BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - LSU won its battle against Tennessee in the Southeastern Conference tournament last night. However, the Tigers may have lost the war when center Shaquille O'Neal was ejected after a bench-clearing brawl.
No. 23 LSU beat Tennessee 99-89, but O'Neal won't be able to play in today's semifinal against No. 9 Kentucky because his ejection for fighting carries an automatic one-game suspension.
The Tigers may have to play without the guidance of Coach Dale Brown, who threatened to boycott the Kentucky game to protest O'Neal's punishment.
"The league should be embarrassed for suspending Shaquille O'Neal for one game," Brown said. "It's a joke. The wrong people on our team were kicked off the floor."
LSU (20-8) was leading 73-51 with 10:05 remaining in the game when the brawl broke out. O'Neal was about to dunk when he was grabbed around the waist by Carlus Groves. They began shoving each other and the benches emptied. Brown then charged Groves and a melee ensued.
Brown was not ejected but five players on each team were. For the Vols, Jay Price, Chris Brand, Steve Rivers and Alonzo Johnson were kicked out. For LSU, Harold Boudreaux, Vernel Singleton, Jamie Brandon and Maurice Williamson were ejected.
Most fans turned against the Tigers after the fight, chanting, "Throw Dale out" and cheering the Vols the rest of the way.
"It was like LSU vs. the world. It was like everybody was against us. I have no idea why," LSU forward Clarence Ceasar said. "With me being a freshman, I didn't know our coach was hated so much."
Before the fight, O'Neal had scored 16 points and grabbed 16 rebounds.
After the game, Brown went to the Tennessee bench and shook hands with Coach Wade Houston, but Houston said, "I was pretty cool. I didn't make any comment to Dale."
TOP 25 GAMES
-- NO. 1 DUKE 94, MARYLAND 87 - Christian Laettner scored 33 points as Duke began its bid for its first Atlantic Coast Conference tournament title in four years. The Blue Devils (26-2), who haven't won the ACC tournament crown since 1988, received 17 points from Brian Davis and 16 from Bobby Hurley, who tied a tournament record with 13 assists. -- NO. 3 KANSAS 84, COLORADO 66 - Rex Walters' 19 points paced a balanced attack that led Kansas past Colorado (13-15) in the first round of the Big Eight tournament. The Jayhawks will meet No. 24 Oklahoma in today's semifinals. The Buffs (13-15), who were led by Randy Robinson's 22 points, hit just 22-of-66 shots from the field (33 percent). -- NO. 6 ARKANSAS 73, GEORGIA 60 - Todd Day scored 24 points, including a three-pointer that put Arkansas (25-6) in command, as the Razorbacks advanced to the semifinals of the SEC tournament. -- NO. 9 KENTUCKY 76, VANDERBILT 57 - Kentucky returned to the SEC tournament after a two-year absence and beat Vanderbilt (15-14) behind 24 points from Jamal Mashburn. The Wildcats (24-6) missed the last two tournaments because of NCAA probation. -- NO. 11 OKLAHOMA ST. 81, KANSAS ST. 57 - Byron Houston provided strong inside play with 26 points and eight rebounds as Oklahoma State (25-6) earned a first-round victory over Kansas State (15-13) in the Big Eight tournament. -- NO. 12 CINCINNATI 62, MARQUETTE 49 - Nick Van Exel scored 20 points to lead Cincinnati over pesky Marquette (6-6, 16-13) in the semifinals of the Great Midwest Conference tournament. Cincinnati (9-2, 24-4) takes a five-game winning streak into today's title game of the new league's tourney against Memphis State. -- NO. 15 SETON HALL 62, BOSTON COLLEGE 60 - Gordon Winchester made two of four free throws in the final 13 seconds as Seton Hall opened defense of its Big East tournament championship. The Pirates (21-7), tri-champions in the regular season with Georgetown and St. John's, will meet Syracuse, which beat Villanova 55-52, in today's semifinals.
Terry Dehere led Seton Hall with 21 points, while Winchester had 15. Malcolm Huckaby had 17 to lead the Eagles. -- NO. 18 FLORIDA ST. 93, N. CAROLINA ST. 80 - Rodney Dobard sparked a second-half rally as Florida State showed no ill-effects of a two-week layoff in its first ACC tournament game. A switch in Florida State's scheduling stemming from its move from the Metro Conference to the ACC forced the layoff. But the second-seeded Seminoles (20-8) never missed a beat, shooting 70 percent in the second half. -- NO. 17 ALABAMA 62, FLORIDA 60 - James Robinson got the shooter's roll with seven seconds remaining, scoring the last of his 29 points to give Alabama (24-7) a quarterfinal victory over Florida (16-12) in the Southeastern Conference tournament. -- MEMPHIS ST. 95, NO. 19 DEPAUL 75 - Freshman David Vaughn scored 26 points and Anthony Douglas had 24 as Memphis State upset DePaul in the semifinal of the inaugural Great Midwest Conference tournament. Anfernee Hardaway had 22 for the Tigers (7-5, 20-9). DePaul (8-3, 20-8) was without forward Curtis Price, who suffered a knee injury this week, and center Jeff Stern, booted off the team Wednesday for disciplinary reasons. -- NO. 20 N. CAROLINA 80, WAKE FOREST 65 - Hubert Davis scored 23 points and George Lynch sparked the North Carolina (20-8) offense in the second half for a victory over Wake Forest (17-11) in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament. -- NO. 21 GEORGETOWN 77, MIAMI 64 - Alonzo Mourning scored 28 points and controlled the middle against upset-minded Miami as Georgetown (20-8) won in the Big East tournament semifinals. The Hurricanes (8-24) led 36-33 in the second half before Mourning scored seven points in a 19-6 Hoya spurt. -- NO. 25 ST. JOHN's 64, CONNECTICUT 59 (OT) - Malik Sealy had 29 points and 18 rebounds as St. John's (19-9) won its first Big East tournament game since 1986 with an OT win over Connecticut (19-9). -- NO. 24 OKLAHOMA 107, NEBRASKA 85 - Jeff Webster had his best game in a month, scoring 23 points and grabbing nine rebounds to lead Oklahoma (21-7) in the first round of the Big Eight tournament.
-- AT NO. 3 STANFORD 83, CALIFORNIA 81 - Val Whiting blocked a shot by Milica Vukadinovic with 6 seconds left, then stole a pass to give Stanford (15-3, 25-3) first place in the Pac-10 Conference for the fourth consecutive season. Vukadinovic had 29 points for Cal (12-6, 20-8). -- NO. 16 W. KENTUCKY 72, LOUISIANA TECH 66 (OT) - Kim Pehlke scored 20 points to lead Western Kentucky (22-7) to an OT victory in the Sun Belt Conference semifinals. Pam Thomas hit two free throws with 10 seconds left in regulation to give Louisiana Tech (20-9) a 54-52 lead, but Pehlke took the ball the length of the floor and scored.