Paired in the same bracket of the Big Four tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina State and North Carolina went at each other in the first round as though it would be their only meeting of the year instead of merely the first of three—and possibly four—games. In the end State prevailed 78-77 on the varied contributions of Monte Towe, David Thompson and Tom Burleson, whose stair-step physiques begin at 5'5�" and ascend through 6'4" up to 7'4". Burleson led the three with 22 points and 14 rebounds, Thompson had 20 points and Towe dropped in two critical free throws that offset the last Carolina basket. "Maybe these games aren't counting in the conference standings, but they do count," State Coach Norm Sloan said before the game. "Our alumni assured me of that several times, telling me how long to play my starters, what to do here and there." Once-beaten Wake Forest edged Duke 64-61 to reach the finals, where Thompson made the move of the year to pull the Wolfpack out of a 24-24 tie and send it on to a 91-73 victory. He stole the ball, dribbled quickly up the floor, took off near the foul line for the basket, in midair changed hands with the ball by going behind the back and finally flipped in a lefty layup from above the rim. Thompson hit 19 of 26 shots and had 10 assists and 40 points in the two games, making him a tournament MVP for the second week in a row. Carolina took third place 84-75 over Duke.
Maryland, ranked highest of the three ACC teams in the country's top five, bombed Richmond 96-60 as Tom McMillen became the Terps' leading scorer of all time. Clemson was a 29-point victim 89-60—precisely Maryland's average margin of victory since UCLA—as Len Elmore and McMillen held seven-footer Wayne (Tree) Rollins scoreless in the second half.
Meeting familiar foe Marquette in Columbia was South Carolina, which had not lost at home in 27 outings since its infamous fight with the Warriors on national TV two years before. The game was televised again, and near the end it looked as though the Gamecocks' streak would die. Brian Winters missed a one-and-one free throw that would have broken a 58-58 tie and Marquette got the rebound and began playing for one shot. But Maurice Lucas was called for an offensive foul, and soon Winters had another chance. "I consider myself a good shooter," Winters said later, and well he might. His 20-foot jumper went through at the buzzer to hand Marquette its first defeat.
While Vanderbilt was knocking off Alabama, Glen Hansen and Collis Temple were doing something Pistol Pete Maravich never did at Louisiana State and something the Tigers had done only twice in 39 years: beat Kentucky. LSU trailed 40-36 at halftime, but Temple ignited a 22-to-8 burst in the first five minutes of the second half. He had 22 points for the game and Hansen 30 as State won its seventh straight.
Austin Peay dropped three games in four days—to Missouri 88-86 and Southern Mississippi 79-75 in the Senior Bowl and to Jacksonville 93-70. Winner of the Senior Bowl was South Alabama, which upset Missouri 74-64.
Centenary nipped Arkansas 98-96 at the buzzer, Virginia Tech gobbled up Eastern Kentucky 92-65 and edged St. Bonaventure 77-75 and Stetson handed Virginia the ACC's most embarrassing setback in years 78-76 as Cavalier stars Gus Gerard and Wally Walker fouled out with five and 14 points respectively.
1. MARYLAND (8-1)
2. N.C. ST. (7-1)
Wild again, the West was knee-deep in snow and upsets, two of them in Fort Collins, Colo., where Colorado State got hot in near-zero temperatures and stopped Arizona State and Arizona. The cactus powers might have anticipated trouble. Never in 20 years had it been safe to play a Jim Williams team there. Last year, for good example, Arizona lost a share of the Western Athletic Conference championship at CSU one night, and on the next heavily favored Arizona State escaped with the title on a last-second basket. The Sun Devils were less fortunate this time. It was Colorado State's Rudy Carey who scored the late basket as the Rams won 74-72. Arizona, which opened this years WAC season by romping over Wyoming 93-77, found Williams' 2-3 zone defense too tough to crack, even for its scoring machine, which was averaging 88 points a game. Ram Forward Tim Hall outshone Wildcats Coniel Norman and Bob Elliott by getting 24 points and 19 rebounds in an 85-67 ambush. New Mexico (12-0), which plays both Arizona clubs away this week, matched the Rams' fast start with 98-91 and 84-75 victories over Utah and Brigham Young as Bernard Hardin scored 50 points.