DePaul will remember Maine. But Maine will also remember the Blue Demons, particularly Mark Aguirre, who put on one of the finest displays ever seen in New England. Aguirre carried his team to an 85-77 triumph by sinking 19 of 26 field-goal tries and scoring a career-high 47 points. With Maine leading 30-27, Aguirre poured in 11 consecutive points to put DePaul ahead for keeps. Aguirre excelled despite two injuries—a sprained ankle he suffered the day before and a frightening headfirst crash onto the press table during the game.
Aside from wood-burning stoves, the hottest items in New England were the Connecticut Rams, now 10-0. En route to beating Syracuse for the first time since 1974, the Rams asked the question: How would they fare without their main man, Corny Thompson? The answer: just fine. With Thompson benched with four fouls, Connecticut upped its lead from eight points to 14. The Rams' 6'11" Chuck Aleksinas outdid like-sized Dan Schayes of the Orange, outrebounding him 10-6 and outscoring him 20-11 as he sank 15-footers and spinning layups. Following that 78-59 Big East victory, Connecticut beat Holy Cross 66-57 and Seton Hall 57-47.
Stop Ralph Sampson. That was the objective of two coaches, North Carolina State's Jim Valvano and North Carolina's Dean Smith. Valvano's plan was to force Sampson to shoot jumpers, shots the coach hoped would be missed by the Virginia center and rebounded by Valvano's own players. But Sampson hit three straight jump shots, scored 24 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and blocked four shots as the Cavaliers beat N.C. State 63-55. North Carolina led Virginia by seven with 8:30 left when Smith resorted to his four-corners offense. But a Cavalier rally was ignited by Lee Raker, who scored 16 second-half points, and by Othell Wilson, who canned four jumpers in a row. Sampson then tossed in six consecutive points to finish off the Tar Heels 63-57. All of which left Virginia in first place in the ACC with a 3-0 record.
Earlier, North Carolina had come from 12 points back to jolt visiting Maryland 74-66 as Al Wood pumped in 21 points. Ernest Graham of the Terps, who called the loss "a humiliation," helped Maryland defeat Duke 94-79 the next time out. Graham had 23 points and eight assists and held Gene Banks of the Blue Devils to just 11 points. Buck Williams also kept the Terps charged up, snaring 15 rebounds, scoring 24 points and rattling the rims with five in-your-face dunks.
After Wake Forest had beaten Appalachian State 63-42 and Clemson had stopped Georgia Tech 65-54, the two victors met. The Deacons, playing at home, led by 11 with 11 minutes to go, but Larry Nance, who scored 18 of his 31 points after the intermission, rallied the Tigers to a 67-66 lead with only 2:09 remaining. From there on, Guy Morgan took over, scoring Wake's final nine points—two on a go-ahead basket from the top of the key with 10 seconds left—for a 73-71 victory.
Notre Dame, which defeated Villanova by a point last year when Tracy Jackson heaved in a 40-foot desperation shot that just beat the buzzer, trimmed the Wildcats with ease this time around. The Irish stormed to a 40-27 halftime advantage and won 94-65.
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