They haven't named a candy bar after him and he hasn't been asked to run for the presidency, but Reggie Carter provided St. John's with some tasty treats and led the Redmen out of a possible depression. By popping in 15 of his 17 points in the second half against St. Joseph's (Pa.), Carter spearheaded a 72-55 victory. He was even hotter in vital Big East contests at Boston College and Georgetown. With Carter twice coming through with three-point plays, and Ron Plair stealing the ball with eight seconds left, St. John's got past the Eagles 66-63. Another three-point effort by Carter overcame the Hoyas 71-69. Carter pulled off that maneuver when he jumped, double-pumped in heavy traffic, swished a 10-footer with five seconds remaining, drew a foul and made the free throw. Carter had 21 points for the Red-men, who had fallen behind 11-0.
North Carolina and Duke also averted losses. After building a 44-33 lead over Georgia Tech, the Tar Heels played sluggishly. Tech scored eight straight points to narrow the gap. With six seconds left, Tech made it 54-53 on Lenny Horton's layup. When Carolina could not inbound the ball in the allotted five seconds, the Yellow Jackets got possession. Horton took the game's final shot, one that rimmed the basket and slithered out. Against North Carolina State, the Tar Heels were down 29-13. Then, becoming more aggressive on defense and more accurate on offense, North Carolina went on a 14-0 scoring spree and won 67-64 despite 28 points by State's Hawkeye Whitney. Pulling North Carolina through were three players: James Worthy with 13 points, 10 rebounds and three assists; Mike O'Koren with 14 points and five assists; and Al Wood with 15 points.
Duke, too, clamped down on North Carolina State, holding the Wolfpack without a single point or offensive rebound for 11 minutes in the early going. With Gene Banks picking up 18 rebounds and 16 points and with a zone defense keeping State off balance, the Blue Devils were 67-56 winners. Wake Forest gave Duke a tougher time. The Blue Devils were down 66-60, but wound up on top 67-66 with the aid of two in-close shots by Mike Gminski, who scored 27 points. Duke, though, might have lost had it not been for Forward Jim Suddath, who took over for injured Kenny Dennard. Suddath ruined the Demon Deacons' try for a last-ditch shot by stealing the ball in the last seven seconds, the 11th theft by the Blue Devils.
Maryland forced its way into the Atlantic Coast lead in midweek when Albert King netted 26 points and Greg Manning put in a shot with two seconds to go to topple Clemson 84-83. On Sunday at Chapel Hill the Terps got 28 points from King and beat North Carolina 92-86.
Virginia was an 88-68 loser at Clemson, where Ralph Sampson played only 14 minutes before fouling out. John Campbell had 23 points and 18 rebounds for the Tigers, who broke the game open by scoring on nine of 10 trips downcourt early in the second half.
1. ST. JOHN'S (14-1)
2. SYRACUSE (14-1)
3. DUKE (14-2)
"It was pure Hollywood," Coach Digger Phelps of Notre Dame said after an improbable finish against Villanova. The Wildcats came from 18 points back in the last 12 minutes to go in front 69-68 with three seconds left, but the Irish pulled it out when Tracy Jackson's prayerball shot sailed 33 feet and into the net at the buzzer.
There was another Hollywood finish when Syracuse played at Old Dominion. Most of the contest was like a Class D Western. The Orangemen led 63-50. Then, over a five-minute stretch, the Monarchs used a full-court press, a tactic that helped produce 16 consecutive points for them and eight turnovers for Syracuse. Back came the Orangemen to take a 67-66 lead with 15 seconds left. Old Dominion brought the ball upcourt and shot. Miss. Another shot. Another miss. Finally, Bobby Vaughan tipped in the ball at the buzzer and the Monarchs rode off with a 68-67 victory. Ronnie McAdoo had 21 points and Ronnie Valentine 20 for the Monarchs as Syracuse suffered its first loss.