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Landlocked in the middle of Big Ten country, Mid-American Conference teams are usually unranked and underrated but rarely overimpressed by their bigger neighbors. Last week, as the Big Ten faltered to an embarrassing start—it was 13-10 in out-of-league games and seven of the wins came in early season breathers—the poor cousins in the MAC caused the reddest faces. Mid-American favorite Ohio University defeated Northwestern 90-79 and then stunned the Big Ten's top team, Purdue, by 80-79. Bobcat Coach Jim Snyder swarmed men around Boilermaker Rick Mount, causing him to miss 20 of 32 shots. Ohio took over the lead for good with 1:54 to play on scrappy Guard John Canine's jumper and two free throws by burly Greg McDivitt, who finished with 20 points. Toledo, picked fifth in the MAC, made it a sweep for Mid-American teams in games with the Big Ten by stopping Michigan State 82-80.
Purdue's toughest challengers in the Big Ten, Ohio State and Illinois, redeemed the league's luster by winning important road games. Rugged Buckeye Center Dave Sorenson scored 31 points in a 96-92 win over improved Wake Forest, and the Illini had six men in double figures as they defeated Georgia 81-70. Wisconsin also remained unbeaten with 88-74 and 78-76 victories over weak Ball State and Southern Methodist.
"Our guards are good old-fashioned Democrats. They believe in giveaway programs," said Kentucky's Adolph Rupp after his team committed 25 turnovers in their opener against West Virginia. The Baron had little else to complain about, however, as the Wildcats ripped the Mountaineers 106-87 and then came back to humiliate Kansas 115-85, with Dan Issel scoring 63 points in the two games.
Pete Maravich shot as well as ever, hitting for 43 points, but other things have changed at Louisiana State. The Bayou Tigers put on an impressive team performance in a surprisingly easy 94-72 win over Oregon State. Maravich's slick floor play sparked the overall effort with seven assists.
Sophomores John Fraley and LaRue Martin made shining debuts for Cincinnati and Loyola of Chicago. Fraley totaled 35 points in the Bearcats' two wins, 99-64 over MacMurray and 104-82 over Indiana State, almost despite his coach, Tay Baker. Baker held Fraley out of the starting lineup to keep the pressure off his young star, saying, "I'll put him in after the crowd settles down." The delay did not seem to help Fraley, who missed the rim and backboard with his first shot, but he then calmed down to surprise Cincy fans with some sharp passing as well as his expected hot shooting. Martin, at 6'9" the tallest starter George Ireland has ever had at Loyola, scored 54 points and grabbed 64 rebounds as the Ramblers defeated St. John's ( Minn.) 92-65 and St. Thomas 81-60, but lost to Indiana 100-95.
Top independent Marquette nailed badly out manned Wisconsin- Milwaukee 86-58 and Northern Michigan 98-60. Despite an aching sprained ankle, Sid Catlett came off the bench to score six points as Notre Dame, down by 12 points at one time, beat Michigan 87-86. The Irish also downed Minnesota 84-75.
A new arena by any name was fine with the Houston Cougars, who had grown tired of their old dungeons. But Hofheinz Pavilion? The students thought not, preferring to name the place after Elvin Hayes, the man who had meant most to Houston basketball, the Astrojudge's money notwithstanding. Predictably they lost out; equally predictably the team did not. Opening against a weak schedule, the Cougars were 3-0 against Southwestern Louisiana (89-72), Texas at Arlington (88-70) and Centenary (70-64).