"The worst team I ever had," grumbled Kentucky's proud Adolph Rupp. And The Baron had good reason for his disgust. He had just watched Georgia Tech tame his Wildcats 65-44. The eager Yellow Jackets, seeking their first Southeastern Conference title since 1938, forced Kentucky into its poorest shooting performance of the season (16.3%) with a harrying half-court press, received an added bonus when little Bobby Dews held the Wildcats' Bennie Coffman to one point. Sophomore Roger Kaiser produced 24 points, and Dave Denton, who had been nabbed for ticket scalping before the game (he later was fined $1 by a sympathetic judge), got 18 and dazzled the confused Wildcats with his dribbling.
Kentucky bounced back to whip Georgia 84-60 and Florida 75-62, but the Wildcats will need plenty of help from other teams if they are to catch Georgia Tech, which added to its conference lead by beating Alabama 60-48. Auburn edged Vanderbilt 55-54, was still hopeful.
After 56 straight conference victories, West Virginia finally lost to a Southern Conference rival and tumbled into second place behind Virginia Tech. Inspired William & Mary couldn't stop magnificent Jerry West, who scored 42 points before fouling out with five minutes to go, but matched him with husky, 6-foot-7-inch Jeff Cohen, who got 34 points and picked off 20 rebounds, upset the Mountaineers 94-86 at Norfolk. The Indians solved West Virginia's zone press, fed Cohen and Bev Vaughan, who did the rest.
North Carolina State ditched its slowdown game, returned to the fast break to beat Clemson 90-69. Duke climbed over South Carolina 79-65 and into second place in the Atlantic Coast. Meanwhile, league leader North Carolina was delighted by the news that Doug Moe, last year's sophomore star, was eligible again. The top three:
1. GEORGIA TECH (16-2)
2. WEST VIRGINIA (16-2)
3. NORTH CAROLINA (9-3)
Ohio State continues to dominate the Big Ten. Michigan State tried all the defensive tricks it knew against the bustling Buckeyes, was disappointed at every turn, went down gasping 111-79. Jerry Lucas led the assault with 25 points, had help from fellow sophomores John Havlicek (20 points) and Mel Nowell (15 points), prompting Michigan State's Forddy Anderson to marvel: "There's too many of them."
What life was left in the Big Ten was concentrated in Minnesota. Getting the hang of former Minneapolis Laker Coach Johnny Kundla's pro-style offense, the Gophers took only 47 shots, made 34 for a new conference record of 72%, walloped Iowa 87-72 to move into second place. Hottest Gopher was Ray Cronk, 6-foot 6-inch skin-and-bones sophomore, who scored 21 points. Even Kundla was surprised: "I'm stunned by the way we shot. We don't take many shots, just play for the good ones. And we don't play fuddy-duddy basketball, either." At week's end, Minnesota was still taking the good shots, beat Wisconsin 86-72.
Dayton and Toledo played host to two of the South's better teams, sent Virginia Tech and Wake Forest back home wondering why they bothered to make the trip. Dayton, pushing for an NIT bid behind the scoring of Garry Roggenburk and Stan Greenberg, ended Tech's eight-game winning streak 77-59, outhustled Wake Forest 62-45. Toledo found its guests more troublesome, was forced into overtime to beat Virginia Tech 48-46, then outscored Wake Forest 70-63.