After knocking off independent Marquette 77-70, Memphis State took command in the Metro Conference by beating Virginia Tech 83-78. The youthful Tigers got 24 points and nine rebounds from 6'10" freshman Center Keith Lee.
Evansville was another team on the move. The Purple Aces, who lead the Midwestern City Conference, ran their record to 15-3 with two decisive victories, 86-69 over Detroit and 80-47 over Butler.
Tulsa connected on 13 of 18 second-half shots, held West Texas State to one field goal during the final 11:32 and came from nine points back to win 68-61. A 59-45 lead was almost not enough for the Golden Hurricane against New Mexico State, which pulled to within two points before losing 76-72. The two wins left Tulsa tied for the Missouri Valley Conference lead with Bradley, which beat Illinois State 72-58 and then lost 47-42 at Wichita State.
When Virginia's Ralph Sampson was introduced by the P.A. announcer at Duke, many fans feigned disinterest by reading newspapers. That little ploy didn't bother the big man, who put on another RSVP-Ralph Sampson Versatile Performance. Sampson gave those spectators something to really read about by scoring 17 of his 23 points in the second half, taking down 11 rebounds and blocking two shots as the Cavaliers won 77-65. Earlier in the week Tim Mullen, a freshman forward who had scored a total of only four points in his previous two games, got 21 to carry Virginia to another road victory, 69-66 at Wake Forest. Jim Johnstone kept the Deacons in contention all the way by scoring 19 points and limiting Sampson to 10.
Solid second-half efforts kept North Carolina half a game ahead of Virginia in the ACC race. Clemson employed a torrid fast break to lead 54-45 with 9:56 to go at Chapel Hill before succumbing 77-72. Jimmy Black (21 points and 10 assists) and Matt Doherty (21 points) rallied the Tar Heels. Visiting North Carolina State, down by only 29-27 at the intermission, was harassed into 13 second-half turnovers and lost to North Carolina 58-44. James Worthy tossed in 23 points for the Tar Heels.
Sampson wasn't the only newsmaker in Virginia. With Guard Helen Malone getting 17 points and 6'8" Center Anne Donovan scoring 16 and adding 12 blocked shots, Old Dominion's women overcame a 10-point deficit to upset Louisiana Tech 61-58. The Lady Techsters had won a women's major-college record 54 consecutive games.
The coaches of Pittsburgh and West Virginia agreed on one thing: The performance by each of their teams stank. "It probably set basketball back 10 years," Roy Chipman of the Panthers said of a 48-45 loss to West Virginia in which his team was guilty of 20 turnovers and shot a tepid 24.6%. "The first half was the worst half I've ever had a team play." said the Mountaineers' Gale Catlett, who is in his 10th season of coaching. Despite 22 turnovers and 38.6% shooting. West Virginia established a school record with its 15th consecutive victory. No. 14 was no lark, either. The visiting Mountaineers trailed Massachusetts 29-23 at halftime before winning 72-60. Guard Greg Jones, who finished with 22 points, led the West Virginia comeback. On Sunday the Mountaineers, playing on their home floor, extended their streak to 16 by defeating South Alabama 65-59. Holy Cross stunned Connecticut 76-69 as Guard Kevin Greaney scored 17 points and Forward Darren Maloney came off the bench to get 16.
"This was a win we needed, a win under pressure," DePaul Coach Ray Meyer said after his Blue Demons had defeated Syracuse 92-87. The Orangemen got 29 points from Tony Bruin and led 67-66 with eight minutes to go, but then Skip Dillard scored a layup off a loose ball to put DePaul ahead for keeps. Dillard wound up with 28 points, and teammate Terry Cummings, who played the whole second half with four fouls, had 22 points and seven rebounds.
Georgetown, which had dropped three games in a row, chalked up two impressive wins against Big East opponents. The Hoyas romped over Villanova 72-56 behind a total of 35 points by Eric Floyd and Eric Smith. In a Sunday matchup. Georgetown breezed past St. John's for the second time in four weeks, coming out on top 63-46. As for Villanova, the Wildcats split a pair of Philadelphia Big Five games, clobbering LaSalle 117-82 and then being routed by St. Joseph's 84-64.