What was the Louisville team doing in Washington, Pa.? Well, the Cardinals, who had just won 90-78 at West Virginia behind Darrell Griffith's 35 points, would have preferred being in Cincinnati, where they were to play the next day. But, the plane they were to have taken from Pittsburgh was grounded because of fog in Dayton, where the squad was to have landed. Hastily, the Cardinals arranged for a bus to whisk them to Cincy. But the bus whisked only as far as Washington before breaking down. There, during a two-hour delay for repairs, the players ate junk food and watched TV. Then the Cardinals hopped aboard their fixed-up vehicle—and it broke down again in Mount Sterling, Ohio, where the team bedded down in a motel. With the bus in working order again, the Cardinals made it to Cincinnati—21 hours behind schedule. There the weary players concluded an eight-day road trip by holding off the Bearcats 61-57 for their 17th victory in a row and the Metro Seven regular-season title. Louisville had begun the week with a 56-54 overtime win at Virginia Tech, thanks to a basket by Griffith with two seconds left.
There was some shuffling in the Big Eight standings, two-time losers Kansas State and Nebraska falling to second and third, respectively, while double-winner Missouri took a one-game lead. After an 83-68 triumph at Colorado, the Tigers beat Oklahoma State 93-81. In those games Curtis Berry tossed in 42 points and latched on to 23 rebounds.
Kansas State was toppled 48-46 by Kansas and 66-58 by Iowa State. The Wildcats blew a 12-point advantage against the Jay-hawks and lost when Booty Neal got a basket three seconds from the end. Since Coach Lynn Nance resigned three weeks ago, Iowa State has been guided by co-coaches Rick Samuels and Reggie Warford. "I think we are being discriminated against because we don't have a head coach," said Warford, complaining that too many fouls were being called on his team. But against Kansas State only 11 fouls were called on the Cyclones. And the Wildcats missed both their free throws, while Iowa State made 12 of 18. Samuels and Warford were delighted by the rejuvenated play of 6'11", 242-pound Dean Uthoff, a senior who had played well his first two seasons but only so-so since. Believing that Uthoff needed motivation, the coaches left a series of challenging notes for him before the Kansas State game. Uthoff, who said he felt like a caged tiger by game time, responded with 19 points, 11 rebounds and three assists.
Arkansas Guard Mike Young admits he is slow afoot. But he was quick enough to dart into the right corner, take a pass from U. S. Reed and score a basket that cut Texas A&M's lead to 44-43 with 1:22 to go. Reed had something to admit, too: he said he wasn't even touched by Rudy Woods of the Aggies when he drew a foul as he went up for a shot with four seconds to be played. Reed tied the game at 44—all by sinking one of two free throws and drew another controversial foul when A&M's Dave Goff fell on him while taking a desperation 45-foot shot. With no time on the clock Reed went to the foul line. After making the first of his two shots, Reed was engulfed by his teammates and never bothered with his second try. The Razorbacks' 45-44 triumph deadlocked them with A&M for the Southwest lead. Arkansas then squeezed past Rice 77-73 as Scott Hastings had 25 points and 16 rebounds. And the Aggies, with Vernon Smith netting 21 points and David Brit-ton 20, wiped out Texas 84-61.
Bradley sewed up the Missouri Valley title by handing Indiana State its worst home setback in seven years, 82-60. Mitchell Anderson continued to perform wondrous deeds for the Braves, sinking 16 of 22 field-goal attempts, scoring 32 points, grabbing nine rebounds and getting five assists.
1. LOUISVILLE (24-2)
2. MISSOURI (20-4)
3. TEXAS A&M (20-7)
George Raveling, the Washington State coach, has a reputation for delivering snappy one-liners. Speaking of Marv Harshman, his Washington counterpart, who is short on talented players, Raveling said, "I tried to find a Christmas present for him, but what do you give to the guy who has nothing?" Raveling's Cougars showed that they have something, shocking Pac-10 leader Oregon State 69-51. Firing Washington State's attack with 26 points was Don Collins, the conference's top scorer. Cougar Guard Bryan Rison, who had 20 points in that game, sank 23 of 25 free throws during an 81-66 drubbing of Oregon in which both he and Collins wound up with 31 points.
Arizona State was just half a game out of first place after beating Southern Cal 67-57. A hard-to-crack zone defense and 19 points and eight rebounds by Alton Lister were the Sun Devils' main assets.