SI: Could you post him up?
Lavender: Yeah, he's too small.
SI: Any small role models?
Lavender: Primarily Muggsy and Spud Webb.
SI: What's the best thing, nonbasketball, about being your size?
Lavender: Girls like me because I'm small and cute. Like a Smurf.
SI: Seriously, how tall are you really?
Lavender: I'll stick with 5'6". In shoes, 5'7".
Michigan State entered Big Ten play with a losing record (5-6) for the first time in 27 years, and the Spartans allowed Kentucky and Syracuse to shoot better than 60%. The last Spartans foe to hit that mark? Minnesota—on Feb. 13, 1999.
Last season Texas center James Thomas averaged 11.0 rebounds (first in the Big 12), and he was Texas's third-leading scorer (11.1 per game). Through Monday, however, Thomas was averaging only 6.8 points and 7.2 rebounds. On Dec. 29 coach Rick Barnes replaced him in the starting lineup with freshman P.J. Tucker. Barnes says the 6'8" Thomas fell behind in the preseason, when back spasms limited his work in the team's conditioning program. "His attitude has been great," Barnes says, "but he has lost some confidence." On Monday, Thomas scored four points and got seven rebounds in Texas's 79-77 overtime win at Providence. If the Longhorns (8-2) are to challenge in the Big 12, they'll need the Thomas of old.