By Gene Phelps
NEW ORLEANS — Mississippi State athletic director Larry Templeton apologized Thursday morning to Ole Miss athletic director Pete Boone for the “bad timing” of State’s NCAA football sanctions announcment.
The announcement was made during the Ole Miss-Florida basketball game. The time was setup by the NCAA and Committee of Infractions chairman Dr. David Swank of the University of Oklahoma.
“It was just bad timing and it was unfortunate,” Templeton said. “I told Pete this morning that please understand that Mississippi State had nothing to do with setting the time. I want to apologize to our sister university.”
Home cooking: Ole Miss freshman point guard Michael White, whose father, Kevin, is athletic director at Tulane, had the Ole Miss team over for supper Wednesday.
“We’re going to give them a taste of New Orleans,” White said Wednesday afternoon. “We’re having crawfish, jambalaya and ribs from the Rib Shack.”
The Rib Shack is owned by the father of Ole Miss freshman forward Jason Smith.
Auburn dreams: Auburn defeated Mississippi State twice last season, but in the end the Bulldogs went to the NCAA Tournament and the Tigers played in the NIT.
“It was hard to sit there and watch them go to the Sweet 16,” Auburn guard Lance Weems said of MSU’s run in the NCAA. “You see them go and you ask why not us. But they did what they had to do during the season and we didn’t.”
Auburn, which lost 68-61 to Marquette in its NIT opener, won only 16 regular season games last year.
Flanigan OK: Auburn guard Wes Flanigan suffered a separated shoulder in last week’s loss to Mississippi State, but he played and scored 15 points in Thursday’s win over Vanderbilt.
“It’s fine. It just hurts when people run into it,” he said, then smiled.
Boone’s battle: Ole Miss sophomore forward Anthony Boone is facing his second major knee operation in two years with his chin up.
Boone learned Wednesday that he had suffered a torn ligament (ACL) and cartilage damage in his left knee in last week’s loss to Auburn.
“I’ll make it back,” he said as he stood on crutches watching his teammates warmup. “I plan to play again.”
This is the second year in a row that Boone has missed the tournament with a knee injury,
“When it was getting close to the end of the season, I thought I was going to get to play in the tournament (smile), but here I am again,” he said, nodding to his crutches.
Pyramid power: The SEC Tournament makes a return trip to the Pyramid in Memphis next season (March 6-9). The tournament was last played there in 1994.