1. NORTH CAROLINA (11-1)
2. FLORIDA (9-1)
3. W. KENTUCKY (10-1)
Stranger things have happened but not to North Carolina—at least not recently. PRINCETON'S Ivy Leaguers, with John Haarlow, Joe Heiser, Chris Thomforde and the other artful Tigers shooting a superb 65%, beat the surprised Tar Heels 91-81 for their first loss this season. Happily, it only hurt for a little while. Two nights later Larry Miller's 23 points and last-second basket got CAROLINA past Wake Forest 76-74. Then came Duke. Coach Vic Bubas, who had suspended nine players, including every starter but Bob Verga, for some New Year's Eve hijinks, played two of them—Mike Lewis and Tim Kolodziej—against North Carolina, and the score was tied with five seconds to go. Again Miller came to the rescue. He dropped in a layup, and the Tar Heels won 59-56.
It was a week for weird occurrences in the ACC. At College Park, with 1:15 to play and MARYLAND leading North Carolina State 60-55, Referee George Conley, who had just hit State Coach Norm Sloan with his third technical of the game, marched to the scorer's table and announced, "Gentlemen, I've taken enough. The game is now over. The score as it stands is official."
The SEC had a curious look, too. There was Kentucky in eighth place while Tenessee, Florida, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt and Auburn were busily vying for the lead. Old Adolph Rupp, it seemed, had suddenly run out of magic, VANDERBILT took his Wildcats 91-89 in overtime—Kentucky's fifth loss of the season in Lexington. TENNESSEE was unbeaten in two league games after Ron Widby's 27 points buried Alabama 77-52. FLORIDA, big, strong and efficient (page 14), gave Mississippi State its first defeat 63-54 and then trampled LSU 87-70. State came back to trounce Georgia 92-63, though, while AUBURN beat LSU 70-59 and Mississippi 67-56.
Before his team played DAVIDSON, West Virginia's Bucky Waters admitted he was "all shaky-kneed." Davidson had just been upset by RICHMOND 72-69, but the 'Cats had never lost a regular season Southern Conference game in the Charlotte Coliseum. And they still have not. Sophomore Mike O'Neill's four free throws in the final minutes of a second overtime beat the Mountaineers 97-93. That put THE CITADEL, only 4-7 for the season but an 81-79 winner over Richmond, in first place, WESTERN KENTUCKY beat Tennessee Tech 91-80.
1. PRINCETON (11-1)
2. BOSTON COLLEGE (8-1)
3. ST. JOHN'S (9-1)
Not since Luci Baines Johnson married Pat Nugent on the CATHOLIC U. campus had the Washington school attracted such attention. Bob Ciafarri threw in 29 points and the Cardinals shocked St. Joseph's 76-72 in Philadelphia's cozy Palestra. After that, the abashed Hawks were almost glad to get out on the road, where they took Creighton 73-70 on Cliff Anderson's four points in the closing minutes.
St. Joseph's was not the only big eastern independent surprised last week. Providence's Jimmy Walker, whirling, twisting and flipping in those unstoppable jumpers, had scored 42 points, and the Friars led CANISIUS by six with 48 seconds to go in Buffalo. It looked like a wrap-up for Providence. Then Walker missed three foul shots, Bart Carr and Johnny Morrison popped in three quick jump shots, and the game went into overtime. Walker got one more basket—for 44 points—but that was all, and Canisius won 79-73. NYU's venture upstate also ended in disaster. Mai Graham, who had scored 48 points against Wagner earlier in the week (but only 11 in a 91-84 loss to VIRGINIA), bombed NIAGARA for 37, but the Violets still lost 76-68.