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In a week crammed with shockers, it was almost an upset when a favorite did win. Altogether, half of what might well have been regarded as the nation's top 30 teams were losers. Ranking right behind Duke's Double Downfall was Notre Dame's setback by Kentucky in Louisville's Freedom Hall. The previously unbeaten Irish seemed on their way to victory when, with 10:20 to play and the Irish up 61-49, the Wildcats began clawing back. Having been unsuccessful at coping with Notre Dame's inside strength, Kentucky Coach Joe Hall decided to counter with speed by putting 6'3" freshman Dwight Anderson in the high post. Anderson brought Kentucky to within eight points by sinking two free throws and a layup. Shortly thereafter an Anderson jumper cut the Irish lead to 70-68. Another Wildcat freshman, Clarence Tillman, tipped in a shot, and Anderson sank two free throws, stole a pass and turned it into a dunk. Presto, Kentucky led 74-70. Anderson scored all 17 of his points in the second half as Kentucky won 81-76, and for the second time in three years a defeat in this holiday game prevented the Irish from becoming No. 1.
Louisiana State kept rolling, walloping Colgate 100-73 as Al Green scored 28 points, DeWayne Scales 22 and Jordy Hultberg 20, but Dayton barely avoided being rolled by Xavier. The Musketeers, trailing 67-66, clung to the ball for two minutes to set up a last shot but botched the play after Tim Chadwell got into position to shoot with six seconds left.
"Maybe the haircut did it," said Gary Garland, who scored 30 points and led DePaul to an 88-70 conquest of Creighton after getting his locks shorn for the first time in a year and a half.
"We've got our trophies, now give us back our sneaks," yelled Rhode Island's players after beating Detroit 69-67 for the Motor City Tournament title. The Rams, whose locker room had been rifled during the tournament, got 36 points from MVP Sly Williams in the showdown game. En route to the finals, Rhode Island beat Denver 76-65, and Detroit trounced New Hampshire 108-70. Minnesota had an even narrower victory, taking the Pillsbury Classic 57-56 from Georgia Tech when 6'11" Kevin McHale blocked a shot with five seconds remaining. McHale, the MVP, also had 42 points in two games—the Gophers defeated Houston 80-67 in the first round—and grabbed 31 rebounds.
Kansas fans are already comparing Darnell Valentine to former Jayhawk backcourt star Jo Jo White. Thus, when Boston Celtic President Red Auerbach showed up in Kansas City for the Big Eight holiday tournament, it was inevitable that he be asked to give his evaluation of the two. "Valentine is quicker and more a penetrator than Jo Jo," Auerbach said after watching the sophomore pop in 45 points during an opening-round 75-55 victory over Iowa State and an 86-75 second-round defeat of Oklahoma. "I'm not saying he's better than Jo Jo, but he's a heck of a player." Valentine was good enough to be named MVP, finishing with 65 points, 23 assists and 20 rebounds. But the Jayhawks needed more than Valentine in the finale against Colorado, which came to Kansas City with an 8-1 record. Mac Stallcup came off the Kansas bench to sink all four of his shots in the late going as the Jayhawks won 72-66.
By using a 2-3 zone that clogged up the middle, Mississippi State forced Louisville to wing its passes into the corners during the wrap-up of the Holiday Classic in Freedom Hall. Anticipating that response to their tactics, the Bulldogs came up with numerous steals at one end of the court and with layups at the other. The unbeaten Bulldogs won 80-73 as Ray White scored 24 points and brought down 12 rebounds. In the first-round games, Mississippi State beat Oral Roberts 91-69, and Louisville beat Wisconsin 70-53.
Larry Bird had 15 rebounds, six assists, three blocked shots and two steals as Indiana State socked it to Morris Harvey 99-63. Oh, yes, Bird also had 34 points—he is averaging 33.6—to become the most prolific scorer in Sycamore history with a total of 2,177 points.