What’s great about watching and following sports is that you’re going to see or hear something that you’ve never encountered before.
So it happened Wednesday night in Tulsa, Okla., in an American Athletic Conference game between Connecticut and Tulsa, where head coaches Danny Hurley of UConn and Frank Haith of the Hurricanes were ejected with 11 minutes, 40 seconds left in the second half.
The ruckus began as Haith complained to the officials about a call against one of his players. Hurley yelled something from his bench about his player not getting the same call earlier, and he and Haith exchanged words about 20 feet apart, leading to the first double technical.
A video after the exchange showed officials trying perhaps too hard to keep the coaches separated before Hurley started walking toward Haith and extended his hand in an apparent handshake. One official T-ed up both coaches again and ordered them to their locker rooms.
“We were looking to come together and shake hands and show some sportsmanship there,” Hurley told the Hartford Courant, “but the mishandling of it led to just embarrassment, and it looks worse on television.”
Hurley, whose Huskies lost, 89-83, blamed the officials for escalating the situation, but he apologized to the UConn administration and fans.
Hurley, who said he has known Haith for at least 15 years, spoke with Haith in the hallway after the game and all seemed fine. The Tulsa coach called it “competitive banter.”
“Both coaches are competitors and both are trying to help their team win,” Haith said. “I think it all started out like that. I don’t think it escalated to both of us being ejected, and that’s disappointing. I would have hoped it would have been handled a lot differently.”
One day earlier, in another AAC game, Mick Cronin was thrown out in Cincinnati’s win over South Florida, his first ejection in 426 games as the Bearcats’ head coach.
“What they did, they almost penalized a group of kids, and they should be suspended,” Cronin said of the officials in an Associated Press story. “Instead, the league office is monitoring my press conference right now to see if I say anything wrong. That’s the problem with our sport.”
You’ve got to hand it to Virginia. The Cavaliers walked away from the 2017-18 season humiliated after becoming the first No. 1 seed in the 33-year history of seeding teams in the NCAA Tournament to lose to a No. 16 seed, Maryland-Baltimore County.
The way the fourth-ranked Cavaliers are playing right now, it’s as if last year never happened. They are 16-0, one of two undefeated teams remaining in NCAA Division I. Their last seven wins have come by at least 13 points. And how’s this for a stat: They have trailed in the second half in only one game all season.
“The scores and all that are a little overrated,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said Tuesday night after his team’s 81-59 win over No. 9 Virginia Tech. “We’re midway through or whatever we are in the season, but you’re early in the conference. We’ve played well. We’ve shot it well and defended pretty solid in our two home ACC games.”
The Cavaliers will play Saturday night at top-ranked Duke seeking their first back-to-back wins over top-10 opponents.
Two of the best scorers playing in Division I mid-major competition have moved into the top 20 on the NCAA’s all-time scoring list.
Mike Daum of South Dakota State poured in 34 points Wednesday night against North Dakota and is in 19th place with 2,740 career points. Chris Clemons of Campbell moved up to 20th with a 22-point performance against UNC-Asheville, giving him 2,728 points.
Both players passed the late Hank Gathers, of Dobbins Tech and Loyola Marymount fame, who had 2,724 points. They now have their sights set on 18th place, held by former Duke star and current 76er JJ Redick with 2,769 points.
Abington High School graduate Anthony Lee has become one of the top scorers in NCAA Division II competition playing his senior season for Kutztown. The 6-foot-2 Willow Grove resident ranks third in the nation in scoring with a 27.9-point average and is tied for fifth in total three-point baskets with 58 while shooting 43.3 percent from deep. Lee, who had a season-high 50 points earlier this season against Pitt-Johnstown, has scored 39 and 37 points in his last two games.
Michigan at Wisconsin, Saturday at noon, ESPN: If the undefeated Wolverines can survive in a tough environment in Madison, they could become the nation’s new No. 1 team on Monday after Duke’s loss to Syracuse. Their defense is third in the nation in points allowed at 56.6 per game.
Virginia at Duke, Saturday at 6 p. m., ESPN: The ACC game of the year to date finds the high-scoring Blue Devils (90.3 points per game, third in the nation) and the stingy Cavaliers (51.7 points allowed, first) matching wits once again. The loss of freshman point guard Tre Jones hurts Duke.
Maryland at Michigan State, Monday at 6:30 p.m., FoxSports1: The Terrapins have quietly moved up the standings in the loaded Big Ten and can make a statement here against a conference powerhouse. The Spartans’ Cassius Winston has emerged as one of the best guards in the nation.
Iowa State at Kansas, Monday at 9 p.m., ESPN: The Jayhawks, seeking their 15th consecutive Big 12 championship, received a little assist earlier this week when the Cyclones handed Texas Tech its first Big 12 defeat. Now Kansas must avenge a loss it suffered Jan. 5 at Iowa State.
Villanova at Butler, Tuesday at 7 p.m., FoxSports1: The Wildcats have lost on their last two visits to historic Hinkle Fieldhouse, including last year’s 101-93 defeat that was their first blemish after a 13-0 start. The Bulldogs have one of the Big East’s best players in guard Kamar Baldwin.
Ja Morant, Murray State, G, 6-3, 175, So., Dalzell, S.C.
Morant is arguably the nation’s most spectacular point guard, combining excellent court vision with a knack for highlight-reel dunks. He leads Division I in assists at 10.6 per game and averages 23.3 points and 6.1 rebounds. He recorded a triple double of 29 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists earlier this season against Missouri State.