Ravell Call, Deseret Morning News
Nurudeen Adepoju of SUU defends as Jordan Swarbrick of Utah Valley goes to the hoop.

RPI rankings

132: BYU — Facing Steve Cleveland this week

183: Utah State — Impressive streak stopped

200: Weber State — Won one for N. Utah

217: Utah — Ranking will go up this week

321: S. Utah — Already playing Summit games

336: Utah Valley — UVU vs. USU on Saturday


Game of the week

Michigan at Utah, tonight at 7 p.m.

Before it's done, Utah's outstanding non-conference schedule will include Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Illinois, Illinois State, not to mention LSU and Pepperdine.

Who is hot

>Jordan Swarbrick

The 6-foot-6 guard (with ball) from El Dorado, Calif., has lit up the scoreboard for the Wolverines this season. He has been the Great West's top men's player of the week — twice — and is in the top 3 on his team in points, rebounds and assists.

Around the NCAA

When North Carolina looked to hire a basketball coach earlier this decade, always-thinking Kentucky fans saw an opportunity to dispose of Tubby Smith.

Basketball elder statesman C.M. Newton, the former Kentucky athletic director, scoffed at the notion of Smith leaving UK for UNC.

"Why would Tubby want to take a step down?" Newton said.

When reminded this fall of that observation, Newton smiled a self-conscious smile and said, "That was my Kentucky pride talking."

Kentucky pride and the notion of stepping up or down to North Carolina hang heavy in the air with college basketball's two winning-est programs.

Tradition. All-Americans. Coaching giants. Winning. National championships. The basketball gods have abundantly blessed Kentucky and North Carolina.

Yet in this competitive business, only one program can sit at the summit. After a century of games, five victories separate Kentucky and North Carolina. Too close for comfort for Kentucky, which never tires of trumpeting its basketball superiority. Too inconsequential to distract North Carolina, which claims winning must be harnessed to doing things the right way, in powder-blue parlance, "the Carolina way."

North Carolina spokesman Steve Kirschner acknowledged that the program's allegiance to "the Carolina way" causes skeptics to see "a certain sense of arrogance."

Dan Issel, the career scoring leader for Kentucky, sees North Carolina basketball as snooty.

"Most of the guys I know who played at Carolina have an inflated value of what that is," he said. "They have too big an idea of the North Carolina program, and they think it's the greatest."

However, veteran columnist Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe accepts the notion of North Carolina being about more than piling up victories.

In a column for Basketball Times last year, Ryan wrote of North Carolina, "No other program so clearly stands for something."

Ryan elaborated in a follow-up e-mail, writing that coaching icon Dean Smith made the Tar Heels a winner in more than the scoreboard sense of the term.

"Carolina means Dean's stamp: T-E-A-M," Ryan wrote. "Standing up and applauding your teammates. Acknowledging the passer. It may all be (B.S.) now, but that was the foundation."

And the Kentucky way?

"Kentucky stands for Wildcat Lodge, in which priorities are all out of whack," Ryan wrote. "Carolina at least pretends there is another reason why a kid goes to the school."

On the court, the Carolina way requires the scorer to point to the passer as a way of saying thank you. Reserves stand and clap for a player being substituted out of the game as a way to show appreciation for a teammate's contribution. Players rush to help up a teammate who takes a charge.

"It really wasn't a system," said Auburn Coach Jeff Lebo, a point guard for North Carolina in the 1980s. "It was more a philosophy of how to play."

The Carolina way extends off the court, too, Kirschner said. In the early 1990s, UNC's radio and television rights holder bought a $2 million video screen for the football stadium. The school kept it in storage for a year because of the overall poor economic climate at the time. "We felt it'd send the wrong message to faculty if we put up a video board," Kirschner said.

At Kentucky earlier this year, the school's Board of Trustees ignored protests and accepted a $7 million gift requiring the name Wildcat Coal Lodge be placed on new housing for the men's basketball team.

Even 20 years removed from his playing days, Lebo said he still gets recognized in Alabama as a former North Carolina player. "It makes me feel pretty cool," he said.

IOWA COACH BACK FROM SURGERY: Iowa coach Todd Lickliter has been released from an Iowa City hospital after undergoing a procedure to repair a tear in his carotid artery.

Lickliter spoke about the operation to stent his carotid artery for the first time on a radio show Tuesday. He had been hospitalized Friday.

Lickliter says he was having headaches when the Hawkeyes were in Kansas City in late November. Doctors discovered the beginning of a tear in his carotid artery — which is a vessel that supplies blood to the brain — and performed the procedure Saturday.

Lickliter says doctors have advised him to rest for the remainder of the week.

DAWKINS' SISTER KILLED IN ACCIDENT: Duke freshman guard Andre Dawkins has left the team to be with his family in Virginia after his sister's death in a weekend car wreck.

The West Virginia State Police says 21-year-old Lacey Dawkins of Columbus, Ohio, died Saturday morning. She was a passenger in a vehicle involved in a three-vehicle accident on Interstate 77 in Pax, W.Va., while driving to the Duke-St. John's game in Durham Saturday afternoon.

In a news release Monday, Duke said Dawkins' biological mother, Tamara Hill, also was in the vehicle. West Virginia authorities had no information on her condition.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski (sha-SHEF'-skee) says in a statement the eighth-ranked Blue Devils' prayers are with Dawkins and his family.

Duke's next game is Dec. 15 against Gardner-Webb.