"Going into the last nine games [of the regular season] I decided I wanted to assert myself," said Virginia's Ralph Sampson after he asserted himself by scoring 30 points, 25 in the first half, and grabbing 12 rebounds in the Cavaliers' 89-75 win over Wake Forest. Sampson got only 10 points in the Cav's subsequent game with Duke in Charlottesville, but his offense was hardly missed. Led by Tim Mullen's career-high 23 points, including five three-pointers, the Cavs routed the too-young Blue Devils 105-84.
The recent play of 7'2" Uwe Blab, Indiana's Teutonic Tower, had made his face almost as red as his hair. "Coach [Bobby] Knight told me to be more aggressive," Blab said after he scored 12 points and brought down 12 rebounds but missed two successive dunks in an 83-73 victory over Wisconsin. "I usually don't even take the dunk shot when I've got the chance," Blab said. "I never take a dunk shot and I'm 7'2". That's embarrassing." But two days later, in the Hoosiers' showdown with Minnesota for first place in the Big Ten, Blab unleashed his blitzkrieg. With the Gophers leading 14-6, Blab reeled off 11 straight points, triggering a 26-5 Hoosier spurt that put them on top 32-19. Blab finished with 15 points and Ted Kitchel added 20 as Indiana rolled 76-51.
Earlier, Minnesota had edged momentarily into first place with an 89-80 double-overtime win at Ohio State. Sophomore Guard Tommy Davis scored half his 22 points in the two overtimes to spark the Gophers. Iowa lost a pair of road games just short of the wire, falling 62-61 at Illinois, when Steve Carfino's 18-footer with 10 seconds left fell short, and 60-57 at Purdue, when Boilermaker Steve Reid hit a three-point shot with one second left to play.
Georgia Coach Hugh Durham was concerned that his Bulldogs' upset victory over Kentucky in Athens two weeks earlier would leave his team flat against Vanderbilt. "You can't afford to celebrate too long in this league anymore," Durham said, "because the next team you play is just as tough as the last one." He needn't have worried about the game with the Commodores; Georgia raced to a 23-9 lead early in the first half and buried Vandy 86-61. But his words proved prophetic: Louisiana State, getting 66.0% shooting from the field and 23 points from Howard (Hi-C) Carter, surprised the Dogs 70-59. The loss dropped Georgia into a six-way logjam for the SEC lead with Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Auburn, Tennessee and Kentucky. The Wildcats lost 65-63 to the Vols in Knoxville, despite getting a career-high 42 points from Melvin Turpin. "I rested all day Sunday and all day today [Monday] and just pushed myself harder than I ever have, and it still wasn't enough," Turpin said later. The Wildcats had enough left to beat Alabama 76-70 in Lexington. Turpin scored 16 points, including a three-point play with 20 seconds left to secure the victory.
Tennessee Coach Don DeVoe wore a lucky red necktie in the Vols' victory over Kentucky and repeated the ritual in a subsequent 65-53 win over Ole Miss. "And I'll wear it again as long as we win," DeVoe vows. Of course, everyone knows how quickly styles change in the SEC these days.
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