NCAA tournament teams were finding the going sticky. TEXAS WESTERN bombed New Mexico State 90-54, but the Miners had to beat a late, nagging press to hold off North Texas State 62-56. OKLAHOMA CITY, extremely bearish in a 105-80 romp over Centenary, was surprised by hot-shooting WEST TEXAS STATE and lost 89-80. Houston, too, ended its season on a discouraging and all too familiar note. LOYOLA of New Orleans flushed out the reluctant Cougars with a strong rebounding game and whipped them 64-54. After that, Houston Coach Guy Lewis went right out to recruit a tall boy.
THE TOP THREE:
1. UCLA (24-0)
2. OREGON STATE (25-3)
3. SAN FRANCISCO (19-4)
There was never really any doubt about it, but unbeaten UCLA finally got around to winning the Big Six championship. Washington held the Bruins scoreless for the first 4� minutes and gave them only a single field goal in the last eight minutes. But in between UCLA worked up enough steam to win 78-64. Then, just when Washington State was beguiled into thinking that the Bruins could at last be had, they were off and running again. Walt Hazzard outslicked the defenseless Cougars with his passes and fakes, he and backcourt sidekick Gail Goodrich shot in 35 points, and UCLA breezed to its 24th straight victory, 93-56.
UCLA'S NCAA rivals, meanwhile, were sharpening their skills. OREGON STATE, puzzled by Oregon's zone, still got the ball to 7-foot Mel Counts often enough for him to score 31 points and the Beavers won at Corvallis 71-68. The next night at Eugene, State came up with a zone of its own in the second half, Counts got 34, and Oregon went down again 85-71. SAN FRANCISCO'S West Coast AC champions scrambled past San Jose State 48-46 and California at Santa Barbara 75-66 for their 15th in a row. SEATTLE, surprised by MONTANA STATE 98-85, recovered to edge Portland 101-99 on Greg Vermillion's last-second shot in overtime.
"I've never had a team 'up' for a game like we are for this one," said Arizona State's Ned Wulk last week. So BRIGHAM YOUNG whacked his Sun Devils 106-90. Said Wulk the next night, "The kids are tired. We're down." So ARIZONA STATE ran over Utah 103-78 to regain the Western AC lead. Concluded Wulk, "My coaching certainly improved overnight."