But Michigan State's Big Ten rivals are ready for the chase. ILLINOIS warmed up by walloping Butler 82-51, while MINNESOTA surprised Kansas State 60-59 on Leroy Gardner's free throw with eight seconds to go after husky Tom Kondla piled up 33 points. OHIO STATE also beat Butler, 74-67, and then surprised Iowa State 79-77 on the road. NORTHWESTERN, after an early cold spell, got its fast break and pressing defense working in the second half and ran away from Ohio U. 93-67. Coach Larry Glass, however, was not exactly enchanted by his offense. "Slushy and mushy," he called it.
Anxious to play the proper host, NEBRASKA banned drum beating at its games and installed better lighting. But the Huskers were inhospitable to visiting Oregon. They hit the Ducks hard with their usual full-court press, Tom Baack flipped in 29 points and Nebraska coasted 79-56. Then KANSAS STATE played slowdown against Oregon and took the Ducks 52-45. KANSAS, the Big Eight team Nebraska worries most about, got two strong performances from Rodger Bohnenstiehl and beat Arkansas 73-57 and Xavier 100-52. OKLAHOMA STATE, playing its cautious game, lost to CREIGHTON 78-76 but beat Wyoming 73-64.
Cincinnati had no trouble getting by George Washington 86-51, but Wisconsin was tougher. The Bearcats were down by four points with eight minutes left when John Howard, who scored 30 points, got a hot hand. He tipped in a basket and hit five in a row from outside, but still Cincy was in a 63-63 tie at the end. Howard got four more points in overtime, and Cincinnati won 77-70. St. Louis, unable to handle DAY-TON'S Donny May off the boards (he got 27 rebounds), was beaten by the Flyers 80-78.
Loyola of Chicago pressed and ran South Dakota State ragged 119-85, and DEPAUL clobbered North Dakota 82-47. TOLEDO buried Notre Dame 98-80.
Even in the very first week it was evident that the Southwest would have to look to its independents for glory and national rankings. While SWC teams wallowed around in their usual early-season mediocrity, defending national champion TEXAS WESTERN and HOUSTON more or less lived up to their notices. The Miners (page 26), despite some sloppy play that left Coach Don Haskins unhappy, beat Sam Houston State 78-54 and Abilene Christian 85-46. Albuquerque took some early liberties with Houston, but in the end 6-foot-9 Elvin Hayes and Melvin Bell, who shared 62 points, were too much for the precocious Dons. Hayes threw in 12 points in the last five minutes, and the Cougars won 96-84. Minnesota held Houston for a while, too, but Hayes, Bell and Don Chaney finally got the Cougars going for an 86-75 victory. Oklahoma City, however, lost to NEW MEXICO STATE 82-64.
The conference teams, meanwhile, were suffering. SMU, the favorite, was not the only team to fall. TCU lost to OKLAHOMA 90-76 before beating Centenary 102-77. TEXAS TECH held off Colorado 72-67 but lost to WICHITA STATE 90-77. Arkansas was beaten by MISSOURI 73-66, and LOUISIANA TECH outlasted Texas A&M 53-50. But there was hope at RICE. The Owls took Trinity 85-73 and already had as many victories—one—as they got last year.