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Ask TEXAS WESTERN Coach Don Haskins how come his Miners are still unbeaten after 12 games and he might explain that you take three New York City players who can run, jump and pass, blend them with an assortment of quick, talented shooters and put them all into a full-court press. Sounds simple enough. Six-foot-7 Nevil Shed from New York is the team's leading scorer, and one night last week 5-foot-6 sophomore Willie Worsley, a jumping-jack playmaker who, Haskins insists, can dunk the ball, threw in 18 points as the Miners beat strong Tulsa 63-54. Another night, 6-foot-5 sophomore handyman Willie Cager came off the bench to score 16 points in 12 minutes, and Western beat Seattle 76-64. "I told people last year we would be good," says Haskins. "We have so many boys who can play."
While Oklahoma City faltered on the road, HOUSTON, another independent, polished off Trinity 95-52. The Southwest Conference, after the first week of play, had a leader whose position may be temporary. TEXAS A&M was the only team to win twice, beating Southern Methodist 85-78 and Rice 92-58.
It had been 19 years since MICHIGAN last beat Ohio State in Columbus and not even Coach Dave Strack, an inveterate optimist, was sure of a win there last Saturday. Two Wolverines—Guards John Thompson and Jim Pitts—were ailing, and some of the "healthy" ones were held together with adhesive tape. Sure enough, it looked like curtains for Michigan when the hustling young Bucks led by nine points early in the second half. Then Cazzie Russell and Oliver Darden got going. Russell, shooting in baskets from all angles, scored 32 points. Darden put in 25 and the Wolves pulled it out 83-78. After a good try by Ohio State, Coach Fred Taylor was disconsolate. "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades," he lamented. "That Cazzie! He's superhuman. He killed us."
While Michigan's win was not a big surprise, there were some real shockers in the Big Ten. WISCONSIN, picked for last place, upset Iowa 69-68, and MICHIGAN STATE, already showing the benefit of new Coach John Benington's fine hand on defense, drubbed Minnesota 85-65. NORTHWESTERN tumbled Purdue, too, 111-97, as Jim Burns scored 37 points. That left freelancing ILLINOIS, a 98-84 winner over Indiana, in first place with two victories.
Everybody knew that BRADLFY was the team to beat in the Missouri Valley (page 14). Everybody, that is, but TULSA. The Hurricanes came from behind to beat Louisville 84-79 as Eldridge Webb scored 28 points and then edged Cincinnati 73-71. "This is the best team with the best personnel we've faced so far," complimented Cincy's Tay Baker.
With or without 6-foot-11 Walt Wesley, KANSAS was tough to beat. When Wesley was held to four free throws in the first half by Colorado, Coach Ted Owens yanked him and went with 6-foot-5 sophomore Rod Bohnenstiehl, who rattled off seven points in a row to lead the surging Jayhawkers to a 69-55 victory. Back home in Allen Field House, where a new seating plan brought part of the student body down from the balcony and close to courtside ("now they can communicate better with the players," said Owens), Wesley broke away from Iowa State's sagging three-man defense for 39 points and Kansas won 82-65. But the Jay-hawkers had plenty of company at the top in the Big Eight. KANSAS STATE, once it got running, had no trouble beating Missouri 78-59 and Oklahoma State 67-47. NEBRASKA downed Iowa State 76-74 and Missouri 82-60 while OKLAHOMA defeated Oklahoma State 64-53 and Colorado 64-58.