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Friday, February 20, 2009
McKillop hopeful Curry will play against Butler


Davidson coach Bob McKillop was optimistic that all-everything guard Stephen Curry would be able to play on Saturday against Butler (ESPN, noon ET) in the featured BracketBuster game after sitting out Wednesday's loss to The Citadel.

But McKillop doesn't want Curry playing if he's not 100 percent. He said that if Curry had played against the Citadel he would likely be out longer because he was "sore" Thursday after a Wednesday workout. "Clearly we made the correct decision," McKillop said. "If he had played then, it might have been another week or two. Now we still have a chance."

As marquee as the Butler game can be for the Wildcats, the most important thing for Davidson is to win the Southern Conference's regular-season title to ensure an NIT berth -- and get the No. 1 seed for the conference tournament to gain an advantage for the automatic NCAA berth.

The Wildcats hold a two-game lead over The Citadel with three games left in the regular season. Davidson (22-5, 15-2) scored only 46 points in the loss to The Citadel (18-10, 13-4). Replacement point guard Brendan McKillop was 5-of-20 overall and 2-of-11 on 3s.

Curry is averaging a nation-best 29 points a game. "Experience is something we don't have as much, and for three years we relied on him and depended on him," McKillop said of Curry's absence. "There were a lot of things that were out of our normal rhythm. If you were to compare it to anything, it was like it was our first game of the season, despite [the fact] that we had played 26 games with him."

• UCLA's Alfred Aboya has turned into quite a special talent. Not only is he a graduate student working on his public policy degree (he hopes to become a politician in his native Cameroon), he has become irreplaceable on the court. Aboya was ill all week but found the strength to play against Washington Thursday night. He hit a huge top-of-the-key jumper to help stretch a lead against the Huskies in the eventual 85-76 victory at Pauley Pavilion. Aboya finished with 13 points and 11 boards.

• Oregon State beat Stanford by 12 for the Beavers' sixth win in the Pac-10 after a winless campaign last season. Hard to see how anyone but Craig Robinson will win conference Coach of the Year unless Mike Montgomery gets Cal the Pac-10 title. The Bears crushed Oregon in Eugene by 18 points to stay tied with UCLA, Arizona State and Washington in the loss column at four.

• Saint Mary's got a much-needed win over San Diego, 65-61, to go to 21-5 and 8-4 in the WCC. The Gaels await Patty Mills' return from a broken hand.

• LSU coach Trent Johnson said he's hopeful point guard Bo Spencer can play against Auburn Saturday after missing the past two games with a sprained right ankle. Spencer saw action on a sprained ankle in the double-overtime win at Mississippi State on Feb. 11, playing 30 minutes and scoring 15 points. But he couldn't go against Ole Miss and at Arkansas this week. The Tigers host Florida on Tuesday. Spencer has given the team an offensive lift, but Johnson didn't worry about the Tigers' production. LSU has plenty of scorers in Marcus Thornton, who put up 28 in the win at Arkansas, and Tasmin Mitchell, who scored 41 in 49 minutes in the win over Mississippi State. "I never worried about offense," said Johnson, on the veteran team he took over after coming from Stanford. "It was about defense and rebounding."

Thornton's efficiency, such as going 7-of-13 (5-of-7 at the line, 3-of-7 on 3s) in scoring 22 points in the win over Ole Miss, has pleased Johnson. The Tigers are in control of the SEC West (22-4 overall and at 10-1, a three-game lead in the West). Barring a collapse, they should make the NCAAs. Florida coach Billy Donovan said the Tigers are the league's best and most talented team. Both Johnson and Donovan said the depth of the SEC was proven by Arkansas, which beat Oklahoma and Texas at home, but is now 1-10 in the SEC.

• Donovan said on Friday's ESPNU College Basketball podcast that he can see the Gators' playing the way he envisions if Nick Calathes stays next season to go along with the additions of Georgetown transfer Vernon Macklin and incoming freshman Kenny Boynton. Donovan said he has a much better attitude about this team's playing hard versus the one from a year ago. The Gators just haven't been able to close out some of their games, like losses at Florida State, South Carolina and Kentucky. But there didn't seem to be any overt concern about the Gators' getting an NCAA bid -- yet.

• Illinois coach Bruce Weber, who also joined me in the podcast, couldn't get over the fact that for the first time in 104 years of home games at Assembly Hall, the Illini didn't shoot a free-throw in a 38-33 loss to Penn State.

• Three new members of the men's basketball committee will join the 10-member group next season. They are Wake Forest AD Ron Wellman, Big Sky commissioner Doug Fullerton and Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe. They'll replace Utah AD Chris Hill, George Mason AD Tom O'Connor and SEC commissioner Mike Slive. UCLA AD Dan Guerrero becomes the chair in 2010.

• Holy Cross plays at American Saturday in a Patriot League showdown. Holy Cross (9-2) and American (10-1) have become the premier programs in the last few seasons as Bucknell is going through a transition.

• Northern Arizona senior point guard Josh Wilson, who is the school's all-time assist leader, broke his foot last week. But he'll start, in a boot, for senior night in Flagstaff, Ariz., on Saturday against Sacramento State.