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While UCLA was resuming its accustomed position atop the whole of basketball, two Pacific Eight opponents were readying themselves for what always has been the conference race for second place. Southern Cal journeyed to New York to polish off Seton Hall 79-68 and Fordham 70-60 in Madison Square Garden. Oregon, on the strength of having played more games, took over the conference lead with a come-from-behind 67-61 win over Oregon State. Fouls helped the Duck cause by limiting the playing time of the Beavers' 6'8" Lonnie Shelton to nine minutes and 6'11" Steve Ericksen to 11.
Texas disposed of Rice 82-71 and Texas Tech downed Texas A&M 63-61 early in the week to raise the Longhorns" and Red Raiders' conference records to 3-0 and set up their battle for first place in the Southwest Conference. Surprise of the league after winning only one of a dozen nonconference games, Texas made it a fight on the strength of Larry Robinson's 38 points, his career high (and six more than he scored against Rice). Tech won, though, 85-81 thanks to a couple of reserves: Steve Trncak, who hit a pair of free throws to put Tech ahead 82-81 with 36 seconds remaining, and Phil Bailey, who 20 seconds later assured the victory with a layup.
Texas-El Paso took over first place in the Western Athletic Conference with a 5-2 league mark after beating Colorado State 53-52 and Wyoming 68-38. With four seconds left State's Rudy Carey collided with the Miners' Beto Bautista as Carey was going for the potential winning basket. While both men wore guilty expressions, the referee gave the foul to Carey—and the game to UTEP. "Beto's quite an actor," said CSU's Coach Jim Williams. Arizona State moved into second place at 4-2 by snapping a 13-game home winning streak for Utah, scoring 16 straight first-half points on the way to an 82-74 victory. Two days before, the Sun Devils had converted only 12 of 46 second-half field-goal attempts in losing to Brigham Young 89-71. New Mexico, which had lost three straight, showed renewed vigor by beating conference foes Wyoming 91-68 and Colorado State 54-49.
Long Beach State, still smarting over its narrow loss to Marquette, thrashed UC Irvine 82-58 and Northern Illinois 106-71. Guard Rick Aberegg had nine assists in an eight-minute span for the 49ers during the second half against UC Irvine, then came back with a school-record 15 as Long Beach made NIU its 71st consecutive home-court victim. Houston continued its domination of Nevada-Las Vegas, beating the favored Rebels, 75-72, for the sixth straight time. With 22 points in the first half and 27 overall, the Cougars' Louis Dunbar had the largest hand in ending the Rebels' modest home-court winning streak at eight. Hawaii lost its first home game of the season 86-85 to St. Mary's, but came back the next night to stop the Gaels 89-68.
Excitement was high last week in Chapel Hill, where North Carolina's Tar Heels took on their ACC archrivals, N.C. State and Maryland. Five freshman women headed a line of students that started lining up 26 hours early in 20� weather to obtain choice tickets to the State game. One even brought her TV set so as not to miss "my favorite soap operas." Unfortunately, the anticipation far outshone the event. State led by as many as 11 points in the first half and when the Tar Heels finally narrowed the margin to two with 50 seconds left, 5'5�" Wolfpack Guard Monte Towe settled the outcome with a broken-field dribbling display that ate up 39 seconds before North Carolina could foul. The 83-80 win was Coach Norm Sloan's sixth in a row over the Tar Heels. North Carolina, which has never lost two consecutive games played in Carmichael Auditorium, showed its heels to Maryland's Terrapins there later in the week. Maryland had prepped for the shootout by downing Canisius 86-73 as Tom Roy virtually shut out the Golden Griffins' Larry Fogle, the nation's leading scorer, holding him to five for 18 from the field before fouling out late in the game. But none of the Terrapins could stop 6'4" Tar Heel Guard Darrell Elston, who had scored 23 points against State and then sparked North Carolina's 82-73 win over Maryland by hitting his first nine shots from the floor. North Carolina bombed Maryland with 18 baskets shot from 15 feet or more.
Alabama and Vanderbilt continued to set the pace in the SEC. The Tide had a rough time with Kentucky, trailing by 11 points in the first half before pulling out an 81-77 victory. Sophomore Center Leon Douglas scored 24 points and pulled down 11 rebounds for Alabama. After that, Alabama relaxed, easing past Georgia Tech 102-83 and Georgia 86-71. In a breach of etiquette, Coach C. M. Newton even admitted that his team did not practice for Tech. Vanderbilt also won twice by comfortable margins, although it had a scare. Led by the corner shooting of Jeff Fosnes (20 points) and Jan van Breda Kolff (18) and the keyhole work of Terry Compton (19), the Commodores scored an emphatic 82-65 win over Tennessee on the Vols' home floor. But the team was concerned over van Breda Kolff, who complained of a shortness of breath after the game and the next day found himself getting winded "just walking." Doctors diagnosed a partially collapsed lung. The Commodores worried the rest of the week whether their star center would be able to play against Mississippi on Saturday. Much ado about nothing. With van Breda Kolff scoring six of his team's first 12 points, Vandy led almost the entire way and won handily 71-56.
Coach Hugh Durham of Florida State can be excused if he felt a certain sense of almost-instant replay in the final 10 seconds of the game against Jacksonville. Last week against South Florida, Seminole Guard Carlton Byrd missed the front half of a one-and-one situation with his team leading by two points and just nine seconds left. South Florida tied the game and won by a point in overtime. This week there were 10 seconds left and another two-point margin when Byrd got his one-and-one opportunity. He responded this time by making both for a 78-74 win. Durham rushed onto the court and kissed him.