It was a time for meditation and study for most Southwest Conference teams last week as players pondered over mid-year exams and coaches sweated out their results. The independents, however, kept their hands in the game. Oklahoma City was off sampling the uncertainties of road play in the West while HOUSTON had its troubles with TCU. The Frogs infiltrated the Cougars' zone press in the first half, and when it broke down they worked the ball for enough good shots to earn a 52-52 tie. Then Coach Guy Lewis put Houston into a more exacting man-to-man press. Joe Hamood and Jack Margenthaler hounded the TCU guards into costly errors. Hamood and Wayne Ballard each scored 23 points, and the usually conservative Cougars took the game 108-87.
Coach Don Haskins, who prides himself on TEXAS WESTERN'S strict attention to defense (third best in the nation), refused to fluster when the Miners went up against Utah State and its celebrated scorer, Wayne Estes. "We just decided to play Estes and Leroy Walker, their other high scorer, about regular and bear down on the other three starters," he said later. The strategy worked. Estes—despite a gluey defensive job by Andy Stoglin—and Walker totaled 40 points, but the other three Aggies could muster only four field goals among them. A slow, patient offense and some tough second-half rebounding by the smaller but quicker Miners finished off State 68-62. But Texas Western was too deliberate and not defensive enough against WEST TEXAS STATE two nights later. The Miners lost 56-54.
THE TOP THREE:
1. UCLA (13-1)
2. SAN FRANCISCO (12-1)
3. ARIZONA (11-4)
The action was limited in the West last week, but BRIGHAM YOUNG made a big enough noise to startle the inactive members of the Western AC. Utah's Jack Gardner figured that the only way to handle BYU's runners and gunners was to slow the game down. But his own fast breakers promptly withered away when he put them into a deliberate pattern. The Cougars, led by Dick Nemelka's 21 points, shot a hot 54% and ran away with the game 98-67. Groaned Utah Center Bill Ivey, "They shot so fast that by the time we could guard them, the ball was already going through the basket."
Conference teams in the West have been quietly dropping independent Colorado State from their schedules, because the Rams are just too tough. But WYOMING, the only WAC school still playing CSU, last Saturday demonstrated that patience has its reward. After 13 straight beatings, the Cowboys upset their tormentors 77-68. Utah State, another independent, got it, too, from ARIZONA STATE, 99-93. OKLAHOMA CITY'S touring giants had a fine old time in Honolulu, beating Hawaii 88-79, but there was trouble back on the mainland, AIR FORCE belted the Chiefs 86-74. SEATTLE'S good sophomores were maturing. They led the Chieftains past Idaho 89-72.