Player at Illinois pleads not guilty

Associated Press
Jamar Smith: Player is accused of drunken driving and leaving an accident in which a teammate suffered a concussion.

URBANA, Ill. - Illinois basketball player Jamar Smith pleaded not guilty Friday to drunken driving and leaving the scene of an accident.


The 19-year-old sophomore faces a maximum of 12 years in prison and a $25,000 fine if convicted of the felony charges. His pretrial hearing is April 5.

Smith was driving in snowy conditions Feb. 12 when the car struck a tree. Authorities say Smith and his passenger, teammate Brian Carlwell, had been drinking tequila and beer before the crash. Smith, too young to drink legally, had a blood-alcohol level after the crash that was more than twice the legal limit, prosecutors say.

Authorities say Smith thought Carlwell was dead. They also contend that Smith left the scene and drove the damaged car back to his apartment.

Bystanders saw the car with an unconscious Carlwell inside and called police. The 19-year-old was hospitalized for several days with a severe concussion.

Smith, a guard, has agreed to sit out the rest of the season.

BIG EAST SHOWDOWN: In the era of tournaments, rankings and RPIs, there's still something to be said for a good old fashioned first-place finish in the regular season, especially in a bloated conference like the Big East.

Not sure about that? Just ask No. 10 Pittsburgh and No. 12 Georgetown, who meet today in a game that likely will determine the regular-season champion.

The Big East couldn't ask for a much better finish to February. The Panthers (24-4, 11-2) and Hoyas (21-5, 11-2) were supposed to be the class of the conference, and they've lived up to the billing by peaking at the right time. Georgetown has won 10 in a row; Pittsburgh has won 14 of 16.

In addition, Pitt and Georgetown both played well in their first meeting. The Hoyas shot 60.9 percent; the Panthers shot 59.6 percent. The teams combined for 38 assists, and eight players scored in double figures as Pitt held on for a 74-69 win on Jan. 13.



In Washington, Sarah-Jo Lawrence and Jessica Adair each scored 16 points to lead George Washington to its 17th consecutive victory.

The 87 points were a season high for George Washington (24-2, 13-0 Atlantic 10) and the most allowed by Saint Joseph's.

Saint Joseph's (15-12, 7-6) never got closer than 11 points in the second half. The Colonials responded with a 12-2 run in which Kenan Cole made a layup and a 3-pointer for a 61-40 lead with 10 minutes left. Cole finished with 13 points.

Erica Pollock and Ayanha Cornish led the Hawks with 10 points. Pollock also had 10 rebounds.

The win tied the Colonials with Temple, whom they play host to Sunday, for the conference lead.