Darrell Walker of Arkansas didn't live up to his surname, but the junior point guard did live up to his reputation. When Michigan pared a Razorback lead to 55-52, Walker scored six points in 26 seconds. After canning two foul shots, Walker put his whippetlike speed and leaping ability to use by stealing the ball, dunking it and then teaming with Brad Friess on another theft, which he again slammed home. With the Hogs dominating the inside, Walker pumping in 25 points and Scott Hastings adding 24 more, the Wolverines succumbed 83-72.
At Wichita State three freshmen excelled as the Shockers trounced Abilene Christian 93-55. Guard Aubrey Sherrod sank seven of nine field-goal attempts and had seven assists; Greg Dreiling, the 7'1" center, had 10 points and six rebounds in 14 minutes; and Forward Xavier McDaniel hit on all his shots—six from the field and two from the foul line—grabbed five rebounds and made three steals in 17 minutes. The stats on the returning bookend forwards, Antoine Carr and Cliff Levingston, made for good reading, too: Carr had 16 points and 10 rebounds, Levingston 14 points and seven rebounds.
Tulsa and Kansas State tuned up with easy victories. The Golden Hurricane beat U.S. International 89-62, while the Wildcats coasted past Northern Iowa 86-50.
Two coaches—Indiana's Bobby Knight (page 40) and Joe B. Hall of Kentucky—were far from pleased with opening-day victories. During a 71-64 win over Miami of Ohio, Knight got 24 points from Ted Kitchel, one of only two starters back from last season's national champions, and eight points and two blocked shots in 18 minutes from 7'2" freshman Uwe Blab. But Knight was dismayed by the way his Hoosiers frittered away leads against the Redskins, who trailed by only three with 17 seconds to go.
Hall gave his troops a chalk talk after they had beaten stubborn Akron 83-64. "I explained so many things I ran out of chalk," Hall said. Fortunately for Hall, he didn't run out of guards. After two Wildcat backcourt-men went to the bench—Jim Master with a hyperextended right elbow and Dirk Minniefield with foul trouble—Bo Lanter provided Kentucky with much-needed direction. Lanter, who went to Lexington without a scholarship, got eight points, four assists and a steal in the second half. Kentucky broke the game open in the final five minutes by out-scoring the Zips 16-9. Forward Derrick Hord, who got 12 of those 16 points, had 28 for the game.
In the week leading up to the season opener, South Florida Coach Lee Rose had his players wear T shirts that read: "65-63." That was the score by which Florida A&M had shocked the Bulls in Rose's first game at the helm of South Florida last season. Last week the biggest shock of the rematch was suffered by Maria Moon, who gamely belted out America the Beautiful while the South Florida band played the national anthem. But everything came up Rose in the game as the Bulls trampled the Rattlers 75-60. Second-half spurts marked victories by Alabama and Alabama-Birmingham. The Tide, which led New Hampshire 41-35 at halftime, took off from there and rolled to a 99-65 victory. Pitt trailed UAB by only four, 36-32, but was blown out in the final 20 minutes and wound up losing 78-62.
"I'm slow. If I ran the 100, they would have to have a calendar to time me," said Point Guard Kevin Stallings, a Purdue senior who averaged only 3.8 points a game last season. But in the 1981 opener against Tennessee he sank eight of nine field-goal tries, scored 18 points and had seven assists. That, plus 36 points from Keith Edmonson, was enough for an 82-68 win over the Vols. It was Tennessee's first defeat in a season opener since 1965.
Freshman Guard Tod Berkenpas put in eight of nine floor shots to carry Iowa past Northern Illinois 84-66. Notre Dame's 6'8" Cecil Rucker, who scored only 30 points as a freshman, got his sophomore year off to a rousing start with 22 points and 15 rebounds as the Irish drubbed St. Joseph's ( Ind.) 82-52. High-scoring Western Carolina swamped Methodist 103-69 and Averett 104-51.