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Surprise No. 1: Forward Cliff Windham of Alabama, who had started every game this season, was on the bench when Tennessee came to Tuscaloosa. He was there because Tide Coach Wimp Sanderson opted for a three-guard starting lineup. Surprise No. 2: Windham, who was averaging 7.4 points and 3.7 rebounds, came off the bench and in just 15 minutes had 15 points, six rebounds, two assists and a steal. Windham was at his best in overtime, scoring seven points as 'Bama defeated the Vols 77-72. The loss was the first for Tennessee in the SEC and reduced its lead over second-place Alabama to one game. Both teams had won squeakers earlier in the week. The Crimson Tide bumped off Auburn 67-65 and Tennessee got by Georgia 66-64. Dale Ellis of the Vols scored his team's last eight points, the final two on a game-deciding dunk with 22 seconds left.
A zone defense enabled Mississippi State to upset visiting Kentucky 56-51 and break its 17-game. two-season SEC losing streak. Three blocked shots and two late steals by 6'9" Center Kalpatrick Wells helped the Bulldogs come out on top. So did 16 points by Jeff Malone and 15 by Butch Pierre. The Wildcats, though, made themselves right at home in Lexington against Louisiana State and Georgia. With 6'11" Center Mel Turpin getting 20 points and nine rebounds, Kentucky beat LSU 76-65. The Wildcats then defeated Georgia 82-73 as Derrick Hord scored 21 points, Dirk Minniefield 20 and Jim Master 19.
"We scrapped our low-post offense because we wanted to involve everyone," Minnesota Coach Jim Dutcher said after a 69-62 victory at Indiana. "We knew they would sag back on [7'3"] Randy [Breuer], and that's when we wanted to back-door them." Back door, front door, the Gophers came from every direction. Breuer scored all 15 of his points in the first half, after which Minnesota turned to deadly outside shooting and also drilled in 14 of 15 free throws. Darryl Mitchell had 18 points for the Gophers in that game, and Trent Tucker scored 18 as they pulled away from Northwestern in the second half to win 61-53.
Iowa clung to a one-game lead over Minnesota in the Big Ten, although Center Michael Payne was unable to play because of a sprained right foot. Following a 57-56 win at Michigan State, the Hawkeyes defeated Ohio State 76-66 at home. With a second injury victim, Forward Kevin Boyle, hampered by a badly sprained left wrist and scoring only five points, Iowa needed a boost from its healthy starters. And they delivered. Guard Kenny Arnold scored 14 points. Steve Carfino, the other backcourt regular, made five key steals. And Forward Mark Gannon, whom Coach Lute Olson didn't let accompany the Hawkeyes on a tour of South America last summer because he had missed a practice, returned to full favor with 19 points, six rebounds, four assists and nary a turnover. He also held high-scoring Clark Kellogg to five points after the intermission and 17 overall.
With Idaho and Maine coming to town, Coach Digger Phelps declared it Potato Week at Notre Dame. For a while against the Vandals the Irish seemed to be suffering a famine of sorts, as Idaho hit 14 of its first 15 shots and led 36-26 at the half. But the Vandals, who hadn't arrived in South Bend until 4 a.m. that day because of travel difficulties, went into a slowdown and became as cold as yesterday's French fries. Idaho scored only 10 points in the second half and two in overtime en route to a 50-48 loss. Freshman Guard Ron Rowan, who sank three foul shots in OT, led Notre Dame with 17 points. After that the Irish mashed Maine 79-55 but lost to Marquette 70-62.
Perhaps the happiest players anywhere were those from VMI. By beating Appalachian State 67-62 in overtime in a Southern Conference contest, the Keydets ended their losing streak at 23.
We have one of the smallest teams in the conference." said Baylor Coach Jim Haller, "and Texas came in here ranked as the No. 4 rebounding team in the nation, but we outrebounded them by 20 [48-28]. Can you believe that?" It was hard to believe. And so was the fact that the Bears knocked Texas from the unbeaten ranks by a score of 69-59. Those who did the most to hook the Horns were Terry Teagle, who had 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Ozell Hall, who got 20 and 15. What may well cost Texas more dearly than the defeat is the loss of 6'9" Forward Mike Wacker, who had been averaging 16.3 points and 9.9 rebounds. With 8:20 left in the first half he tore up his left knee so badly—fractured and dislocated kneecap and torn ligaments—that he might not be ready for the start of next season. Back home, the Long-horns lost again when Claude Riley sank a 12-foot jumper with five seconds to play in overtime to give Texas A&M a 71-69 win. The Aggies, who had been converting only 65% of their free throws, hit 81% (17 of 21) of them at Austin.
A&M did in the Horns, but a horn may have done in the Aggies when Arkansas came to College Station. Rudy Woods, whose free throw had just given A&M a 63-62 lead with seven seconds remaining, had his arm cocked to try another free throw when—honk!—the timekeeper inadvertently touched off the scoreboard horn. The startled Woods shot awkwardly and missed. Carey Kelly of the Razorbacks grabbed the rebound and shoveled it to Darrell Walker, who dribbled up-court and sank a 20-foot jumper at the buzzer for a 64-63 Arkansas victory. Behind 49-34 before beginning a resurgence, Arkansas had pulled even at 62-all when Walker, who finished with a team-high 23 points, converted a steal into a layup. A 60-54 triumph over Rice three nights later left the Razorbacks a half game in front of A&M and Texas in the Southwest Conference. Arkansas fans would have been in Hog heaven if a last-gasp shot had gone in on Sunday against Wake Forest. But that final try missed and the Deacons hung on for a 49-48 triumph despite 24 points by Walker. Jim Johnstone was the keyman on the Deacons' stingy defense, allowing Scott Hastings of the Razorbacks to score only six points.