The Howard University team, looking bored throughout, committed every basketball peccadillo in the book last night, but had no trouble cruising past winless Florida A&M, 64-51, in nonconference competition before 1,900 fans in Burr Gymnasium.
"It is the kind of game you want to have before you go home for Christmas," said Howard Coach A. B. Williamson. "The guys are thinking about flying out of here to go home and you could see the intensity wasn't there. We got a chance to play everyone and some of the regulars who hadn't been playing well got a chance to work on some things.
"I think the guys took a look at the size of Florida and felt they would have a cakewalk."
Williamson couldn't blame his charges for playing with a little emotion, especially after the Rattlers misfired badly on their first seven tries from the field. Darryl Spence's 20-footer finally put FAMU on the board at 16:10. Howard wasn't exactly setting the nets on fire in the first half, making only 11 of 26 field goal attempts. The Bison led only 26-24 at the half.
The Rattlers converted only 12 of 34 attempts from the floor in the first 20 minutes. Spence and Raymone Robertson, shooting mostly from beyond the Bison zone, had 10 and eight points respectively to keep FAMU close.
FAMU's fifth loss in five games were inevitable. The Rattlers, whose tallest man was 6-foot-6 were virtually helpless underneath when 6-10 James Terry, 6-8 James Ratiff, 6-8 Lawrence Norfleet and 6-7 Larry Spriggs decided to go inside.
After a layup by FAMU's, Paul Grady cut the deficit to 34-32, with 14:20 to play. Spriggs said Howard "got serious."
Bernard Perry hit two straight jumpers, Terry raced the length of the court for a dunk and Louis Wilson sank a pair of 20-footers over the next three minutes to send the Bison roaring out to a 44-32 lead.
Robertson (20 points) sank back-to-back jump shots from 18 feet but Howard was not about to let the Rattlers back into the game.
Spriggs began to get the ball inside and dropped in layups between FAMU misses and the Bison were well on the way to their sixth win in seven games.
A running one-hand slam dunk by Ratiff capped a Howard 14-4 spurt and gave the hosts a commanding 58-44 lead with three minutes remaining.
FAMU coach Josh Giles, hired only two months ago, said he was hardly discouraged at his team's dismal showing.
"We just don't have that much talent. But the kids play hard and don't quit," said Giles. "I didn't have any size at all when I came here and it was too late to recruit. I had to get one of the football players to come out (6-4, 220-pound Frank Grady) for some size inside."
Howard will be off until the Evansville Tournament Dec. 28 at Evansville, Ind.