In the Ohio Valley Conference playoffs, Middle Tennessee upset the regular-season titlist, Austin Peay, 77-65.
Central Michigan, which had only two starters back from last season's team that was 8-8 in the Mid-American Conference, took over second place. Those returnees—Guard Leonard Drake and Center Ben Poquette—carried the Chippewas to a pair of road wins. At Northern Illinois, Drake had 18 points as Central won 80-78 in overtime despite 30 points and 18 rebounds by Matt Hicks. Drake then pumped in 34 points and Poquette 23 as the Chippewas overcame Bowling Green 94-91. Central can clinch the league title and an NCAA berth if it can win this week at Ohio U. Should the Chippewas lose, Miami of Ohio will finish first and get the bid.
Anthony Roberts of Oral Roberts netted 50 points against Florida State. It was not enough; Carlton Byrd had 30 and the Seminoles won 91-87.
1. MICHIGAN (24-3)
2. TENNESSEE (21-5)
3. KENTUCKY (23-3)
When Utah Center Buster Matheney was ejected after seven minutes of play for slugging BYU's Jay Cheesman, the Utes were afraid they might be the ones to come up with a black eye. They were tied with Arizona for the Western AC lead, and when they fell behind the Cougars 26-16 in their final league game, things did not look good. But Jeff Jonas came through with 18 points, nine assists and six rebounds as the Utes rallied for a 67-54 decision. Jonas wound up four years of regular-season play with 756 assists in 107 games. What pleased him most, however, was that Arizona lost at Arizona State 95-89 in overtime, thus giving Utah a ticket to the NCAAs. With Bob Elliott of the Wildcats hampered by a bad knee and able to play only 26 minutes, the Sun Devils knocked off Arizona for the seventh year in a row in Tempe. Helping State win were James Holliman, who knotted the score at 74-all with a basket 15 seconds before the end of regulation time; Mark Landsberger, who muscled his way to 22 rebounds and 17 points; and Tony Zeno, who came off the bench to score 20 points.
By controlling the tempo and effectively working its zone defense, USC built a 27-17 advantage over UCLA. But with Jimmy Spillane hitting from outside and Marques Johnson from inside, the Bruins won 78-69. Spillane finished with 14 points; Johnson connected for 25 as he made 11 of 14 floor shots and all three of his foul shots; he also latched on to 18 rebounds. Two days before. UCLA had been assured of the Pac-8 title when Oregon State toppled runnerup Oregon 78-73 in overtime. Greg Ballard netted 40 points and helped the Ducks take a 19-3 lead. Igniting the Beavers' comeback was Rocky Smith, who, after failing to score during the first 13 minutes, poured in 32 points.
With the memory of last season's shocking 93-91 loss at Pepperdine still on his mind, Nevada-Las Vegas Coach Jerry Tarkanian said, "It's like a carnival every time we come here. A lot of friends, relatives, girls, neighbors and cousins. We locked the players in their rooms this year. We wanted no more carnivals." Once the game began, though, his Rebels put on a show of their own. For the 20th time this season they exceeded 100 points, winning 117-94 as Eddie Owens popped in 29. In an earlier contest at home against Hawaii, Owens had 25 points in a 124-84 laugher.
Idaho State, which had finished in first place in the Big Sky Conference, captured the league tournament by defeating Montana State 93-77 and Weber State 61-55.
Long Beach State won the Pacific Coast AA tournament by subduing San Jose State 76-63.