"We've had a hard time shaking the image of having suntan lotion, oranges and a good time, but no tough competitors," said Florida coach Norm Sloan after the Gators whipped Kentucky 67-55 in Rupp Arena. "This ought to give confidence to the people supporting our program, because we did play tough and got the job done." Indeed, the Gators handed the Cats only their 13th loss in Rupp since it opened in 1976. Only a basket by Kenny Walker at the buzzer kept the final margin from matching the worst Kentucky defeat in that building—a 78-64 loss to Alabama in 1980.
Michigan nipped Iowa 69-67 in triple overtime to move into a first-place tie in the Big Ten with Illinois, and Wolverine coach Bill Frieder was understandably jubilant. "We deserved one like that," said Frieder, whose team had lost all five of its overtime games since defeating Ohio State in OT in 1982. Among those losses was a four-overtime marathon against the Illini last season.
Michigan center Roy Tarpley, who led both teams with 21 points and 14 rebounds, hit the game-winning bucket—a 12-foot left-side banker at the buzzer—after he rebounded teammate Antoine Joubert's missed jumper. "I can't describe what it feels like," said Tarpley. "Everyone picked me up, and I had to run out of the arena because I didn't want people to see me cry."
In October, when Ball State forward Dan Palombizio, a transfer from Purdue, posed with his new teammates for the Cardinals' 1984-85 press-guide photo, he wore No. 41 because his regular jersey number, 5, wasn't available. He's still listed as No. 5 on the numerical roster inside the guide, but he wore No. 30 for the Cards' first game against Washington. Palombizio scored 18 points (his season low) that night and has worn No. 30 ever since. But at week's end he was really No. 1. After pouring in 58 points in two Mid-American Conference games, the 6'8", 225-pound Palombizio was averaging 28.1 points per game, the best in the nation. "He's been super for us," says Ball State coach Al Brown, who in 1981 had unsuccessfully tried to recruit Palombizio, the state's Mr. Basketball, at Michigan City ( Ind.) Rogers High. "I'm not surprised that he's doing well. I'm just surprised that he's doing so much so quickly."
Palombizio started 25 games as a sophomore at Purdue in 1982-83, but he chafed at what he considered to be a minor offensive role assigned to him by Boilermaker coach Gene Keady. "At Purdue, [Keady] told me I'd never make it in the NBA," says Palombizio. "That's why I feel that I really have something to prove. That's why I'm always hungry. I want to prove him wrong."
"It's been a long time since I could smile after a road game," said DePaul coach Joey Meyer after the Blue Demons' 71-66 Super Sunday triumph at Notre Dame snapped a three-game losing streak on the road. "We really wanted this one. The team was starting to pull apart and confidence was eroding. The only thing that can build up confidence is a big win on the road." DePaul's Kenny Patterson took care of that by sinking four crucial free throws in the final 1:01.
Maryland coach Lefty Driesell was emphatic when asked if Nevada—Las Vegas, the scourge of the weak-sister PCAA, would fare as well in the rugged ACC. "They would do well," said Driesell, not surprisingly, after the Runnin' Rebels had ground out a 78-76 victory over the Terps. "I sure wouldn't want them in the ACC. So don't put any ideas in anyone's head." But UNLV's 11th-straight win didn't come easily. The Rebels nearly blew a 75-64 lead when Maryland clamped on a suffocating full-court press over the last 2:51. Still, to Vegas coach Jerry Tarkanian, any win is a good win. "We almost beat North Carolina State [in 1983] when it won the [national] championship," Tark said. "I didn't see [Wolfpack coach Jim] Valvano sending us half the trophy."
Earlier in the week Tark had won an even sweeter victory—in court. Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Paul Goldman ruled that the NCAA must pay Tarkanian $195,951 for the attorney fees he incurred during his eight-year legal battle with the association. "I'm really elated," Tarkanian said following the decision. "They [the NCAA] put me through all kinds of misery. It's only fair that I should get the attorney's fees paid. It just goes to show how bizarre my case was." Goldman was the judge who had ruled last June that the NCAA had violated Tarkanian's right of due process and acted as "lords of the manor" when in 1977 the association sought to force UNLV to suspend Tarkanian from his coaching job for two years. In last week's decision, Goldman said that if he had been able to award punitive damages, the NCAA would have been "shivering in their boots."