When Evansville traveled to Kansas, the Purple Aces envisioned a date with destiny. Hot on a nine-game win streak, 10-1 Evansville felt a victory over the Jayhawks might gain it a national ranking. "Some people think we're the best team in Indiana right now," said Coach Dick Walters, "but people outside the state haven't heard of us. They'll notice if we beat Kansas." They should notice, even if the Purple Aces were 72-65 overtime losers. They never trailed until the overtime, when the Jayhawks' David Magley, who had 25 points and went 11 for 11 from the line, ignited an 11-2 burst to put the game out of reach. Evansville bounced back three nights later with an 82-52 defeat of Xavier in the teams' Midwestern City Conference opener. The Aces' Richie (Magic) Johnson had 20 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals.
In another memorable game at a Big Eight gym, Arkansas edged Nebraska 51-50 by forcing 23 turnovers, eight more than the Cornhuskers' previous high this season. The Razorbacks, led by Scott Hastings' 18 points, shot 61.5%. Ed Nealy's 890th rebound, a Kansas State career record, highlighted a 67-57 win over Western Illinois. While beating Marquette 70-65, the Wildcats made 13 consecutive field goals.
Texas ran its record to 9-0 with a bruising 55-50 defeat of Texas Tech. In the feature matchup, Longhorn Center LaSalle Thompson outmuscled Tech's powerful Clarence Swannegan with 17 rebounds and 14 points. "Our guys got a little tired, especially LaSalle," said Texas Coach Abe Lemons. "He has to play 40 minutes because we don't have another big guy—and he still hasn't recovered from Christmas." Fortunately, Thompson hasn't had to face Southwest Conference co-leader Houston, whose Akeem Olajuwon, a 7-footer, had four stuffs in a 78-68 win over Tech.
After beating Creighton 80-55 in a Missouri Valley Conference opener, Tulsa took its eight-game winning streak to New Mexico State and was upset 74-66. The Aggies held Golden Hurricane scoring leader Greg Stewart to 11 points, while converting 20 of 23 free throws and getting double-figure performances from Jaime Pena, Steve Colter and Ernest Patterson.
Bradley shocked Wichita State 55-47 in Peoria. Mitchell Anderson had a game-high 17 points and Donald Reese anchored a zone defense that held the Shockers to 22 field goals and 35% accuracy from the floor. Thanks to David Thirdkill, Bradley then avoided an upset by beating Indiana State 79-77 in double OT. Thirdkill, who had missed two free throws with the score tied at 63 and three seconds left in regulation play, sank a game-winning two-point basket with six seconds left in the second extra period.
After announcing that he'd retire at the end of this season to become the assistant to the school's athletic director, Arizona Coach Fred Snowden acted anything but retiring in a game with Washington State. Charged with three technicals and ejected in the last second of play, Snowden almost single-handedly created a weird finish in which Cougar Guard Tyrone Brown got to shoot eight free throws with one tick left on the clock. He made five, and Washington State, which had trailed 53-51 with 13 seconds left, won 59-53.
In all, it was a lost week for Arizona schools. In addition to losing to Washington State, the Wildcats fell 60-57 in overtime to Washington and 68-55 to Oregon State, and Arizona State went down to its fourth and fifth straight defeats, 53-43 to the Cougars and 47-46 to the Huskies. Idaho, relying on a near-perfect stall and Gordie Herbert's career-high 23 points, whipped Northern Arizona 59-46 in Flagstaff. The 13-0 Vandals also played at Nevada-Reno and won 72-66 in double overtime. Idaho's Brian Kellerman, the Big Sky Conference's Most Valuable Player last season, put the game into its first overtime period with a 22-foot jumper and hit two clutch free throws with 2:08 left in the second. "It looked like we were on the road a week instead of a couple of days," said Coach Don Monson.
Pac-10 co-leader Oregon State seems to have a home-court advantage even on the road. At California 500 Beaver fans made more noise than 6,000 Bear fans, and for good reason. In a 74-43 romp, OSU forced 26 turnovers, and Les Conner, who scored 23 points, shut out Cal Guard Michael Chavez. UCLA lost to Washington 56-50 and USC 86-71. The surprising Huskies, 4-0 in the conference, got nine points from Steve Burks in the last 1:21 against the Bruins. Benefiting from extra free-throw practice taken in preparation for the UCLA game, the Trojans were 22 of 28 from the line. Has the NCAA probation left the Bruins, who played unaggressively in both losses, dispirited? Coach Larry Farmer thought not. "We've got character," he said. "We want to win. The probation should not keep them from playing hard and winning." But sixth man Darren Daye disagreed. "I think the probation is really bothering us," he said. "We get behind and we don't come back the way we did last year." The 6-5 Bruins have lost all three of their Pac-10 games.
Another slumping power, BYU, was upset 50-40 by Colorado State the day 6'8" Forward Steve Trumbo, the Cougars' second-leading scorer and top rebounder, was suspended, reportedly for failing to meet BYU's own standard of "progress toward graduation," though by NCAA and WAC standards he was still eligible. After a successful appeal the following day, the suspension was lifted and Trumbo was available for Saturday's game with WAC leader Wyoming. No matter: BYU lost 61-42.