You just knew this would happen. Friday, Memphis lost to Austin Peay with one of their better players suspended for a ticky-tack NCAA rap, though the Governors played a heck of a game, and Memphis really had 5 other players out. But here’s the big blow – the NCAA is costing a squad their ranking.
No. 14 Mississippi State, without suspended junior Mario Austin, fell to Louisiana-Lafayette 79-76 last night. Austin, who was on the sidelines (in jeans?) while the NCAA reviews his high school transcript and his eligibility from his freshman year, watched the Ragin’ Cajuns Brad Boyd put up 33 points against the Bulldogs. Anthony Johnson of the Cajuns also put up 26 points, including free throws in the final minute that sealed the deal.
For the Bulldogs, Tim Bowers led the Bulldogs with 22, and Derrick Zimmerman added 18, though they clearly missed Austin’s presence down low. Branden Vincent, normally a forward, played the most minutes at the post, but the 6-8 Vincent wasn’t able to dominate, his 12/11 double-double notwithstanding.
And our thanks for the good fortune of Louisiana-Lafayette’s Kenneth Lawrence, who was taken from the court on a stretcher with his neck immobilized. Lawrence had run into a pick in the first half, and had suffered temporary paralysis. He went to the hospital, but returned for the second half – turns out it was only a neck stinger.
Desert Heat: The top-ranked Arizona Wildcats upended No. 21 Western Kentucky last night by a considerable margin. In the only ranked matchup of the night, the Arizona downed the Hilltoppers 107-68. Western Kentucky was down by as many as 42. Yikes. Hilltopper Chris Marcus didn’t play, otherwise this would have been more competitive – he was out recovering from ankle surgery. David Boyden led Western Kentucky with 26. Arizona had plenty of weapons, even though they were without Pac-10 freshmen of the year Salim Stoudamire, who was out with an ankle injury. Seven Wildcats scored in double figures, led by freshman Hassan Adams, with 22 in only 17 minutes.
First-game Jitters: In very-recent head coach Billy Gillispie’s first game at the helm, his UTEP Miners came through over New Mexico Highlands, 75-66. It was a good start for Gillispie, who took over for the departed Jason Rabedeaux on November 2nd of this year. Freshman Giovanni St. Amant scored 21 points for the Miners, who had a back-and-forth evening. Coach Gillispie rallied the troops, who then held off a late run by Highlands. Congrats, coach!
The Usual: All of the other ranked teams (except the aforementioned Mississippi State and Western Kentucky) won last night.
• Two ranked squads are starting the season today: No. 9 Oregon and No. 16 Maryland.
That’s it for Sunday. Enjoy!