Vanderbilt Coach Roy Skinner warned all who would listen that this was not the usual hound-dog Mississippi basketball team they were facing. Johnny Neumann, the 6'6" sophomore out of Memphis, is "as good as you've heard of," said Skinner, and Vandy Scout Wayne Dobbs added, "He just might be the best player I've ever seen." Neumann let neither Vandy seer down. Hitting from far out or getting free close in, he ended up with 53 points and set three Memorial Gymnasium scoring records, but Vanderbilt was a winner anyway, 130-112.
Two other men who specialize in wearing out nets, Rich Yunkus of Georgia Tech and John Mengelt of Auburn, met in Birmingham, and the 6'9" Yunkus won the point duel 33-22 and his team the game 87-76. Kentucky had defeated three Big Ten teams before it ran into so-so Purdue in the final of the Kentucky Invitational. There the Boilermakers ignored their 3-3 record and knocked off the Wildcats 89-83. It was UK's first loss at home since late 1968.
Surprising North Carolina State slapped Davidson with its first defeat 77-64, as Ed Leftwich scored nine points in 79 seconds and Paul Coder made six baskets in the last 10 minutes. The Wolfpack also took the Big Four Tournament, beating North Carolina 82-70 and Wake Forest 73-70.
Tennessee ran its streak to six by murdering road-weary Oregon State 89-61.
1. S. CAROLINA (6-0)
2. W. KENTUCKY (7-0)
St. John's, talented but inexperienced, got caught by Boston College and its hot guard, Jim O'Brien, who scored 26 points in a 69-66 win.
New Fordham Coach Digger Phelps, who as an assistant helped build strong Penn, must be wondering what is so tough about being a head man. His Rams have won their first eight games—none against top-20 teams, however. The latest victims were Miami ( Fla.) 85-83 and Florida 72-65.
St. Bonaventure, undefeated in six games, lost scoring and rebounding star Matt Gantt for six weeks and maybe the season. He is suffering from pericarditis, a virus condition in the heart area.