1. HOUSTON (27-0)
2. NEW MEXICO STATE (21-5)
3. OKLAHOMA CITY (20-6)
For weeks Houston had been beating the daylights out of everybody. Little Hardin-Simmons in Abilene figured to be another breeze for the unbeaten Cougars but, with 15:20 to play, Houston led the brash Cowboys only 62-59 and Coach Guy Lewis was wringing his red-and-white polka-dot towel frantically. Then Elvin Hayes and his friends got going. Elvin scored 40 points and the Cougars won 105-82. Things were sticky for a while, too, when Houston played Virginia Tech. Someone, alas, forgot the record player that the Cougars use to inspire themselves with their favorite soul music. Houston let Tech make a game of it for about 10 minutes. But once Hayes began stuffing in baskets it was all over for the visitors. The Big E finished with 51 points to become the fifth player to score more than 1,000 in a season and the Cougars took their 28th straight 120-79. "We just can't go without that soul," reflected Guard George Reynolds.
Later Hardin-Simmons, after losing to New Mexico State 73-60, came back to upset the Aggies 91-89 in double overtime.
The hurly-burly Southwest Conference came down to the very last night with TCU, Baylor and Texas all tied for first. TCU was leading Baylor 59-51 with 5:37 to go in Waco when the news was announced—Arkansas had beaten Texas 74-73. Baylor reacted with five straight points, but the ambitious Frogs, led by James Cash's 25 points, held on to win 72-65 for their first league title in nine years. How did first-year Coach Johnny Swaim feel about it? "Everything's just lovely," he said.
1. UCLA (24-1)
2. NEW MEXICO (23-3)
3. SANTA CLARA (19-3)
All season long UCLA Coach John Wooden kept insisting that winning in the Pacific Eight was the big thing, nonconference games were really not all that important. How else would the Bruins get to defend their national championship? So last week UCLA, with Lew Alcindor scoring a total of 83 points, routed Washington State 101-70, Stanford 100-62 and California 115-71 to win its sixth championship in seven years. The Bruins also had 31 straight in the Pacific Eight. Now Wooden figures it is time to think about the NCAAs.
For whatever it was worth, USC clinched second place behind UCLA. The Trojans, after beating Washington 76-68 and losing only their second league game to California—91-90 in overtime—took Stanford 72-60.
It was all over in the Western AC, too. New Mexico had the title, but the Lobos had to sweat it out against Wyoming in Laramie. Down nine points at the half, New Mexico went to its old reliable zone press and it worked again. Ron Nelson shot in 29 points and Wyoming fell 75-62. But the Lobos' luck ran out against independent Denver. Harry Hollines' two free throws with two seconds to go beat them 70-68. Utah, in trouble on the road all year, was ambushed in Arizona and had to settle for a second-place tie with Wyoming. First, Arizona upset the Utes 87-79, then Arizona State beat them 83-82.
Weber State, beaten by Montana State 70-63, came back to whip the Bobcats 85-50 to win the Big Sky title. Santa Clara, which beat St. Mary's 72-56 and Pacific 72-68, led Loyola by a game in the West Coast AC after San Jose State upset the Lions 86-80. They meet next Saturday.