Oklahoma State's Randy Rutherford hasn't been hyped as one of the NCAA tournament's great guards. The 6-foot-3 senior, who faces Drexel in the opening round of the East Regional tonight at the Baltimore Arena, has been overshadowed by his mammoth teammate -- 7-0, 290-pound Bryant Reeves.

But Rutherford, an All-Big Eight choice, was instrumental in leading the Cowboys to a 23-9 record. He averaged 19.8 points and 6.2 rebounds, but his forte is three-point shooting. He converted 129 of 308 three-pointers, including 11 against Kansas two weeks ago, when he scored a career-high 45 points.


"I've had as many quality guards play for me as anyone in the country in my 25 years of coaching," said Eddie Sutton, who also took Creighton, Arkansas and Kentucky to the NCAA tournament. "But Randy's performance against Kansas was the greatest of any guard who's played for me. If he played in the East, they'd all be raving about him."

And to think Rutherford's Broken Bow, Okla., neighbors tried to steer him to play football for the Oklahoma Sooners after high school.


"I had to give up football after I got hit one time and didn't know where I was," he said. "But I've always gone against the grain. I never liked the Sooners, and I was probably the only guy in my town who didn't root for the Dallas Cowboys. That's just my way."

Top dog grinds it out

Bettors beware. Both Wake Forest coach Dave Odom and his star player, Randolph Childress, said the team will not cover the 23-point spread against North Carolina A&T.;

"I don't think we've beat a team by over 20 points all year, and I'm quite confident that won't happen tomorrow," Childress said.

The Demon Deacons beat UNC-Greensboro by 20, the Citadel by 23 and Marshall by 36. But Wake's Atlantic Coast Conference contests have been relatively tight affairs.

Odom said that's his team's style.

"They cannot beat us in 10 minutes, and we cannot beat them in 10 minutes," he said. "It will be a 40-minute, grind-it-out type of game."

Childress, who dislocated the pinkie on his shooting hand in the ACC tournament semifinal, was wearing a bandage after yesterday's practice. He said it's feeling better, and he doesn't expect any problems today.


Family affairs

Odom's son, Lane, is in his fifth year as an assistant coach with Alabama. If the Crimson Tide and Demon Deacons each win two games in Baltimore, they will meet in the regional semifinals next week in East Rutherford, N.J. Lane spent the 1990 season as a Wake Forest volunteer assistant.

Minnesota coach Clem Haskins has a good luck charm in his daughter, Clemette, who is coach of the Dayton women's basketball team. Clem is 3-0 in first-round NCAA tournament games when his daughter is the ballgirl. Needless to say, Clemette is back in action in Baltimore as a ballgirl.

Poison Ivy?

Alabama coach David Hobbs, whose Crimson Tide faces Penn today, said he had qualms about playing an Ivy League team.

"We know how, over the years, Princeton gave so many NCAA teams fits with their intricate offense and backdoor plays," he said. "But Penn is a different kind of team. They don't hold the ball, they play, and they have a definite pro prospect in Jerome Allen.


"Last year, they beat Nebraska in the first round, and this year they beat Michigan and played Villanova real tough. It's not like the usual matchup between a No. 5 and No. 12 seed, and the oddsmakers know it," said Hobbs, noting the Tide is only a 3 1/2 -point favorite.

Et cetera

North Carolina A&T; freshman reserve Toby Jordan is the only player in the subregional who attended a local high school. He went to Aberdeen, the same school that produced Tommy Davis, who's No. 6 on Minnesota's all-time scoring list. . . Johnson Bowie, the athletic director at Drexel, went to Dulaney High and Western Maryland College. . . . Only three men on the GTE Academic All-America team are in the NCAAs, and Saint Louis forward Scott Highmark is one of them.