When officials of the Suntory Ball round-robin in Tokyo learned that 7'4" Ralph Sampson, the beau of the Ball, had the flu and wouldn't play against Houston, they despaired—but not half as much as the Cougars themselves.
"Several of the players were so disappointed that Sampson didn't play that they suffered a real letdown," said Houston Coach Guy Lewis. "They thought they would win in a walk." Instead the Cavs, with 6'8" soph Jim Miller chipping in 14 points and five rebounds in Sampson's stead, waltzed past the Coogs 72-63. Othell Wilson and Ricky Stokes, the Cav's fireplug guards at six feet and 5'10", had 18 and 12 points, respectively. Wilson felt especially vindicated. "We heard that some of the Houston players were laughing because Ricky and I are so small and calling us Smurfs," he said. "We wanted to show them that we can play."
Houston's 6'6" forward, Clyde Drexler, held to a season-low seven points, was brought down a notch by the Smurfs' performance. "We had the opportunity to beat the Number One team," he said. "But we couldn't get motivated and I apologize."
Hapless Utah, whose coach, Jerry Pimm, said beforehand that stepping on the court with Virginia and Houston was like grappling with a pair of 500-pound sumo wrestlers, got squashed twice. The Cougars regained enough motivation to smash the Utes 82-57. Seven-foot Nigerian Akeem Abdul (Jelly Bean) Olajuwon, who had just eight points and seven rebounds against Virginia, burned Utah with a career-high 30 points, 18 rebounds and eight blocked shots. The following night, with Sampson returning to score 14 points, grab 17 rebounds and block five shots in 22 minutes, Virginia beat the Utes 80-57.
After Tulsa surprised North Carolina 84-74 in the first round of the Oil Capital Classic in Tulsa, Golden Hurricane Coach Nolan Richardson said that 6'10" Center Bruce Vanley "really put a show on." Vanley scored 23 points and had 11 rebounds—and got lots of help from Steve Harris (a career-high 26 points) and Ricky Ross (20 points) as Tulsa overcame a seven-point halftime deficit.
The next night Tulsa got 15 points and eight rebounds from Vanley, the tournament MVP, in a 63-56 win over co-host Oral Roberts to win the championship. In the consolation game, North Carolina, 4-3 on the season, took out some frustration against Pan American. The Tar Heels had four men in double figures, led by Sam Perkins' 20 points, and pounded the Broncos 106-50. There was little consolation for ORU Coach Ken Hayes, who was fired barely 20 minutes after the final. Assistant Coach Dick Acres, the father of ORU stars Jeff and Mark, replaces Hayes on an interim basis.
Memphis State's 64-58 defeat of Kansas in Lawrence was "as sweet as granulated sugar" to Tiger Coach Dana Kirk. The Tigers led the Jayhawks 41-24 at the half. But Kansas roared back to tie the game 48-48 on a pair of free throws by Kelly Knight. The Tigers regained the lead for good when Point Guard Andre Turner sank a foul shot with 4:51 to go; 1:39 later he fed Phillip Haynes for a score to make it 52-48 with 3:12 left.
Two years ago Oklahoma State beat Louisville on a last-second shot, and last week it looked like d�j� vu time. But after the Cards' Scooter McCray blocked Cowboy Matt Clark's layup with 10 seconds to go, McCray caught the ball and hung on until Louisville's 67-66 win was assured. The Cardinals had an easier time with South Alabama, whipping the Jags 94-77.