LAWRENCE, KANSAS, JAN. 10 -- If there ever has been a week to illustrate the wonderful unpredictability of college basketball, this was it. Consider the following:
Auburn. The Tigers, having already lost Mike Jones because of poor grades, lose Jeff Moore to an injury. Gone, suddenly, were almost 40 points and 15 rebounds a game -- 47 percent of the team's scoring.
So what happened? First, the Tigers upset Florida on Wednesday. A good win, but, still, it was at home where you can play on emotion. But then Saturday, they played top-ranked Kentucky at Rupp Arena where the Wildcats almost never lose. Saturday, unbelievably, the Wildcats lost when Auburn's John Caylor hit a three-pointer with seven seconds left and Rex Chapman missed at the buzzer for Kentucky. Final: Auburn 53, Kentucky 52, as stunning an upset as you'll see all year.
Lafayette. The Leopards began the week by whipping Notre Dame, 83-68, in what had to be one of the greatest wins in school history. Lafayette didn't just beat the Irish, it pounded them. Three nights later, Navy, having lost one of its two best players, Derric Turner, three days earlier with a knee injury, hammered Lafayette. Then, to close out the week, the Leopards barely beat mid-level Ivy Leaguer Brown, 75-74. How do you beat Notre Dame, get hammered by Navy and barely escape Brown all in the same week?
Wyoming. The Cowboys began the week unbeaten and ranked fifth in the nation. They ended it beaten twice in their own league, at Texas-El Paso and at New Mexico. Actually, those losses were not that shocking because the WAC may be the toughest league in the country when it comes to winning on the road. The conference is deep in talent, it plays a Friday-Saturday schedule and travel is very difficult.
California-Santa Barbara. Completely unnoticed, Jerry Pimm has built a solid program out west. Three weeks ago, Pimm's team beat N.C. State by 18. Thursday, the Gauchos beat previously unbeaten Nevada-Las Vegas to raise their record to 11-1 and end the Runnin' Rebels streak of Pacific Coast Athletic Association wins at 21 games.
Louisville. The Cardinals remain a mystery team. Wednesday, they lost to Georgia Tech. No shame there. But Saturday, they were beaten by Florida State. With all those athletes and all that talent, they are 6-5. Since winning the national title in 1986, they are 24-19.
In all, No. 1 (Kentucky) No. 2 (Pittsburgh) and No. 5 (Wyoming, twice) lost last week.
Those Amazing Tigers
A few more details on Auburn's upset of Kentucky, the second straight Saturday an undefeated No. 1 team has been beaten:
The Tigers kept the game to a walk the whole night and pounded the offensive boards throughout. Still, Kentucky seemd to have control when it went up, 48-44, with three minutes left. Auburn came back to tie again at 50-50. Then, Chapman hit two free throws after drawing a foul on what looked like a charge with 25 seconds left.
Auburn came down and kept the ball moving until Caylor came open on the left wing and coolly hit the shot. Kentucky opted not to call time out, hoping to get an open shot against a confused defense.
One was available -- Ed Davender was wide open at the top of the key. But Chapman was only thinking shot and never saw Davender waving his arms wildly. That's the problem when people call you King Rex and you're just a sophomore. Chapman's shot was forced and had no chance. He should have seen Davender, or, failing that, called a timeout.
A Strange Game, Team
One of the best rivalries in college basketball is Kansas-Missouri. Saturday, the Jayhawks extended their home winning streak to 54 games with a fun-to-watch 78-74 victory over the Tigers.
It was a strange game. Derrick Chievous, Missouri's superstar, didn't start because of an unexplained minor accident en route to the team bus. "I just spun on the ice a little," Chievous said. "I kind of made a doughnut."
He refused to give further details. His coach, Norm Stewart, refused to comment at all after not starting Chievous and only playing him for 20 minutes. Stewart is a great coach, but can be a difficult man. Asked after the game what he thought the game meant in terms of the Big Eight race, Stewart said:
"It means we're done, finished, through. Our season's over. We're just going to go home, clean our jerseys and pack up. No sense in going on any more."
With Stewart and Chievous, Missouri is two things: excellent and a little bit strange . . .
By the way, if you're looking for a new No. 1 team, how about Oklahoma? The Sooners are 14-0, have scored 100 points in 11 of 14 games and are just killing people right now. Probably though, voters being voters, Arizona will ascend back to No. 1 with North Carolina second and Oklahoma or Duke third . . .
Things continue to get worse at UCLA: Not only did the Bruins drop to 4-8 after losing to Oregon State, they lost 7-foot Greg Foster, maybe for good. Foster, who has been in Walt Hazzard's doghouse, left the team, "for personal reasons." Look for him to transfer.
It is also ironic that Sean Higgins of Michigan should turn up ineligible after all the hoopla surrounding his signing and then un-signing with UCLA last year. Michigan's coaches spent most of the week trying to keep Higgins from transferring. Maybe UCLA would take him back.
The Upset Pick
The Upset Pick nearly had the week of its life. If Chievous had played the whole game, Missouri would have ended Kansas' home winning streak. But he didn't. However, Mississippi State did ambush Alabama, 59-56, the biggest victory in Richard Williams' two seasons in Starkville. The record is now 4-6. This week: The urge is to pick North Carolina over Maryland Thursday as an upset since Dean Smith will undoubtedly do his Joe Gibbs imitation and claim to be the underdog. But, nah. Instead: Seton Hall finally gets a big win in The Big East, going to St. John's and beating the Redmen.