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December 23, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Monday, December 23rd, 2002

by Andrew Flynn

Princeton did their thing yesterday, as they played their brand of ball-control, tactical striking smart-hoop, and did it again – almost.

In what has become a trademark for the Tigers, another David v Goliath matchup almost went their way, this time against the No. 10 Texas Longhorns in Austin. We all remember the 1989 NCAA’s, where the Pete Carrill-led 16-seed almost did in the No. 1 seed of Georgetown, led by John Thompson, 50-48. And of course knocking out UCLA, the defending national champs in the first round 46-41 in 1996, with fundamentals and the backdoor pass. Texas was looking to avenge a 1998 loss to the Tigers, this time with John Thompson Jr. at the helm of the upset machine.

Unfortunately for the fans in New Jersey, the end result was familiar as well, as the elite scholar athletes of the non-scholarship Ivy League again came up short, losing a tightly contested match, 57-54, that featured lead changes and apprehension in the stands in Austin – and this was supposed to be a guarantee game. In a weekend of upsets, Texas was lucky to survive.

Texas was never really in the game mentally, as they were either complacent or confused facing Princeton. And to make matters worse, they were ice cold in the first half. In fact, the score at halftime was an un-Big 12-like 21-18 score in Princeton’s favor.

Luckily for the Longhorns, after a second half full of lead changes, Texas pulled ahead in the final minute, with Chris Ogden making a key three and T.J. Ford coming up with several free throws late. Princeton, meanwhile, got cold late in the game, as several layups and treys clanged against the iron, and were usually rebounded by the more athletic Longhorns.

The Longhorns were led by Brandon Mouton with 21 points, and T.J. Ford notched 10. Princeton was led by Kyle Wente’s 14 and Spencer Gloger (the Princeton-UCLA-Princeton transfer) added 11.

Side Dishes

Ducks in a Row: The No. 3 Oregon Ducks got back on track with a win over a ranked opponent, seemingly have shaken off their pummeling at the hands of Cincinnati, with a home victory over the No. 25 Minnesota Golden Gophers, 90-81. Minnesota, who hasn’t won a road game this season, couldn’t overcome an 18-3 first half run by the Ducks, who surged with Rick Rickert on the bench with foul trouble. Ian Crosswhite led the Ducks with 18 points, and the Lukes contributed, with Ridnour having a 15/5/5 effort, and Jackson adding 10/7/5. Steve Esselink led Minnesota with 18 points – all on threes, while Jerry Holman notched 17. Rickert disappointed with only 8 points in limited action before fouling out.

Golden Dome: The Canisius Golden Griffs didn’t know what had hit them. When they figured out that it was No. 9 Notre Dame, they were already facing a 25-8 first-half deficit after playing only five minutes, with a final score of 93-75. Matt Carroll led the Irish with 25 points (10-of-12 from the field), while Dan Miller overcame flu symptoms to notch 23. The tallies would have been higher if coach Mike Brey hadn’t sat his starters for the final ten minutes. For what it’s worth, Canisius was led by Brian Dux’s 20 and Richard Jones’ 13.

Role Reversal: Gonzaga used to enjoy a notoriety similar to Princeton’s – that of a known giant-killer, especially tournament time. Over the last (Mark) Few years, the Bulldog nation has risen to overshadow their in-state Pac-10 rivals, as well as perennially visit the Sweet 16. They’re giants. Uh-Oh. And thus they are targets to get knocked off by upstarts like the very solid Eastern Washington Eagles. Using a script from the Princeton-Texas game, the Eagles blew a halftime lead (this one was 11 points), plus two leads of 17 points, and let the Top 25-wannabe Bulldogs back into the game. So what happened? Gonzaga’s Blake Stepp nailed a trey with 30 seconds, giving Gonzaga it’s first (and only) lead of the game, winning 67-64. The valiant Eagles were led by Alvin Snow and Chris Hester, who scored 22 and 19 points, respectively. Gonzaga’s Ronny Turiaf had a 19/11 split in the win.

Tonight’s Menu:

• No. 13 Florida faces Charleston Southern early today (4pm Eastern), while one-time Top 30 squad College of Charleston hosts UNC Wilmington. Also, Michigan looks to make it four wins in a row when Eastern Michigan drives up Washtenaw Road to face the Wolverines, who have already lost to Western Michigan and Central Michigan so far this season.

• Not sure which highway they will be taking, but Maryland-Baltimore County faces No. 24 Maryland, and TCU visits No. 22 Tulsa. And of course, Portland faces Portland State, in of all places, Portland. Vikings! Pilots! Let’s get it on!

That’s it for this Monday. Enjoy!

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