Six weeks after the official start of the presidential campaigns, eyes are still on Iowa: Drake's hoopsters had won 19 straight through Sunday to go to 20--1. Could the Bulldogs be tournament-bound for the first time in 37 years? Well, said guard Josh Young (above) to The Des Moines Register, "things are starting to fall our way."
A rookie's evolution. The Giants long snapper and sometime defensive tackle grew up in the NFC title game, rebounding after a lousy snap to unleash a perfect one on the game-winning field goal. Then in Sunday's big chalupa he put the kibosh on any late Brady magic, breaking through for a sack with 20 seconds left.
If it's not one sis, it's the other. Oklahoma's 6'4" center Courtney Paris is averaging 16.2 points and 15.2 rebounds; 6'3" teammate Ashley is scoring 11.7 a game. Texas coach Gail Goestenkors: "They're tough to defend."
Predators winger J.P. Dumont (below) reeled off a 16-game point-scoring streak, then signed a four-year, $16 million (hmm, too bad he didn't have a 50-game streak) contract extension. And the Preds had won five of seven through Sunday.
Top 20 hoopsters at Michigan State (downed by unranked Penn State), Washington State (losers of two straight at home) and Kansas State (upset in Missouri) all slipped up. For K-State the afterglow of their win over Kansas did not last long. Forward Michael Beasley (above) on losing to Mizzou: "We played like boys instead of men."
Tough night, rookie. The former NCAA wrestling champion (he went 106--5 at Minnesota), and lately a WWE superstar, made his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut and got finished off by Frank Mir in 90 seconds. Why did the 6'3" 265-pounder lose? Explained Lesnar, "He was the better fighter."
Good thing there's a college basketball team to distract from Memphis's NBA entry. The lousy Grizzlies (13--34) lost their biggest draw when Pau Gasol was traded away (page 80).
After 14 years at The Philadelphia Inquirer, rabble-rousing sportswriter Stephen A. Smith (SI, Aug. 1, 2005) has been let go. Smith, who hosts a show on ESPN radio, had been demoted from Inquirer columnist to reporter in August but allegedly didn't accept the move. He called his dismissal "malicious, intentional and vindictive."
SI PLAYERS NBA POLL
Which team's arena is the most intimidating to play in as a visitor?
Jazz's (EnergySolutions Arena) ........ 20%
Spurs' (AT&T Center) ............................ 18%
Pistons' (The Palace of Auburn Hills) . 13%
Knicks' (Madison Square Garden) ........ 8%
Kings' (ARCO Arena II) ........................... 6%
Carlos Boozer (above, right) and Utah had a 20--3 home record through Sunday, tied with Dallas for the best in the NBA; the Spurs and Tim Duncan (left) were 20--5 in San Antonio.... The Knicks, 10--14 at home, have lost 10 home games by 10 points or more.... At 22,076, Detroit's Palace has the league's largest capacity.... The Celtics, 20--4 at home, finished sixth in the poll (5.6%).
[Based on a survey of 242 NBA Players] • For more on the poll, and to comment on it, go to SI.com/players.
L.G. PATTERSON/AP (BEASLEY)
RONDA CHURCHILL/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL (LESNAR)
DAVID ZALUBOWSKI/AP (DUMONT)
MATTHEW EMMONS/US PRESSWIRE (ALFORD)
CHARLIE NEIBERGALL/AP (YOUNG)
RAMIN RAHIMIAN/REUTERS (BOOZER)
JESSICA RINALDI/REUTERS (DUNCAN)