They're drinking tbe bubbly stuff in Champaign, Ill., after unbeaten University of Illinois blew past two ranked opponents this weekend to win the Kentucky Invitational basketball tournament.
The 15th-ranked Fighting Illini, who finished 13-14 last season, now own the best record (9-0) among major schools. Illinois handed eighth-ranked Syracuse its first loss of the season, 64-61, Friday and whipped No. 17 Texas A&M, 71-57, for the title Saturday.
The Illini, whose leading scorer averages 12 points per game, have remained unbeaten with a stingy defense that has limited the opposition to 32 percent from the floor-tops in the nation - and has given up only 58.5 points per game.
Derek Holcomb, 6-foot-11 center, playing his first season in Champaign after transferring from Indiana, led the Illini with 17 points against A&M and Neil Bresnahan pulled down 14 rebounds. The Aggies hit only 27 percent of their shots in the first half, going scoreless for six minutes at one point.
Three other Associated Press top-20 teams lost Saturday. No. 7 Kansas dropped its second straight, in an 81-69 setback to San Diego State; No. 12 Kentucky completed Syracuse's lost weekend by downing the Orange, 94-87, in the UKIT consolation; and Wisconsin ended a 15-game frustration streak against Marquette with a 65-52 upset victory over the 13th-ranked Warriors.
Forward Presnell Gilbert's 23-point, 10-rebound effort spurred host San Diego State over the Jayhawks. Steve Malovic added 18 for the Aztecs, who benefited from Kansas' 34 percent shooting. Jayhawk guard Darnell Valentine scored 18 points.
Sophomore center Chuck Aleksinas scored a career-high 20 points and freshman guard Dwight Anderson added 17 for the Wildcats. Kentucky led by 24 midway through the second half.
Wisconsin, now 6-1, scored 10 straight points late in the game to ice its victory and hand visiting Marquette its first loss of the season. Larry Petty led the Badgers with 15 points and held Odell Ball (14.9 ppg) to seven.
Third-ranked UCLA, 12th-ranked Louisville and No. 18 Nevada-Las Vegas all won.
The Bruins got 25 points from Brad Holland, who made 10 of 12 shots, and 20 more from back-court mate Roy Hamilton to roll past visiting Boston College, 103-81. Holland is now hitting 67 percent of his shots for the season.
Bobby Turner tallied 18 points and Larry Williams chipped in with 16 to lead Louisville to an 88-70 triumph over visiting Providence. The Cardinals outscored the Friars, 41-22, in the first 15 minutes of the second half to grab a 79-52 lead.
Tony Smith pumped in 26 points to lead UNLV to a 79-63 victory over Nebraska in the title game of the Rebel Roundup tournament at Las Vegas.
Maryland sophomore forward Albert King has stated he will try to score more this year and he proved it in Maryland's 128-103 romp over visiting Canisius. King had his second-best college scoring effort (24 points), grabbed 10 rebounds and handed off six assists to pace the Terps to their second straight 120-point-plus output.
Freshman forward Buck Williams canned all eight of his shots and pulled down a team-high 12 rebounds for Maryland; Ernest Graham added 18 points, and freshman guard Dutch Morley had nine assists and five steals.
The Terps (6-2) take on St. Joseph's Friday night in the first round of the Maryland Invitational at Cole Field House. The second game that night will pit Southern Cal., ranked No. 20, by AP, against Holy Cross, whose junior guard Ronnie Perry is the nation's second-leading scorer with a 30.8 average. The championship and consolation games will be played Saturday night.
American carries a six-game win streak into the Tangerine Bowl Tournament in Winter Park, Fla.The Eagles will face Stetson on Thursday. Virginia Military and Florida Tech complete the field.
Howard (5-2) travels to the Winston-Salem State Tournament Thursday. Joining the Bison, who play Morehouse, are the host school and High Point.
Navy (5-3) plays the host team in the Evansville (Ind.) tournament; Central Michigan and Arkansas State complete the pairings.
National tournaments of note include the Holiday Festival in New York City (No. 1 Duke, Ohio State, Rutgers and St. John's) and the Lousiville Holiday Classic which includes Louisville, Wisconsin, Oral Roberts and Mississippi State.
The Maryland women's team, ranked fourth in the nation, takes its 4-1 record into the classy Orange Bowl Classic in Miami Friday. Included are No. 3 UCLA, the defending national champion with a 27-game winning streak, fifth-raned Tennessee, No. 7 Delta State, 11th-ranked Penn State and No. 17 Mississippi.