It is going to take more than mere strategy to beat Duke in the ACC. South Carolina tried to do it with ball control and a zone defense, and all it got for its trouble was a 95-63 pasting. Sophomore Guards Ron Herbster and Denny Ferguson swarmed all over the Gamecocks, and Art Heyman shot over them for 28 points. Maryland was even less troublesome. Heyman got 32 points, Jeff Mullins put in 21, and Duke won 92-56. North Carolina and Wake Forest took conference victories, too. The Tar Heels beat Clemson 64-48 and South Carolina 75-65; Wake Forest trimmed North Carolina State 66-58.
While Kentucky was off to a slow start, there was no noticeable shortage of contenders in the SEC. If anything, there was an abundance. Mississippi State overwhelmed Arkansas A&M 90-55, Louisiana Tech 80-61 and Northeast Louisiana 79-56. Auburn shuffled deftly past Howard 69-50 and Florida State 65-47, while Georgia Tech, sporting a new double-pivot, surprised Furman 80-79 and SMU 73-56. Even Tennessee, playing new Coach Ray Mears's crowding defense and disciplined offense for all they were worth, looked good enough to give the favorites trouble. The Vols turned up with two sharp shots in Danny Schultz and A. L. Davis and beat Rice 75-52 and Xavier 63-48.
The Southern Conference race was already down to two teams—West Virginia, which outscored VMI 100-74 before heading for its comeuppance at Columbus, and Virginia Tech's Gobblers, who survived some unexpected resistance to beat Richmond 76-68 and William and Mary 77-71 in overtime.
Coach Ed Diddle, who has sent many a towel soaring in his 41 years at Western Kentucky, had good reason to joyously engage in his hobby last week when his team flattened Texas Wesleyan 101-66 for Diddle's 750th coaching victory. The top three:
1. DUKE (3-0)
2. MISSISSIPPI STATE (3-0)
3. WEST VIRGINIA (2-1)
There is no place like home in the Southwest. Rice, TCU, Baylor, SMU, Texas A&M and Texas Tech were all battered on the road. Only Texas and Arkansas survived. The tall and sprightly Longhorns ran over East Texas 71-38 and beat Tulane 81-72. Arkansas held off Kansas 64-62 in overtime and beat Missouri 70-61.
Houston blew an early lead but scrambled back on the shooting of big Lyle Harger (20 points) and little Chet Oliver to squeeze past Nebraska 68-61, then overcame Baylor 70-61. Arizona State beat Whittier 94-63, Fresno State 89-61 and Pepperdine 83-71. But Arizona grabbed the biggest prize. The Wildcats got in front of Wisconsin, and then stalled their way to a 51-46 upset victory. The top three:
1. HOUSTON (3-0)
2. ARIZONA STATE (3-0)
3. TEXAS (3-0)