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The blizzard was in Utah, but Wyoming Coach Bill Strannigan felt he was the victim of a snow job in Albuquerque. "We lost it right at the end with a lousy call," he lamented. "I've never had a game so tough to take." What drew his ire was that the Lobos, who won 65-63, had scored four points after the buzzers had sounded. New Mexico went in front 35-34 when Dave Culver, fouled as the first half ended, sank two foul shots. Then, with the score 63—all, Ron Becker scrambled after a loose ball and was fouled as time ran out. Becker, like Culver, sank both ends of a 1-and-1 and Strannigan agonized. Further north, Arizona and Arizona State trekked through the snow to challenge Utah and Brigham Young in other Western Athletic Conference games. Although Arizona's Bruce Larson warned his players, "You never win in Salt Lake City and Provo when you run with Utah and BYU," his Wildcats and the Sun Devils were forced to make haste, and both were outrun and outshot. Arizona, making only 35% of its shots, lost 105-75 to Utah and 70-66 to BYU. State, making 36% of its shots, lost 104-87 to Utah and 102-89 to BYU. That left BYU in first with a 5-2 record, one game ahead of Utah.
Life was equally frantic for teams in the Southwest Conference, but when all the excitement had subsided, Texas A&M was in first place and all alone. Seventh-place Rice got things started with a 75-73 upset of Baylor, a team that had been expected to go nowhere this season but which had started the week tied for the lead with the Aggies. Baylor followed up with a 63-58 win over Texas, but fell a game behind A&M when the Aggies struggled to a pair of overtime victories. The first came against Texas, 70-69, on two free throws by Ron Peret in the final seven seconds. Improbably, the Aggies had an even harder time against Rice, rallying from a nine-point deficit in the last four minutes of regulation play and a four-point handicap in overtime before winning 84-83. SMU tied Baylor for second by getting past Texas Tech 84-65 and Arkansas 76-68.
Nothing perturbed UCLA or Santa Clara as both teams frolicked through the Pacific Eight and West Coast AC. The Bruins defeated Washington State 83-59, while the Broncos beat San Francisco 72-47. Last-place Stanford dumped Oregon State 70-61 and Oregon 81-76 in the Pacific Eight. Idaho took three in a row from Idaho State, but Weber State kept its lead in the Big Sky by winning three of its own, all against Gonzaga.
Colorado State made it 14 wins in 17 games as it stopped Denver 79-62. Marv Roberts' 43 points against Montana State were not enough to keep Utah State from losing 86-76, nor were his 35 enough to stop Notre Dame from winning 108-82.
New Mexico State's Aggies were riled up. They had been dropped from the UPI and AP top-20 lists despite winning three games in a row since the previous voting, while New Mexico, which had split two games, had moved up. The Aggies took their frustration out on Texas-El Paso 78-62 and West Texas State 69-68.
1. LA SALLE (20-1)
"Finney has been telling me that if I would just get a little confidence in him he would do a job for me," said Syracuse Coach Roy Danforth of Bill Finney, a sophomore who had been averaging 3.5 points a game. Given a chance to play against Canisius when teammate Bill Case got into early foul trouble, Finney scored 22 points in an 85-78 win. Thirteen of his points came as the Orangemen, trailing 56-53, spurted to a 71-64 lead. In a briefer appearance in an earlier game against Colgate, Finney got six points as Syracuse won 86-85.