Cal's Hardin dominant in season-opening win

BERKELEY -- DeVon Hardin dunked, swatted, drew charges and showed everyone why he is expected to be a first-round NBA draft pick.

Hardin had 18 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks, leading Cal to a season-opening 67-59 victory over Southern Miss on Wednesday night.

"I felt great," Hardin said. "It was my first game back, and I definitely wanted to make an impression and help my team win."

Did he make that positive impression? "I think so," Hardin said with a smile. "I've always been an energetic player and enjoy myself. I'm happy."

Hardin, who returned to Cal for his final season rather than bolting for the NBA, is healthy after playing in only 11 games in an injury-shortened junior year. He sustained a stress fracture in his left foot Dec. 19 and sat out the remainder of the season.

Patrick Christopher scored nine consecutive points during one first-half stretch and finished with 19, but it was Hardin's show in the second half after Southern Miss made a run.

Southern Miss tied the game at 46 with about 10 minutes remaining, then went ahead on Sai'Quon Stone's layin at 9:26. But Hardin's athleticism was too much down the stretch. He dunked on back-to-back baskets in the closing minutes.

OTHER MEN'S GAMES -- Jon Brockman set career highs with 31 points and 18 rebounds to lead Washington to an 83-77 victory over Utah in the second round of the NIT Season Tipoff. Modesto Christian grad Adrian Oliver had three points for the Huskies, who face Texas A&M (81-76 winners over UTEP) in the tournament semis on Nov. 21 in New York. Ohio State will meet Syracuse in the other semifinal. ... Wayne Ellington scored 20 points and made key plays late to help No. 1 North Carolina avoid a major scare and to beat Davidson 72-68 in Charlotte, N.C.

GROUP TO START NEW TOURNEY -- The producer of some early season tournaments announced it will start a 16-team invitational postseason event. The College Basketball Invitational will be staged this March by The Gazelle Group, which runs the 2K Sports College Hoop Classic that benefits Coaches vs. Cancer and the O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic. The CBI intends to compete with the NIT for teams that did not make the NCAA Tournament's field of 65. "One of the big things is giving teams a choice (of postseason tournaments)," Gazelle Group president Rick Giles said. "Competition is good and makes everything better."

TIP-INS -- Kentucky will be without its top outside shooter for at least a month after guard Jodie Meeks was diagnosed with a stress fracture. The injury may mean more playing time for sophomore Michael Porter, a Modesto Christian graduate. ... Junior guard Billy Humphrey has been indefinitely suspended from the Georgia basketball team following his arrest for possession of a weapon on school property. Humphrey's lawyer, Kim Stephens, said he would file a motion as early as today to have the charge dismissed.


PARIS, PARKER TO MEET -- After two seasons of playing in different worlds, Oklahoma's Courtney Paris and Tennessee's Candace Parker will finally be on the same floor tonight when the No. 9 Sooners (0-1) face the top-ranked Lady Vols (1-0) at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Fla., site of this year's Final Four. "Courtney Paris and Candace Parker will be icons," Sooners coach Sherri Coale said Tuesday. "They already are, but you wait 15, 20 years and you see how their presence is legendary within the sport." Paris, who played at Modesto Christian her freshman season, averaged 23.5 points and 15.9 rebounds last season. Parker, who has gained acclaim for her ability to dunk in games, showed the wide range of her game in leading Tennessee to the national title last season.