What could be more civilized than an evening of basketball between two squads of university scholars in short pants?

Almost anything, apparently. It's getting tougher all the time out there in the badlands of hoop.

"People who only see basketball games in Washington have no idea what it's all about," says George Washington coach Bob Tallent. "It seems like noting but fights and fouls on the road."

The Colonials think they have already suffered a season's worth of subtle cheating and overt intimidation.

"We were in the worst fistfight I ever saw at Connecticut," said Tallent. "Must have been 60 people came out of the year at Richmond, GW was outshot 30-10 at the foul lr cleared the court. My kids were scared to death."

Nevertheless, Tallent, who plays three freshmen extensively, called the fight three weeks ago, "a good learning experience for them. From now on we only fight at home."

GW has had to overcome more than fists.

In its first loss of the year at Richmond, GW was oushot 30-10 at the foul line. In its next defeat at St. Peter's, Tallent thought the officiating so gross that he admits he tried to bait the refs into a more even game. "They ousted me but quick," he said, recalling his first ejection. "I've got ot find the middle ground between baiting and begging."

On the road against Seton Hall the opponent's star center Glenn Mosely played almost the entire second half with four fouls. Still, GW had three shots to tie in the last five seconds. "They almost knocked one of our shooters cold," says Tallent. "No foul. I've come to believe it's the truth that you better win by 10 points on the road or forget it.

"If you let it go down to the wire," said Tallent, "nine times out of 10 it seems the refs or the crowd or the chemistry of the place will take the dadgone thing from you." GW has made 66 more baskets than eight opponents and has an advantage of 70 rebounds. Still, the Colonials are 4-4.

Meanwhile, Catholic University in eoght games (six on the road) has been outshot in free throw attempts by 101 (198 to 97). The Cardinals' most aggressive forward, Steve Dade, a freshman from Dunbar, has started every game and has been awarded one free throw.

CU keeps coming close, beating Hofstra from the floor and losing at the foul line. "It's terrible to say, but we've played well," says coach Jack Kvancz, looking at his team's 2-6 record. "How long can the kids keep giving blood without a W (win) to show for it? If they'll just hang on and stay at this level, we've got five or six almost automatic wins when we get home. We know how to return a favor."

Perhaps American University's Carroll Holmes knows about life on the road better than anyone. Last week Bucknell's John Call-away knocked Holmes unconscious, sending him to the hospital overnight with a concussion, from an elbow to the face as they jostled near midcourt.

Holmes, the combative Boy-Named-Sue type, did nothing to warrant the attack, according to angered AU coach Jim Lynam, who has picked apart the game film. "Callaway is lucky he did knock Carroll out," says Lynam. "If he'd stayed conscious, I know who'd be in the hospital."