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Big Ten Notebook

December 24, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments

Big Ten Notebook

by Chris Burke

Chances are that there will be few games this year as talked about as Indiana’s clash with Kentucky on Saturday.

Hoosiers’ coach Mike Davis lost control, charging the court and a referee with three seconds left and his team down one to the Wildcats in the second half.

Freshman phenom Bracey Wright drove the baseline, looking to put Indiana back on top in the seesaw affair, but bumped his own teammate while hoisting a wild, unsuccessful shot at the hoop. Davis stormed off his team’s bench, and eventually was given two technicals (although the referee was very patient and tried, commendably, to return Davis to the sideline), and Indiana lost its first game of the year, 70-64.

Credit Davis on one count, though. Despite the foolish outburst, the coach took full responsibility in his press conference after the game, offering his remorse.

“I’d like to apologize to the team, the Indiana supporters and the officials,” Davis said. “It wasn’t right for me to embarrass an official like that.”

With Kentucky up one and heading to the free throw line anyway with 2.6 seconds left, the Hoosiers’ chances were slim – but for an undefeated team in a rivalry game, Davis took away any hope of a remarkable finish to an incredibly intense game.

Now, in the aftermath, Davis must regroup his team because before Big Ten play begins in January, the Hoosiers are faced with back-to-back matchups with upset potential. On Saturday, Indiana heads to Temple and then follows that with a New Year’s Eve venture into Ball State.

Two more losses and Davis will have real reason to be upset.

Illini Keep Rolling

On the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, Illinois continues to look more and more like a national championship contender.

The 12th-ranked Fighting Illini put on their second impressive showing against a top 25 opponent (having defeated North Carolina earlier), pounding No. 10 Missouri, 85-70, in the annual Braggin’ Rights game.

Freshman Dee Brown hit for 21 points and dished out seven assists, while Brian Cook continued to quietly prove himself as one of the best players in the country, finishing with 19 points.

The 8-0 Fighting Illini pulled ahead 15-13 just over seven minutes into the game, and never trailed again.

Illinois was impressive defensively, holding the Tigers to 38 percent shooting, and outrebounding Missouri, 42-32 for the game.

Less Than Perfection for the Spartans

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo has been an unhappy camper lately. Despite his Spartans five-game winning streak to move to 7-2 (including a win at Kentucky), Izzo laid into his team following a blowout win over Loyola-Chicago, and he was far from pleased after a lackluster 65-56 victory over South Florida on Saturday.

“I just felt the casualness we came out with in the second half is something that we just can’t have, especially against good teams,” Izzo said after the game. “We have a ton of work left if we are going to get to the point that I think this team can get to.”

The Spartans were impressive on both ends of the floor early on against the Bulls, taking away their patented fast-paced offense en route to a 22-4 lead, but South Florida climbed back into the game.

It’s a disturbing trend for Michigan State, which has not looked like a top 15 team on many occasions this year. With the Big Ten schedule fast approaching, Izzo is desperate to establish some consistency in his club.

This Week in the Big Ten

A light Christmas week schedule picks up some steam next Saturday.

Indiana travels to Temple, while Illinois gets a “tester” at a feisty Memphis squad.

Also, Bobby Knight returns to the Big Ten when his Texas Tech squad heads to Minneapolis for what should be an entertaining tussle with Minnesota. And a suddenly streaking (sort of) Michigan team takes on a suddenly awful UCLA team in a rematch of a couple classic games from the Fab Five days.


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