Aggie Coach Shelby Metcalf said the championship game against Davidson was "probably the best game we've played this year." Perhaps the Aggies are just getting used to life on the run. A&M will be at home for only nine of 27 games this season. "We love it—we get to play basketball and see the world at the same time," said 6'8" Forward Vernon Smith, who scored 40 points and pulled down 23 rebounds in the tournament.
St. Joseph's, which won seven games in overtime or in the last seconds a year ago, added a pair of heart-stoppers, beating Princeton 51-50 in OT and Cornell 42-39 in the final moments. The cardiac pace slowed slightly in a 45-40 win over Jacksonville.
Indiana suffered its second straight loss, 68-64 to Notre Dame in South Bend, as Irish Forward Kelly Tripucka scored 16 points. "I get pysched when I see an Indiana uniform," Tripucka said. The Hoosiers recovered to win the seventh annual Indiana Classic. Their 83-47 rout of Baylor marked IU's 14th straight victory in the tourney, and Landon Turner, who scored 23 points in the final, was the seventh straight Hoosier to win the MVP award. The real excitement came in the semifinal when Coach Bobby Knight was ejected from a game in Assembly Hall for the first time in his 10-year Indiana career. With three minutes remaining in what turned out to be a 94-58 win over California, Knight drew a technical foul—his second of the game—for not replacing an injured player within the required 30 seconds. After the substitution was made, Referee Bob Burson changed his mind and said the sub had come in on time, and the technical was withdrawn. That irritated Cal Coach Dick Kuchen, who earned a technical for himself. However, before any free throws were shot, Burson again changed his mind. He ruled the substitution hadn't been made in time, so Knight had his second technical again. Knight exploded, drawing his third technical, automatic ejection and a standing ovation from the crowd. Kuchen stood pat with one T.
Iowa Coach Lute Olson switched centers before a game with Nevada-Reno, inserting Steve Waite into the starting lineup for Steve Krafcisin because "when Big K starts, he tends to get into foul trouble early." Waite finished with 13 points, Krafcisin 10, and Iowa won 112-71. Mission accomplished. But when Olson used the same strategy against Drake, Waite picked up two fouls in the first three minutes. Enter Krafcisin, who scored 23 points with 17 rebounds in a 90-68 win. Iowa outrebounded the Bulldogs 66-30.
"Rankings don't mean anything, but if we beat Marquette we definitely belong," said Illinois Forward Eddie Johnson, who was covering himself, win or lose. Johnson then scored 18 points in the Illini's 69-68 win over the Warriors in Milwaukee. Craig Tucker's free throw with 56 seconds left broke a 68-all tie and Illinois held on; with 15 seconds left, Marquette's Oliver Lee missed a jump shot, and with four seconds to play Mark Smith stole the ball. Michigan moved into the SI Top 20 rankings by beating Akron 98-69, Kent State 97-72 and Dayton 85-84.
However, Nevada-Las Vegas Coach Jerry Tarkanian was just plain rankled after losing 87-73 to LSU in Baton Rouge. "I think eventually we're going to be a real good club, but we aren't now," he said. "LSU dismantled us every way there is." Durand Macklin led LSU with 25 points, and Howard Carter added 20. The Rebels lost their fight when Sidney Green fouled out with 17:41 remaining.
DePaul beat Northern Illinois 93-56, and Kentucky, college basketball's alltime winner, beat Kansas, third on the list, 87-73.
After Louisville finally won its first game of the season in four starts, 78-67 over Maryland, Forward Poncho Wright, poet laureate and team wit, tried to put things in perspective: "Everybody thought that 'Ville was ill/But we came out to play Maryland with intent to kill/We beat them convincingly to get over the hill/And now the 'Ville is headed for the Phil." (Philadelphia is the site of the NCAA finals.) Wright may have a point. The Cardinals broke a close game open with a 12-0 spurt early in the second half to take a 58-45 lead and control of the game. "They just got after us. They blocked a few shots, and maybe that intimidated us," said Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell. The Cardinals harassed Maryland into 36.8% shooting, including a 5-for-20 performance by Albert King. Louisville had 15 steals, five blocked shots and probably twice as many intimidations. "Maryland has a good team but they kind of walked into a booby trap," said Guard Jerry Eaves.