1. UCLA (8-0)
2. CALIFORNIA (6-1)
3. UTAH (10-1)
The most alluring holiday tournament turned out to be one of the toughest as mighty Houston had to hang on to defeat North Texas State 45-43 in the final game of the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu. The Cougars were held to their lowest point total of the year and the Big E, Elvin Hayes, had only 12. Ohio State also took its undefeated record to sunny Hawaii and came back with two surprise losses. Marquette struck first, beating the Buckeyes 64-60. Then, after an OSU win over Bradley, host Hawaii sent the Buckeyes home with an Aloha and an 80-76 trimming. Bradley also went home with two defeats. Only a 72-71 win over the Submarine Forces Pacific kept the Braves from being totally humiliated.
In Los Angeles it was a rerun. In the last L.A. Classic to be played the Bruins won their sixth consecutive title with a 104-71 victory over Wyoming before 14,918, the largest crowd ever to see a college game in the Sports Arena. After the Cowpokes had faced the Bruins in the NCAA regionals last March and had lost by 49 points, Wyoming Coach Bill Strannigan said, "I'm not sure we'll recover from Lew Alcindor." This time Strannigan' had his players in a 1-2-2 zone, double-teaming Alcindor in front and back. It worked fairly well as Lew got only 20 points and 21 rebounds, but the rest of the Uclans killed the Cow-pokes. Lynn Shackleford led the attack with 12 of 18 jumpers and made the zone look like a tactical error. "You sit there and think that Shackleford can't make another shot, and damned if he doesn't," remarked Strannigan between halves.
In the early rounds UCLA had no trouble with Minnesota, 95-55, and St. Louis, 108-67. Wyoming barely got by USC 79-78 and had to go into a double overtime before defeating Iowa, 94-87. Iowa earlier had upset Tennessee 64-59.
Texas A&M upset twice to win Seattle's Legion Tournament, beating the Chieftains 80-72 and San Francisco 77-75.