EYE OF THE TIGERS
The Auburn women's team was ranked No. 3 in the country last season when it went to Tacoma, Wash., for the Final Four, hoping to knock off No. 1 Tennessee for the championship. Instead, the Lady Tigers were upset by Louisiana Tech 56-54 in the final—in part because star center Vickie Orr's knees hurt so much she got only two rebounds.
And so, on Saturday night against No. 1 Tennessee, the Lady Tigers went into the game again ranked No. 3 and buoyed by the knowledge that the second-ranked Lady Techsters had been upset 61-60 by Colorado earlier in the week. If Auburn could beat the Vols, it figured to take the top spot in the polls. At their Eaves-Memorial Coliseum, before 7,150 fans, the Lady Tigers triumphed 67-59 behind Orr, whose 18-point performance indicated that her knees are almost back to normal after off-season surgery.
With Orr and guard Ruthie Bolton the only returning starters, Auburn needed a boost from a newcomer, and it got a huge one from sophomore Carolyn Jones, who sat out last season as a Bylaw 5-1-(j) casualty. Against Tennessee, Jones, who gives Auburn the penetration and perimeter game necessary to keep opponents from collapsing on Orr, matched Orr's 18 points.
Said Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, "You don't ever want to lose a game, but we needed to lose this one. Auburn took advantage of us. The Tigers really wanted the game more than Tennessee. They had bigger hearts." The biggest of those, perhaps, belongs to Orr, who still undergoes daily treatment on her knees and averages slightly less than 12 minutes a half.
"She works two hours every day," said Lady Tigers coach Joe Ciampi admiringly. "When you see a two-time All-America do that, you say, 'Hey, if she can do it, why can't I?' She's an over-achiever, and the other kids follow her."
Whether she can lead the Lady Tigers back to Tacoma will depend largely on how her knees hold up in the tough SEC, which last week had six teams ranked in the nation's top 25.
Notre Dame's Tony Rice and Florida State's Brad Johnson are a couple of quarterbacks who have hoops in their blood. But while Johnson, the Seminoles' backup signal caller, has nailed down a spot as the seventh man on Florida State's strong basketball team, Rice's request to try out for the Irish squad was politely rejected by coach Digger Phelps, who recommended that he spend the winter concentrating on his studies instead. Rice has been able to hold his own against the Irish basketball players in summer pickup games, and in the wake of Notre Dame's 79-75 upset loss at San Francisco last week, Phelps just might want to reconsider Rice's bid.
Johnson, a candidate to replace Chip Ferguson as the Seminoles' starting quarterback next season, isn't likely to be available for spring football practice because he figures to be trying to help Florida State pursue a slot in the Final Four. A 6'6", 195-pounder, Johnson is a redshirt freshman football player but a sophomore as a basketball player. On the Thursday before the Sugar Bowl, he spent the morning practicing with the football team in New Orleans and then caught a plane to Orlando for the Seminoles' basketball game against Villanova in the Red Lobster Classic final, arriving in time to score 13 points and get three assists in a 68-67 upset loss. From there, it was back to New Orleans for the bowl game against Auburn, during which he served as holder for both field goals and the extra point in Florida State's 13-7 win.
Football coach Bobby Bowden may force Johnson to make a choice between football and basketball after this hoops season. "We told him he could play both sports when we recruited him," said Bowden, "but what Brad will have to do in another year is decide which sport he wants to play."
After early-season losses on the road to Indiana and North Carolina, Stanford dropped out of the rankings and out of the spotlight. A couple of wins last week, however, indicate that the Cardinal, now 10-3, will live up to advance billing as one of the favorites for the Pac-10 title, and that 6'4" guard Todd Lichti will become the toast of the Coast.
Last Thursday Stanford beat conference kingpin Arizona 83-78 behind Lichti's 35 points (27 in the second half). Said Arizona coach Lute Olson, "On the drive, Lichti is as tough to handle as anyone I've seen. He uses either hand and is strong as an ox inside. He will be an outstanding pro player."
In a 94-65 breeze against Arizona State on Saturday, Lichti added 19 points and eight rebounds. For the two games, he hit 16 of 23 shots from the floor and 22 of 22 from the foul line. Said Stanford coach Mike Montgomery, "He's just pretty relentless."
The aptly named Richard Longley, 6'9" father of 7'2" New Mexico center Luc Longley, upstaged his son during a recent visit from his home in Perth, Australia. At halftime of the Lobos' game against Brigham Young at The Pit in Albuquerque, the elder Longley was asked to take a midcourt shot for a charity promotion. Much to the delight of the crowd of 17,980, he proceeded to swish a two-hander. Shooting from closer range, Luc, a member of the Aussie Olympic team, had 12 points in the 88-84 win....
Oklahoma didn't lose a beat during the three games missed by star center Stacey King, who was out with a broken index finger on his shooting hand; the Sooners averaged 121 points a game in King's absence. Then, on Saturday, Oklahoma got 29 points from little-used Andre Wiley in a 94-86 win over UNC-Charlotte, but just to make sure of things, King came off the bench to score 25 and grab 17 rebounds....
On the last of his 11 offensive rebounds against North Carolina, Iowa's Ed Horton was fouled with the score tied 97-97 and only 11 seconds left in the game. During the ensuing confusion—it appeared that Iowa's Roy Marble may have been fouled as well—Horton went to midcourt to hide behind teammate B.J. Armstrong while Marble asked the officials for the ball at the free throw line. At that point, Marble was 8 for 8 from the line while Horton was 1 for 4, including two big misses in the minutes before. The deception worked. Marble was given the ball and made the second of two free throws for the winning margin. Explained Horton, "When you get 22,000 fans hollering at you and whistles blowing, I don't know what's happening. My mind's way up there in the Bob Uecker seats."
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Georgia Tech's 6'9" senior forward scored 30 points in each of two victories, 92-69 over East Carolina and 84-75 at Wake Forest. He also had 18 rebounds and three blocked shots in the two games.
NORTH CAROLINA (13-2)
SETON HALL (13-1)
FLORIDA STATE (10-1)
OHIO STATE (10-3)
N.C. STATE (9-1)
GEORGIA TECH (9-2)