. caught Western Michigan with its star Manny Newsome nursing a gashed hand and beat the Broncos 95-68. Newsome also lost his national scoring lead to BOWLING GREEN'S Howie Komives, who got 43 points—for a 33.6 average—as the Falcons smashed Findlay 107-78. Unbeaten De Paul was idle. CREIGHTON, with Paul Silas picking off 36 rebounds and scoring 22 points, hammered Marquette 84-57.
THE TOP THREE:
Patience and fortitude paid off handsomely for HOUSTON. The deliberate Cougars went at TCU with their stifling full-court press from the very start, and it so upset the Frogs that they gave away the ball 13 times in the first half. Houston won easily, 83-63. Baylor was tougher for the Cougars. They just did squeak by 61-60, for their seventh in a row, when Baylor's Lee Yearwood missed a foul shot with four seconds to play.
Oklahoma City's Abe Lemons, who only recently was complaining about injuries, wished he had more cripples like Bud Koper. Koper, sore-legged (from a cracked ankle bone) and sore-headed (from a 30-stitch cut over his eye), scored 34 points against SMU. Unfortunately, the Mustangs had some shooters of their own—Gene Elmore and Carroll Hooser got 42 between them—and the Chiefs lost their fourth straight, 79-73.
Rice was the only other Southwest Conference team to win last week. The Owls blasted Trinity, 94-74. TEXAS WESTERN out-scored West Texas State, 61-53.