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With six Players from last year's team taken in the NBA draft, with no hope of appearing in postseason play because of recruiting violations and with its coach on the job only because a district court judge overruled the NCAA, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas was forced to resort to a stall to preserve an 85-80 victory over Northwestern Louisiana. It was Vegas' 60th straight win at home. Destroyed 62-37 on the boards and, therefore, unable to run against the visitors from Natchitoches, the beleaguered Rebels avoided an embarrassing defeat at the hands of an undistinguished team by hitting 23 of 28 free throws, including four by Guard Tony Smith in the last 0:36 while UNLV was holding onto the ball for dear life. Rebel Swingman Reggie Theus had 28 points to lead all scorers, despite picking up his fourth foul in the first half. Said Coach Jerry Tarkanian, whose school is being forced by the NCAA to renew its efforts to have him suspended, "We were very lucky to win."
Arizona State also appears to have fallen on hard times. The Sun Devils led 66-53 with 5:56 left in a non-conference game with WAC rival Arizona and then settled back into a zone defense and lost 72-70 when Wildcat sophomore Joe Nehls hit a 15-foot baseline jumper in the last four seconds. The game was played in Tempe, where ASU had not lost to Arizona in eight seasons. To make matters worse, earlier in the week the Sun Devils' promising 6'6" sophomore Johnny Nash broke his leg and was declared out for the season. Along with the loss of 6'8" Mark Landsberger, a 17.2 scorer last year who signed with the Chicago Bulls after he had enrolled in school this fall, and of high school star Albert King, who changed his mind and chose Maryland at the last minute, Nash's injury seems likely to make it a very long season for Arizona State.
USC won two games in one weekend for the first time since December 1975, beating Idaho State 80-69 and then overcoming a 44-34 halftime deficit to beat Texas 65-64. The Trojans unveiled freshman Cliff Robinson, a 6'9" center, who was 16 for 27 in the two games. Robinson's strong play prompted Idaho State Coach Lynn Archibald to say, "He is in the same class as Sidney Wicks and Curtis Rowe." Washington State defeated small college power Puget Sound 67-65 behind James Donaldson's 16 points and 14 rebounds.
San Francisco outscored San Francisco State 53-29 in the second half of a 100-67 thrashing. James Hardy had 23 points and Winford Boynes 25 for the Dons, who will probably be without injured Center Bill Cartwright until Christmas. How soon can the 7', 270-pounder be ready to play after the team doctor gives him the O.K.? "In a couple of hours," says Cartwright.
As Freeman Williams goes, so goes Portland State. In the first half against visiting Colorado State, Williams, the nation's leading scorer last season with a 38.8 average, was a scorching 13 for 18 from the floor, and the Vikings busted to a 55-48 lead. But the CSU defense ganged up on Williams in the second half, limiting him to four out of 15. He finished with 41 points, but Colorado State came back to win 97-93.
Manhattan has gone wild over Brooklyn. Manhattan, Kans., that is, where folks can't say enough about two young Brooklynites, Curtis Redding and Rolando Blackman, who play for Kansas State. Redding, voted Newcomer of the Year in the Big Eight last season, fired in 16 points in the first half against Northern Illinois. And when Redding got in foul trouble, Blackman, a 6'5" freshman, came off the bench to hit seven of 10 shots. The Wildcats needed all the help they could get—particularly from Mike Evans, who poured in 31 points—to eke out a 76-74 victory. Colorado used five new players—freshmen and junior-college transfers—in an 86-57 romp over Southern Colorado. Iowa State edged Iowa 79-78 before a sellout crowd of 14,300 in Ames. Two thousand more were turned away at the door.
Arkansas, which struggled to a one-point victory against Southwest Missouri State on the road last year, won a defensive struggle against the Bears in Fayetteville by the score of 65-47. Steve Schall and Sidney Moncrief combined for 25 rebounds, as the Razorbacks held a 52-27 edge on the boards. "We're off to a poor shooting start," said Coach Eddie Sutton, whose team shot .545 from the field to lead the nation last season. Against a bothersome 1-3-1 Southwest Missouri zone, however, Arkansas hit only 24 of 54 shots for 44 percent. Marvin Delph was high man with 20 points, followed by Ron Brewer with 17.