"Having a good time is what the game's all about," says Wake Forest Forward Rod Griffin, who was not enjoying himself early in the season. Now he is bubbling over, and he credits Frank Johnson, a freshman guard, for the change. "Frank wakes up with a smile," Griffin says. "He is always smiling on the court, and now I'm doing it, too. It seems to make the whole team looser and more confident." Cheering the Deacons even further—and solidifying their Atlantic Coast Conference lead—were their sixth and seventh straight road wins, 89-80 at Duke and 80-72 at Virginia. Griffin, whose mother used to flip him alley-oop passes in the backyard, had hoped to go to North Carolina. But the Tar Heels did not recruit him. So Griffin went to Wake Forest, where he nurtures his pet superstition—eating a bowl of lime sherbet the night before each game. With lime sherbet under his belt and a smile on his face, Griffin tossed in 28 points against the Blue Devils and 17 against the Cavaliers.
Helping to give the Deacons the inside track on the ACC title was a 60-59 Clemson victory over North Carolina State, in which Kenny Carr of the Wolfpack saw the light, but to no avail. That light, a 40-watt red bulb behind the goal at the Littlejohn Coliseum, flashes on when time runs out. In the waning seconds against the Tigers, Carr got off a final shot. It went through the net. But, as Carr put it, "I saw the light. I knew it was no good." Often there is much controversy about whether such last-ditch shots beat the buzzer, but in Clemson there was nary a complaint, thanks to the red light. In a pair of double-headers against outsiders, State beat Furman 98-91 and Georgia Tech 81-71, while North Carolina downed the Yellow Jackets 98-74 and the Paladins 88-71.
Holy Cross (18-2) won three times with a proliferation of points by its "P Shooters," Guard Ronnie Perry Jr. and Forward Chris Potter. Perry had 88 points and Potter 66 as the Crusaders beat New Hampshire 89-78, Colgate 114-82 and St. Peter's 90-88. In the process, Perry sank all 18 of his foul shots, running his streak to 40.
Columbia, off to its best Ivy start since the league was formalized 23 seasons ago, held on to first place by drubbing Dartmouth 84-61 and Harvard 92-74. That left the Lions with a 6-0 Ivy mark and a one-game edge over Princeton and Penn. The Tigers subdued Yale 56-42 and, with Frank Sowinski netting 26 points, stopped Brown 70-52. Penn barely got past the same teams. Tim Smith scored 11 points in overtime as the Quakers downed the Bruins 69-59, and Penn needed two extra periods to hold off the Bulldogs 77-74.
There were lots of other squeakers, topped off by Pittsburgh's 65-64 shocker over Cincinnati. Larry Harris of the Panthers picked up the last of his 31 points on a 22-foot shot at the final buzzer. That offset the efforts of Bob Miller of the Bearcats, who had 24 points, including seven dunks, and 13 rebounds. After defeating St. Bonaventure 82-75, Providence labored past Rhode Island 67-66. Nevada-Las Vegas outgunned Rutgers 89-88 when Robert Smith canned a 22-foot jumper with 10 seconds left.
St. John's (15-5) jolted Georgetown 82-66 and felled Niagara 72-66. Army (16-4) got 28 points from Matt Brown to dump Seton Hall 76-73. The Cadets have already assured themselves of their first winning season since 1969-70. A sign of the times: the Army women's team beat Trenton State 55-53.
1. WAKE FOREST (18-2)
2. PROV. (18-3)
3. N. CAROLINA (15-4)
After playing at Auburn for the last time, Tennessee senior Ernie Grunfeld summed up his four trips to Auburn: "Two wins, two losses and a bunch of firecrackers some students threw at our rooms last year. We chased them. They ran. The funny thing was, they got to their car and it wouldn't start." Stalled, too, were the Tigers, who lost 93-83 as Grunfeld had 19 points and Bernard King contributed 24. The Volunteers also whipped Georgia 106-82 to retain their Southeastern conference lead.