Most teams in Deep South dodge weather conflicts


Associated Press

Posted on January 28, 2014 at 8:07 PM

ATLANTA (AP) — Most of the sports teams in the Deep South dodged the winter storm that hit the region.

The majority of the college basketball, NBA and NHL squads in the region were off or playing on the road Tuesday when the snow, ice and freezing temperatures engulfed the Southeast on Tuesday.

At least one team planned ahead: No. 25 Middle Tennessee avoided potential dangerous travel by deciding on Monday to postpone a game at Southern Mississippi. The game originally planned for Wednesday was rescheduled for Feb. 5.

Also, Lincoln Memorial, a Division II team based in Harrogate, Tenn., pushed back men's and women's basketball games at Brevard in North Carolina from Wednesday to Thursday.

The LSU men's basketball game with No. 11 Kentucky went on as scheduled in Baton Rouge on Tuesday night. However, freezing rain and icy road conditions led to the closure of Interstate 10 between New Orleans and Baton Rouge about four hours before the game.

LSU gave parking attendants the night off, so there was free parking. Parking lots around the stadium were covered with a film of ice, making for a slippery, short walk to the gates of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Tigers fans Jim and Libby Best needed 30 minutes more than usual to make the drive of about 20 miles from Prairieville, rerouting because authorities had closed an overpass they normally take.

"The roads were bad," Jim Best said. "You had to go really slow and be careful."

Ron Ceruti, a Baton Rouge physician who attends nearly every game, said he thought about skipping the Kentucky contest before making a cautious 5-mile drive from his house.

"I just kept the car in second and third gear," Ceruti said. "There's nobody on the road. ... I figured if we could pull the upset on Kentucky, it would be a memorable night."

At least he had a good seat. After Ceruti arrived, a friend who did not attend called and advised him to move down to his seats in the second row at mid-court.

Kentucky's team flight arrived on Monday.

Wednesday could bring more challenges, especially if temperatures don't climb enough to allow the snow and ice which fell on Tuesday to melt.

In Georgia, where Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency, the Atlanta Hawks, Georgia Tech and Georgia were all off on Tuesday but have home games scheduled for Wednesday. The Hawks play the Detroit Pistons, Georgia Tech plays North Carolina and Georgia plays Vanderbilt.

The weather caused massive gridlocks on Atlanta-area interstates, due to accidents and icing on the roads. There were so many accidents that authorities asked motorists involved in wrecks not to call 911 unless there were injuries.

Some NBA teams based in the South were playing on the road on Tuesday night. New Orleans was at Cleveland, Orlando played at Detroit and Memphis was at Portland.

Similarly, in NHL action on Tuesday night, Florida played at Boston, Tampa Bay was at Toronto, Carolina played at Montreal and Nashville visited Winnipeg.

For college student-athletes looking to make the most of the rare winter storm, Tuesday was a good day to hope Wednesday's classes are cancelled.

Cierra Burdick, a junior forward on the Tennessee women's basketball team, used her Twitter account to enter a personal plea to Tennessee chancellor Jimmy Cheek:

"Fingers crossed for cancelled class tomorrow! Dr. Cheek I know you want to go ahead and make that call so please let it be in my favor! ????" Burdick tweeted.

As of early Tuesday night, there were no other announcements of games planned for Wednesday being postponed.


AP Sports Writers Teresa Walker in Nashville, Steve Megargee in Knoxville, Tenn., David Brandt in Jackson, Miss., and Brett Martel in Baton Rouge, La., contributed to this report.