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December 16, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Monday, December 16th, 2002

by Andrew Flynn

There really weren’t any major matchups yesterday. All in all, a quiet relaxing Sunday. Oh.

Well there was that Arizona -Texas game that went down to the end. And since they’re ranked No. 1 vs. No. 7, I suppose there’s some interest there. And that it was televised nationally and all, and that there was a report of a hype machine driving down I-10 down towards Tucson. Well, then yes, there was a major matchup yesterday.

In case you weren’t around a media outlet yesterday (or were in Nashville trading your best young slugger away), the top-ranked Arizona Wildcats downed the No. 7 Texas Longhorns 73-70 in a back-and-forth physical contest. As if that weren’t enough to prove Arizona deserves top-billing, they did it without all-conference forward Luke Walton, who will be out for a few weeks with an ankle injury suffered earlier in the week during practice.

The showcase of two of the nation’s top point guards in Texas’ T.J. Ford and Arizona’s Jason Gardner proved to be a disappointment, as both players faltered. Gardner recovered, however, and became the savior for Lute Olson’s squad, as he scored six points in the final two minutes to seal the deal for the Wildcats. Both Gardner and Ford finished with 13 points, but Ford hurt his squad’s chances with 6 turnovers and two devastating offensive fouls late in the game.

Arizona was lead by Salim Stoudamire with 14 points, including two from the stripe with less than 30 seconds remaining. James Thomas led the Longhorns with a 20/12 double-double. There were a dozen ties and eight lead changes in the close match. Arizona should get a boost in the polls – never mind they were already ranked first. This first tough matchup on the eve of the Pac-10 regular season – without Walton – should impress the voters. Previously, the Wildcats had only faced then 21st-ranked Western Kentucky, who has disappeared.

Side Dishes

Buzzer Beater: Even though Championship Week is a few months away, we got a taste of those last-second desperation shots yesterday, when Tennessee’s Jon Higgins sank a half-court prayer shot at the buzzer to defeat Georgia Tech 70-69 in the Peach Bowl Classic in Atlanta. The Yellow Jackets had dominated the game up until the final few minutes, when Tennessee mounted a 15-2 run to tie the game at 64 with two minutes left. This was the teams first meeting since 1968, even though the schools are only 150 miles apart.

Bulldog, Bulldog: In the other matchup in Atlanta, Gonzaga’s momentum to re-join the Top 25 was stopped by a hot shooting Georgia squad, especially Jarvis Hayes, who scored 29 in the 95-83 upset. Georgia was on fire early, leading Gonzaga at the break 50-28, following a 15-4 run with four minutes left before intermission. Five total Georgia boys notched double figures – Hayes’ 29, Ezra Williams (21), Richard Wehunt (13), Chris Daniels (11) and Jonas Hayes with 10. Gonzaga leader Blake Stepp only managed 4 points in limited time. Ronny Turiaf pitched in and led the ‘Zags with 20, while Richard Fox and Tony Skinner had 15 and 14, respectively.

Eeking it Out: Former media darling College of Charleston just barely survived a scare from winless Stetson, winning 66-64. And this was with holding the Hatters to just six points in the final seven minutes. Of course, the Cougars shot a whopping 29%#37; in the second half, missing all of their field goals down the stretch, allowing Stetson a 10-point run. An ugly game to say the least.

Bell2K: Congrats to Boston College’s Troy Bell, who became just the fourth Eagles player with 2,000 career points, joining Dana Barros, Billy Curley and Danya Abrams in the BC2K club. In the actual game, the Eagles downed Stony Brook 79-61.

Tonight’s Menu:

• No. 22 Stanford, in their first game since Thanksgiving break (that loss in the Preseason NIT to the ‘Heels), faces the Grizzlies from Montana in the opening round of the Stanford Invitational Tournament. The second game pits the Pepperdine Waves against the Richmond Spiders.

• No. 24 Creighton faces Delaware State in their bid to stay undefeated. Delaware State is 2-4 on the season, but feature the Matthews brothers, Andre and Aaron, who are big contributors to the Hornets offense.

That’s it for this Monday. Enjoy!

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