Third-Place Maryland finally gained a measure or conference respectability by winning its rematch with North Carolina 91-80. Tom McMillen, who scored a game-high 26 points, led a 13-1 spurt to put the game out of reach with 6:02 remaining. It was the Terrapins' third straight home win over the Tar Heels, whom they have not beaten on the road in nine years.
North Carolina State also seemed headed for trouble when 7'4" Center Tom Burleson picked up his third foul midway through the first half against Davidson. At the time the Wolfpack led 22-17 and superstar David Thompson was having a substar night. No fear. State simply turned to its two backcourt aces, Monte Towe and Moe Rivers. With Towe hitting all seven of his first-half shots, the Wolfpack moved into a 50-33 lead. Rivers had his best game, scoring 24 points, and the Wolfpack ran away 105-78.
Vanderbilt and Alabama stayed one-two in the SEC as both scored narrow wins over conference opponents. The Commodores avenged their only loss of the season by beating LSU 91-88. Jeff Fosnes, Joe Ford and Butch Feher converted six straight free throws in the last 2:41 to wrap up a game that from the outset had been charged with emotion because of the fight that disrupted the teams' earlier meeting. "This was the best crowd we've had all year," said Vanderbilt Coach Roy Skinner of his hometown fans. LSU Coach Dale Brown painted a different picture. "Tonight was just sickening," he said, complaining of "exceedingly vulgar and obscene" signs and revealing that someone had called at halftime and threatened to shoot LSU player Collis Temple in the second half. Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide edged past Mississippi State when Charles Cleveland hit a long jumper in the final second for a 76-74 win.
With both teams anticipating a postseason tournament bid, Jacksonville demolished Florida State 113-89. Leon Benbow paced the Dolphins with 36 points. Butch Taylor had 30 more, plus 27 rebounds. "Taylor's not so tough," said Seminole Coach Hugh Durham. "Our team outrebounded him by four." Two nights later Jacksonville belted Northeast Louisiana 100-84.
"When we play well we can beat anybody—well, just about anybody—in the country," said South Carolina Assistant Coach Dick Walsh. "But when we play poorly, we can lose to just about anybody." Early in the week the Gamecocks played poorly, making 21 turnovers, but still beat Georgia Tech 82-73. Notre Dame, on the other hand, isn't just anybody. The nation's top streak-stopper ended South Carolina's 34-game Carolina Coliseum winning string 72-68.
1. N.C. STATE (20-1)
2. MARYLAND (17-4)
While UCLA was taking its lumps at Oregon State and Oregon (page 16), USC moved into a first-place tie in the Pac Eight by beating the same two teams on the road. The Trojans, who have little to show for their 122 wins in seven seasons under Coach Bob Boyd, ran away from Oregon 76-61 on Friday evening and then cheered for the Ducks against UCLA on television the next afternoon. Saturday night USC went out and disposed of Oregon State 60-53, setting up a possible final-game showdown with UCLA at the Sports Arena March 9.
With Long Beach State on probation and out of the race for a berth in the NCAA playoffs, PCAA rivals are looking at the 49ers in a different light. "It was just a fun game," said Fresno State Coach Ed Gregory after watching Long Beach flatten his Bulldogs 62-45. "They still aren't having as much fun as we are," countered an irked Lute Olson.