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SEC Notebook

December 22, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments

SEC Notebook

by Rainer Sabin

Louisiana State coach John Brady received an early Christmas present Saturday night when his Tigers (7-1) upset No. 1 Arizona in Baton Rouge. But the 66-65 victory did not come easy. A chorus of errors committed by LSU in the final minutes almost transformed a sure win into an unbearable loss.

The Tigers, which led by as many as fifteen in the second half, saw their lead dwindle as a result of their own mistakes. With Arizona trailing 66-61, the Wildcats’ Channing Frye missed a free throw. The ball bounded off the rim and toward the baseline. LSU senior guard Ronald Dupree recovered it and signalled for a timeout as he was falling out of bounds. Unfortunately for the Tigers, they had no timeouts. Dupree’s Chris Webber-like gaffe sent Arizona’s Salim Stoudamire to the line to attempt two free throws that were awarded as a result of a technical foul. He made both, and Arizona trailed by three. But it did not stop there, because LSU was determined to shoot itself in the foot again.

On the subsequent possession, LSU turned the ball over. The mistake led to a basket by Arizona freshman forward Andre Igoudala with 36 seconds left that cut the lead to one, 66-65. Then, LSU guard Torris Bright threw the ball to Frye, and Arizona was given the last possession. If not for a strong defensive stand in the final seconds, LSU would have been dealt a cruel hand. Nevertheless, the Tigers walked away with a win over a top ranked team for the first time since LSU beat Kentucky 95-94 in 1978.

For now, the Tigers are on top of the college basketball world, where everyone can see them – including future SEC opponents, who will be wary of LSU.

Cat Scratch Fever

A back-and-forth game featuring border rivals No. 18 Kentucky (6-2) and No. 6 Indiana turned ugly Saturday at Freedom Hall in Louisville. With the Hoosiers down 65-64, Indiana’s Bracey Wright drove to the hoop, received contact, and missed a lay-up. Kentucky guard Keith Bogans recovered the ball with 2.6 seconds left. Meanwhile, Indiana coach Mike Davis charged the court and berated the referees for not assessing a foul to the Wildcats when Wright’s shot was altered. An animated Davis continued to accost the officials until he was ejected. After Davis retreated to the locker room, Bogans converted five free throws to seal the victory and give Indiana its first loss of the season.

Florida Barely Survives Hurricanes

One overtime period was not enough for the Florida Gators (8-2) to put away the Miami Hurricanes. But two proved sufficient. The Gators and Hurricanes traded punches in a battle royale at the American Airlines Arena in Miami in their first meeting since 1990. Freshman guard Matt Walsh continued to perform well in clutch situations, as he scored 33 points and sank all 14 free throws that he attempted. The Gators, which had a 17-point lead at one point in the second half, saw the advantage quickly slip away. Fortunately for the Gators, they had enough fortitude to outlast an average Miami team. Earlier in the season, Florida also escaped with a one-point victory over Florida State, 58-57, and, as a result, can claim supremacy in the Sunshine State.

Rollin’ Along with a Lawsuit

While Arkansas was putting away non-conference lightweights Sam Houston State and Southwest Texas State to improve to 4-4 under new coach Stan Heath, it was the Hogs’ former ringleader that was making the news. Nolan Richardson, who was fired last March after 17 years as head coach of the Razorbacks, has filed a suit that claims he was discriminated against and had his free speech rights violated by Chancellor John A. White and Athletics Director Frank Broyles. The lawsuit also asks that Richardson be restored to his previous position. However, the former coach says he does not want Heath to be removed. This is just the latest chapter in a saga that has no end in sight.

Alabama No. 1 in Basketball?

With Arizona falling to SEC West compatriot LSU, No. 2 Alabama will likely grab the top spot in the Associated Press poll when it comes out Monday. The Crimson Tide put away the Providence Friars 69-61 Saturday, despite falling behind 27-21. Staring at a six-point deficit, Alabama rolled off 20 straight points and never looked back. Alabama center Erwin Dudley scored 19 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, while point guard Mo Williams contributed 19 points and six assists. The Crimson Tide will face Morehead State Monday and will battle Utah seven days later.

Rebels Routed

Ole Miss (5-2) suffered its second loss of the season when the Rebels fell to the Memphis Tigers at the Pyramid 58-51 last Thursday. The Tigers, who had lost three consecutive games in the series, overcame 37 percent shooting to defeat Ole Miss, which had won five straight after losing to East Carolina in its opener. However, the Rebels came back two days later to defeat Nicholls State 63-52, as Aaron Harper scored 21 points.

Around the Rest of the SEC

Vanderbilt lost to Michigan Saturday 70-66 in Ann Arbor, as the Wolverines won their third straight game. Forward Brian Thornton scored 20 points for the Commodores, who fall to 6-3 . . . Tennessee (4-2) blew a 14-point advantage Saturday and lost to West Virginia 65-62 in Morgantown. The Volunteers host Western Carolina Monday . . . It was the first time an SEC school ever made a trip to Wyoming, and it may very well be the last. South Carolina (4-2) was treated harshly when it visited Laramie, as the Gamecocks were blown out by the Wyoming Cowboys 77-63 last Thursday. Kerbrell Brown scored 14 points to lead the Gamecocks in the defeat . . . Georgia defeated Appalachian State Sunday 99-63, as the Bulldogs improved to 6-3 on the season. Forward Steve Thomas led the way with 18 points . . . No. 15 Mississippi State (7-1) continued its winning ways, as the Bulldogs beat Lefty Dreisell and Georgia State 78-54, as Mario Austin scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. The Bulldogs will receive a big test when they face Oklahoma next Saturday . . . Auburn (7-2) defeated Denver 63-58 at the San Juan Shootout in Puerto Rico Saturday four days after being pounded by Western Michigan 72-54.


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