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January 8, 2003 Columns No Comments

The Morning Dish – Thursday, January 9, 2003

by Brian Seymour

Several ranked teams were in action Wednesday including the top-ranked team in the land, but the most exciting game of the evening and quite possibly the season thus far was contested well away from the glare of television lights.

Ohio University gained a measure of revenge and a 112-104 Mid-American Conference victory in four overtimes over the University of Akron at the Convocation Center in Athens, Ohio.

The game was circled on both team’s schedules after last year’s contest in Athens led to some bad blood. In that game, Akron’s Andy Hipsher hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer and gave the O-Zone fan section a notorious one-finger salute. That gesture stuck in the craw of the Bobcats (4-6, 1-1) and their fans.

On Wednesday, Ohio overcame some crucial missed free throws by senior Brandon Hunter, the nation’s leading rebounder with 13 boards a game, who more than made up for his 10-of-23 performance from the line by scoring 30 points and pulling down a staggering 26 rebounds in 53 minutes of action.

Ohio head coach Tim O’Shea was ecstatic and exhausted after the game.

“I can go back to CYO basketball, junior high basketball, college and high school, I have never been a part of a four overtime game,” O’Shea said. “Tonight was really a remarkable game. I know The Convo has had many great moments in its life here, but I think a four overtime game will stand out even to the old-timers here.”

The game was tied 19 times and neither team led by more than six points until the final moments.

Derrick Tarver scored 41 points to lead Akron (6-5, 1-1), which played its second straight overtime contest. It was a 105-104 winner in its conference opener against Ball State.

By the way, the teams will meet again Feb. 17 in Akron.

Side Dishes

Gun incident lands Richardson III in trouble: It’s been a tough couple of years for the coaching Richardsons and it seems as if two coaching careers may now be over.

Nolan Richardson III, son of former Arkansas head coach Nolan Richardson, is facing termination proceedings at Tennessee State after he brought a gun into the campus gymnasium to allegedly threaten an assistant coach during a Christmas evening practice.

Bringing a weapon on campus violates Tennessee law and is grounds for immediate dismissal. According to the Associated Press, Richardson acknowledged to police that he brought the gun from his car into the gym where another assistant coach saw the weapon and attempted to calm him down.

Richardson, who is also under investigation by the NCAA for recruiting and practice violations, was 23-41 in two and a half years at the school. He served as an assistant for several years to his father, who coached the 1994 national championship squad at Arkansas. Richardson Sr. was fired last season by Arkansas and is currently suing the university, claiming he was discriminated against because he is black.

Late Breaking: Early this morning Richardson formally announced his resignation, thus helping hurdle several barriers in the dismissal process. With the resignation, Tennessee State will not press charges for bringing a firearm onto campus, and Davidson County prosecutors won’t pursue legal action unless specifically asked by the university.

Rivals face off: It wasn’t billed as such, but Wednesday could have been called Rivalry Night around the country with several crosstown and intrastate rivals facing off. The most intriguing matchup found USC shoveling more dirt on Steve Lavin’s coaching career at UCLA, defeating the beleaguered Bruins 80-75. Also, San Diego State defeated San Diego 78-72; Cal State-Fullerton defeated Cal-Irvine 66-65 in overtime and in a result close to my heart, Central Michigan defeated bitter rival Western Michigan 80-75.

Blue Devils challenged: No. 1 Duke was pushed harder than it has been all season, but triumphed over Georgetown, 93-86, at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils (10-0) even trailed the Hoyas at halftime, but used a 15-1 run at the beginning of the second half to pull away. With Tuesday’s loss to Oklahoma by Connecticut, only two undefeated teams — Duke and No. 19 Wake Forest — remain in the country and as luck would have it, they meet Sunday night in Durham.

Other ranked teams all win: Aside from No. 21 Kentucky getting a scare in a 74-71 win over Tennessee, the rest of the Hoopville Top 25 pretty much cruised. No. 4 Alabama beat Arkansas 61-51; No. 15 Indiana opened its Big Ten campaign with a 78-65 win over Penn State; No. 17 Creighton beat Missouri Valley foe Bradley, 65-58; No. 20 Maryland crushed Hampton 108-58 and No. 25 Louisville soundly defeated Charlotte 80-59.

Tonight’s Menu:

• Most of the Hoopville Top 25 take the night off, but a pair of highly ranked Pac 10 teams are in action as No. 2 Arizona hosts Washington State and No. 10 Oregon travels to California.

• No. 18 Michigan State tries to get off the schnide and hosts Ohio State.

• Finally, the best unranked team in the land, Butler, hosts Loyola Chicago in what should be a crucial early season contest in the Horizon League. If the Bulldogs win both their games this week and aren’t ranked in the Top 25 come next week, it’ll be a crime.

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