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Southeastern Conference champion Kentucky added two league victories: 98-89 over Alabama and 90-86 over Vanderbilt. Jacksonville's towering frontcourt men allowed 5'10" Guard Vaughn Wedeking to steal the glory in two wins. He scored a 15-foot jump shot with four seconds to play to hold off Oklahoma City 77-75 and then poured in 21 points in an 86-81 defeat of Georgia Tech.
"Our defense won it," said New Mexico Coach Bob King after his team upset Utah 93-74. "Sometimes man-to-man, sometimes switching and sometimes with zone traps. We kept Utah busy deciding what we were going to do next." Thus confounded out of the Western Athletic Conference lead, the Redskins next were knocked out of the race by UTEP 83-82. In its loss to New Mexico Utah was twice held scoreless for long stretches, 17-0 and 14-0, while Lobos Willie Long and Petie Gibson were piling up a combined total of 48 points. At UTEP, which won the championship in its first year in the WAC, the Utes were 11 points ahead in the second half when the Miners stormed back behind Nate Archibald. Archibald scored 31 points in all—nine in the final three minutes—including the two winning free throws with 14 seconds to play.
Weber State took the Big Sky Conference championship for the third consecutive season by defeating Montana State 80-55. The Bobcats attempted to control Weber's 6'8", 220-pound Willie Sojourner with only one defender. In the first half Sojourner drew his man into foul trouble and converted nine of 11 free throws. In the second period, when the defense loosened up to cut down Sojourner's foul shots, the Weber center hit on 11 of 13 field-goal tries and finished the game with 39 points.
Weber's first-round opponent in the NCAA tournament will be Long Beach State. The Forty-Niners, 22-3 for the season, bagged the newly formed Pacific Coast Athletic Association championship by defeating San Diego State 74-55.
Pacific (104-55 over Nevada at Reno and 110-78 over Nevada at Las Vegas) and Santa Clara (74-70 over Loyola of Los Angeles and 87-70 over Pepperdine) remained tied for the West Coast Athletic Conference lead. The two meet Saturday night on Pacific's cozy court in Stockton.
UCLA won its fourth straight Pacific Eight championship with wins of 120-90 over Stanford and 109-95 over Cal. Utah State, aside from losing at New Mexico State, edged Air Force 80-78 and West Texas State 83-73.
1. UCLA (23-1)