Steve Spurrier relented yesterday, saying he plans to play QB Jesse Palmer this week to shake up No. 4 Florida's struggling offense. The coach said he won't announce his starter for Saturday's game against South Carolina until later in the week, but most signs indicate that Doug Johnson's days as Spurrier's top quarterback are over. The Gators (8-1, 6-1 SEC) play No. 1 Florida State in a Nov. 20 game with national title implications.

COTA DECRIES CHARGES: North Carolina basketball G Ed Cota, accused of brawling Halloween night, said he doesn't need a lawyer to be exonerated from charges he calls "nonsense." Cota and backup G Terrence Newby are scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 6.

NOT DONE YET: Pittsburgh will assign extra security guards to Saturday's home football game with Notre Dame, the last at Pitt Stadium. The stadium will be demolished after the season, but the Panthers still need the field for practice.

MEN'S SOCCER: Eighth-seeded UNC Wilmington defeated ninth-seeded George Mason, 3-2, in double overtime in the first round of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament in Virginia Beach.

BASKETBALL: Dennis Mims scored a game-high 19 points as Virginia Tech defeated Atletas-Lithuania, 77-64, in an exhibition in Blacksburg, Va. . . . Jen Surlas and Khalilah Smith both scored 15 points as George Mason defeated the WBL All-Stars, 83-59, at Patriot Center. . . . The Georgetown women opened their exhibition season with a 70-65 victory over the Australian Institute of Sports at McDonough Arena.