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Nov 28, 2001

Postgame Player Reaction – Video Clips

AP Sports Writer

RICHMOND, Va. – The ice was under the floor, but it might as well have been the floor Wednesday night when condensation on the court forced postponement of the game between No. 9 Virginia and No. 22 Michigan State.

The game was called by the officials with 15:04 to play after the Cavaliers’ Travis Watson fell hard to the court, hitting his face, trying to defend an inbounds play. Neither coach objected to the stoppage.

“This was the most bizarre evening I’ve ever experienced,” said Virginia coach Pete Gillen, whose team led 31-28.

“It was like Bambi on ice.”

The ice, under the floor in preparation for a minor league hockey game on Friday night and warmed by 70-degree temperatures outside, produced a steady supply of moisture that made the going too treacherous to continue.

“It definitely wasn’t safe out there,” said Virginia point guard Roger Mason Jr., who slipped several times and finally changed his approach, avoiding drives to the basket that are crucial to his game.

“I think we went as far as we could go, maybe too far,” Gillen said. He said lead official Andre Pattillo told both coaches at halftime the game could be called, and both left it to the officials to decide.

“I don’t think Pete wanted to call it any more than I did,” Spartans coach Tom Izzo said, noting that the game drew 11,666 fans, was televised on ESPN2 and was part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. “It was nasty.”

The announcement came after Virginia ran off 12 consecutive points to take the lead, drawing boos from the partisan crowd. But players and coaches on both sides said they were relieved to be out of danger.

“We were real concerned, but we tried not to think about it,” Virginia’s Chris Williams said. “We tried to play hard, but we couldn’t help but have (the danger) in the back of our minds.”

Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage and coliseum general manager Larry Wilson both blamed the weather, which rendered air conditioners that had run for 24 hours unable to tame the warmth.

“I don’t know if anybody anticipated it would be 70 degrees at 7:30,” Littlepage said. “It was an unfortunate decision, but the right decision.”

He doubted the game could be rescheduled or completed, and wasn’t sure how ticket holders would be compensated. An announcement as to whether the game can be completed is scheduled for Friday.

The final play ended with Watson sprawled on the floor after slipping while attempting to cover a Michigan State player on an inbounds play.

The Spartans (2-2), coming off consecutive losses to No. 12 Syracuse and No. 24 Fresno State in the Preseason NIT, finished the first half with a 19-4 run to take a 24-19 lead. But they had the more slippery side after the break, making quick moves to the basket almost impossible.

At each play stoppage, nearly two dozen crew members with mops and towels came out to attend to the floor, but the moisture kept coming.

Gillen is no stranger to a wet court. In January 1997, a game involving Gillen’s Xavier team was delayed 30 minutes in the first half against Virginia Tech because of condensation on the floor.

That game was also played in a minor league hockey arena.

St. John’s had to wait an extra day in February 1970 to beat Rhode Island on the road.

An all-day rain allowed water to get into the vents at Keaney Gymnasium and drip onto the court. The game was called during warmups and made up the next day.

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