"I would've loved to have finished with five players on the floor," said Houston Coach Guy Lewis, following an 82-80 loss to Arkansas. After Otis Birdsong, the top Cougar scorer with 22 points, had fouled out with 15 seconds to go, the Razorbacks converted one of their free throws and time ran out while Lewis was still looking for a substitute. Arkansas' Three Basketeers—Sidney Moncrief, Marvin Delph and Ron Brewer—combined for 61 points as the Razorbacks took a 3�-game lead over Houston in the Southwest Conference.
For Oklahoma's Al Beal, a 6'10" freshman, the first five minutes against Missouri were a nightmare; he committed three turnovers and had an easy layup blocked. From there on, however, Beal played like a dream, blocking two shots, pulling down a game-high 11 rebounds and scoring nine points. Moreover, he sank the clinching basket with 13 seconds left as the Sooners won 66-63 and tied the Tigers for the Big Eight lead. Three days later, Missouri was alone at the top, pummeling Oklahoma State 97-75 behind Kim Anderson's 35 points while Oklahoma lost to Kansas 91-81.
Wichita State moved into a tie for first in the Valley Conference, downing Drake 75-65 and slipping past Southern Illinois 91-90 in double overtime. Co-leader West Texas State beat Drake 90-87.
Once-beaten Detroit stretched its winning streak to 17 games, stopping Eastern Michigan 87-82 and Xavier of Ohio 85-76. Another high-scoring independent, North Texas State, improved its record to 16-3 by polishing off Samford 90-72, Houston Baptist 96-80 and Lamar 99-90.
1. LOUISVILLE (17-2)
2. ARKANSAS (19-1)
3. CINCINNATI (16-3)
"The shock that blitz crumbled us," said Washington Coach Marv Harshman after a 75-65 loss at UCLA. Leading 61-59, the Bruins went to their zone press and scored eight points in 39 seconds, turning three consecutive steals into baskets. UCLA then strengthened its Pac-8 lead by knocking off Washington State 72-59. "We like our zone press," said Coach Gene Bartow, whose Bruins began the week with a 103-89 win over Tennessee in Atlanta's Omni, site of the NCAA finals.
San Francisco survived assorted vicissitudes to defeat St. Mary's 103-77 and Nevada-Reno 98-81. With playmaker Chubby Cox out with a sprained ankle and with Bill Cartwright drawing three early fouls, the Dons were vulnerable against Reno. But Marlon Redmond, who mysteriously left the team for two days in midweek, pumped in 28 points and Winford Boynes added 22 to keep the Dons unbeaten.
By shutting off BYU's inside power and limiting its three big men to 12 points, Utah rolled to an 81-61 win. Ute Guard Jeff Jonas put on a floor show: four steals, nine rebounds, 10 points and 16 assists. Utah thus stayed a game ahead of Arizona and New Mexico in the Western AC. Bob Elliott had 28 points as Arizona bopped Arizona State 99-83. The Lobos earned a share of second place by beating Colorado State 73-64 and Wyoming 93-78.
Stan Mayhew tossed in 31 points as Weber State ended Idaho State's 12-game winning streak 80-73 to tie the Bengals for first place in the Big Sky Conference.