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For the University of Nevada, Las Vegas the journey to the top of the college basketball charts has been a bumpy one. Although the Rebels ran their overall record to 18-0, the only unblemished mark in the country, and 8-0 in the Pacific Coast Athletic Association, they continued to do it the hard way. Last week was typical as they rallied from a double figure deficit on the road for the fourth time. Most recently it was at Long Beach State, where the Rebels overcame a 68-57 deficit with 6:27 to play to beat the 49ers 78-74. "I thought we'd lost it," said UNLV Coach Jerry Tarkanian afterward, "But it happened. This is simply incredible."
Tark could have been describing the play of Sid Green, the Rebels' 6'9" senior center. Green scored 32 points, one off his career high, and had 17 rebounds against the 49ers before fouling out with 2:07 to go. "The way he played, he's going to make a million dollars," said Tarkanian. In the Rebels' 77-73 victory at UC-Santa Barbara, Green got 18 points and 12 rebounds as he helped wipe out a 48-38 Gaucho lead with 15:56 left. Green and Larry Anderson, who led UNLV with 20 points, offset a fine performance by UCSB's York Gross, who scored a game-high 27 points and had 10 rebounds.
The game between Alabama and UCLA last Friday night in Pauley Pavilion was preceded by a moment of silence in memory of Paul (Bear) Bryant, who was buried in Birmingham earlier that day. And the 12,574 fans in Pauley remained subdued for much of the first 29:41 as the Tide rolled to a 55-39 lead behind Bobby Lee Hurt (23 points), Ennis Whatley (20) and freshman Buck Johnson (15). But the Bruins roared back to tie the score 67-67 on a short jumper by Michael Holton with :35 left. Alas, someone should have alerted Rod Foster. With Alabama apparently playing for a final shot. The Rocket, who thought UCLA was down a point, intentionally fouled 'Bama's Mike Davis, who sank both foul shots. Johnson added another free throw eight seconds later to cap the Tide's 70-67 upset. The Bruins rebounded on Sunday to beat Notre Dame 59-53, as Darren Daye scored 16 points.
Greg Stokes, Iowa's 6'11" center, has often been castigated by Hawkeye Coach Lute Olson for not playing with sufficient fire under the boards. Indeed, when Stokes had just three rebounds to go with his 24 points in an 89-83 double-overtime loss to Ohio State, Olson made it plain that it was time his leading scorer stopped being a spectator underneath. So in Iowa's 63-48 thrashing of Big Ten leader Indiana, Stokes was a terror, getting 12 rebounds along with a game-high 23 points.
Did Olson change Stokes's rebounding mechanics? "Well, no," Stokes said afterward. "He told me that he thought he was giving me too much mechanical advice, so during practice he just told me, 'I want you to go for the ball and get it.' " While he was doing that, the Iowa defense held Hoosier forwards Randy Wittman and Ted Kitchel to 10 and 13 points, respectively. Wittman and Kitchel, 1-2 in the Big Ten scoring race when the week began, combined for 54 points in the Hoosiers' 78-73 victory over Northwestern in Chicago. With Indiana's loss to Iowa, Minnesota, which defeated Wisconsin 63-58 in Madison, moved into a first-place tie with the Hoosiers.
Five teams—Georgia, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Auburn and Vanderbilt—have a piece of first place in the Southeastern Conference. Georgia seized a share by upsetting Kentucky 70-63 in Athens, snapping a 12-game losing streak against the Wildcats. The Bulldogs out-scored Kentucky 19-2 in a 6½-minute stretch in the second half to break open a close game. Bulldog Guard Vern Fleming scored 13 of his team-high 17 points in the second half. Terry Fair had 14 points, 10 rebounds and six of Georgia's 11 steals.
Auburn dropped an 80-77 decision to Tennessee in Knoxville, but came back to edge LSU in Baton Rouge 64-62. Charles Barkley, who had missed three of his previous four free throws in the game, made two with 14 seconds left to ensure victory for the Tigers. Tennessee's Dale Ellis, who scored 26 points in the Vols' win over Auburn, had 30 more against visiting Vanderbilt, but two free throws by Phil Cox, who led Vandy with 21 points, iced the Commodores' win. "We couldn't have picked a worse man to foul," said Vol Coach Don DeVoe, who obviously reads the stat sheets: Cox has hit 75 of 81 from the line this season for a percentage of .926.