SEC champion Kentucky tuned up for the NCAAs by blasting Georgia 78-67 and Nevada-Las Vegas 92-70 as Rick Robey and Jack Givens pumped in a total of 80 points. Mississippi State, 18-8 overall, beat LSU 68-67 and Auburn 83-82 to take second place in the SEC with a 13-4 conference record.
Five DePaul players—Dave Corzine, Joe (Godfather) Ponsetto, Curtis Watkins, William (Don't Call Me Bill) Dise and Gary Garland—scored in double figures as the Blue Demons cinched an NCAA berth and spoiled Illinois State's hopes for one, with a 96-84 triumph. But for Ponsetto the victory was bittersweet. While driving a few hours before game time, he struck 6-year-old Paul Watson, who was taken to a Chicago hospital with a broken leg. Ponsetto stayed with the boy until an hour before tip-off and, understandably, had trouble concentrating once the game began. He failed to score until 19 minutes had elapsed. "I felt helpless," he said. "The accident put basketball into perspective. It's just a game." DePaul also popped Valparaiso 89-62 and finished with a 25-2 record, the best among the nation's independents.
Marquette pounded Butler 90-79 and eked out an 80-77 victory at Detroit before a record crowd of 11,065 at Calihan Hall. With the teams deadlocked 69-69 and 1:47 left to play, Warrior Jim Boylan connected on a free throw and Jerome Whitehead sank a field goal to put Marquette ahead to stay. The Titans finished with a 24-3 record but were not selected for the NCAAs.
Dayton upset Notre Dame 66-59 as Erv Giddings and Jim Paxson combined for 45 points. The loss dropped the Irish record to 19-6. Right, they got an NCAA bid anyway.
Central Michigan 68, Toledo 68, end of regulation. Central Michigan 76, Toledo 76, end of first overtime. The teams were also tied at 84-84, 88-88 and 97-97 at the end of three more overtimes. It was not until the fifth extra period that Central Michigan's K. C. Janer made two free throws with five seconds left and lifted the Chippewas to a 109-107 victory. The win resulted in a four-team logjam in the Mid-American Conference; Central Michigan, Toledo, Miami and Bowling Green all still battling for the title. Earlier Toledo had edged Miami 81-79 in overtime, but the Redskins rebounded by defeating Ball State 74-64.
Western Kentucky beat Austin Peay 77-69 to win the Ohio Valley tournament. Peay got to the title game by edging the regular-season co-champion. Middle Tennessee, 66-61.
1. KENTUCKY (24-2)
2. DePAUL (25-2)
3. MARQUETTE (24-3)