1. UCLA (12-0)
2. SANTA CLARA (16-0)
3. NEW MEXICO STATE (15-0)
This time it was Texas A&M that did the laughing. The Aggies blew a 14-point lead but beat SMU in the final five overtime seconds 76-75 and then came from 14 points behind to defeat TCU in the final five seconds 72-71. Game-winning shots were made first by Sonny Benefield, who sank two free throws, and then by Mike Heitmann, who hit from the corner. That left the Aggies in first place in the Southwest Conference with a 4-0 record. SMU stayed in contention with a 101-80 win against Rice, which had beaten TCU 71-64. Texas stopped Arkansas 67-59.
Sharing the lead in the Western Athletic Conference were Utah and Brigham Young, both winners against Wyoming and New Mexico, the preseason co-favorites. Utah's Jack Gardner drank three quarts of milk on the bench and shredded three handkerchiefs as his team beat the Cowboys 79-77 and the Lobos 77-76. High scorers for the Redskins were sophomores Mike Newlin (54 points) and Kenny Gardner (35 points). Strong rebounding and an ability to crack a variety of zones enabled BYU to defeat the Cowboys 89-78, the Lobos 75-65.
In the Big Sky it was the all-round play of Guards Justus Thigpen and Sessions Harlan that carried Weber State to the top with two wins over Montana State, 71-60 and 86-69. Thigpen had 47 points, Harlan 24, but they really ruined the Bobcats with their pressing defense.
UCLA, even with Lew Alcindor bothered by the flu and getting a career low of eight points, was awesome in beating Houston 100-64. Appraising the Bruins, Cougar Coach Guy Lewis said: "This is a more physical team than last year's—stronger and far, far deeper. It looks like they will be the power for the next four or five years. Maybe forever." Houston, last season's highest-scoring team, also lost to Lamar Tech 71-65 in overtime. Washington (3-0) moved in front in the Pacific 8 ( UCLA is 2-0), using a tough defense and taking calculated shots to beat Oregon State 60-42. Washington State downed Oregon 67-63, and California, with 6'4�" Jackie Ridgle, described by Stanford Coach Howie Dallmar as "a small edition of Oscar Robertson," scoring 30 points, beat the Indians 73-65.
Santa Clara took care of West Coast AC foes Santa Barbara (80-69) and San Jose State (64-49) as Dennis Awtrey had 52 points. New Mexico State came on strong at the end to finish off Texas-El Paso 80-65. Portland, though, lost to Oregon 68-65 and Puget Sound 96-74, making it 14 losses without a win for the Pilots. Utah State beat Denver 102-87, then lost to Arizona State. Colorado State defeated the Air Force 83-65, but the Falcons came back with an 83-80 win against Denver. It was Arizona 72-63 over Creighton, and Seattle 75-73 over Oklahoma City.
1. ST. JOHN'S (12-2)
2. COLUMBIA (13-1)
3. VILLANOVA (11-2)
When 6'8" Jim Wolf of Penn sets up a screen for his smaller teammates, he is something of a Great Wall of China. Thus it was that when 5'10" Steve Bilsky slipped behind Wolf in the closing seconds of a tie game against Villanova he almost disappeared from view. Bilsky quickly reappeared, though, leaped high, high enough to get above Wolf, and sank a 25-footer with three seconds left. That gave the Quakers, who had played stall-ball, a 32-30 upset. Pitt also stalled, but Temple methodically worked out a 53-30 victory. "I thought," complained Owl Guard Drew Nolan, "college basketball was supposed to be fun. Well, you can't tell me there is any fun playing that way." Villanova, in the meantime, regained its winning touch against Virginia Tech, 70-57.