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Even though its star center, Cliff Robinson, was out with an ailing foot, Southern Cal knocked off Arizona 70-67 and Arizona State 75-59 to remain two games behind UCLA in the Pac 10. Oregon State bumped Washington State from third place, 66-52, as Steve Johnson had 23 points. And then the Beavers floored Washington 75-69.
"I think we'll be walking into a couple of wars," said Coach Gary Colson as he readied Pepperdine for a trip to Portland and Seattle. The Waves started off by gunning down the Pilots 78-69, with Ollie Matson on target for 18 points. That was the seventh defeat in the last 11 games for Portland, which began the season 13-0. With San Francisco having lost 87-83 at Nevada-Reno, Pepper-dine thus moved a game ahead of the Dons in the West Coast AC. At Seattle, however, the Waves ran out of ammunition and lost 91-79. Leading the Chieftains to victory were Clint Richardson with 16 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists; Keith Harrell with 20 points; and Carl Ervin with 19. San Francisco's Bill Cartwright, who had scored 28 points in the loss at Reno, got 31 as the Dons walloped St. Mary's 104-69 to move back into a tie for first with Pepperdine. The two leaders clash this Friday at USF.
Utah entered its showdown for the Western AC lead at Brigham Young without two regulars; Danny Vranes was suffering from a concussion and Earl Williams from a broken foot. Thus, the Cougars had little trouble whipping the Utes 76-50.
Weber State clinched at least a tie for the Big Sky championship, polishing off Idaho 56-45 and Gonzaga 73-66. Northern Arizona got 52 points and 23 rebounds from Mark Stevens while cruising past Gonzaga 84-65 and Idaho 82-69. Riddling the nets once again was Idaho State's Lawrence Butler, the nation's top scorer. For the seventh time in his last eight games, Butler had 30 or more points, getting exactly that as the Bengals mowed down Montana State 89-83. Butler then had 26 points in a 78-77 overtime decision over Montana.
A shot in the head might well have given Marquette a shot in the arm. Bernard Toone of the Warriors became angered when LeRoy Stampley of Loyola of Chicago clung to his arm after being called for a foul, so he smacked Stampley in the face with the ball. Toone was hit with a technical, but the aroused Warriors quickly pumped in 10 points in 1:54 and won 75-63. Marquette also disposed of Stetson 86-78.
"Larry, Curly and Mo could have done a better job of making up the SEC schedule," complained LSU Coach Dale Brown after his team's second three-games-in-six-days road trip of the season. Nevertheless, Brown had the last laugh as the Tigers completed a sweep of their latest junket by rallying from 12 points down in the last 17 minutes to beat Auburn 78-68. Substitute Jordy Hultberg, who sank eight straight field goals and scored 20 points against Auburn, came off the bench to pop in 15 points as LSU beat Mississippi 67-62 at home. DeWayne Scales added 24 points for the Tigers to help offset a 31-point spree by John Stroud, Ole Miss' conference scoring leader.
Vanderbilt's Mike Rhodes outscored Alabama's Reggie King 32-29 in the Commodores' 65-57 triumph. Georgia then jarred Vanderbilt 63-60 as Walter Daniels scored 26 points while holding Rhodes to seven. And Alabama, after blowing a 16-point second-half edge, throttled Auburn 80-73 behind King's 26 points and 18 rebounds. All of which left LSU in first place, two games in front of Vanderbilt and 2� ahead of the Crimson Tide.