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After Illinois ripped Oklahoma 81-64 the Hall of Fame Tip-off Classic in Springfield, Mass. on Nov. 18, there seemed to be no way the Sooners would turn the tables in Saturday's rematch in Champaign. But after the Illini rallied to defeat the Sooners 73-70, Illinois coach Lou Henson sounded like a guy who'd wound up on the short end of a rout. "If I just saw the stats," he said, "I'd say Oklahoma won by 12 or 14 points."
The Illini, who were outshot from the field 50.0% to 38.9% and outrebounded 41-38, prevailed because they again held Wayman Tisdale in check. Tisdale scored 19 in the Tip-off, and though he had 22 points this time, he worked hard for them, thanks to man-to-man coverage by George Montgomery and Efrem Winters and assistance from teammates who sloughed off onto Tisdale. Winters also tipped away an inbounds pass by the Sooners' Tim McCalister to seal the win with 31 seconds left.
With eight seconds to go before half-time in Kansas's 86-64 victory over Detroit, Jayhawk coach Larry Brown was slapped with a pair of technical fouls—one for stepping over (unwittingly, he said) the boundary line of the new 28-foot coach's box and the other for walking onto the floor to protest the first T. "I wasn't yelling at [the referees]," said Brown about the initial technical. "I was talking to a player. I thought I should have gotten a warning. That coach's box is going to be a problem for a few guys."
It doesn't pay to lose the season-opener when you play for Bob Knight. But if you do, as the Hoosiers did, says Indiana's Steve Alford, "don't ever lose when you go into a week of practice without a game." Right. Ohio U. was Indiana's second-game victim, losing 90-73. For his first time at Indiana, Alford was assigned to guard the opposition's most dangerous scorer and held the Bobcats' Robert Tatum to 13 points.
Another Olympian, Arkansas center Joe Kleine, was brilliant in the Razorbacks' 85-84 defeat at Ohio State. He scored 31 points, including 14 within 2:40 that gave the Hogs an 80-77 lead with 3:36 left. But the Buckeyes pulled off the upset when Dennis Hopson got his only two points of the game with a pair of free throws at 0:57.
Stepping to the foul line with 31 seconds left and his team leading Oral Roberts by one point, LSU guard Don Redden winked at color commentator Jordy Hultberg in the TV booth. "He was our free-throw shooting coach when I was a freshman," Redden explained later. "He told me to do something half decent in the clutch." Redden obliged by sinking the pair of foul shots that iced the Bengals' 74-71 victory. Freshmen John Williams and Jose Vargas sparkled in LSU's 102-96 defeat of Loyola of Chicago. Williams scored 22 points and had 12 rebounds, while Vargas, a native of the Dominican Republic, got 21 and 10.
After St. John's dunked its way to a 93-47 rout of Lafayette in the opening round of the Lapchick Memorial tournament, Redmen coach Lou Carnesecca had some words of caution for those St. John's faithful who were anxious to make reservations for the Final Four in Lexington, Ky. "It's only one game," he said. "I don't want to be like a balloon and go all the way up and then all the way down." In the second half the Redmen made like the Flying Wallendas, throwing down eight dunks, including a spectacular two-handed slam off a fast break by 6'8" sophomore Walter Berry, who made his long-awaited major-college debut.
But in the Lapchick championship game against St. Bonaventure, the Redmen nearly went bust. The Bonnies' sticky 2-3 zone slowed the speedy Redmen to a walk and they cut a 58-51 deficit with 1:26 to play to 58-57 by hitting both ends of three straight one-and-one free-throw situations. "This game brings us down to earth," said Chris Mullin, who scored 39 points in the tournament and was named the Lapchick MVP for the fourth straight year. "We're not indestructible and superhuman." St. Bonaventure had reached the final by whipping hapless St. Francis of New York and its new coach, Bobby Valvano, 73-59.
Meanwhile, Bobby's older brother Jim had an easier time in guiding North Carolina State to a 93-70 win over UC Santa Barbara. Six-eleven freshman center Chris Washburn scored 16 points and had seven rebounds for the Wolfpack in his first collegiate start.