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Monday, February 18, 2008

Conference USA investigating aftermath of Memphis-UAB game

Conference USA investigating aftermath of Memphis-UAB game

MEMPHIS (AP) — Conference USA officials are investigating what happened after top-ranked Memphis' 79-78 victory over UAB where the Tigers were showered with debris after avoiding an upset.

Cups, water bottles and pompoms were thrown by fans in the UAB student section as the Tigers were being escorted off the court toward their dressing room Saturday night. The Commercial Appeal newspaper published a photo Sunday showing a fan being slapped and identified the player slapping him as Pierre Niles.

"We are currently in the process of gathering all the information about the actions occurring at the conclusion of Saturday night's Memphis-UAB game," the league said in a statement. "We have been in contact with administrators at both UAB and Memphis."

"Sportsmanship and the well-being of our student-athletes, staff and fans are among our highest priorities."

The league did not have a timetable on any decision or possible punishment.

The Southeastern Conference fined Vanderbilt $25,000 in February 2007 when students rushed the court after upsetting then-No. 1 Florida in the school's second violation of the league's sportsmanship policy.

Spokesman for Memphis and UAB did not immediately return telephone messages left by The Associated Press on Sunday afternoon. Memphis coach John Calipari said after the game he expected such a sold-out environment to be heated.

"Students do that. What, do you expect the students to be happy? They were into it, and all I told our guys was just get off the floor. You don't deal with it. You think they're going to kiss you on the lips? You just beat them in a tough, hard game," Calipari said.

Memphis (25-0) remained perfect by outscoring UAB 9-1 in the final 1:23. Robert Vaden missed an off-balance three-pointer, and Lawrence Kinnard's shot in the paint went in. A few of the Tigers walked toward the other end and appeared to be talking back to fans who crowded the end of the court.

Birmingham police officers held onto several Tigers as they walked off the court and toward their dressing room.

Officials were busy reviewing the replay, which showed the shot left his hands after the final second had ticked off the clock.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

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