Michigan State center Ken Johnson says he and his teammates learned a lesson last season when the Spartans bombed after being listed among the favorites to win the Big Ten title. "We learned that preseason ratings mean absolutely nothing," says Johnson, who had 36 points and 20 rebounds in victories over Ohio State (82-79) and Indiana (68-61), despite playing with a sprained right knee. No one expected the Spartans to contend for the conference title this season, yet the wins raised their overall record to 11-1, their best start since 1977-78.
Iowa, another favorite-turned-failure last season, ran its record to 13-2 with a 64-60 triumph over Illinois, this season's snakebitten preseason pick. It didn't even matter that Hawkeye coach George Raveling missed the game because of the flu. "George had the number of our dressing room and our halftime room," said Iowa assistant coach Brian Hammel, who handled the team. "But he didn't call even when we were behind at the half. Either he was satisfied or he was too sick to call." The defeat of the Illini and an earlier 75-63 beating of Purdue enabled the Hawkeyes to match their victory total of 1983-84.
After Nevada—Las Vegas's record-breaking 142-140 triple-overtime victory at Utah State, coach Jerry Tarkanian leaned on a table in the jubilant Runnin' Rebel locker room and managed a wan smile. "That was the most incredible game I've ever been involved with," he said. "This was the utmost in team victories because everybody had to contribute. Everybody."
Tark wasn't kidding. By the third extra period, six UNLV players had fouled out. leaving Tark with his last five available bodies. One of them, center Richard Robinson, teetered to the end with four fouls. The 282 total points surpassed the NCAA record established by UNLV—who else?—and Hawaii-Hilo in 1976, Vegas winning 164-111. This time five players scored 30 points or more—Utah State's Jeff Anderson (37), Vince Washington (36) and Greg Grant (31) and UNLV's Richie Adams (37) and Freddie Banks (31). Robinson's tap-in 54:19 into the game gave the Rebels the win.
Oregon State defeated Washington 52-45 in an early Pac-10 showdown in Seattle, and Beaver coach Ralph Miller, 65, won the latest in his long-running series of chess matches with fellow gray-beard, Husky coach Marv Harshman. While the 67-year-old Harshman wanted to force the ball inside to his tall and talented front line, Miller countered with a three-guard offense and made no substitutions, figuring to beat the Huskies with outside shooting and finesse. "We either had to adjust to them or them to us," said Miller, who replaced 6'7" Tyrone Miller in the starting lineup with 6'3" freshman Eric Knox. Knox responded by scoring 12 points, including four long jumpers in the first half to help the Beavers keep the Huskies in check. "They did a very good job of controlling the tempo," said Harshman. "Once they got ahead, that's their kind of game."
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