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December 15, 2002 Columns No Comments

The Morning Dish – Sunday, December 15th, 2002

by Phil Kasiecki

Saturday belonged to road teams and teams that traveled far to play at neutral sites, especially in games with top 25 teams. There were 16 games featuring teams in the Hoopville Top 25, with four visiting teams and one neutral site team among them. Each one came out victorious, and this was the case with some other notable matchups as well.

No. 12 Florida put an end to No. 14 Maryland’s streak of 87 consecutive non-conference home wins, as the Gators improved to 7-2 with a 69-64 win over the Terrapins. Freshman point guard Anthony Roberson continues his solid play for the Gators, as he scored a game-high 20 points and hit several clutch shots, while Matt Bonner had a double-double (16 points, 12 rebounds).

No. 21 Michigan State got a big win at Rupp Arena over No. 16 Kentucky, pulling out a 71-67 decision to improve to 5-2 and drop the Wildcats to the same record. Chris Hill played a solid game with 16 points and freshman Paul Davis contributed 13 points off the bench, ruining a 23-point effort by Kentucky’s Keith Bogans.

No. 5 Oregon (6-0) defeated Pepperdine at Malibu Beach, 105-90, as Luke Jackson led five players in double figures with a game-high 27 points. No. 19 Tulsa (5-1) got a double-double from Kevin Johnson (16 points, 12 rebounds) to lead four players in double figures en route to a 62-46 win over Southwest Missouri State.

Side Dishes

Welcome Back: Mario Austin played his first game of the season for No. 25 Mississippi State as they headed to Madison Square Garden to take on No. 10 Xavier in the first of two games. Austin was held out of the first six games during an NCAA investigation, but showed no ill effects as he scored 28 points and grabbed 9 rebounds to lead a 71-61 victory. Austin also held Xavier All-American Dave West to 13 points on just 4-13 shooting.

Success in the Meadowlands: The last time Rick Pitino was a college head coach in a game at Continental Airlines Arena, his Kentucky Wildcats won the national championship. On Saturday, he brought his Louisville Cardinals there to take on Seton Hall, and continuing the trend of road teams winning Saturday, the Cardinals used a 33-4 run to end the first half and start the second half to improve to 3-1 with a 91-70 win. Reece Gaines led six Cardinals in double figures with 23 points and 7 assists.

Conference Opponent, Non-Conference Game: While a few conferences have had games already, there was one matchup Saturday between two conference rivals that is not a conference game. No. 6 Indiana beat visiting Purdue by a score of 66-63, in a game scheduled because the two teams will play each other only once in conference play and wanted to play a second time.

Close Calls: Buried between the many marquee matchups were a few close games that could have gone either way. No. 15 Marquette shot 52.2% from the field to improve to 6-1 with a 63-54 win over Wisconsin (6-2). St. Louis beat Dayton, 63-55, behind Marque Perry’s 21 points. Cincinnati held off pesky LaSalle, 65-62, behind a double-double from Jason Maxiell. Rutgers improved to 5-2 with a 76-70 win over Princeton, shooting 51% from the field.

The First Time Is Always the Hardest: Several teams suffered their first loss on Saturday. Wyoming improved to 6-2 by handing Texas Tech its first loss of the season, 67-62. Southern Illinois fell to 4-1 by dropping a 73-71 decision to in-state rival Illinois-Chicago. Stephen F. Austin held serve at home by knocking off Oral Roberts, 71-68, dropping the Golden Eagles to 6-1.

Tonight’s Menu:

• Atlanta is home to the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Classic for Kids today. While the football game is well-known, the doubleheader at Philips Arena will be well worth watching, as Gonzaga takes on Georgia, followed by Georgia Tech taking on Tennessee. Stay tuned for coverage of the games.

• No. 7 Texas heads to Tucson to take on No. 1 Arizona in a game that many thought would be a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup before Notre Dame had their say last Sunday.

• Several in-state rivalry games are on tap, but the most notable one is New Mexico State taking on New Mexico at The Pit.

• Other interesting matchups with teams outside the top 25 include Miami traveling to Charlotte, SMU visiting Wake Forest, and Oklahoma State hosting Fresno State.

That’s it for this Sunday. Enjoy!

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