Sports briefs: Nov. 19

November 18, 2013 

NBA

Meeks leading Lakers scorers

Twelve games into the season, Jodie Meeks is the Los Angeles Lakers' leading scorer, as everybody predicted.

Jodie Meeks? The career part-time starter?

He is averaging 13.7 points, moving ahead of Pau Gasol, after scoring 44 over the last two games.

"I don't even worry about the numbers. I don't really look at my stats or anything like that," Meeks said after scoring 19 points Sunday while making four of seven three-point attempts against Detroit. "I just put the work in before and after practice, before the games, as many shots as I can get up."

The former Kentucky Wildcat is not a driver. He's not a banger. He's a shooter. Period. And not always an accurate one.

He made 13 of his last 24 three-point shots, though, and his efficiency from long range (49.2 percent so far) helped boost his overall shooting percentage to 52.8 percent, second to only Jordan Hill among the Lakers' rotation players.

Meeks was a starter 45 percent of the time in his first four NBA seasons. Fittingly, he started six of the Lakers' 12 games this season. He is making $1.55 million in the last season of his contract, the Lakers exercising a team option last June.

To his credit, he already looks beyond basketball and goes back to school every summer. He left Kentucky after three seasons but took classes there the last four summers to move within a few credits of graduating.

A degree will presumably be earned next summer, along with a new NBA contract. Maybe it'll be with the Lakers, but maybe with another team if Meeks keeps shooting like this.

In January 2009, he broke Kentucky's single-game record by scoring 54 points against Tennessee.


College football

Accounts differ over bathroom brawl

Virginia State and Winston-Salem State have drastically varying versions of a fight that left the WSSU quarterback beaten in a bathroom.

Competing news conferences held Monday on the respective campuses only served to highlight just how far apart their perspectives are.

The only thing clear is that Winston-Salem State quarterback Rudy Johnson was injured during a fight at a luncheon the day before last week's scheduled CIAA championship game and a Virginia State player was arrested.

VSU coach Latrell Scott said there was a "rush to judgment" and that one player "made a bad decision."

A few hours later in Winston-Salem, N.C., WSSU Chancellor Donald Reaves called for further sanctions against Virginia State and declared his school "damaged" by the fight.

The CIAA, which opted to cancel its championship game, also declared Virginia State ineligible for post-season play.

Johnson appeared with sunglasses at the WSSU presser, concealing the cuts above and below his blackened right eye.

The quarterback said he was punched, stomped and kicked by as many as six Virginia State players during the fight that also left him with a headache, a sore back and sore ribs.

Trojans running back Lamont Daniel Britt has been charged with misdemeanor assault inflicting serious injury in the fight involving Johnson.

Scott said four Trojans players were questioned after the incident, but Britt is the only player to have been charged. Citing the ongoing investigations, VSU officials declined to comment on what precipitated the fight.

Winston-Salem State, the No. 4 seed in its region, plays fifth-seeded Slippery Rock in the first round of the Division II playoffs.

Mike Leach's contract extended

Washington State has extended the contract of football coach Mike Leach for two years, ensuring he'll be at the helm through the 2018 season, athletic director Bill Moos said Monday.

Leach has led WSU to a 5-5 record in his second season, 3-4 in the Pac-12, as the Cougars prepare for Saturday's game against Utah in Pullman.

That's the most wins for the Cougars at this point in the season since 2006. They're one win shy of qualifying for a bowl game. They have not played in the post-season since 2003.

Leach was hired prior to the 2012 season and he signed a five-year contract that paid more than $2.2 million per year, plus incentives. He is the highest-paid coach in Washington State history.

Details of the new contract were not immediately released.

Leach owns a career record of 92-57 in his 12 seasons as a college head coach, the first 10 at Texas Tech. He was offensive coordinator at Kentucky in 1997-98 when Hal Mumme installed the famous "Air Raid" offense.


Sports in the courts

Trial date in ex-Vols official's lawsuit

An April 2015 trial date has been set for former Lady Vols media director Debby Jennings' lawsuit against the University of Tennessee and athletic director Dave Hart.

U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell issued an order Friday setting a trial date of April 27, 2015.

Jennings sued Tennessee and Hart individually last year while alleging that age and sex discrimination led to her forced retirement from the school. Jennings was 57 years old when she left her job after 35 years in May 2012 as the university consolidated the men's and women's athletic departments.


Obituary

Buck Randall dies at 73

George M. "Buck" Randall, a University of Mississippi football player who tried to stop violence that erupted on the Oxford campus during integration in 1962, has died. He was 73.

One of his sons, Rafe Randall, told The Associated Press his father died Sunday at home in Clinton. The family was working on funeral arrangements Monday.

George Randall, who grew up in Greenwood, was a Rebels fullback from 1960 to 1963.

In the fall of 1962, violence broke out during the court-ordered admission of James Meredith as the first black student at Ole Miss. In the face of Mississippi's defiance, federal authorities deployed more than 3,000 soldiers and more than 500 law enforcement officers to Oxford. An angry mob of students and outsiders yelled and hurled bricks. Tear gas canisters exploded amid the oaks and magnolias. Two white men were killed. More than 200 people were injured, including 160 U.S. marshals.

A U.S. marshal told Randall to go outside near the university's main administrative building, the Lyceum, to try to talk to the mob and to urge people to leave, The Sun Herald reported. "It was a war, really," Randall said in a 2008 interview with the newspaper. "I didn't want anybody to get killed. It was a bad situation back then."

In 2008, the U.S. Interior Department designated the Lyceum and the surrounding area, known as The Circle, as a National Historic Landmark. In the 2007 nominating form for the landmark status, an architectural historian described how Randall implored rioters to stop attacking the marshals.

"Randall, unarmed, forced his way through the combatants to the flagpole in the center of The Circle," the nomination says. "He shimmied up the flagpole, which sported a Confederate flag, and yelled at the agitators to go home. After bullets hit the pole, he slid down, resuming his mission at the Confederate Monument and other strategic places in The Circle."


The last word

Before he won back-to-back Super Bowls as a running back with the Broncos in the 1997 and '98 seasons, New York Jets assistant coach Anthony Lynn played quarterback all the way through middle school. But one demoralizing conversation with a former coach changed the course of his playing career. Said Lynn:

"I'll never forget a guy telling a 13-year-old, 'Black guys can't play quarterback.' ... That came out of a grown man's mouth — to a kid."

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