Bradley and North Texas State opened their Missouri Valley schedules with rare road wins. The Braves came out on top at Wichita 89-80, and the Eagles triumphed at Memphis State 86-77. The league's best teams, Louisville and Drake, won their openers at home, 84-67 over Tulsa and 80-78 over St. Louis.
1. HOUSTON (11-1)
2. OKLAHOMA (10-1)
Oregon Coach Steve Belko was up late in his hotel room the night before the finals of the Far West Classic in Portland. He had a special problem: how to stop undefeated Washington's Steve Hawes and George Irvine, who had combined for 104 points in the first two rounds of the tournament. Grabbing a bar of soap, Belko diagrammed a two-three zone defense on his mirror and decided Oregon would use that even though the Ducks had not tried a zone all year. The defense worked, as Hawes and Irvine were held to a total of 32 points. Led by Center Stan Love's 25 points and 12 rebounds, the Ducks started fast, scoring on 14 of their first 18 shots, and their zone won out 83-73.
USC and UCLA met strong intersectional opponents and won three games for the West Coast. The Trojans were faced with stopping Florida State's running game, called by Seminole Coach Hugh Durham the "fastest in the history of the South." First employing a tight man-to-man defense to bog down FSU's fast break, then turning to a stall offense late in the game to protect a narrow lead, Southern Cal won 71-68.
UCLA looked like two different teams against Princeton and Notre Dame. With the Tigers keeping the Bruins' running game in check and Jeff Petrie scoring 28 points, UCLA needed Sidney Wick's 12-foot jumper with three seconds remaining to win 76-75. Five nights later the Bruins were back in high gear, running off to an 11-0 lead over the Irish and bringing in substitutes to play the closing nine minutes of a 107-77 victory.
New Mexico State defeated Sul Ross 95-75 and Arizona 95-76, while Houston lost its first game after nine wins, to Santa Clara 85-63 in the first round of the Las Vegas Classic. The Cougars rebounded with a 98-85 victory over Cal at Santa Barbara.
1. UCLA (8-0)
2. NEW MEXICO ST. (12-1)
"He hit from inside, outside, right-handed, left-handed. I'd give up three of my players for him right now," said the Atlanta Hawks' Richie Guerin of St. Bonaventure's 6'11", 265-pound center, Bob Lanier. "He'd really be something if he was in shape." Even with a couple of rolls of what looked suspiciously like baby fat, Lanier was adult enough for Purdue in the finals of New York City's Holiday Festival. The biggest Bonnie tied Oscar Robertson's single-game record for the tournament with 50 points as his team trounced the Boilermakers 91-75. Lanier, who had scored 25 in the Bonnies' 96-61 semifinal victory over St. Joseph's, hit on 29 of 36 shots in the two games. He added 25 more points as St. Bonaventure finished its week with a 96-63 win over Baldwin-Wallace.