BOISE, Idaho (AP) -``Big Blue'' has served his sentence and will be back in uniform for Utah State in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
The Aggies' mascot was suspended one game for scuffling with New Mexico State's ``Pistol Pete'' during Utah State's win in the Western Athletic Conference semifinals last week.
``We went ahead and suspended him for one game. He's back and will be ready to go,'' Utah State athletic director Scott Barnes said Thursday.
The Aggies open the East Regional against Marquette - and look for Big Blue to be on his best behavior. The blue bull had to sit out Utah State's win over Nevada in the WAC title game.
The scuffle started after a fan offered the Utah State mascot $100 to rip off the large, fake mustache that's part of Pistol Pete's cowboy getup. That wrangled Pistol Pete, who chased Big Blue to the middle of the court and tried unsuccessfully to tackle and choke him.
After the fracas, Tyler Newbold hit a 15-foot jumper with 3.1 seconds left to give Utah State a 71-70 win, keeping alive its NCAA tournament hopes.
helter. Barnes said he hoped the suspension put an end to the highly publicized incident.
LATE ARRIVAL: West Virginia landed in the Twin Cities at about 3:30 a.m. Thursday, about 10 hours before the Mountaineers were scheduled to practice for their first-round game against Dayton. Needless to say, that's not how it was planned.
The airplane the NCAA chartered for the team had mechanical problems at the airport in Clarksburg, W.Va., a few miles down the road from campus in Morgantown. The problem was thought to be fixed once, but the crew encountered more trouble that forced a scramble for a second plane and flight crew from Atlanta through Delta Air Lines.
``I don't know what I want to say,'' coach Bob Huggins said. ``I'm trying to be kind.''
To fill the time, the Mountaineers went bowling and saw some movies in town before finally boarding the aircraft after midnight. They arrived at the team hotel after 4 a.m.
``It was a long day, a long travel day,'' Huggins said. ``They are young kids and they are very resilient, and I'm sitting in there with them and they seem pretty good to me.''
SEATS STILL AVAILABLE: About 5,000 tickets for Friday's first-round NCAA tournament games in Miami remained unsold, making it almost certain that the site will not be a sellout.
ne have endured slower ticket sales than Miami, where officials plan on drawing black curtains around parts of the upper level to block out sections of empty seats.
``It's a combination of factors,'' said Mike Sophia, the executive director of the Miami-Dade Sports Commission. ``We hope to see more people show up. But everybody's sort of gauging what the economy's doing to events like this.''
A scalper near the arena Thursday morning was trying to get $150 - about double face value - for tickets to Friday's first two-game session. He would not give his name, and said that's what he paid for each of the eight seats he was trying to move.
Told that tickets were still available for $76 a session, the man simply said his seats were better and walked away in a drizzle.
RENEWING ACQUAINTANCES: Stephen F. Austin coach Danny Kaspar has faced Syracuse's Jim Boeheim once before. The tape, if any even exists, wouldn't be much scouting help before their teams meet in a first-round South Regional matchup Friday.
Kaspar played at North Texas, which visited Syracuse on Jan. 3, 1978 - Boeheim's second season, even before the famed Carrier Dome was opened. Syracuse won that night 94-84, and Kaspar played nine minutes in the game, going 0-for-1 without scoring.
eather left an indelible impact on the Texan.
He was eating at a restaurant during a snowstorm and couldn't see the road outside. A waitress set him straight on what winter is like in Syracuse, pointing to a bush 15 feet away.
``She said, 'You see that bush out there? ... When you can't see that bush, we're having a bad snowstorm,''' Kaspar recalled. ``I thought as good of a program as it is at Syracuse, if I was good enough to play here, I probably wouldn't choose here.''
LONGER STAY: Temple has already lasted longer at this year's NCAA tournament than last.
In 2008, the Owls played in Denver at 10:30 a.m. and were the first team eliminated, losing to Michigan State. This year the No. 11-seeded Owls will last at least until Friday, when they face No. 6 Arizona State in a first-round game in Miami.
The tournament berth a year ago was Temple's first in seven seasons, and resulted from an emotional victory over St. Joseph's for the Atlantic 10 championship.
``This year I think we're a little bit more focused,'' senior Semaj Inge said. ``Last year we were real excited coming off the Atlantic 10 championship because we beat our rival St. Joe's, and a lot of guys kind of settled for that. We just want a little bit more this year.''
pionship game Saturday.
ALDRICH'S HOMECOMING: North Dakota State has seven Minnesotans on the roster and hopes to make the Metrodome its home away from home for Friday's first-round game against Kansas, but the Jayhawks have their own local connection in sophomore center Cole Aldrich.
He grew up in Bloomington, the largest of the Twin Cities suburbs, and has been to the stadium dozens of times for Twins and Vikings games. He even came to watch the NCAA regional in 2006, when Florida emerged from a field including Villanova, Georgetown and Boston College.
``I remember Randy Moss catching a few passes here, Torii Hunter catching a few balls and all that,'' Aldrich said in a makeshift Kansas locker room before excitedly learning he was actually sitting in front of Hunter's old cubicle in the Twins clubhouse.
He loves living and playing in Lawrence, but Minnesota will always be home. Aldrich smiled as he recounted his arrival at the Minneapolis airport the day before.
``I was like, 'Yeah, I remember this,''' Aldrich said. ``It's really nice to get back.''

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