"Whatley took over the game as much as any player I've coached against in 10 years," said Southern Cat's Stan Morrison following a 74-61 loss to Alabama in the opening round of the Winston Tire Classic in Los Angeles. Crimson Tide Guard Ennis Whatley dazzled Morrison with his 20 points and six assists and his ability to take charge. Although Whatley had only nine points to go with his nine assists in the finale against Georgetown, he again was in command as 'Bama romped 94-73. With Whatley feeding him, Tide Forward Terry Williams put in 14 of 15 shots and ended up with 28 points.
Two years ago at the World University Games, Villanova's John Pinone met San Diego State Trainer Bob Moore. Last week, at the Cabrillo Classic in San Diego, Pinone saw Moore and asked for some medical advice. Pi-none's problem was a sore back, one that had been bothering him more and more during the past month. "He gave me some exercises to do and gave me a treatment," Pinone said. "It helped. The back feels better than it has in weeks." Pinone felt so good he scored 22 points, had eight rebounds and played solid defense as the Wildcats beat San Diego State 63-57 in the title game.
Wichita State Coach Gene Smithson had a problem: Where was he going to play Antoine Carr, his 6'9" All- Missouri Valley Conference forward, who had recuperated from a right shinbone stress fracture and was finally ready to take the floor for the Shockers? After all, Smithson's team had won five of its first six games this season without Carr. Well, Smithson got 26 minutes of playing time from Carr against Pacific. With him scoring 14 points and with Xavier McDaniel getting 21, the Shockers won 75-66.
Memphis State was having a tough time against Southern Mississippi, leading 13-12 with 11:42 left in the first half, when the Tigers went on a 16-4 tear. When it was all over, Memphis State had an 81-60 victory. Keith Lee's marksmanship—eight of 11 from the floor and 14 of 15 from the line—produced 30 points for the Tigers.
The oldest in-season tournament, the All-College in Oklahoma City, was held for the 47th time. Oklahoma State came out on top by beating Houston Baptist 50-39 and Oklahoma City 76-64 as Guard Matt Clark had a total of 37 points and 12 assists and was chosen the MVP for the second time in his career. Only one other player in the history of the All-College tournament—Bob Kurland of the Cowboys in 1945 and '46—had won the award twice.
"It's like being invited by the Indians to Custer's last stand," grumbled Grambling's 6'9" Napoleon Johnson. What the Tigers had been invited to was the first Hoosier Classic in Indianapolis. Indiana beat Grambling 110-62 and then got 19 points from Randy Wittman while stopping Nebraska 67-50.
By beating Columbia 86-53 and Western Kentucky 90-69, Georgia (9-0) won the Cotton States Classic in Atlanta. Tournament officials, who insisted that MVP ballots be turned in even though there was 12:40 to go in the finale, were chagrined when winner James Banks of the Bulldogs accepted the trophy and said, "It doesn't belong to me. I would like to present this trophy to my good friend and roommate, and the player who really deserves it—Vern Fleming." Fleming, who finished with a late flourish to lead all scorers with 23 points in the championship game, was subsequently declared the official MVP. However, he was still left off the all-tournament team.
But Southwestern Louisiana, Stetson and Jacksonville came up short in tournaments at or near home. The Ragin' Cajuns (9-1), who in the previous two weeks had won their own Bayou Classic and a similar event in Reno, were 65-56 losers to Mississippi State in the finale of the Sugar Bowl tournament in New Orleans. Stetson's Hatters (8-1) were beaten 61-60 by Purdue in the title game of the Tangerine Bowl tournament in Winter Park, Fla. During Florida's matchup against Jacksonville in the title game of the Gator Bowl tournament in Jacksonville, no one was more nervous than Sharon Sullivan, Gator Coach Norm Sloan's secretary. Sullivan was hoping she'd be able to unveil a surprise for her boss, and with 17 seconds left in what turned out to be a 56-47 Florida triumph, she got her wish as Gator players were handed orange T shirts bearing the words: I WAS PART OF COACH NORM SLOAN'S 500TH WIN.