Teams that serve as the hosts for all those holiday "classics" often win the tournaments, but it was nine years between wins for co-host Oregon State in its backyard event, the Far West Classic. The Beavers reached the finals by drubbing Idaho 100-59 as Ray Blume set a Classic record with 11 assists, and then whipping Brigham Young 86-71 as MVP Steve Johnson hit on 17 of 19 field-goal tries and had 38 points. That set up a showdown with unbeaten Clemson, which had defeated Texas Tech 79-68 and North Carolina-Charlotte 85-65. Oregon State made good on 15 of 22 second-half shots and, after forging a 65-65 tie, sealed a 72-67 victory by converting seven free throws in the last 43 seconds.
Four other host teams did not fare as well. New Mexico had to settle for second place in its Lobo Invitational after losing to Utah State 117-83. Brian Jackson of the Aggies, who scored 50 points in two games, was the MVP. But the top scorer, with 57 points, was one of the the nation's highest-scoring sophomores, New Mexico's Kenny Page.
Cutting down the nets after the Las Vegas Holiday Classic were Weber State's Wildcats, who earned that honor with some clutch shooting. After blowing a 14-point lead against Michigan State in the opening round, the Wildcats pulled out a 63-61 win when Bruce Collins' layup barely beat the final buzzer. In the finals, Weber State got a basket from Richard Smith with six seconds left to defeat Nevada-Las Vegas 79-78.
Eight days after its football team won the Holiday Bowl in San Diego, Indiana's basketball squad took the Cabrillo Classic there. And the Hoosiers did it without leading scorer Mike Woodson, who underwent surgery for a ruptured disc, and two other players, including starting Guard Randy Wittman, who were on crutches. Indiana, however, did have Isiah Thomas, a superb freshman. With the score 68-68 in a first-round game against Tennessee, Thomas drove from midcourt and put in a decisive underhanded layup with one second remaining. Opposing the Hoosiers in the title game was Brown, which had beaten San Diego State 71-64. MVP Thomas, who had 20 points in the Hoosiers' first outing, had 11 points, six rebounds and five assists as Indiana beat the Bruins 61-52.
Hawaii was one of two surprise teams at its Rainbow Classic. The Rainbows rallied from 16 points back in the second half to knock off Nevada-Reno 105-101 in overtime in the first round as Thomas Louden hit on 13 of 14 shots. Hawaii then made it to the finals by beating Nebraska 67-55. It was there that Illinois, the other unexpected finalist, put an end to Hawaii's hopes 94-82. In earlier games, the Fighting Illini defeated Army 75-48 and Louisville 77-64.
UCLA opened its Pac-10 schedule with two lopsided victories. After walloping California 73-59, the Bruins beat Stanford 92-60.
1. OREGON STATE (11-1)
2. UCLA (7-2)
3. BRIGHAM YOUNG (9-3)
Last Thursday, Oklahoma freshman Guard Bo Overton awoke and found that the tires had been stolen off his car. That night Overton stole the show against Western Michigan during the first round of the granddaddy of all in-season tournaments, Oklahoma City's 44-year-old All-College. Overton hit his final seven field-goal attempts and had a team-high 16 points as the Sooners defeated the Broncos 72-60. Overton wasn't the whole show for Oklahoma; the Sooners set a school record with .653 marksmanship in that game and duplicated that figure the next time out while beating Wyoming 70-56. Terry Stotts led Oklahoma against the Cowboys by making all 10 of his shots and scoring 22 points. In the title game, Oklahoma shot .635 and got 24 points and 10 rebounds from Steve Bajema to beat Louisiana Tech 80-70.