After losing 90-76 at Alabama two days later, LSU Coach Dale Brown said, "I feel like a failure. I wonder if I should find a shack at a lake and retire." En route to outrebounding the taller Tigers 36-24, the Crimson Tide alternately used fast breaks and a patient offense to build a 62-39 lead. Reggie King scored 25 points and took down 11 rebounds for the winners. Alabama also won 83-71 at Georgia, King and freshman Eddie Phillips combining for 49 points. And then the Tide beat Kentucky 55-52 to take the SEC lead with a 4-1 record. 'Bama fell behind 16-5 at the start and didn't go in front until there was 12:27 left. It was King who wound up with 22 points and put the Tide ahead by scoring 11 points in a shade over four minutes.
Instead of retiring, Brown returned home with his Tigers to knock off Florida 80-72.
Mississippi State won three conference games. The Bulldogs got 74 points from Greg Grim as they won 72-62 at Tennessee and then came home to trim Mississippi 101-92 in double overtime and Vanderbilt 74-68. Tennessee erupted for the most points ever scored against Florida in a 116-73 victory, but lost 79-75 at Georgia.
Larry Knight's 31 points helped Loyola of Chicago shock Long Beach State 95-86.
1. NOTRE DAME (8-1)
2. ILLINOIS (15-1)
3. DePAUL (11-2)
And then there was only one major unbeaten team—Indiana State. The Sycamores powered their way to a pair of convincing victories, starting with an 83-64 drubbing of North Carolina A&T. This was supposed to have been the Battle of the Birds: State's Larry Bird, who was leading the nation in scoring with a 32.6 average, and A&T's James (The Bird) Sparrow, a guard who was scoring at a 19.7 clip. Larry Bird hit on only nine of 26 field-goal tries and committed seven turnovers, but ended up with 26 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists, two blocked shots and two steals. The Sycamores held Sparrow to 6-for-18 shooting and 13 points. Indiana State cracked Bradley's full-court press at the outset and went on to win 93-74. Bird finished that contest with 27 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists, while Carl Nicks had 24 points, five rebounds and four assists as the Sycamores moved atop the Missouri Valley Conference with a 3-0 record.
Drake got off to its best MVC start since 1969-70 by winning 73-71 at Bradley and upsetting Creighton 75-61. A crowd of 6,444 was at the second victory, despite a blizzard, a minus-50� wind-chill factor and requests by the police for everyone to stay home.
Having wiped out Rice 79-66. undefeated Arkansas appeared ready to take charge in the Southwest Conference. But Texas, which had been clunking along like a jalopy with three flat tires, ended Arkansas' 35-game home-court victory streak 66-63 behind Jim Krivacs' 21 points, John Moore's seven-for-seven shooting and Ron Baxter's 11 rebounds.
Tyrone Ladson and Vernon Smith teamed up for 35 points in Texas A&M's 77-64 thrashing of Baylor. A&M then won 69-43 at Houston as the Cougars, who in two previous SWC games had scored 27 and 12 points in the second half, got only five this time. That provoked Texas Coach Abe Lemons to say of Houston Coach Guy Lewis, "He must have the worst halftime talk in the league." A&M's victories put it in position to sweep ahead in the SWC, but like the Razorbacks. the Aggies lost, 78-76 at SMU. With Arkansas and A&M having been defeated, Texas Tech had a shot at taking first place for its own. Tech began the week by beating TCU 99-75 and came back from an 11-point deficit to beat Baylor 80-76. Then Rice, winless in Lubbock since 1968, got 22 points from Elbert Darden and jolted Tech 62-56. Somebody had to be first, and it was Texas, which also beat Houston 75-57, and Tech, both 3-1.