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The 1965 college basketball season was barely a week old and already the field was littered with important casualties. Rarely had so many suffered such ignominy so quickly. UCLA, the defending national champion, Davidson, Kansas, Duke, Seattle, North Carolina, Syracuse and Georgetown were all beaten. The usually stalwart Atlantic Coast Conference, almost for the first time in memory, had only a single undefeated team; the Southern Conference and the Big Eight each were down to one, too; the Southwest Conference and the West Coast's AAWU had only two each, and one of them had not yet played a game. It looked like a long, hard winter for the favorites.
This area was just no place for ranking teams last week. They tumbled like Humpty Dumpties. Davidson's demise (below) was the rudest shock but by no means the only one. PENN STATE got Syracuse up in the cold Nittany mountains and clobbered the Orange 81-59 with a 34-11 burst in the last 11 minutes. While State's nagging defense swarmed all over Syracuse's Dave Bing, holding him to 11 points, Bob Weiss, Carver Clinton and Ray Saunders pounded the Orange with 17 apiece.
The Bob Cousy touch was beginning to show at BOSTON COLLEGE. John Austin, a hot-handed backcourt whiz, fired in 22 points as the Eagles whipped Dartmouth 104-76. He was even better against Georgetown, scoring 32 as the favored Hoyas were beaten 89-71.
VILLANOVA was one team that did not slip. The well-coached Wildcats defended diligently and shot accurately to beat Scranton 88-42 and Xavier of Ohio 93-89. PROVIDENCE also shows signs of being able to stay with the pack. The Friars took Catholic U. 71-62 and Assumption 91-65. But Temple faltered. Coach Joe Lapchick's last ST. JOHN'S team matched the Owls in a sloppy first half, then ran off 16 straight points to win 60-50. NYU won its opener, over Catholic U., 90-42. PRINCETON's Bill Bradley got 29 points as the Tigers beat Lafayette 83-74, and 26 in a close 64-60 win over Army. PENN, too, shaped up as an Ivy League contender. The Quakers beat Rutgers 100-75 and Navy 61-58.
Rick Barry, a New Jersey boy who found his way to MIAMI, put on a show in Pittsburgh's Steel Bowl. After warming up with 55 points in a 136-119 shooting match with Tampa down South, he poured in 75 more as the Hurricanes outscored Duquesne 99-95 and Pitt 85-71 in the final.
UCLA's NCAA champions had a 30-game winning streak when they got to Champaign, but ILLINOIS, an outsider in the Big Ten race, was not impressed. The Illini, suspecting that the Bruins were not quite so racy without Walt Hazzard's slick quarterbacking and dazzling passes, decided to go right at them with a free-wheeling, shooting game. UCLA never had a chance. Illinois shot an amazing 58% (46 for 79) for a new school record and down went the champs, 110-83. Skip Thoren bombed them for 20 points, Bill McKeown got 18, Bogie Redmon and Don Freeman 17 each.
Illinois was on the verge of another upset the next night at ST. LOUIS. The Bills had beaten North Dakota State 114-50 and Ohio State 79-70 after a superb comeback, but Illinois led by eight points early in the second half. Then the Illini, in serious foul trouble, were forced to shy away from St. Louis' 6-foot-10 Gil Beckemeier and he killed them inside. Beckemeier scored 23 points, sophomore John Kilo dropped in 12 foul shots in the last 10 minutes and the aggressive Bills took their third straight, 79-64. UCLA, meanwhile, found Indiana State, where Coach Johnny Wooden spent two years back in the '40s, more hospitable. Gail Goodrich scored 29 points and the Bruins won easily, 112-76.
Everyone knew that Michigan was the team to beat in the Big Ten, but MINNESOTA, INDIANA and NORTHWESTERN were acting like mighty strong contenders. Minnesota beat South Dakota State 101-55, Drake 67-60 and Iowa State 63-53. Indiana, after an 81-70 win over Ohio U., startled Kansas State with a deliberate pattern offense instead of its usual racehorse style, and upset the Wildcats 74-70. NORTHWESTERN'S young bloods caught Kansas fretting over the absence of 6-foot-7 George Unseld, who had not been seeing eye-to-eye with new Coach Ted Owens. The Jayhawks had managed to beat Arkansas 65-60 and New Mexico 59-40 without Unseld, but Northwestern outhustled Kansas in the second half, rallying to win, 58-55. Purdue, another possible contender, stumbled against NEBRASKA, 96-85.