Lighty injury a tough blow for Buckeyes

December, 19, 2008
Quick hitters for Friday:

• Losing David Lighty is a crucial blow to Ohio State. In Lighty, the Buckeyes lost a guard with Final Four experience, someone who understands Thad Matta's system and could be a much-needed mentor to the younger players on the team. Lighty scored 21 in a win the night before he had surgery for his broken foot.

Ohio State has been one of the early-season success stories, but losing Lighty for the next six weeks to two months might make it extremely difficult for the Buckeyes to challenge for the Big Ten title. No one in that league had been so intimidating that the Buckeyes couldn't contend for the conference title.

• UAB coach Mike Davis doesn't seem to be too worried about losing four players off an already thin roster. The reason is that two of the players were marginal role players for the Blazers: Terrence Roderick (21.8 mpg, 5.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and Ed Berrios (12.5 mpg, 1.1 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 1 apg). The other two tossed were Jeremy Mayfield and Armon Bassett, the latter the oft-troubled transfer from Indiana. Mayfield and Berrios didn't meet academic requirements any longer, and Bassett and Roderick chose to leave the team. But Davis is quite content with his short-handed team. The top five players -- Robert Vaden, Lawrence Kinnard, Paul Delaney III, Howard Crawford and Channing Toney -- all can score. "We just can't get into foul trouble or have any injuries," Davis said. The Blazers will likely teeter on the brink of the bubble. They are 6-3 and should get fat against Troy and Florida Atlantic before going to Louisville and Butler.

• Kent State's chances to repeat as MAC champs took a decided upturn with the debut Thursday night of Tyree Evans. The oft-traveled and multiply committed player (Cincinnati and Maryland were once destinations) scored 21 points in his debut, a win over UNC Greensboro. Kent State is now 5-5 and likely going to be in the thick of the MAC East race.

• North Florida picked up its first win, against one-win Furman on Thursday night. The Ospreys (1-8) had lost 54 straight games away from home. The reason for the win: transfer Eni Cuka scored 27. UNF might have found a much-needed big-time scorer.

• I'm sure I wasn't alone in thinking that Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury looked awful coaching Cincinnati on Thursday night, less than a day after being released from a Mississippi hospital for a viral infection. This would have been one of those moments to look at life balance, rest and relax at home and let assistant Robert Kirby coach the Bulldogs.

• Regardless of your opinion on Andy Kennedy's alleged assault of a Cincinnati cab driver, it's hard not to have sympathy for the program right now. The Rebels played with grit and were right there to pull off the upset Thursday night over Louisville. Losing Chris Warren to a potential ACL in the final minute is just cruel. The Rebels already had lost two wings to season-ending knee injuries in Trevor Gaskins and Eniel Polynice (three in one season -- let alone six weeks?)

Warren was playing some of the best basketball of his career. He was averaging 24.5 points a game away from Oxford. He had the look of a first-team All-SEC point guard. Now the Rebels will have to rely heavily on junior David Huertas, who was scoring 21 points a game but will see even tougher defensive approaches without Warren. The SEC West is LSU's to lose at this point. If the Tigers don't win the West, something is wrong. They clearly have the most talent and experience. Alabama now has a golden opportunity to rally and finish second.

• Golden State released second-round pick Richard Hendrix on Thursday. Tell me why he left Alabama again? I continue to be befuddled when players cut short their college careers when they're hardly locks to stick in the NBA or receive mega cash. Hendrix on Alabama this season would make the Tide a certain NCAA team, a tutor for JaMychal Green and a reliable finisher for point guard Ronald Steele, and would enable him to be featured enough to create a draft buzz in a weak lot this June.

• The Milwaukee Bucks didn't make assistant coach Kelvin Sampson available Thursday to comment on former player Eric Gordon's allegations of drug use by players on last season's team. Sampson's representatives at Career Sports & Entertainment in Atlanta issued a statement that Sampson wouldn't be available for comment. The Bucks say Sampson has been great for their team. That's wonderful. When will Sampson answer the charges of a program that was clearly out of control? He did get three-quarters of a million dollars from the school. How hard is it to respond to an inflammatory allegation about drug use and putting it aside for the sake of winning? It's absolutely amazing how Sampson's image has completely been trashed in college basketball and yet he remains relatively silent.

Andy Katz | email

ESPN Senior Writer



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