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BC's tourney hopes hit roadblock

Clemson started 17-0, North Carolina hit No. 1 in the polls, Virginia Tech beat North Carolina and Duke, and the story that's been overlooked in the Atlantic Coast Conference so far is Boston College's 5-0 start in league play.

But the Eagles' road to the NCAA Tournament -- and perhaps a high seed at HSBC Arena -- took a major detour Wednesday when coach Al Skinner dismissed junior center Sean Williams, the nation's third-leading shot-blocker, for violation of unspecified team rules. Backup forward Akida McLain was also tossed.

The 6-foot-10 Williams was averaging 12.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.0 blocks, most in the ACC. He was also BC's career leader in blocks.

Williams was suspended for the first semester last year for marijuana possession and missed the first two games this season for academic reasons. He's returning to his native Houston and will probably enter the NBA draft rather than transfer.

"We've got to go back and revamp a couple of things, and some people are going to need to step up," Skinner told the Boston Globe. "As a team, we've got to refocus. The nice part of it is the core of our team is still together, we've gotten off to a pretty good start . . . and so we still have a chance to compete."

But not a good one. Loyola (Ill.) transfer Tyrelle Blair, a 6-11 junior averaging 1.8 points, will take Williams' place beginning today at Clemson. BC's remaining schedule includes two games with Clemson, Duke, Virginia Tech and Florida State, and a visit by Carolina.

The Eagles (13-4) still have talent, led by 6-7 ACC scoring leader Jared Dudley (19.1 ppg). But how are they going to compete in the low post against the ACC's powers? Forget about a high seed and maybe forget about the NCAAs entirely.

The letters that BC might be reciting come March are NIT.


Durant's stock exploding

Just pack up the Game of the Year trophy right now and engrave it with Oklahoma State's 105-103, triple-overtime win Tuesday over Texas. This classic was a glittering addition to the resume of 6-10 Texas freshman Kevin Durant, who is vying with Wisconsin's Alando Tucker for national player of the year.

Durant had 37 points, equaling his Big 12 freshman record set last week at Colorado. Entering today's non-league game at Villanova (1:30 p.m., Ch. 4), Durant is averaging 24.5 points and 11.1 rebounds overall, and a spectacular 34 points and 13.5 boards in four conference games.

Ohio State's Greg Oden and Durant will be the NBA's top two draft picks. Durant plays multiple positions and could possibly be No. 1.


Harris Watch

Things have gotten much tougher for Niagara Falls native Paul Harris since Big East play opened at Syracuse. Harris played a season-low four minutes Wednesday against Cincinnati, scoring two points.

Harris is getting just 15 minutes per game in conference action, averaging 3.2 points and 4.6 rebounds. His averages in non-conference games were 25. 5/1 1. 3/7 .4.

"We've got to get him going," said coach Jim Boeheim. "I think he's a better player. He just hasn't been good in the halfcourt games."


Around the rim

Kentucky's 87-49 win Tuesday at South Carolina was the Gamecocks' worst home defeat since a 53-pointer to Wake Forest in 1915. Heading into today's game against Vanderbilt, Kentucky (15-3) has won 11 straight, is No. 4 in the RPIs and is Florida's top challenger in the SEC East. The Wildcats host Vanderbilt today.

Charlotte junior guard Leemire Goldwire exploded for 24 of his career-high 30 points in the final 7:58 of the first half of Wednesday's 80-59 Atlantic 10 win over Dayton. He hit 6 of 6 from three-point range.

Utah shot 70.7 percent in Tuesday's 85-79 upset of No. 13 Air Force that ended the Falcons' 13-game winning streak. Utah had dropped six straight, its longest slide since 1950.

John Chaney will return to the Liacouras Center today for the first time since he retired in April as Temple hosts Rhode Island. The Owls will be honoring Chaney's 1986-87 team that went 32-4 and was his first Top 25 squad.


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