Hamilton College of Clinton, N.Y., solidified its hold on the No. 1 ranking in Division III Wednesday with a 73-52 victory over defending national champion Rochester. The Continentals are 20-0 and on a school-record 26-game winning streak -- not exactly out of character for a program that over the previous 15 years won nearly 80 percent of its games and had all-Americans in all but four seasons.

Problem is, Hamilton cannot play for the national championship in the Division III tournament. The school is part of the New England Small College Athletic Conference, which prohibits postseason play; after all, if players are on the road at a postseason tournament, that means they're not in class.

The situation apparently is fine with Coach Tom Murphy and his players (who include junior center Mike Smith, the leading rebounder in Division III and formerly of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High). "I think we'd like to go play, but it's not a real big disappointment," Murphy said. "We knew about this ahead of time. . . . It's not like they pulled the rug out from under us."

In 20 years of coaching, Murphy has seen 98 percent of his players graduate. The climate of Division III -- with no athletic scholarships or overly zealous boosters -- is the approach to the game he prefers.

"The kids are here as students, and we try to tie athletics into that," he said. "We try to keep athletics in the proper perspective. When the ball goes up, we want to win as much as anyone, believe me. But when the game's over, the players find out they're the same as other people. . . . They come to practice every day because they want to be there, not because they're on scholarship and have to be there."

Media Locked Out

Postscript to the "Dream Game": After their 112-105 victory Sunday over second-ranked Arkansas, the Nevada-Las Vegas players -- with the blessing of assistant coach Tim Grgurich, who temporarily was in charge while head coach Jerry Tarkanian attended his postgame news conference -- locked the doors to their Barnhill Arena locker room while a few dozen reporters lingered outside. That prompted this question, yelled from among the waiting masses: "Is Peter Arnett in there?" . . .

Coach Billy Tubbs apologized to an Oklahoma City TV cameraman for an altercation after the Sooners lost Wednesday to Oklahoma State.

While walking toward the locker room after the 77-74 loss, Tubbs allegedly grabbed at a camera, pulling the lens cover off. It hit a cameraman's right leg, cutting it, police said.

"It was a highly emotional time for me and I made a mistake in responding inappropriately," Tubbs said in the apology. . . .

After Arizona State slowed the pace against UCLA last Thursday -- but lost, 64-44 -- Bruins Coach Jim Harrick and forward Don MacLean questioned the strategy of Sun Devils Coach Bill Frieder. Harrick said the problem was that Arizona State wasn't used to that speed (concluding, "I didn't understand it") and MacLean charged, "It's weak."

On Saturday, after Arizona State beat USC, Frieder responded -- saying, as part of a lengthy rebuttal, "He {Harrick} doesn't have time to worry about Arizona State's offense. . . . He'd better worry about having four or five losses in the Pac-10 {UCLA is 5-6 in the league after last night's loss at California} when he should be a top-five team in the country."

With wife Janice tugging at his sleeve in an attempt to mute him, Frieder said: "Janice, I meant to say that. This game is too much and I don't get into other people's coaching." . . .

As Indiana freshman guard Damon Bailey draws the attention -- he was the subject of a "Real Life With Jane Pauley" segment filmed in Bloomington -- Hoosiers sophomore Calbert Cheaney continues to move toward joining Scott May and Mike Woodson as the best forwards ever to play at the school.

On Sunday, Cheaney became the fifth Indiana sophomore to reach 1,000 points.

He's averaging 24.1 points per game and has reached double figures in 37 consecutive contests and 51 of 53 in his career; the two games in which he did not reach double figures, he scored nine points. . . .

After 7,913 saw USC upset Arizona at the Los Angeles Sports Arena last Thursday, Trojans Coach George Raveling (who spent about half the game orchestrating the crowd) dedicated the victory to USC fans, who mobbed the players after the game.

"That's the largest student turnout since I've been here," he said. "They must have thought it was a football game."

On Saturday, only 4,058 showed up for the Trojans' game against Arizona State. USC lost, 88-83. . . .

Tennessee -- which lost at Vanderbilt 108-68 earlier this season -- orchestrated your basic 52-point turnaround, beating the Commodores 85-73 Saturday to knock them from a tie for first place in the Southeastern Conference. . . . No. 23 Mississippi State is in the national rankings for the first time since 1979. . . . Coppin State Coach Ron "Fang" Mitchell had a tumor removed from his neck Wednesday. He expects to resume coaching next week.

Forget the House

Firemen in Florence, S.C., couldn't keep J.C. Rogers, 66, from running back into his burning home Feb. 3 to save his tickets to the North Carolina-North Carolina State game. Perhaps it was worth the risk, for Rogers saw the Tar Heels beat the Wolfpack, 92-70, in Chapel Hill.