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January 29, 2010, 02:51 AM ET
Two Players?

by Kevin Pelton

Alert reader TW read my column on Seattle University getting down to just four players in Tuesday’s 123-76 loss to the University of Washington and remembered an even crazier mismatch played by Wichita State. Fortunately, Google News has archived a story about the game, which pitted the Shockers against the Indiana State Sycamores in February 1989.

The two teams brawled late in the first half, and Indiana State’s bench got involved in the wild melee. All eight Sycamore reserves (including Eddie Bird, brother of the school’s most famous hoops star) were ejected, as well as the two players from both sides who instigated the fighting. That left Indiana State to play the entire second half with just four players. Wichita State coach Eddie Fogler told his team to take it inside instead of settling for jumpers, and while that allowed the Sycamores to hang around–in fact, they got as close as four points–ultimately two players fouled out, leaving two on the floor to try to defend five. (That’s a “2- zone”, or a “line” defense.) The Shockers won the game 84-69.

Actually, if you click that link and scroll up, you’ll see that the 5-on-2 mismatch wasn’t the craziest development in college hoops on Feb. 24, 1989. That honor went to Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke team using a zone (!) against North Carolina State. Although, if Ben Howland can be forced to rely on a 2-3 zone at UCLA, perhaps anything is possible.

If any other readers have stories of NCAA teams playing short-handed, pass them along to kpelton@basketballprospectus.com.

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