Virginia Tech, regarded as one of the nation's top independents, put its reputation on the line early. And, for a while, it looked as if Tech would make this calculated risk pay off. With Glen Combs shooting mostly off a post screen from 20 feet outside (he scored 32 points), Tech had DUKE in a 64-64 tie with three minutes to go in Greensboro. But Steve Vandenberg, who had come off the bench in the first half to rouse the Blue Devils, hit four straight free throws and a layup, and Duke went on to win 74-66. The next night, at Chapel Hill, Virginia Tech led NORTH CAROLINA 48-37 early in the second half as Combs again scored well. Then the Tar Heels exploded. While Carolina's pressure defense forced Tech into errors, sophomore Charlie Scott led his team on a 13-point tear. Minutes later Joe Brown sparked a 17-4 surge, and Carolina won 89-76. "We had to be more aggressive in the second half," said Coach Dean Smith. "We were in real trouble."
North Carolina state began its Atlantic Coast season with a 79-63 victory over Wake Forest as flashy Eddie Biedenbach—they call him "The Pickpocket" because of his fast hands—stole the Deacons blind and scored 14 points, SOUTH CAROLINA had it easy against Erskine, winning 104-54.
When John Dromo took over at LOUISVILLE, he announced that Westley Unseld his 6'8" All-America, would shoot more and score more. Unseld did that against Georgetown(Ky.) pilling up 45 points (and 29 rebounds) as the Cards won 118-86. But Western Kentucky came up short in the OVC Tournament, MURRAY STATE eliminated Western 83-75 and TENNESSEE TECH took Murray 67-60 in the final.
Tennessee, playing the kind of defense Coach Ray Mears likes—unyielding—tumbled Richmond 93-45. FLORIDA, an SEC dark horse, rolled over Jacksonville 109-73 as 6'10" Neal Walk scored 37 points and pulled down 25 rebounds. Georgia'S Ken Rosemond is ready to challenge anyone now, all because of 6'11" sophomore Bob Lienhard, a New York import. Lien-hard scored 44 points and grabbed 26 rebounds as the Bulldogs smothered Arkansas A&M 138-91. LSU'S Press Maravich was ready for better things, too, after his son, Pete, scored 48 points in a 97-81 thumping of Tampa.
Davidson Coach Lefty Driesell added a ballet course to his preseason training this year, getting his inspiration from watching ballet star Vladimir Vasiliev rocket four feet straight up into the air. "It can't hurt," said Driesell. Anyhow, the Wildcats, with sophomore Mike Maloy scoring 38 points, beat Bucknell 91-70 and VMI 80-73. WEST VIRGINIA, Davidson's chief competition for the Southern Conference title, whipped William & Mary 83-66.
One thing about Michigan—the Wolverines are gracious hosts. Last Friday night Coach Dave Strack and more than 100 alumni threw a testimonial dinner for KENTUCKY'S venerable Adolph Rupp. The next day Strack's team gave Rupp's Wildcats the ball 27 times on turnovers in Michigan's new $7 million University Events Building—known around Ann Arbor as "the house that Cazzie [Russell] built"—and Kentucky took the game 96-79. Rudy Tomjanovich, Michigan's 6'7" sophomore, tried his best, scoring 17 points and grabbing 27 rebounds, but Kentucky's two sophomores, 6'4" Mike Casey and 6'8" Dan Issel, were even better. Casey scored 28 points and Issel 18. "This is the best group of sophomores I've had since Frank Ramsey, Lou Tsioropoulos and that bunch," raved Rupp. "We're going places this year."
While Purdue, the Big Ten favorite, and Rick Mount were scaring UCLA (page 30), the other conference teams warmed up for the race ahead. INDIANA'S defending cochampions got off to a scary start, barely beating Northern Illinois 71-65, while IOWA had to go all out to beat Bowling Green 79-73 and Northwestern lost to OHIO U. 71-70. But MINNESOTA buried South Dakota 85-52, OHIO STATE routed UCal at Davis 95-52, ILLINOIS defeated Butler 75-57 and MICHIGAN STATE battered Fullerton State 80-49. Fullerton? " Biggie Munn lets me schedule one game a year," explained MSU's John Benington. "That was it."
Kansas Coach Ted Owens, who had been saying that he had sufficient versatility in his personnel to cope with almost any situation, proved part of his case, anyway, against Utah State. When the Aggies threw a zone at the Jayhawks, choking off top-scorer Rodger Bohnenstiehl, Owens put in Phil Harmon, an accurate outside shooter. Harmon shot over the zone for 24 points, and Kansas won 84-55. Some other Big Eight teams looked good, too. COLORADO, getting most of its points from Guards Chuck Williams (27) and Pat Frink (15), put down Texas Tech 87-69, while KANSAS STATE clobbered Fullerton State 103-54, and OKLAHOMA beat Centenary 91-73.