In perhaps its finest effort in two months, Kentucky sank Vanderbilt 82-63. Junior Guard Jim Master led the 'Cats with 22 points, while freshman Kenny Walker was superb off the bench, scoring 16 points and getting 18 rebounds. "We were a great team in December," said Master, "and we're starting to get there again." Kentucky rattled the Commodores with a suffocating man-to-man defense, forcing eight first-half turnovers and limiting them to 19.4% first-half shooting. The Wildcats opened the week with a 73-61 win at Florida.
The day before Tennessee's game with Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Crimson Tide Guard Mike Davis picked up his boyhood friend. Volunteer Forward Dale Ellis, and took him for a spin around the campus. "We went to Ferguson Center [the student union] and shot pool," Davis said after the Tide's 90-78 win. "He won three of five games from me. I guess we can call it even after this game." Davis matched his friend with 22 points, and Bobby Lee Hurt burned the Vols for 28 points and 13 rebounds. Tennessee returned home to blast Florida 87-53.
Virginia Commonwealth won three games and moved into a first-place tie with Old Dominion in the Sun Belt Conference. The Rams, led by 6'3" Forward Freddie (Throw-Down) Brown's 19 points, won 68-61 at Jacksonville, then went home to whip Alabama-Birmingham 80-68 and Western Kentucky 60-47.
After North Carolina State upset North Carolina 70-63, N.C. State Coach Jim Valvano, talking with reporters, heard the post-game celebration outside the locker room and excused himself. "I've never seen a celebration after a State game." he said. "I'm going to see what it looks like."
For the first time since 1970, the Tar Heels saw what a three-game losing streak looked like. With State down 56-55 with 5:37 remaining, sophomore Guard Terry Gannon sandwiched a pair of three-point goals around two free throws by Sidney Lowe to give the Wolfpack a 63-56 lead, paving the way for the festivities. Maryland had earlier handed Carolina a 106-94 setback in College Park, thanks to Adrian Branch's 24 points.
Before his Sunday afternoon duel with Missouri's Steve Stipanovich in the New Jersey Meadowlands, Virginia's Ralph Sampson said, "I'm looking forward to playing him, seeing what four years have done to him. Hopefully, he wants to see what four years have done to me." Though Sampson had 21 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots in a 68-53 Cavalier victory before 15.767 at Brendan Byrne Arena, Stipanovich (27 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks) would no doubt like to see more of Sampson. The Cavs warmed up for their nationally televised showdown with a 92-69 thrashing of Georgia Tech in Charlottesville.
Villanova eased into first place in the Big East, holding off host Providence 64-58, thanks to four free throws from Stewart Granger and a pair from John Pinone in the final 1:28, and then beating Connecticut in Hartford 75-68 behind Dwayne McClain's 19 points and eight rebounds. After St. John's, which trails Villanova by a game, was blasted 92-75 by Boston College in New York, Coach Lou Carnesecca was philosophical. "You can't play 28 games and always come out with a masterpiece," he mused. But Point Guard Bob Kelly's performance in a 98-78 rout of Connecticut two nights later was almost a perfecto. He scored a career-high 20 points, had seven assists and seven steals and brought the crowd at St. John's Alumni Hall to its feet with his first dunk of the year. "I didn't know he was going to do it when he went for it," said Forward David (Skywalker) Russell. "It shocked me." Chris Mullin led the Redmen with 27 points and added 19 more in a 64-52 defeat of DePaul.
After whipping Connecticut 77-60, thanks to 15 points apiece from Patrick Ewing, David Wingate and Michael Jackson, Georgetown became the third Top 20 team in 19 days to lose in Pittsburgh. The Panthers upset the Hoyas 65-63, as Clyde Vaughan, the Big East's top scorer, got 16 of his 22 points in the second half. Syracuse moved into a third-place tie with Boston College in the Big East by ripping Seton Hall 96-68 and B.C. 108-88.