Ralph Sampson of Virginia and Sam Perkins of North Carolina had something to prove to themselves and their coaches Thursday night. Both succeeded.
Sampson, involved in several elbow-swinging incidents Wednesday in a 102-85 victory over Richmond, was almost benched for the final of the Richmond Times-Dispatch Tournament because Coach Terry Holland was upset with his 7-foot-4 center's on-court behavior. But, after a talk with Holland Thursday afternoon, Sampson played brilliantly (21 points, 15 rebounds, seven blocked shots) and cleanly, leading the Cavaliers to a 75-59 victory over Old Dominion (4-1).
"I was really teed off by what happened Wednesday," Holland said. "That's why I considered benching him. I sat him down and talked to him about keeping his cool. He put on a really fine performance."
The fourth-ranked Cavaliers (10-1) now appear to have righted themselves after their humiliating loss to Chaminade in Hawaii and get a much-needed rest before playing Maryland Jan. 8.
Perkins was thoroughly outplayed on Nov. 27 by Missouri's Steve Stipanovich when the Tigers beat North Carolina, 68-64. Thursday, in the championship game of the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu, Perkins got even, scoring 24 points to lead the Tar Heels (8-3) to a 73-58 victory. Missouri, ranked No. 12, is 9-2.
Dean Smith, Carolina's coach, loves to tell people that playing a team twice in the same season is difficult because if you have beaten them once your opponents have "a psychological advantage" the second time around. Usually, Smith brings this up when his team is playing a team it has beaten already.
Thursday, the psyche factor obviously worked in Smith's favor. His team has won five straight games since its shaky start.
Virginia's victory was one of several for local teams. Most impressive was George Mason (6-2), which defeated a good East Carolina team, 69-68, on John Niehoff's two free throws with five seconds left. Carlos Yates scored 20 points for the Patriots.
George Washington rebounded from its Wednesday loss to Iona to defeat Davidson, 68-50, in the consolation game of the Shawmut-Worcester County Classic in Massachusetts. The Colonials (5-3) had 20 points from Troy Webster and 18 from center Mike Brown.
Michael Britt of UDC scored 23 points to win MVP honors in the Porreco Cup Tournament in Erie, Pa., as his team beat Gannon, 60-58. The Firebirds (10-2) led by as many as 10 in the second half but had to hold on at the foul line in the last minute to win.
The only local loser was American (6-3), which was beaten in the championship game of the Cable Car Classic by Santa Clara, 90-72. The Eagles never got their press or their fast break working, and the Broncos shot 71 percent from the field. The poor performance came after Coach Ed Tapscott held a game-day practice to work on his team's defense, with which he was upset the night before in a 76-65 victory over UNC-Charlotte.
Unranked Santa Clara (10-3) has lost only to Louisville, North Carolina and Southern California.
Nationally, top-ranked Indiana and No. 2 ranked Memphis State remained undefeated. The Hoosiers (10-0) beat Nebraska, 67-50, in the championship game of the Hoosier Classic, while the Tigers (9-0) struggled to a 63-58 victory against an improved Mississippi team. Randy Wittman, in his fifth season as a Hoosier, scored 19 points for his team.
Oklahoma's Waymon Tisdale, a player coveted last year by Georgetown Coach John Thompson, scored 44 points as the Sooners beat Hawaii, 96-65, in the third-place game of the Rainbow Classic. Tisdale, who had 39 points in an earlier game, has helped make the Sooners (9-3) cofavorites with Missouri in the Big Eight race.
Two other ranked teams played Thursday, both in the Cabrillo Classic in San Diego. Sixteenth-ranked Villanova, coming back from a slow start, defeated San Diego State, 63-57, to raise its record to 8-2. In the consolation game, 19th-ranked Tulsa (5-3) lost its second straight, to Florida State (4-5), 96-80.
And Jeff Bullis, who sat out his senior year at Georgetown because of a bad back, scored 37 points in Cork, Ireland, to lead the Irish National Team past American International, 80-76, in the first Irish Christmas Festival basketball tournament.