The rowdydow Big Ten, where title hopes are often as fragile as a dollar watch, won't begin its conference schedule until Jan. 2, but Ohio State is busy establishing itself as the team to beat. The rangy Buckeyes eased past Butler 99-66, then polished off St. Louis 81-74 for their fifth straight. Talented Sophomore Jerry Lucas gave away two inches to St. Louis' 6-foot 10-inch Bob Nordmann and beat him off the boards while scoring 30 points. Lucas had help from Popshooter Larry Siegfried, who fed him with uncanny lobs and added 22 points of his own, mostly from outside.
Meanwhile, unbeaten Iowa and Illinois kept winning while defending champion Michigan State rested on its 2-0 record. But Indiana, the preseason favorite, was shocked by Missouri 79-76. The Tigers, beefed up offensively by Joe Scott's 31 points, put a defensive lock on Indiana's big Walt Bellamy and held him to six points before he fouled out early in the second half. A severe tongue-lashing by Hoosier Coach Branch McCracken worked and Indiana came back to beat Ohio U. 80-68. This time Bellamy scored 24 points.
Hardly pausing to ponder its loss to Ohio State, St. Louis turned on touring Kentucky and beat the Wildcats 73-61. Coach John Benington's cutting, driving St. Louis offense piled up the points and Kentucky's Adolph Rupp just didn't have anyone big enough or tough enough to handle the Billikens' Nordmann underneath the boards.
Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati's Big 0, oblivious to double-and triple-teaming defenses, continued to score at an almost superhuman rate. He got 36 as the Bearcats drubbed Miami of Ohio 89-58 and added 48 more in a 123-79 rout of St Joseph's, a highly respected team back East.
Notre Dame, working smoothly around double-postmen John Tully and Mike Graney, ran off three straight over Wisconsin 78-58 (see above), Northwestern 93-88 in double overtime and Air Force 67-52. Detroit, a dark horse among midwestern independents, turned loose brilliant Sophomores Charlie North and Dave DeBusschere and trounced both Iona (85-67 in New York) and Purdue (84-63 at home).
The surprising Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech were still feeling no pain, though more celebrated Southeastern Conference brothers were nursing bruises. Tech, picked up by Roger Kaiser's adept sharp-shooting, buzzed serenely past Alabama 69-53 and South Carolina 70-64. Even Coach John (Whack) Hyder was becoming impressed.
With little regard for convention, Louisiana Tech took the Mississippi State Maroons 71-62 to end their 18-game winning streak. Tech used a tight zone to tie up State, and Jackie Moreland did the rest.
Kentucky lost its second game, and Vanderbilt ran into big trouble in Texas, losing to SMU 86-67. Auburn, another SEC contender, barely shuffled by Florida State 62-58.