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December 20, 2002 Columns No Comments

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The Morning Dish – Saturday, December 21st, 2002

by Brian Strong


They’re the two states that you think of first when you think hoops tradition. They were the last two states to have true state championships that included all levels in one tournament with only one winner in the end. They like their hoops traditional and pure in their pocket of the Midwest. And today the two schools that represent all of that state tradition best, the No. 18 University of Kentucky Wildcats and No. 6 Indiana University Hoosiers, will meet on a neutral court as they do every year.

They’ll split the court right down the middle at Louisville’s Freedom Hall – about 9,000 in crimson and 9,000 in blue. The series alternates year-to-year between the RCA Dome in Indianapolis and this venue. And although, it houses another of Kentucky’s bitter rivals it has been fairly kind to the Wildcats under certain circumstances. The Wildcats won their 1958 National Title in the building.

And what should make this year’s game as good as any in the history of the series is that both teams are considered contenders for this year’s title. Indiana comes into the game undefeated. Kentucky, although coming off a tough loss to Michigan State, has also shown signs that they can compete with the country’s best.

For Kentucky, Keith Bogans, who has been a notoriously streaky player throughout his career, has been great this season. It seems as though the added responsibility of being a senior has affected him positively. At Indiana, in addition to all of the veteran leadership that they present, freshman Bracey Wright has been stunning. Last year, head coach Mike Davis assured Hoosier faithful that help was on the way and he was not kidding. Wright leads the team in scoring and has become a beautiful complement to the long-distance threat of a guy like Tom Coverdale and the inside presence of George Leach. Both teams bring skill from all aspects of the game. The weapons on both ends of the floor are various and dangerous.

Two teams with more national titles than anyone…Two teams headed for great things this season…Two states who absolutely love their basketball… The way it appears, the sun should indeed shine bright on this old Kentucky Hall.

Side Dishes

Wyoming Senior Done: Cowboy senior guard Marcus Bailey had his career come to an abrupt end, suffering an ACL tear on Thursday night. Bailey was leading the team in points this season (15.1 ppg). “He’ll have surgery here soon and get off to a new challenge,” sad head coach Steve McClain. Bailey was a guy playing well in his last year for his home state school. He also had his team off to a good start (7-2). Bailey tore his ACL in the win over South Carolina while attempting an uncontested layup. Sometimes you just gotta wonder how and why.

Mizzou’s Snyder gets extension: Missouri head coach Quin Snyder received a two-year contract extension Friday that would make him the Tigers’ coach through 2008. Snyder, 36 years old and a product of Coach K’s system at Duke, has shown promise in his first three years, leading the school to the NCAA tournament every year thus far. The Tigers, ranked No. 11 this week, made the tournament’s Elite Eight last season and are undefeated (6-0). In addition, to Snyder’s credit, all six players who have completed their eligibility during his tenure have obtained degrees.

Today/Tonight’s Menu:

• Indiana vs. Kentucky, 5:00 ET on CBS.

• UCLA at #17 Kansas, 5:00 ET on CBS. The Bruins are reeling. Can they right the ship?

• No. 11 Missouri at No. 12 Illinois, 5:30 ET on ESPN.

• No. 1 Arizona at LSU. Luke’s still out, but there’s plenty more game where these Wildcats come from.

That’s it for this Saturday. Enjoy your day, people.

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