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With Ronnie Lyons passing off expertly and scoring 24 points, many of them from far outside, Kentucky beat Mississippi 93-82 to keep intact its winning streak over Ole Miss, which is now 44 years long. Tennessee reinforced its typically tenacious defense with, for a change, scoring. The Vols held Mississippi State to 13 first-half points, picked up 30 points from Mike Edwards and won 82-49. Florida, whose high-scoring Tony Miller is out with a broken finger, just managed to get by Alabama 79-77 but lost to Auburn 79-74.
Virginia stood atop the Atlantic Coast at 4-0, overtaking Wake Forest 74-64 and halting North Carolina State 84-73. Maryland also beat the Wolfpack 83-70. In the first confrontation between their celebrated sophomores, Maryland's Tom McMillen had 22 points and seven rebounds, State's Tom Burleson 18 points and eight rebounds, although he played only 21 minutes before fouling out. McMillen had 23 points against Clemson in the Terps' next game, but that was not enough. The Tigers won 63-61.
Furman, the Southern Conference leader, pressed The Citadel into 30% shooting and won 101-86. Nothing the Paladins did could fluster North Carolina, though, and they wound up 118-66 losers. Davidson also stepped outside the conference and lost 95-78 to West Virginia.
There were still a couple of tournaments left over from the holidays. Texas A&M took the Presidential Classic, beating Virginia Tech 66-62 in overtime. Florida State concluded a 21-day trip with its third tournament title at the Senior Bowl, zoning out previously undefeated St. Louis 63-62.
1. N. CAROLINA (9-1)
LaSalle Coach Paul Westhead, a Shakespeare buff, livened up a basketball luncheon on the eve of his game against St. Joseph's by reciting from King Lear. "No, you unnatural hags, I will have such revenges on you both/ That all the world shall—I will do such things/ What they are, yet I know not, but they shall be/ The terrors of the earth." The convoluted quote was Westhead's way of saying his team would take care of Mike Bantom and Jim McCollum, two Hawks he handled while freshman coach at St. Joseph's. But hark, the "unnatural hags" scored 32 points, and the Hawks flew 72-55. Bantom had 33 points, McCollum 14 in the Hawks' next win, over Boston College 82-68.
A Baldwin-Wallace report showed that Vic Thomas of St. Bonaventure was shooting only 30%. So the Yellow Jackets used a 1-3-1 zone and let Thomas shoot. Delighted with the arrangement, Thomas sank his first 10 shots, and the Bonnies won 100-69. John Falconi also put in 10 in a row and Davidson won by 88-84 over St. John's, which also lost to Syracuse, 86-83.