The only criticism Kansas State Coach Cotton Fitzsimmons had of his players last week was that they might have ruined his purple and white checked pants. Fitzsimmons has worn the trousers all year and, after K-State clinched the Big Eight championship with a 79-69 defeat of Colorado, his players dunked him in the shower checks and all. "If they're shrunk, I'll just have to get them stretched so I can wear them during the NCAAs," said the Wildcat coach. In the decisive victory, State doused the Buffaloes with strong rebounding and a hot offense in the second half. Leading by one point after the first period, the Wildcats out-rebounded Colorado 23-6 in the final 20 minutes and, during one stretch, scored on 11 of 12 trips down the court.
The hot Southwest Conference race left Rice fans with an ear glued to the radio and an eye peeled at television. After stumbling 78-66 early in the week at Texas Tech, the Owls regained their form by stinging TCU 82-73 and ensuring themselves of at least a tie for the league title. In games later that same day, first Texas A&M knocked itself out of contention before a TV audience by losing to Baylor 70-68, then Texas Tech, whose game was heard in Houston, dropped out of the race in bowing to SMU 85-80. Rice's undisputed championship was its first since 1945.
Despite an 88-72 loss to surging Cincinnati, which has now won 11 consecutive games, Drake guaranteed itself a tie in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Bulldogs beat Louisville 79-73 by scoring on 16 of 22 field-goal attempts in the second half.
New Mexico State, shifted from the West to the Midwest for this season's NCAA tournament, defeated Boise State 105-79 and Utah State 104-92. Houston breezed past Texas at Arlington 102-84 and South Alabama 128-90.
1. N. MEX. ST. (23-2)
2. HOUSTON (22-3)