It was Kentucky, however, that won the Southeastern Conference title—its 24th under Adolph Rupp. Dan Issel had 34 points as the Wildcats stopped Auburn 90-86 and 23 more in an 84-69 win over Tennessee. That was the biggest score against the Volunteers in six years, but they clinched second place by holding Vanderbilt scoreless for 7:31 during one stretch in the second half and coming off with a 70-60 triumph.
1. PURDUE (20-4)
2. DRAKE (22-4)
3. MARQUETTE (23-4)
The key to the congested Big Eight race—which looked as if it might end in a five-way tie—was the one that let Kansas State out of the film room, where it had been locked in accidentally while looking at movies of Kansas, the team it was about to play. When they came out, the Wildcats got 26 points from Jerry Venable and came away with a 64-57 win. That could have thrown the race into a three-way deadlock, but opportunistic Colorado routed Missouri 92-73 to finish alone at the top. Missouri's strategy was to hold down Colorado's Cliff Meely. It backfired when Gordon Tope hit from long range for 29 points. When the Tigers turned on Tope, Mike Coleman hit on six of seven shots. And Meely got 18 points and 21 rebounds, anyway.
Purdue's Rick Mount, the nation's No. 2 scorer, finished the regular season with a 33.8 average, and the Boilermakers with the highest team average (99.6). Mount had 45 points in a 116-87 win over Michigan, 40 in a 120-76 victory over Indiana. He set a Big Ten scoring record with 493 points, 19 more than Gary Bradds of Ohio State had five years ago. The newest Buckeye scoring threat—sophomore Jim Cleamons—had 37 points as Ohio State beat Indiana 108-86 and 35 in downing Michigan 95-86.
Drake and Louisville warmed up for their Missouri Valley showdown with easy wins. Willie Wise had 33 points as Drake beat St. Louis 93-78. Jerry King of Louisville had 30 points in an 82-78 win over Bradley, and Mike Grosso had 24 points and 21 rebounds as the Cardinals downed Bellarmine 93-80.
Murray State, picked by Ohio Valley coaches to finish in sixth place, won a playoff against Morehead State for a spot in the NCAA tournament, 94-76. Claude Virden had 27 points for the Thoroughbreds, who sank 50% of their shots.
Notre Dame lost its final regular-season game 79-74 to Creighton, which then closed with a 74-72 loss to St. Bonaventure. The Bonnies won their game when Bill Kalbaugh got the ball and scored in the waning seconds.