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Alabama's "new look"—a motion, pass-oriented offense coupled with a pressing defense—has made it the hottest team in the country during the first two weeks. The Tide came from 11 behind with 12 minutes to play and blew out Purdue 97-80 two weeks ago, then won three times last week to run its record to 4-0. Everybody is pitching in to help at 'Bama, but Forward Reggie (Mule) King is carrying the biggest load, averaging nearly 20 points and 12 rebounds per game.
Tennessee played UNC-Charlotte minus Bernard King, whose suspension will be lifted earlier than expected, and without Coach Ray Mears, still hospitalized because of exhaustion. In the absence of these celebs, the Vols trotted out new football Coach Johnny Majors at halftime. Apparently, Majors' appearance produces victories wherever he goes, because Tennessee rallied from a 42-32 deficit to win 69-67 when freshman Center Reggie Johnson hit his seventh basket without a miss as the game clock wound down to :03.
COLUMBIA: A MOUSE THAT ROARED, read one New York City headline after the Lions' stunning 85-75 upset of Rutgers, the second member of last year's final four to go down to defeat in as many nights. "No funny lines tonight, fellas," said an elated Tom Penders, the Columbia coach who made a habit of self-deprecating postgame remarks during 4-22 and 8-17 seasons. "I don't know if they were ready for us," said 5'8" playmaker Alton Byrd.
Rutgers was aware that the Lions had fine young players in 6'5" Forward Juan Mitchell (26 points), Brooklyn's Ricky Free (19 points) Center Elmer Love (14 points) and Byrd (eight assists). What the Scarlet Knights weren't ready for was foul trouble. Their two big men, Jim Bailey and Abdel Anderson, went to the bench with three each in the first half: Bailey finished with three points and Anderson got none. Guard Ed Jordan shot 6 for 20 and committed nine turnovers in a rare confrontation with Eastern players that neither he nor his teammates could outrun. Columbia's fairy tale was played out in less than 48 hours, when Iona College tamed the Lions 84-69.
Elsewhere in the East, Navy's strongest front line in years held a 41-29 edge in rebounding over Penn and surprised the Quakers at Annapolis 71-67. What Georgetown Forward Al Dutch calls "that beautiful rhythm"—the Georgetown fast break—got the Hoyas back on track after a sluggish first half against St. Bonaventure. The running game created a 24-6 streak and a 76-60 win over the Bonnies. The Hoyas also beat Upsala 66-46. Holy Cross freshman Ronnie Perry Jr., son of the school's athletic director, made his home debut with 31 points in a 96-85 win over Vermont.
Lefty Driesell, never a tranquil figure on the bench, looks as menacing as Long John Silver since his Achilles tendon surgery. When Ball State recovered from a 14-point Maryland lead, Lefty beat the floor with his crutch. When the Cardinals closed to within four points late in the game he stomped with his good left leg and again whacked the floor with his crutch. All this seemed to spark Maryland to an 86-70 victory, but a pair of slow-down victories over LIU (49-45) and Princeton (58-45) threatened to burst Lefty's cast. The Blackbirds held the ball for 10� minutes at one point. Said Lefty, "This game proves again that we need a 30-second clock." When reminded by a reporter that he had used a slow-down game to defeat South Carolina 31-30 in 1971, Driesell replied, "That was a conference game. We had to play them. I wouldn't schedule a team unless I thought I could play them."