1. HOUSTON (15-0)
2. NEW MEXICO STATE (11-2)
3. TEXAS AT EL PASO (8-2)
The high school gym in Las Cruces that New Mexico State uses for games was the site of the showdown between once-beaten State and undefeated New Mexico, and when the game was over the Lobos were still undefeated. The score: 71-64. Although the Lobos had warmed up by beating Denver 87-76 and Air Force 88-60, they didn't come into the big game free of worries. Their 6'8" center, Ron Sanford, was the main problem. The day before he had injured himself in a trampoline accident when his knee hit his eye, causing a contusion of the retina. Another problem was the famous Aggie press. "They'll start pressing us before we get off the bus," said Lobo Assistant Ron Ellenberger. "We'll be lucky to get to the dressing room." With Sanford in the hospital at game time, Coach Bob King's adjusted offense performed well enough to beat the press most of the time and, in the end, the Aggies.
There is still no obvious favorite in the SWC but, at the moment, Texas Christian is making most of the noise. After beating Rice 84-75 behind James Cash's 29 points ("It's about time," he said. "I've been saving up all season"), the Horned Frogs edged Texas A&M in double overtime 81-77 in hostile College Station.
Sophomore Larry Gatewood came off the bench and scored 24 points to lead Baylor over SMU 76-66, and a balanced attack by the Bears three nights later accounted for a 64-50 win over Texas Tech. Texas also had two SWC wins, beating Tech 84-72 and SMU 84-80, while Rice beat Arkansas 73-61.
"I've heard people say that you come back from Hawaii and fall flat on your face," said Houston Coach Guy Lewis after his team beat Michigan 91-65. "My boys were tired after the long flight the day before, and the time changes played tricks on us, but they came through." Four nights later they came through again, defeating Centenary 118-81.