It was about over in the Big Five after California took on USC and UCLA, polished both off with its usual deadly efficiency. USC, Cal's only conqueror, mauled the Bears badly for a half, but the Trojans didn't have a chance once Darrall Imhoff and Bill McClintock took over the boards. They succumbed meekly 57-46. Against second-place UCLA, cautious Cal squeezed the ball as tightly as ever, refused to let up when the Bruins' Johnny Berberich moved to a high post in an attempt to draw Imhoff (who pushed in 16 points, snared 21 rebounds) away from the basket, put down the challengers 53-45 for its seventh league win. However, UCLA, now 5-2, gets another shot at California Saturday in Los Angeles.
Santa Clara muffled a startled St. Mary's in a tight press to win 74-48 and gain a share of the West Coast lead. But the Broncs choked on their own medicine later, lost to San Francisco's leechlike defense 44-38 and handed first place back to idle St. Mary's.
Skyline leader Utah State showed signs of faltering against Brigham Young, then began to run and whipped the Cougars 75-64. Utah kept pace by trouncing Montana 92-76. Idaho State beat Colorado State twice 77-66, 80-57, ran its winning streak to 14 to stay ahead in the Rocky Mountain Conference. The top three:
1. CALIFORNIA (19-1)
2. UTAH STATE (18-2)
3. UTAH (18-2)
All season long the question has been, who will take the Southwest Conference race, Texas A&M or SMU? Now suddenly, Texas had brusquely shouldered its way into contention—and on SMU's home court, at that. The resourceful Longhorns took full advantage of Albert Almanza's 20 points to surprise the Mustangs 69-65, tie them for second place.
Meanwhile, Texas A&M, with scoring help from brilliant Carroll Broussard (who netted 49 points in two games) and Wilmer Cox, beat Arkansas 77-68, pummeled Rice 94-53 to stand alone at the top. But the Aggies still had Texas to face Tuesday night in Austin. New Mexico State continued to lead the Border Conference, despite a loss to Hardin-Simmons 68-66. The top three:
1. TEXAS A&M (16-2)
2. TEXAS (13-5)
3. SMU (13-5)