Memphis State had just beaten stubborn North Texas State 80-63 after leading the Mean Green by only three with 15:55 to play, and the Tigers' Keith Lee, who finished with 24 points despite having been held to six in the first half, had one thing on his mind. "I want to get back to Memphis and get ready for Louisville," he said. "If we had messed this up it wouldn't have been a very good warmup for our biggest game of the year."
Memphis may have been warm, but Louisville was red hot. The Cardinals clinched their fifth Metro Conference title in eight years with a 75-66 victory over the Tigers. Led by Center Charles Jones, who had a career-high 24 points to go with nine rebounds, the Cardinals outshot Memphis State 57.5%-40.4%, outrebounded the Tigers 33-25 and made 21 of 22 free throws.
Houston didn't smash visiting Texas by the margin (50 points) the Longhorn football team routed the Cougars last November, but Houston's 106-63 rout was "too easy for us," said Houston Forward Benny Anders. The Coogs had a tougher time in Lubbock, beating struggling Texas Tech 84-75. Second-place Arkansas stayed a game in back of Houston in the Southwest Conference race by beating SMU 71-61 in Fayetteville and TCU 64-56 at Fort Worth.
Front-runners Missouri and Oklahoma both split Big Eight Conference games. Mizzou got 21 points from Forward Greg Cavener in a 74-69 victory over lowly Kansas, but Oklahoma State upset the Tigers 79-73 as Cowboy Forward Charles Williams scored eight points in the final 46 seconds. Oklahoma earned its second one-point victory of the season over Oklahoma State, 64-63, on a 20-foot jumper by David Little with two seconds left. The Sooners then lost 55-53 at Kansas, when freshman Calvin Thompson hit four free throws in the last 54 seconds.
Illinois State snapped its three-game losing streak, beating Indiana State in Terre Haute 79-64. The Redbirds, however, remained two games behind Wichita State in the Missouri Valley Conference race. The first-place Shockers, who got 31 points from Antoine Carr in an 80-65 victory over Drake, also won at Tulsa for the first time since 1978, edging the Golden Hurricane 84-81.
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