TWO MEN sued Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim and the school for defamation yesterday, saying they were vilified as liars out for money after they accused his longtime assistant of molesting them.

Former Syracuse ball boys and stepbrothers Bobby Davis and Mike Lang said they were molested by Bernie Fine, who has since been fired and has denied the allegations. A third man also has accused the 65-year-old Fine, who had been Boeheim's top assistant since 1976.

"It really hurt me to learn coach Boeheim had accused me of lying," Davis said, reading from a statement at a news conference after the lawsuit was filed in New York State Supreme Court.

University spokesman Kevin Quinn declined to comment. The U.S. attorney's office is investigating.

When the allegations surfaced Nov. 17, Boeheim staunchly supported Fine, saying the accusations were lies to capitalize on the Penn State child sex abuse case.

He later said he was wrong to question the motives of the accusers.

That's not enough, said attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing the stepbrothers, and whose recent clients include a woman who accused presidential candidate Herman Cain of making unwelcome sexual advances.

"Although Boeheim eventually acknowledged that he 'misspoke,' those words came too little too late," Allred said. "One of Syracuse's most respected individuals had already told the world repeatedly that Bobby Davis and Mike Lang were nothing but liars and out for money and nothing else."

Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said last week that Davis was credible, but he couldn't investigate under state law because the statute of limitations had expired.

The statute of limitations in New York to bring a civil suit for child sexual abuse is 5 years after the victim turns 18, though there have been several legislative attempts recently to open a one-year window for older incidents.

In another matter, Fine's attorneys say they don't object to the release of the search warrant application that led authorities to take computers, cameras and other material from his home.

Records already unsealed by a judge show investigators looking for pornography that could be used "to sexually arouse or groom young males" and records detailing Fine's contact with boys.

Noteworthy * 

Kansas freshman Ben McLemore was arrested after missing a Dec. 6 court appearance to answer a citation for underage possession of alcohol. He was cited last month at a bar near the campus.

In games last night * 

At Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Jared Berggren scored 17 points and Ryan Evans added 16 to help No. 14 Wisconsin (9-2) fend off a second-half surge from its in-state rival for a 60-54 victory.

* At Michigan, Evan Smotrycz scored 16 points and freshman Trey Burke scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half as the No. 20 Wolverines (8-2) went on an early 19-point run en route to a 63-50 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

* At Mississippi State, Dee Bost had 22 points as the No. 17 Bulldogs (10-1) beat Florida Atlantic, 75-68.