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December 22, 2002 Columns No Comments

The Morning Dish – Sunday, December 22th, 2002

by Phil Kasiecki

Two teams fell for the first time on Saturday, most notably the No. 1 Arizona Wildcats. The Wildcats fell behind late in the first half and never led after that, as LSU held on for a 66-65 win without scoring in the final 1:44.

Arizona (5-1) led for much of the first half, as LSU (7-1) didn’t start to come alive until the latter portion of the half when they gained their first lead. After going up 66-60 on a jumper by Antonio Hudson (game-high 20 points), the Tigers would hold on for dear life as the Wildcats had their chances. Included was Ronald Dupree rebounding a missed free throw and calling a timeout that the Tigers did not have as he was falling out of bounds, which led to two technical free throws by Salim Stoudamire. The Wildcats shot just under 33% from the field in this game and were out-rebounded.

The other team to fall from the ranks of the undefeated was No. 6 Indiana, as No. 18 Kentucky knocked off the Hoosiers by a 70-64 margin in a game that ended with Indiana head coach Mike Davis showing that Freedom Hall is not his favorite place to visit. The lead changed hands six times in the final 2:16 of this game.

After trailing for a good portion of the first half, Kentucky (6-2) ended the half on a 15-2 run sparked by Keith Bogans (17 points) and Gerald Fitch (16 points), going to the locker room with a 33-26 lead. The Hoosiers (8-1) would stay within striking distance in the second half and regain the lead at 60-59 with 2:20 left on a layup by Jeff Newton (game-high 24 points, 11 rebounds).

With the Hoosiers down 65-64 on a jump hook by Marquis Estill (14 points), Bracey Wright (18 points) drove to the basket and missed a layup with 10 seconds left, rebounded by Bogans. Suddenly, Davis was on the court as he confronted the referee for a non-call on Wright’s layup. Davis was ejected, and Bogans would hit 5 of 6 free throws to seal the game.

Side Dishes

Staking Their Claim, Part 1: No. 2 Alabama improved to 8-0 with a 69-61 win over Providence, a game they broke open with 20 unanswered points late in the first half. Erwin Dudley and Mo Williams had 19 points each to lead the Tide, with Dudley hauling down 14 rebounds and Williams handing out 6 assists. Ryan Gomes played well in defeat with 21 points and 12 rebounds.

Staking Their Claim, Part 2: No. 5 Pittsburgh improved to 8-0 with an 87-71 win at Rhode Island in the first sellout at the new Ryan Center. Brandon Knight had 22 points to lead the way, scoring 16 in the first half when he shot the ball well to help the Panthers open up an early lead. The Panthers shot nearly 56% from the field, held the Rams to 31% shooting and won the battle of the boards by a 45-27 margin, getting good help to that end from reserves Ontario Lett (14 points, 7 rebounds) and Chevon Troutman (10 points, 9 rebounds).

Braggin’ Rights Indeed: In the lone other matchup between Top 25 teams on Saturday, No. 12 Illinois improved to 8-0 with an 85-70 win over No. 11 Missouri in St. Louis. The Illini started three freshmen and were led by Dee Brown’s 21 points and 7 assists, while Brian Cook continues to have a solid senior season in posting 17 points and 9 rebounds. Missouri (6-1) was led by Rickey Paulding’s 17 points. Illinois out-rebounded Missouri 38-27 and held the Tigers to 37.7% shooting in the game that has been dubbed the Braggin’ Rights game.

Close Call in the Sunshine State: No. 13 Florida needed two overtimes and 33 points from freshman Matt Walsh to take out Miami in the Orange Bowl Classic, 94-93. Both teams shot the ball well and the Gators won despite committing 24 turnovers. Darius Rice led Miami (4-4) with 32 points, and James Jones added 26.

Taking It Easy: Most other games involving Top 25 teams saw the favorites win easily. No. 7 Oklahoma (6-1) dominated Georgia State, 89-62, as they shot 55% from the field and had nearly twice as many rebounds as the Panthers. No. 8 Connecticut (7-0) got 29 points from Ben Gordon in crushing UNC-Asheville, 117-67. No. 14 Marquette (7-1) had an easy time with Elon, 89-57. No. 17 Kansas (6-3) beat UCLA 87-70 in a game that was never close as the Bruins continue to struggle.

Milestone: No. 20 Stanford knocked off UNLV, 77-66, in the Las Vegas Showdown. The win was the 500th of Mike Montgomery’s coaching career, as he now has a record of 500-235. Montgomery is one of the steady coaches in Division I, as he has made the Cardinal a consistent contender in the Pac Ten without much fanfare and the challenges of recruiting at one of the top academic schools in the country. Congratulations, Coach.

Can It Get Any Worse? UCLA continues to struggle, but the Bruins aren’t alone in cases of teams falling from grace. The Pit used to be a place no visiting team wanted to play, but Southern Utah came in and handed the struggling Lobos their second straight home loss, 69-57. Massachusetts continued to struggle as well, losing at home to Lafayette 54-52.

Trying To Move In: Several teams may enter the Hoopville Top 25 this week. With wins on Saturday, Wake Forest (6-0), Wyoming (8-2), Texas Tech (7-1), Oklahoma State (8-1), Butler (8-0) and Brigham Young (8-1) are among those who have made their case.

Tonight’s Menu:

• In the only game of the day between two Top 25 teams, No. 25 Minnesota heads west to take on No. 3 Oregon.

• Two ACC upstarts have at it in Tallahassee, No. 23 North Carolina takes on Florida State.

• No. 9 Notre Dame welcomes Canisius.

• No. 10 Texas welcomes the always dangerous Princeton Tigers.

• Matchups of local interest include George Washington at Towson, Harvard at Boston College, Drake at Iowa State, and Gonzaga at Eastern Washington.

That’s it for this Sunday. Enjoy!

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